Ask the Advice Goddess 5

My wife and I just celebrated our first anniversary. The problem area in my marriage is the bathroom. My wife leaves her eyebrow pencil, her lipstick, her mascara, her Nivea, her contact lense solution and other stuff scattered across the rather small countertop around the sink. Then her running clothes, her end of the day clothes...and shoes and socks and pantyhose all end up in a pile on the floor. All my stuff, after a year, is still in my little zipped ditty bag for traveling. When I want to do anything in the bathroom, the first thing I have to do is move all her stuff so I can even get into my bag. On the other hand, while this problem really bugs me, my wife is great -- she likes to put her arms around me and stand barefoot on top of my feet, for just one example. How do I convince her that this cute annoyance in the bathroom has become simply an annoyance, and over the years may escalate to a major problem.--Randy, Long IslandIt's time to look for another woman -- a licensed general contractor who can build you a second bathroom.You're never going to reform your wife. She's a confirmed slob, and she'll die a confirmed slob. The cost of little extra drywall, tile and Price-Pfister seems a small price to pay to see that the two of you don't part before then.While you're adding an extra bathroom onto Rancho Maybelline, you might also stick on an extra "office" or two. You and your wife should each have, (to stretch a little Virginia Woolf), "A Room Of One's Own." In your wife's room, she can germinate exciting new breeds of mold under laundry Everests, and you will be none the wiser. In your room, you can hang framed prints of people engaged in unspeakable acts with goats, if that's what you're into, and all dispute about their merit, artistic or otherwise, should be taboo.In other words, each of your rooms should be considered personal, private space in which you can do whatever your heart desires, providing you aren't doing that thing with someone other than the person you married. Ironically, separating a little should help the two of you stay together.Pick up the yellow pages today, and get a few estimates on a second bathroom, at very least. Consider the money you spend "marriage insurance." Certainly yours will have a much better chance for survival if you're spending your days fantasizing about your wife's feet, not about turning your bathroom into the next Clinique ad.***I am a happily divorced man in my late thirties. I am extremely successful in my profession -- I run my own business, I make a lot of money. The one area that is a little lacking is that I feel a little bit creatively unfulfilled. Recently, I wrote a one-act play that won a playwriting festival. I thought that this would be great, but the next morning, when I should have felt that nothing could be better, I woke up with terrible anxiety and clutching pains and thought that everything I had was crumbling and nothing I had done was meaningful. I had the frightening thought that the epitaph on my tombstone will be blank.--Walt, MinneapolisPremature mid-life crisis does have a bright side: Compared to your more seasoned peers, your investment is minimal -- typing paper, envelope and stamps -- as opposed to gallons of Grecian formula, cases of Rogaine, an over-accessorized Porsche and the care and feeding of a 19 year-old girlfriend.Nevertheless, no matter what your age, it's scary to find that what you thought were your dreams might not be what you want after all...especially after you put years of your life into attaining them.Listen to your heart. Consider yourself lucky to get this wake-up call early enough to change your direction, if that's what will make you happy.Take a month or so off from business, go up the mountain and do the monk thing. Sit and think about what's important to you, what you can give up and what you need to keep.You may not find your new path in a month, but just being a little further along in your quest should provide you with some solace. After you return to work, continue on your inner journey. Set aside time to talk to yourself, explore your options, and experiment with new ideas.It may take a year or two for you to make the transition into a life you find more satisfying, but if you start now, at least you'll accomplish it long before you are plagued with hair growing out of all the wrong places.***Got a problem? Ask Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, box 280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com

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