Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Housekeeping

The Partner informed me the other day that I am a failure as a wife due to my lackluster attitude toward housekeeping. After listening to an exhaustive list of my failings, I asked him to cite a few of my positive characteristics so that I might have something to cling to as I teeter on the edge of a maritally-induced depression.

He thought for a while. Then he told me I was perfectly good as a girlfriend, back when I would visit him at his apartment and then go home again (to my own pig sty).

At first I was shocked and appalled by his line of thinking. Then I remembered that he is always right. By forcing myself to look at the issue from his God-like point of view, I saw everything with a strange sense of clarity. He was on to something.

Things were better back then. I was a nicer person, more carefree. He was unstressed each evening as he tossed another Skillet Sensation on the stove top. I made my own money. He drove a big, black truck, factory-fresh. We were two autonomous beings enamored with our own independence, and with each other's.

Upon our marriage, we got a gift subscription to the Hallmark greeting card school of thought that told us sharing a life not only makes good times better, but it makes bad times more tolerable. It was a course load of shit. Missing was this core: sharing a life is infinitely more difficult than living one's own.

I don't think it does much good to dwell on things that were easy. Unfortunately, looking forward to the hard parts is daunting. I don't know how to work through them and it's pretty evident to me that The Partner doesn't, either. We're both bad at compromise. We find it hard to reconcile a given situation with the way we think it should be. He won't apologize and I won't forgive.

But at least now I understand that marriage is supposed to take effort. This is no small realization on my part. I'm the type of person that will try to get away with whatever I can for as long as I can. It's how high school, where I never had to study for my high honors, blended into college, where I failed half my classes freshman year. Though guaranteed to be a long process, I can be taught.

So marriage is hard. Okay, I get it. But now what? I guess all that remains to be seen is if I'm truly as lazy as The Partner thinks I am, and if his solid work ethic translates from the office and the garage to the less tangible turf of our life together.

11 comments:

Sarah said...

It always takes compromise. The Boz family might look perfect, but we work as hard as everyone else. I think you need to look at the right kind of compromise for you. Chore gets done = You get laid as payment.

lauren said...

I did the dishes today. I'm hoping what Sarah says in her last comment about chore=laid is true. Bink, I'm the same exact way as you--perfectly happy living in my own mess--and it sucks because although you are happy in it, you know that other's are not. I haven't found the solution yet.

Jenifer said...

We sound a lot alike, from high honors in high school, to flunking some in college. I also have a husband that it is HARD to "share" a life with.... opposite of your problem, I am relatively neat while he is a royal slob..

But we both have very STRONG ideas of how things should be and, like you, neither of us is willing to bend. Thanks for reminding me I am not alone in the "marriage is hard" club!

Boz said...

Cut the crap. Being together is hard work, but it is better than dating independently, even for you two. For one thing, you get this. For another, I know your husband. While you may have your fights, in tough times he is more dependable than anyone. Not only that, he loves you, whether or not he is good at expressing it. So quit your whining (both of you), and get on with making things right.

@Sarah - Chore gets done = You get laid as payment

When did this rule go into effect? Does it start today? I always thought the rule was: Chore gets done = Wife is less angry

And yes, I still hate everyone.

:P,

Boz

Sarah said...

Boz - Our equation is that the same as that needed for Binky!!

jen said...

oh sister.

it is hard sometimes, isn't it.

Mrs. Chicken said...

"He won't apologize and I won't forgive."

Our marriages are cut from the same cloth. It IS hard work. But I finally realized it is worth the effort.

Hoping things get easier for you.

Lawyer Mama said...

Ooh, see in our marriage, I'm the one who won't apologize.

It's hard. It is. It's so much harder when you have other people to take care of.

Andrea said...

While I may not be quite as housekeepingly challenged as you describe yourself, my tolerance level for house-mess is just beyond my husband's. Just when I start to recognize the pangs of, "God, this place is disgusting and needs a good scrubbing," my husband has already quietly taken up the dust cloth and started cleaning in another room, shooting resentful looks in my direction.

Enter my low threshold for guilt.

When we were married, our pastor said something that struck me as completely rational that went along the lines of this, and I'm paraphrasing: marriage is not a compromise in the 50/50 sense. Marriage is a compromise in the 100/100 sense. In the 50/50 sense, each person gives a little and neither person feels as if they've gotten what they wanted from the compromise. They both come away feeling as if they've given in and the other person got the better end of the deal, and they're both not happy. In the 100/100 sense, some of the time, one person completely gives in to the other and the one who gets their way feels fulfilled, and then is more than happy to give their 100% compromise back to their partner on another decision and each person comes away with the sense that some of the time they get what they want, and some of the time they give their partner what they want, so that both people feel fulfilled completely at least some of the time.

This philosophy has helped me and my husband in our thinking when we each start to feel that we're bending too much to the will of the other. I'm not saying that it would help you becuase I can't possibly know your whole situation through one blog post. But maybe it's worth thinking about.

Good luck to you. I remember being called lazy when I was newly pregnant (mostly the first time I was pregnant but I've heard it a little bit the second time around, too) because I was so tired and sick all I wanted to do was lay on the couch. Sometimes, the men just don't get it.

Michele said...

If you have been to my place lately, you know I knwo the struggle of marital strife. It sucks. And it is hard work every day, and worse when one feels like they are working harder than the other.

Damn, Boz needs to talk to my husband.

Taylor Blue said...

My husband I fight (or should I say discuss in calm voices) about that all the time...but I have always lived with someone my whole life...I often wonder what it would be like to be alone...