Answer: Contributions to your household, as a whole, should be split as close to 50-50 as possible without bean-counting.
So, suggest that you and your wife make a list of what it takes to keep your marriage and household running - earning money, buying and cooking food, cleaning house, maintaining property, maintaining connections with family and friends, paying bills, planning trips, scheduling appointments, keeping a calendar, etc. Then see whether the current division of labor is fair. Also make sure you agree on the "currency" you're using; is it time, value, money, effort? I think effort makes the most sense, but what you two think is what matters.
Also explore why you are both acting as adversaries, rather than teammates. When the center of gravity in a relationship shifts from giving to each other to protecting yourselves, the survival of the relationship then depends on shifting it back to giving. And to get there, each of you needs to trust the other to do what's right for both of you, rather than satisfying self-interest.
Question: My brother and his wife had a daughter 16 months ago. My whole life I've been certain I didn't want children. But I love my niece. She's amazing. She has changed my mind entirely on the issue. I've been with my girlfriend for five years, and she was OK with my no-children stance, but not as certain as I was.
We are getting married this winter, and I was wondering what your advice would be on my bringing up my change of heart? It seems a bit unfair, like a bait-and-switch, even if that wasn't my intent.
Answer: Changes of heart happen. They become unfair when you withhold them, spin them, lie about them, or act on them without communicating openly with a partner. Tell her, now, what you said here, including the part about feeling bad about the bait-and-switch, and see where it takes you.
By the way - it's great you're loopy for your niece, and that can reasonably be taken as a sign you want kids of your own. However, make sure you prepare yourself for the fact that your child will be relentless - you can't just hand your own baby back to your brother and leave.
Your baby also will be a completely different person. S/he could be colicky, hyperactive, or have other special needs. Just ask parents of more than one child how different their experiences were from one child to the next. The one thing that doesn't vary is how badly they need their parents to love them as they are. When you're ready for that, you're ready.
E-mail Carolyn Hax at email@example.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax.