Dear John: In the past, you've recommended that when a man notices things around the house that need to be done, he should ask his wife if he should do them. If you see something that needs to be done and you are quite capable of doing it, why does one need to ask permission?
I doubt that any woman would reply would be, "No, dear, I'll carry that up the stairs even though you are walking right by it and could easily do it." What it implies to me is that all things within the house (and raising the kids) are the sole responsibility of the wife, and if her husband does anything to help, that is a bonus. Doesn't she have the right to demand that he help without having to make it seem like he is doing her a "favor." — Unsure of Your Meaning, in Cambridge, Mass.
Dear Unsure: Many things that women do naturally — take on chores without being asked, buying little gifts, giving compliments — do not come naturally to many men. These men were raised in households where their fathers probably demonstrated little of this behavior with their mothers.
Such men may need a little encouragement. We all want to be recognized for our good deeds, and we respond to recognition with the resolve to perform other generous acts. A woman can motivate a man to take on these attributes by rewarding him with the same kind words and actions she would wish to expect — or hope to hear when performing the same deeds. If, after repeated efforts, he catches on, we'd all be living in a better world.
Dear John: I was told that one of your books contains an outline on how to write an effective love letter to your partner when you've had an argument. My question is, which book? —Ready to Make Up, in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Dear Ready: It is difficult to communicate lovingly when you're upset. By writing out our feelings, we are better able to release negativity and communicate in a loving fashion. There are three aspects to the love letter technique. First, you write a love letter to express what you are feeling, be it anger, sadness, fear, regret or love. You then write a "response letter" that expresses what you would want to hear from your partner. Finally, you share your love letter and the response letter with your partner. This exercise is covered in greater detail in my book "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus."
John Gray is the author of "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus." Visit his website, http://www.marsvenus.com, for advice on dating, marriage, parenting, romance and workplace issues. Or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about John Gray and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.