The Cleaning Wars

When my wife and I were going through our pre-marriage counseling our pastor told us something he considered a life truth — “No matter how hard you try, there will always be one or two things that you always argue about.”

He was right. We argue about cleaning.

Vacuuming. Mopping. Cleaning the bathroom. Dusting. Laundry. Cleaning the kitchen. Emptying the dishwasher.

The chores, yard work and cleaning around our house never end. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on it, the handle on a bathroom drawer falls off. Or someone cracks a paver. Or I mow a stuck-up sprinkler head causing myself a few dollars and precious moments out of my day with a trip to the store and repair effort.

Our workload tripled when we bought a house this summer. My wife and I adamantly promised each other that we would do better taking care of the house and, so far, I’d give us a B- or C+ grade. Not bad, but there’s lots of room for improvement.

But here’s the thing — my wife and I are simply unable to communicate when it comes to housework. We bring different expectations to the table and have different priorities on the topic. Plus, there have been so many arguments in the past that we’ve got baggage on the issue for days. It’s ugly. It devolves quickly into a “he did/she did” routine that we’ve perfected in our married lives, each arguing over what chores we’ve accomplished in order to make some worthless point about how we perceive the other’s lack of investment in the housework.

Sometimes, I think we simply need a clean slate. (See what I did there?)

I’ve blogged about this before but please indulge me. This is serious, challenging stuff and I’d wager that my wife and I — working parents of small children — are not the only couple struggling with this. Part of our struggle is that when we get free time on the weekends, the LAST thing we want to do is load up a bucket with soapy water and get to work on the windows or floors.

It’s gotten to the point that we’ve asked our therapist about how we can end this cycle. She suggested the following:

1). Designate a time. Find a time each week or every other week when you can set aside a few hours to do chores. This time is sacrosanct and nothing — short of an emergency — can interrupt it.

2). Change your expectations. Nothing in our lives is going to be 100%. Not our job, not our marriage, not our self-image. My expectation for keeping a clean house is probably around a 90 or 95 on a scale of 100, so our therapist suggested lowering that to 80 or 85 and seeing if that will help ease the tension.

3). Respect our differences. I am a type A personality — born to accomplish things on my daily to-do list. In fact, I feel more relaxed and fulfilled once those tasks are checked off. My wife is the opposite. She does things at her own pace. Where she pulled all-nighters in college, I planned ahead for tests and projects to have my work done well ahead of time. This is who we are and this is how came off the assembly line. We must work to accept, honor and respect each others’ viewpoint and traits.

Will these suggestions work? We’re trying. And if we can clean up this issue in our marriage, it will go a long way towards making our home happier (and more organized.)

Maybe the answer is right in front of us. Literally. Maybe once we get our kids on the chore train, Mommy & Daddy can “supervise” from the couch with an adult beverage in each hand.

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The Beginning
About Happiest Daddy

Two boys, one wife and a ton of material. I live for family and I'm one of the most blessed people you will ever meet.

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