DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: My husband won't clean the cat box. I know this may seem petty but it has caused a daily problem with us. He says it was my decision to get the cat because he doesn't like cats, so it's my chore to clean the box, which is a dirty job. He doesn't feed the cat -- ever. I do all the work and he sits around with the cat on his belly reading the newspaper and watching TV. They are best buddies. The cat sleeps curled up beside him. Whose cat do you think it is now? Kitty basically comes to me he wants food. How do I settle this so my husband does his half of the work? -- Cat Servant, St. Vital
Dear Servant: This problem won't go away with entreating, reasoning or guilting. Hubby isn't going to give in. So throw some money at this problem even if you buy the miracle yourself -- a self-cleaning litter box, but do ask him to chip in half. Don't give it to your husband for Christmas -- dirty tricks beget dirty tricks. Men often love mechanical innovations and you should mention with a smile it will be the end of the fighting. Get a big enough one and the kind that can operate on batteries as well as a plug-in, which will give you more options for placement in the house. The cat does business as usual. Then the mechanical scooping arm comes along 10 minutes after the cat has departed. Eureka!
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: You forgot to tell Not Quite Ready that he's kidding himself if he thinks he isn't hurting anyone. My husband is also a "pleasant alcoholic." He's been a very good provider, works around the house, is good with the kids and grandkids and supportive of my work and education dreams. But, I can't talk to him anymore because he can't remember what he said the night before when he was drinking. We don't go out in the evening because it cuts into his drinking. Most mornings, he doesn't smell great. Every day I dread what's happening to his mind and body. I'm terrified of spending the rest of my life alone... and just because Mr. Not Quite Ready (to quit drinking) paces himself before the kids go to bed, doesn't mean they don't know what he's doing. They know, but may not understand or be able to articulate their fears. Plus, if he's a single dad, he might want to consider the money he's dribbling away. Cheap wine at 10 bucks a bottle is $300-$600 a month. Maybe he could put that into education money for his kids instead, or a family vacation. -- Well-Acquainted With Problem, Manitoba
Dear Well-Acquainted: Children take in much more than they show, think about it and act on it. Some will emulate the addictive behaviour. Others will hate it and walk away as soon as they can. But, many adults and kids who are still dependent simply can't walk away, especially with the pleasant drunk. They still love dad or mom very much, drinking or not. Al-Anon/Alateen (943-6051) for people affected by another person's drinking, does a lot of good in helping people cope with alcoholics. The website for meeting times is www.mb.al-anon.alateen.org.
Questions or comments? Write Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press 1355 Mountain Ave., Wpg, R2X 3B6, or email firstname.lastname@example.org