The Luv Doc: Services Rendered
Idle hands are the Devil's playthings
Dear Luv Doc,
My live-in girlfriend of three years is a freelance tech writer whose long-term contract just ended a few months ago and now she has a lot of time on her hands, but doesn't seem to be doing much with it. I come home and dishes are still in the sink, the laundry isn't done. Bills don't get paid. If she spent as much time taking care of the house as she does talking about how busy she is, she might actually get something done. I have a good job and can easily support both of us, but it would be nice if she would pitch in around the house more – especially since she's basically unemployed. She does cook and she takes care of the dogs, but I am getting the short end of the bargain.
Man, that is seriously messed up. You would think that a tech writer would give serious attention to detail – like detailing your house. Hitting all those little nooks and crannies with those tiny specialty brushes that only OCD people seem to be able to track down; polishing all the flat surfaces with those miracle towels they only sell on daytime TV infomercials; cleaning the tile grout with bleach-soaked Q-tips; blasting the moss off the back patio flagstones with a 5,000-psi pressure washer; wearing knee pads and yellow rubber gloves like she just put in a shift on a Japanese fetish site .... Seriously, what kind of tech writer is she? If she were really any kind of decent tech writer your only complaint would be that you're not allowed to enter your house without first taking a Silkwood shower.
That said, while I question the veracity of your complaint, I have to throw you some kudos for demanding that the basis of your relationship be transactional rather than some nonquantifiable, wishy-washy romantic affair where each partner isn't vigilantly keeping score. After all, how can you know someone's true value if you don't have some sort of objective basis for measuring it?
I probably don't need to point out that your patience for this woman is heroic. A few months is plenty of time for lollygagging and pity-partying. After that, it's time to stop pouting and start scrubbing and mopping. You know what they say it says in the Bible: "Idle hands are the Devil's playthings." If your girlfriend isn't polishing the silver there's a good chance she's still in bed polishing her bean.
Even worse, she might be out trying to score some Fentanyl, or K2, or bath salts, or any other number of "recreational" substances to fill her idle hours. Let's be honest: There is only so much cooking and dog walking you can do in a day. Unless she's Cesar Millan or Martha Stewart, a couple of hours of that shit and she's probably on the back patio power-bonging ditch weed, slamming Sunset Blush Franzia, and racking up the high score on Angry Birds. Trust me. I know. Along with being a fake doctor I am also a fake musician.
The main takeaway here is to keep your expectations high. Make sure her side of the ledger aligns with yours – if not financially, then in trade for services. In fact, you might do well to write down what services you would like performed as consideration for your financial contribution to this relationship. It's good to get that stuff out in the open from the get-go so there isn't any festering resentment from a perceived inequity. Right? If she doesn't know your expectations, how can she ever meet them?