A history lesson may be helpful to tie in last week’s post with today’s post, which depicts a situation that took me through the five stages to humor. Don’t worry, this will be the Cliff’s Notes version – I wouldn’t want to air my dirty laundry (um, the bad laundry joke will make sense later, I promise.)
Eleven years ago, my hubby had a job where he worked long hours, so I took over many of the household tasks (except yard maintenance) that he had previously handled. After a year, he changed jobs. The problem? He didn’t take any of the chores back. This didn’t become a big issue until after we had children (over eight years ago).
Every few months, I’d compile a list of the tasks each of us regularly handled. He would agree that my list was longer. I would ask him which items he wanted to take over from my list. He would tell me he appreciated everything I did and that I did them better than he could. My frustration level increased as the years went on. I told him I didn’t want appreciation, I wanted less “stuff” to do around the house.
Nothing changed…until I recently pounced on opportunity like a cougar on a lone sheep. Here’s a replay of the attack conversation:
Hubby: “I’m gaining too much weight.”
Me: “If you’d make lunches following the low sugar/carb plan again, you’d lose weight again.”
Hubby: “It’s too much work. It’s easier when you do it.”
Me: “Of course it is. Because you don’t have to do anything and a cooked lunch appears – like magic.” <Yes, I said it just as snarky as it reads> After a moment, I added, “Maybe we can make a deal.”
Hubby: “What kind of deal?” <I wonder if he got the feeling he was about to sell his soul to the devil?>
Me: “I’ll make your lunches if you do the laundry.”
Hubby: “But I thought you didn’t want me ruining your clothes.” <Aha! I suspected he purposely botched laundry to get out of it.>
Me: “I keep my clothes separate. I’ll do those. You do everything else.”
Hubby: <after several seconds of silence> “Okay.”
The next weekend, after he’d eaten a week’s worth of lunches, I reminded him that all of the laundry included towels and sheets (from all three beds). He balked, but we had a deal – a compromise; a negotiation where we each gained something from the exchange (his gain was nine loads of laundry a week :)) It crossed my mind that the lunches-for-laundry deal could have been a product of coercion; maybe the years of pressure about my domestic overload finally got to him… No, it was definitely a compromise.
In the last several weeks, I’ve seen some disturbing things:
- My younger son wore his older brother’s socks to school (the heel of the sock bunched up on the back of his ankle, over his tennis shoe);
- My older son wore his younger brother’s long sleeved shirt to school (he didn’t notice the barely covered midriff and the ¾ length sleeves?!);
- A shirt I wore camping was laundered and hung up wrong-side-out (because he thought that’s how I wanted it…even though we have NEVER hung clothes that way);
- My socks are being trashed worn by the kids; and
- <gasp> He’s washing all clothes in hot water.
I’m convinced that some of the “errors” are his way of making me sorry I turned laundry over to him, but I’m not taking the bait. The kids will learn that just because it’s in their closet/drawers, doesn’t mean it’s fit to wear. When I can’t find a pair of socks anywhere, I will go buy more. I am too stubborn to give in to the aggravation of inside-out clothing.
I can overlook his laundry shortcomings because he has many of my deficiencies to stew over excuse, too. For instance, I never put my dishes in the dishwasher. I don’t have to because he can’t stand dishes in the sink. I dislike talking on the telephone, so whenever possible, I delegate phone-speaking to him. Stacks of “I’ll get to it later” papers clutter our desktop. He would like to see the desk cleared and polished, I’m sure. In fact, so would I.
Maybe if I hold out long enough, he will do it?
Eh, I didn’t think so either.
You know what they say, “She who does less laundry laughs loudest.” No?
What do you think is the line that separates compromise and coercion? Have you engaged in similar “compromises?”