Skip to main content

Dragos Iliescu/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The question

On a recent weekend, I stopped over at my office with my husband, two teenagers and a tiny puppy in tow to check some test results. In the past, I have forbidden my husband and children from touching anything. I held the puppy during the check, then handed her to my husband while I used the restroom. I expressly asked him to hold the puppy and supervise everyone closely. He labelled me a "worry-wart" and accused me of not trusting him. When I came back, I asked everyone if the puppy remained confined – they said "yes," with a lot of scoffing/eye-rolling, and we left. On Monday morning, the inhabitant of a cubicle near my desk announced that there was dog poop on the floor of their area. I was beyond mortified. How do I make amends to my co-workers? I am also quite humiliated and angry with my husband. Frankly, I am starting to view him as a completely unreliable dolt and that worries me.

The answer

Well, the good news is he's not the first husband in history to do something dumb that left behind an aromatic residue redolent of poor judgment.

For example, I know this guy, a fairly responsible and even sensible fellow overall, but who, one night, after his wife went to bed, to prove to a friend that a tool he owned called a "Sawzall" indeed saws all, sawed the family toaster oven in half.

Okay, it was me. Now, I should say the toaster oven was old and didn't really work and we'd been meaning to get rid of it. But my wife, I wouldn't even say she was angry. It was way, way beyond that.

The froideur that descended upon our household was such that I practically had to turn up the thermostat. I had to climb a mountain of apology for that one.

And so your husband should apologize to you. In marriage, I've found, there are several tiers or levels of apology. The lowest, most mealy-mouthed and actually infuriating, is: "I'm sorry you feel that way." Next level up: genuine, heartfelt apology. Highest level: genuine apology accompanied by heartfelt promise never to repeat the offending action.

Your husband owes you that third, highest form of apology. Your whole family does. The eye-rolling and pooh-poohing of your doo-doo concerns is a particularly galling detail, especially since – I didn't fully understand this bit, but it sounds like they were all lying to you?

But I smell deeper issues underfoot. You saying, "I am starting to view my husband as a completely unreliable dolt" is obviously a red flag – one I'm not sure I'm qualified to pronounce upon, especially with such limited information. It'd be easy to say "seek counselling," but I'm not really a believer in counsellors as an all-purpose panacea for marital problems, so I will say:

The doofus husband/worry-wart wife dynamic is a sitcom staple, but not always so funny in real life. If you're losing respect for him, that's a big problem. You need to tell your husband about your feelings, and that they're serious. It might be a shock, but maybe it'll be the shock that'll cause him to dig deep to get his mojo back, and you will return to seeing him as the strong, excellent man (I presume) you married.

At the same time, is it possible you need to lighten up just a titch? Marriage without a sense of humour, it seems to me, would be a flat-out impossibility, and, sorry, but you sound a little humourless and, well – forgive me, "bossy" is kind of a negative term, but if the boot fits. … And what are you doing bringing a husband, two teenagers, and a non-housebroken puppy into your workplace, anyway? That seems like asking for trouble. Can't they wait outside while you take care of business?

As to the bit of business your puppy left behind for your co-workers, I think you owe them the highest form of apology as well.

After all, it was your call to bring the dog into your workplace: You can't pin blame for that on anyone else. Own up, clean up if necessary, and keep work and family life separate from now on.

What am I supposed to do now?

Are you in a sticky situation? Send your dilemmas to Please keep your submissions to 150 words and include a daytime contact number so we can follow up with any queries.