When it comes to dividing chores before company arrives, Randy Strauss thinks “honey do” lists are the pits.
A friend recently posted the following to her Facebook status:
“Reason #314 Why I love my fiance … he loads all the Costco groceries in the car while I get to sit in the car and stay dry.”
My response was, “I guess we men need to seek appreciation before marriage because I’ve been doing that shit for well over seven years without so much as a thank you.”
It was an off-hand comment and I was going for the funny, but it got me thinking about how things have progressed in my marriage.
When we were dating, I overheard a few of the things she told her friends about me and I was aware the things I did were “sweet” and “thoughtful.” If something needed to be done, she asked with a please and thanked me for doing it. If I sent flowers for no particular reason, she overwhelmed me with gratitude. If I got her a thoughtful gift for her birthday, it was the most amazing thing she’d ever received. If I had the day off and cleaned her apartment, I was the most thoughtful guy on the planet. If I remembered to feed her cat before heading off to work, I was kind and responsible.
I don’t remember becoming a lazy, irresponsible slug but it most certainly happened. Most weekend mornings, sometimes before I’ve opened my eyes, I get my marching orders for the day.
It goes something like this, “My parents will be here at two o’clock. You need to dust and vacuum the house, clean the bathrooms, put out clean towels, run to the store to pick up milk and dessert, mow the lawn and clean the patio. Make sure the grill is ready so you can start cooking the steaks right after they get here. Take the laundry basket downstairs. And, while you’re down there, you might as well put the laundry up. Oh, and I need to jump in the shower, so get breakfast ready for the baby.”
I know my wife doesn’t just have “company.” From a girlfriend stopping by for a few hours on her way through town to having her parents over for dinner before they attend a show, any day that we have guests is an event. She takes out all the stops and prepares enough food that we wouldn’t run out if the 82nd Airborne happened to drop in. Each dish is well thought out in advance and I’m usually fetching ingredients and small appliances from the pantry while she chops, mixes and bakes the kitchen into exhaustion.
Holidays require a different level of preparation that should be addressed in another article. Look for it here on July fifth.
I’ve become accustomed to these orders instead of requests. I’m really just doing my share of the work. However, now that I’ve been told to do so it is no longer of my own volition. My resentment resides in the assumption that if I weren’t told to do it, it wouldn’t get done. My frustration lies in those times when she’s so fraught with making things perfect that she’s afraid I’ll mess it up.
I wonder when I went from a kind, sweet, responsible, thoughtful and caring boyfriend to an irresponsible, lazy slug of a husband who wouldn’t lift a finger until he’s told to do as much.
A please and a thank you would be nice, but unnecessary. At the end of the day, I would rather she assumed that I know what needs to be done and relied on me to take care of it rather than being given a list of tasks as if I’m a bumbling fool that can’t put his pants on without direction.
Sometimes I just want to put a gentle finger to her lips and say, “Baby, please relax. I got this.” …and have her relax in knowing that I do.
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