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I Was Fine With Being the Breadwinner, Until 2020 Came Along

I was remarried two years ago to a caring and considerate man. He moved into my home with my two kids (who are now away at college). When he arrived, he subtly let me know that he didn’t expect to pay any household expenses. I work part-time and have some family money, but I’m still on a budget. I didn’t mind paying for everything until the pandemic hit. Now, I’ve lost my job and my investments have taken a hit, so my finances are tight. I’ve brought up my situation several times, but my husband says things are tight for him too. (Our incomes are about the same.) I can’t help feeling hurt and resentful. He knows this, but he does nothing. Any advice?


I’m confused. Unless you left out a crucial detail — your husband does all the cooking and cleaning, for instance, or performs most of the emotional labor in your relationship — the man you describe as “caring and considerate” sounds like a freeloader. It’s time for you to take it up a notch.

When we live with other people (much less marry them), there’s no room for subtlety about household expenses. The bills must be paid! It doesn’t sound as if you’ve made a direct request of your husband, though. Stop hinting and tell him what you think a fair division of expenses would be. Then listen to his response.

Now, I can understand if he’s reluctant to divide all the bills in half. You set up an infrastructure for two kids. He’s not responsible for them. But there’s no good argument for his paying nothing toward housing, food and maintenance costs. An honest conversation should stop this gravy train or at least reveal what your husband is thinking. You’ll never solve this problem without knowing that.

Credit…Christoph Niemann

I recently made an appointment at a new dental clinic. While I was on the phone, I asked the receptionist if the dentists and hygienists had received Covid-19 vaccinations yet. She told me she couldn’t answer my question; it was personal information. But I think it’s reasonable to ask. I’m not sure I’m comfortable going to a clinic where workers (who will be in close contact with me) haven’t been vaccinated. Thoughts?


I agree with you — even though we’re not being entirely rational. We are still waiting for clinical studies to show whether vaccinated people can spread the virus to others. So, vaccinated or not, your dentist should be masked and gloved during your appointment. (You can certainly call back to verify safety protocols at the clinic.)

Still, after medical and dental workers were (rightly) prioritized as among the first recipients of the Covid vaccine, it seems only fair of them to share whatever peace of mind we may take from their vaccination as we sit open-mouthed before them.

Now, I am not a medical ethicist. And I expect we will hear more privacy arguments in the coming months. As an anecdotal matter, I’ve felt super safe with the safety measures my health care providers have established. If you’re uneasy, though, cancel your appointment and find a more forthcoming dentist. Better yet, unless your procedure is an emergency, wait until you’ve been vaccinated to reschedule.

I hyphenate my last name. I feel lost without seeing that hyphen between my surname and my husband’s: Jane Doe-Deer. What is the etiquette of addressing invitations to my husband and me? Should it be Mr. and Mrs. John Deer? Or Mr. and Mrs. John Doe-Deer? (My husband doesn’t hyphenate his surname.)


Think of etiquette as a flurry of rules to help us be nicer to each other. To me, it’s bad manners to call people names they don’t like or that may hurt them. I would not exclude your first name from invitations to you and your husband, for instance, just because our grandparents did it that way. You are not subsumed by him!

I wouldn’t use “Mrs.,” either. Men are not identified as married or unmarried on addresses. Why should you be? Now consider people who are nonbinary. Why disrespect them with the wrong title? So, here’s how I’d address an invitation to you and your husband: “John Deer and Jane Doe-Deer.” What do you think?

I live in a condominium where many residents have a direct view of my comings and goings. They can see when I’m home by looking out their windows to check my reserved parking spot. When I’m away, they often ask (by text) to borrow my spot for their visitors. Or they want to know where I am. Or why I’m away during a pandemic. I find this annoying. I’m happy to chat briefly with my neighbors, but I like my privacy. What say you?


A succession of quick refusals should fix this problem in short order. When neighbors ask to borrow your parking spot, reply: “That won’t be convenient.” When they ask where you are, respond: “I’m taking care of some personal business.”

Even the most persistent of them will be discouraged eventually. And curtness will probably serve you better than trying to illustrate the boundaries of acceptable questions to tenacious neighbors.

For help with your awkward situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.

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