I am going to tell you something about myself today that may shock you.
I seek recognition for the tiniest, most minute task. It’s true. If I do the dishes, if I take out the trash, if I do the laundry, if I clean the bathroom, if I put away the towels…on and on, without end. Try as I might, it’s hard to let go of wanting to be recognized. This mindset has led to more than a little friction in my relationship.
My husband and I have actually had multiple fights about the dishes. Dishes? Yes, dear reader, the dishes! They say that the devil is in the details and that is certainly true. He does them one way, I do them the other both of us steadfastly convinced of our “rightness” of THE WAY.
I believe “cleaning as you go is the way to go”. He believes that they will eventually get done and there is no need to do them “right now”. Being reasonable people, when we first married, we developed a system, he would cook, and I would clean.. that worked for a while, then I started to help him cook, and so then it got murkier as to who would do what.. (how does one do 1/2 the dishes?) Now, with a 3 month old baby in the house and two sort of cranky adults… well it’s not a pretty picture…
A few weeks ago, after too little sleep and having JUST got the baby down, I walked from the nursery to the kitchen to make myself a snack. Never mind that it is 3am and not breakfast, lunch or dinner time, I was hungry. I walked into the kitchen to find a SINK FULL OF DIRTY DISHES!! I got really mad and started to seethe. ARGHH!!!. I started to yell at him in my head – (Secret fighting in your head is the best, I recommend it!)
“WHY< WHY WHY can’t you clean the dishes, there are bottles and dishes and knives all in the sink and it’s not hard to wash them when you are done with them, why oh why do you wish to vex me so?
I angrily began to wash them, stabbing the wand in each bottle and getting angrier as the hot water filled up the sink. Getting more and more worked up, I start theorizing on my own, wild and crazy thoughts like..
“Why does he do this? He knows how much I HATE a dirty sink! It’s so easy to clean it.. why doesn’t he JUST do it. It must be to make me mad, it’s so simple why doesn’t he care enough to clean them, why? I mean it’s not like it’s hard. I have seen him clean before.. it’s simple really, you put the dish in the sink with the soap and water and VOILA, clean dishes!! I am doing it right now in fact!! OH MY GOD!
Getting myself worked into quite a frothy milkshake of hurt and resentment, I decide that I will take a shower to to “cool” off.
I walk into the bathroom and notice, not only did he clean it, but he moved the shower nozzle to the setting I like, and he made sure my face cream is just to the left of my cleanser and my electric toothbrush is soaking in peroxide to clean it. I realize as my eyes fill with tears how much he does care, how much he does love me and never ever asks me to say thank you. It would make me sound a whole lot better here if this was a once in a while thing.. but truly, my partner is really good at doing things for people and not only not asking for credit but going out of his way NOT to be recognized. Yes, I do plenty for our marriage, AND so does he. It hit me then, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter who does the dishes and who does the laundry, it matters that it gets done.. Maybe not on the same day, or let’s face it.. even the same week, but if you both work together, everything does get done. It sounds really simple when I put it like that, but trust me when I say, it’s taken my almost five years to reach that conclusion.
Speaking as someone who is married, you are going to fight. It’s a hard ugly truth that no one tells you when you couple up. So let me shatter the illusion, You will fight.
There will be big fights and little fights and the real humdinger are those fights that you say to yourself., “Why am I so upset about this”??? Does it really matter at the end of the day ? (see argument above) but keep slinging the verbal bon mots as you find yourself further and further afield of the original starting line of the argument! Some great marriage advice I read recently talks about being KIND to your partner. Do you know how EASY/HARD that is to do? You are bone-tired and overworked and all you want to do is retreat to the couch to watch mindless televison or escape into a good book or scroll through social media. Definitely do that, I am all about self-care AND dive into the investment of a loving and caring relationship. Do BOTH.
The point of my post today is – Give up looking for credit or checking your scoreboard- they did this, so I will do that.. or I will do this for them if they do this for me. Be loving and giving because it makes you a better partner, not because someone will give you a gold star.
Think about it…