Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My parents got divorced a few years ago. My siblings I are all in our 20s and living in our own places — and feeling how immature our parents are. They’re still in daily contact, fighting constantly!
They each phone us "kids" to complain about the other. I told Dad I was done listening to him, and he turned around and told my older sister I don’t love him! Utter nonsense. I do… I just also love Mom.
It’s been two years since the divorce, and they still aren’t over each other — at least that’s what I think. What can we do to get them to at least shut up?
— Ears Are Burning, St. Vital
Dear Burning: You may have the hidden clue — your divorced folks seem to care way too much to let each other alone. Tell them they need "divorce counselling" and insist on it, to the point of saying you kids are buying them three appointments, upfront.
Tell them they’re hurting the whole family, and need to go for their children’s sake. They’ll either hoot with derision, or take you up on the idea. They can be tricked, if they’re still secretly in love.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I’ve seen other guys complain to you about their wives and girlfriends demanding more sex than they can provide. It has given me courage to write.
I’m a stay-at-home dad and caregiver. My wife wants sex every night, and I just can’t perform often enough. She works a seven-hour day and often brings office work home. She works at a profession she loves, and she re-charges after dinner, which I prepare while she plays with our young kids.
We used to have a great sex life. Strange fact: Even then, while it was definitely fun and we had the first child, I was starting to avoid it. Sometimes sex feels like work, and it can create more babies. Now we have two children and she wants one more to make three. I don’t! I do love the kids — don’t get me wrong.
I feel like she thinks I owe her sex, and she has said more than once that "good sex" helps to fuel her sales ability at work. Garbage! I think good sleep would do us both more good, but the kids rise with the sun.
What is a good way to approach her? Right now I’m just grumpy and part of that is to try to turn her off.
— Not Her Sex Toy, Southdale
Dear Not Her Sex Toy: Like many stay-at-home parents raising toddlers, you need help so you’re not so exhausted — plus the assurance you’re not making more.
Right now, prevention of a third pregnancy may be in her hands, so you subconsciously shy away from sex. What you need is a plan. First, you need to confess you can’t handle an "accident" and having another baby right now. If she’s dying to have three, ask her if she’d be willing to work half-time when the baby comes and you’ll go back to work half-time. She may look startled, thinking you were the full-time help that made the whole plan work.
Tell her you’re at the max stress you can take. Small wonder you don’t feel like having sex. Also, tell her you need to hire help from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. when the kids are up from naps and full of energy. With relief from stress and baby fatigue, and a promise there won’t be a third baby unless you agree on it, you’ll feel freer to be romantic and sexual.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: Help! Talk about annoying money problems. I make roughly twice my new partner’s salary, and pay two-thirds of the rent. But he still complains anytime I ask him to pick up any food the store. He says I should do it "with all my money."
I know money disputes are one of the top reasons people break up, but I don’t want to lose him. I just want him to understand the wage discrepancy doesn’t excuse him from pitching in a nickel past his rent money.
— Extremely Irritated Partner, Corydon Village
Dear Irritated: You two need a budget on paper, with both your earnings at the top. Then you’ll know what you need to contribute fairly. You got the rent right, but the food and utilities should also be two-thirds/one-third. Once that fact is fully illuminated, your partner might be more willing to chip in.
To fix the food complaint, your partner should be in charge of buying the types of food he most like to eat, so he gets some fun out of buying them. Nobody with a limited budget wants to buy food they don’t particularly like.
Please send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or Miss Lonelyhearts c/o the Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6.
Each year, the Free Press publishes more than 1,000 letters to Miss Lonelyhearts and her responses to the life and relationship questions that come her way.