I Did It My Way

I’m sure I’ve heard even more profound wisdom than this, but this piece of advice, which I heard over 15 years ago, is one that I think of almost daily.

You can get your husband to help with the housework,
or you can do it your way.

 I know you proud obsessive-compulsive housekeepers (I’ve been one of you, myself).  You take a lot of pride in the fact that the clothes in your closet are grouped by color and arranged in ROYGBIV order.  You stand up straighter when someone notices that the bookshelves in your living room follow the Dewey Decimal System.  You place the dishes into the dishwasher Just So and have outlines of your utensils traced on the bottom of the kitchen drawers so that everything can be returned to its proper place after use.

If doing housework and maintaining your home organization systems is your hobby, by all means, keep it up.  But if you find that it’s just one more thing on that overwhelming to-do list, I think you should try giving up on the perfect systems and settle for a home where everyone helps and the work gets done, although imperfectly (or, at least, not the way you would have done it, which is actually not the same thing).

The towels in my bathroom cabinet are hardly ever folded exactly the same way.  That’s because I fold them one way and Stephen folds them another.  But do you hear what else I’m saying?  I’m not the only one doing the laundry.  

I know that not all husbands can help out around the house.  I know that not all husbands will help out around the house.  But I also know lots of ladies who insist on doing it all just so that it is done “right.”  But then they are resentful, overworked, and tired.  It just doesn’t seem worth it to me.

But there’s a catch.  You accept that you can’t do it all, you enlist help from your husband (this actually applies to kids, too!)…and then you have to back off and let him do it.  The point is for the work to get done, not for it to get done your way.

I remember pitching in with the dishes at a friend’s house one time when she sneaked her hand under the faucet, pretending to rinse her hands.  Later I figured out that she was checking the temperature of the water.  When I asked what she would have done if the water hadn’t been hot enough, she admitted that she would have washed all of the dishes again after I left.  I laughed, and teased her a bit…and then never offered to help again.

It is unfair and disrespectful to nag your husband about how he doesn’t help out with the house or family, but then to criticize him every time he tries.  If you want him to do the dishes, let him do the dishes!  And as long as they’re reasonably clean at the end, don’t mess with his methods.  Ask yourself, “Does this REALLY matter?” And then choose your battles accordingly.

Sometimes Stephen puts things in the dishwasher that I prefer to hand-wash, or he forgets to remove my bras before moving the whites into the dryer, or he follows a different order in Abby’s bedtime routine.  And guess what?  We’re all still here–dishes, underwear, family members.  And do you know how I have time to do things like write blog posts?  It’s because of all those ways that my husband pitches in around the house.

The next time your husband puts away the dishes and mixes the salad forks and dinner forks together in the silverware drawer, bite your tongue before you mention it.  And try these words instead:

Thank you.

(P.S.  A couple of weeks after I wrote this particular blog post, I pulled white clothes out of the dryer and found my favorite bra among the dry clothes.  And guess what?  I had been the one doing laundry that day!  It’s worth remembering that even we Cleaning Queens don’t get it exactly right, every time!)

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6 responses to “I Did It My Way

  1. Would love to run this as a guest post sometime over at the Peacefulwife blog. Love the post.

  2. carrisonline

    What about the advice I passed down through the generations from that wise sage who said: “Never do something once that you don’t intend to do for the rest of your life!” 🙂 Should have remembered that the day I drove a golf cart around (“that one time”)!

  3. laurashmaura

    this is great advice, applicable even to those of us who don’t have a spouse but have a roommate 🙂

  4. Thanks for sharing this. I am re-bloging this but only because…….well I am that girl too. Ugh I have reloaded the dishwasher so many time so it would be done the “right” way and Steven and I have had too many “towel folding lessons” but I must admit I have learned to let him do it his way and consider it the “wrong way.” Thanks again for sharing.

  5. Reblogged this on GodAdventure and commented:
    I found this blog as it was re-blogged by another blog I enjoy reading. Problem is it hit a little toooooo close to home. In my first 20 years of marriage (to the other guy) I made many days miserable because he and the children didn’t do things the “right way.” But I did learn my lesson with my now Mr. Awesome….well mostly. I guess I’m a work in progress as we all are. So check out this blog and tell if you happen to find yourself in it as I did.

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