It’s been almost two years since we tied the knot. We lived together for the first year and a half, but for the past couple of months, I’ve seen my husband only on weekends due to a job relocation. I miss him terribly as the week goes by, and we text all day at work and at home. When he drives over on Friday or Thursday nights, we’re on the phone for a big chunk of his drive. We laugh non-stop with innumerable (bad) jokes and discuss whatever interesting topic we just learned about. Needless to say, I can’t imagine my life without this guy who turned out to be the best friend I can ever recall having, and just how much it pains me to be apart for so long. Now that this has been covered, how do you deal with it when your ultimate life partner turns out to be the one person that drives you craziest at home?
I find it both hilarious and absurd (perhaps alarming), how when people begin dating, they focus on asking the silliest questions like, “What music do you like?” or “What’s your favorite movie?” The truth is that unless they have a thing for blasting hardcore heavy metal at full volume for 4 hours straight while you’re a soft pop country sort of gal, that is never going to be as relevant as the daily habits that drive the state of your home. (I’ll grant you the benefit of the doubt if he’s overly obsessed with psycho-murder movies, but most times it’s fine).
One of the biggest areas of concern lies within your (and your partner’s) cleaning preferences. Next time, instead of asking what concert they’ve been to lately, try asking, “Do you clean dishes at the end of each meal or do you leave them in the sink for an indeterminate number of days until they develop a sense of post-apocalyptic abandonment until the landlord is forced to call in a specialized cleaning team of individuals dressed in hermetically-sealed white suits?” This is just one of the truly-important questions.
For those who know my husband and me, I know, we dated for many years before we got married, so surely, we must’ve seen the clashes, right? Between his apparent recklessness in tidying up and the strict cleaning standards of my upbringing… Yes, we saw it. Clearly. Over the years, we’ve also had plenty of arguments over this issue. It got to a point where I had largely given up on cleaning (for the most part) and we were both often embarrassed to have friends or family over. At some point I realized, “Oh, I’m messy too.” Then things slightly improved. We also had a bit of couples therapy and I did my best to decrease my intensity and anger and instead become a calmer, more loving and encouraging wife so we would both love partaking in our daily tasks.
But. Here’s the thing. Now that we’re apart once more, (most of our dating years were a long—distance relationship), and now that I don’t live with my side of the family, I’ve come to realize, I can clean up after myself. I also enjoy it, to what I consider to be a healthy degree of cleaning. I’ve grown to embrace it, playing music while cleaning, even learning about Japanese cleaning methods and at times applying other seeming-unrelated self-help methodologies. Perhaps I’m making it sound like much, though it’s been a slow, arduous process… But I’m getting there! I hope… Then the weekend comes, and my husband arrives. Entropy goes through the roof and all sanity flies out the window. Then, the defensiveness begins as we each feel the other doesn’t do enough, turning cleaning from a leisurely pleasure into a heavy, gargantuan burden.
“I can’t continue living like this,” I often say, but I’m saying it to my best friend! The man I love most in this world, with whom I want to spend my every moment with. How do we turn to foes so quickly? How do we recover from such seemingly catastrophic arguments? Well, the turning to foes too quickly might be too deep-rooted to address in this article, but the latter is easier to answer. The lazier answer is, we really love each other. The slightly-more-dedicated answer involves some more elements: I stop, recognize and apologize when I get too intense or blow small things out of proportion… He brings up that overly-ridiculous joke that will unquestionably make me crack up for minutes at a time. I will make exceedingly clear my devastation at the mere thought of him sleeping on the couch instead of in bed with me… He will watch out more for the little things I care about and will gradually help out more and more… Finally, I will let some things go, because I’d rather have fun in a slightly less-than-perfect home than live in a spotless house devoid of our laughs.
The ultimate lesson for both of us? Decide when and how much to clean or let go of the cleanliness to make yourself, each other, and those around you… Happiest.