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Ask Ellie: Discuss chores with roommate without judgment

Be clear this is about fairness, not a judgment on his personality
Not everyone is domestically-oriented.

Dear Ellie: My brother and I, 26 and 24, recently moved in together. We knew we could handle it. Our late uncle had left us some money so we invested in this house.

For months it’s been great! We get along well, have many mutual friends, enjoy similar activities and respect each other’s privacy.

But my brother is lazy. While he plays a ton of sports, he’s lazy domestically.

His clothes are strewn all over his floor. But it’s his room, and luckily, we have our own washrooms. So, his mess stays contained.

But he often leaves his dishes in the sink, doesn’t empty the dishwasher, nor turn it on. He rarely takes out garbage, or doesn’t replace the bag with a new one.

Also, we share most of our groceries, but buy what we love for ourselves. But he’ll finish the milk, or the fruit and won’t replace things, or even tell me in case I go shopping.

His thoughtlessness is becoming annoying though as a roommate and brother, he’s great. I don’t know how to get through to him.


How lucky to share a home and a pretty great sibling relationship. If you want it to continue positively, drop the “lazy” label.

For whatever reasons, he’s simply not domestically-oriented.

That’s not surprising if, say, one of your parents was a picker-upper, and the other a leave-it-for-now person. Or, if someone in the childhood home was a constant nag. That turns off lots of kids!

Meanwhile, you share a home with the caring presence of someone you trust.

Try practical approaches: e.g., list the most-needed tasks that can be divided between you. Regarding food necessities, keep a visible kitchen list. Whoever used up something, does the next shopping.

Whoever sees the dishwasher’s finished, empties it. Be clear this is about fairness, not a judgment on his personality. You’ve both been given the gift of security. Don’t blow it.

Reader’s commentary regarding the husband who recently discovered that his wife of 25 years cheated on him in the past (Nov. 8):

“The headline says that he should, “Ask wife for an apology — and offer one yourself.” Why does HE have to apologize?

“My wife also had an affair with a co-worker 40 years ago. I still ache every day!

“When I discovered proof, I confronted her. She admitted the affair, but not it’s duration. We’d been married for just two years.

“She apologized, saying she’d ended it. I accepted the apology and asked why she ended it. She said, “It wasn’t going anywhere.”

“In the 2005 book Women’s Infidelity: Living in Limbo: What Women Really Mean When They Say I’m Not Happy, author Michelle Langley noted some reasons and signs that a woman’s cheating. My wife fell into many of those categories.

“She began a new job the year we married and her affair partner worked there. So, the affair began immediately after our honeymoon! She’d led a secret life for about three years!

“Several years later, for revenge and punishment, I had a relationship with a co-worker for three months.

“I hated myself for it, told my wife how sorry I was for it. Her forgiveness was immediate. However, the signs of infidelity on her part have resurfaced repeatedly.

“I still love her. Your advice sounded like you’re telling men that they should forgive and forget.”

Ellie: No, I was calling for a clean slate for that other couple, who’ve “both worked hard to improve the marriage.”

Dear Ellie: My boyfriend and I, together since just before COVID-19 rules ordered us all to keep a distance from others and wear masks, is now excited about opening up and being with other people sexually.

He wants to invite another woman (my choice) to join us. I’ve never experienced this, but I want to please him. What do you think……

…. About A Threesome?

You’re the one who has to think about this. For me, whatever people do sexually by choice and consent, without risk of unwanted physical and emotional abuse to them, is none of my business.

The fact that you’re seeking advice on this, is a sign that you’re not sure, and certainly not ready for this move. There’s more to a good sexual relationship than pleasing the other person. To truly feel good about it and enjoy the sex act, you have to feel he’s pleasing you just as much.

Ellie’s tip of the day

Don’t risk a great sibling relationship. Discuss some necessary chores, for the sake of fairness only.

Send relationship questions to [email protected].