Do you remember when you were little and your Mom and Dad finally introduced you to the real reason that they had children? Where you were assigned chores? So you finally emptied the dishwasher, which they hated to do, and you finally folded the laundry, which they hated to do. And as you got older and older the chores got more complicated and in greater number till your poor put upon teenage self proclaimed at every breath how much they must hate you and that you do ALL the work around this dad gum place? Remember??? (Or maybe that was just me.)
Anyway, you finally grew up and realized Oh wow, your parents didn’t HATE you. Oh no, they were trying to TEACH you how to be a grown up. So now that you are grown up and still have to do the laundry and empty the dishwasher, (which you now hate because you had to do it so much while you were a kid. It’s a vicious cycle people, vicious!) you have the same arguments with your roommates, spouse, or pets about who’s turn it is to do the dreaded Chores. But in this case you actually have to ACT like a grown up and work together to get everything done. (Or until you have kids you can get to do those blasted chores for you)
One of the first things you learn when living with someone else is how differently you both see this issue. Guys who room together and Girls who room together don’t have that big of issues, because for the most part. The two sexes seem to see eye to eye on the more basic principles. Laundry piles, dirty dishes…or dishes at all…seat up or down. You get the idea. And sometimes it’s the guys who are super neat and the girls who are messy, but in general there are more commonalities between the same sex than between opposite sexes. However, when you get married….well that is just one big eye opener. See this is a classic issue in our household. Alex and I both have chores. We have chores because neither one of us want to live in a dirty, dusty pigsty of a house. And we want to eat. Thus chores happen to ensure we aren’t trying to navigate our way through heaps of dirty clothes which could potentially trip us and break something which would lead to horrible infections and thus reduce our ability to work which would lead to less money and then we’d never have food. (Whew….minor freak out over the dangers of dirt. Sorry about that…but really I do like eating. And a clean house. Enough about that though, back to the original topic. Chores…) Where the challenge lies is over who does what chore.
You see, Alex has a more “traditional” approach to chores. He feels the house is mine. So I get to pick the furniture (bonus!) and the paint scheme (bonus!), but included in this is me in charge of the cooking, cleaning, dusting, mopping, organizing, grocery shopping, money handling, bill paying, bathroom cleaning, laundry half of the time, and all of the little stuff that goes with the above (huge freaking I do not THINK so). He gets the garage. So he has to mow and take care of our cars and lift the heavy stuff for me. (Again, all bonuses, don’t mistake me, I like he does this stuff but the number of chores we each do seems oddly disproportionate here.) Plus let’s face it. He’s a guy….he doesn’t mind the water rings on the coffee table, the bed sheets half off the bed, the dirty laundry piles (please note the multiple piles), or the ring around the tub. He’ll clean up if there is company, but if it’s just us who cares??? And that’s ok. That is his style. Mine is just the complete opposite. So for the most part we try to meet in the middle. But occasionally that more closely resembles two rams butting heads than a couple of hippies holding hands singing Kumbuya.
See the difference in the two pictures????
So sometimes we have “discussions” like we did last night. Where I rant and rave over how I do not get how he cannot get up to even get the mail on his day off. Let alone make the bed or get the chicken out of the freezer so that I can cook the dinner. Whereas on my day off I swept the whole house, mopped the whole house, and then mowed the front lawn because I felt bad since he has been getting up to work overtime at 2:55 a.m. for the past week. But again, that is ok. That is his style of relaxing and my style of relaxing. This does not mean he won’t help with laundry. Or he won’t mow the rest of the yard. It just means he won’t do it on my schedule. And hey, after I ranted and raved and did take a minute to point out that hey you said you’d help out. I cannot work a full time job just like you AND take care of the entire house. He helped. He helped a lot. Now I’m 100% sure some of it was just to shut me up. But I also know some of it was because he did want to help.
So you see one of the very hardest and yet the best lesson about marriage is the art of compromise and patience. (Oh and understanding that a man is a man and a woman is a woman and no matter how much you may wish it otherwise, they are each going to view “clean” totally differently.) A lot of my friends are getting married soon and some of them are flabbergasted at how we handle chores in our house. But I’ve learned, it’s really better if I cook and I do the dishes and I do the grocery shopping, because that’s where I get more antsy. Just as it really is better if Alex does the lawn and Alex does the cars because really I could care less. Its just so much easier to take on what you are better at and what you are more picky about then let someone else take care of it. This reduces the fights and the frustration you both will feel. And sometimes one of us will feel like all of the work is on us, but that is ok. Because inevitably the pendulum will swing the other way and things will balance out. It’s just sometimes we both need to prove our point….loudly. That’s what marriage is all about really. Finding someone else to do half the chores in real life.
So that is my great insight for the day. Hey just trying to stay honest here people. Despite what all the lovebirds out there might think, Marriage is NOT like dating. Marriage is NOT like engagement. Marriage is realizing that you are stuck with the annoying piles of laundry, and the excuses of “I’ll get to it later” and loving the other person DESPITE EVERYTHING. I may only be 8 and a half months into this thing, but let’s keep it real people. Besides, I really don’t want people to catch me grumbling and think that is all do, or even the opposite. This is real life people. Not a romance novel.