Husband is delusional, he doesn’t have time to do fix-ups

Published 10:27 pm Saturday, June 23, 2007

Dear Annie:My husband, “Arnold,” and I have been married nearly 10 years. We have a good, solid relationship and four wonderful young children. I am a stay-at-home mom, while Arnold runs his own company, which is quite successful.

The problem? We live in an older home that is in need of numerous repairs. Our roof and driveway need immediate attention, our pool requires ongoing upkeep, and the basement needs a complete overhaul. Arnold seems to think he can do all this by himself. He imagines he has time to clean the pool, and paint and plaster the basement. Yesterday, I caught him online looking up how to lay roof shingles.

Annie, my husband is delusional. He works 16-hour days and most weekends. When he’s home, he is too tired to lift a finger and all he wants to do is play with the kids. Not to mention, Arnold is not particularly handy, and his work turns out shoddy.

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When I suggest we pay someone to fix things, Arnold gets mad and a huge argument ensues. I even researched the cheapest laborers in our area and presented this information to Arnold, who then freaked out and told me to “drop it” because he’d get it done. We can afford to pay someone, no problem, but Arnold refuses.

Right now, I have no bathroom vanity and no usable sink, as Arnold removed them to paint the bathroom seven months ago. His procrastination is making me crazy. How do I get him to understand? — Need a Handyman in Dallas

Dear Dallas: Starting multiple projects and leaving them unfinished is often a sign of attention deficit disorder. You can contact the National Resource Center on AD/HD at 1-800-233-4050 or CHADD ( for support and information. In the meantime, tell your husband you are hiring someone to finish the bathroom, and then do it, even if Arnold throws a tantrum. These decisions should not be his alone.

Dear Annie: Do you think it is appropriate for a mother to scratch her son’s back if he is 35 years old? This occurs nearly every time my husband and his mother are together. And it is not a “scratch my back real quick, I can’t reach” kind of thing. She usually asks him if he wants her to scratch his back, and then she puts her hand under his shirt and scratches for up to 15 minutes. Sometimes she will rub his back or scratch the top of his head as well. Other times, he will actually ask her to do it, even if I am right there.

Is it just me, or is this inappropriate? It makes me so uncomfortable that I have to leave the room when it happens. — Torn in Charlotte, N.C.

Dear Torn: This is the kind of thing that seems to have sexual overtones, but most likely is completely innocent. Mom has probably been scratching Sonny’s back since he was a baby. He likes it. She enjoys knowing she can do this for him. And yes, she may derive satisfaction from seeing you get all flustered, but that’s because you allow it. We think this is too small a deal to make you so unhappy. Ignore it. It’s no skin off your back.

Dear Annie: This is for “Just a Grandma,” whose toddler granddaughter, “Fiona,” misbehaved in a restaurant. Bravo to her for not saying one word. Her son and his wife know their child behaved like a brat. They can see what she sees. Obviously they do not “give in” to their daughter all the time, because the parents told her she couldn’t walk around in the restaurant — hence the tantrum.

Fiona will grow up, but Grandma’s words of criticism will never be forgotten. She raised hers. Let them learn. — Smart Grandma

Dear Grandma: Many grandparents were irate that we didn’t advise “Just a Grandma” to chastise her son and daughter-in-law for the way Fiona is being raised. We understand the temptation, but it rarely achieves anything but resentment.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. Visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at