Husband Does Dishes. Wife Gives Him Grief.

Husband Does Dishes. Wife Gives Him Grief.

I might be a moron. Or I might have a legitimate gripe. I am not sure. You tell me.

I think I’m better at systems than my husband. But what’s the prize for having the best system? It’s not as if we are both going to a systems review committee and one of us gets a prize. Then the person who doesn’t get the prize is like, OMG, I love you more than ever. How am I so lucky to live with someone more clever than me? Please remind me of that daily. It’s so inspirational.

Let me lay out the nuts and bolts. We don’t have a dishwasher. We are the dishwasher. Therefore, there are always dirty dishes to do and there are always clean dishes in the rack needing to be put away. You wash a dish drain’s worth, let them dry, put them away and then do some more.

Not my husband. He likes to add wet dishes to the dry dishes. If the rack is full and there are two spoons in the sink, he will wash the stupid spoons, sprinkling water all over everything as he nestles them in with the dry ones. Now you can’t put the clean dishes away because they are no longer dry. This is like moving the trash bins to the end of the driveway before backing out. It doesn’t work! Wrong order!

We’ve discussed his methodology almost as frequently as talking about what’s for dinner. He’s not a fan of this conversation and more accurately describes it as berating. After countless spins on the merry go round of why are you like this, I’m still not sure. Direct inquiry has not been as revealing as hoped, but I think he just hates putting dishes away. He prefers washing. I find this so weird. Washing is way worse than emptying. But there it is. We are different. We have different preferences.

So how big of a deal is this? Is this a good hill to die on? Is there a scenario where I will truly be happier if I shame my dish washing husband into washing fewer dishes? Has any wife ever asked this question? What is wrong with me!

Since I am so freaking good at systems, even I can see that I am the problem here. Efficiency is a useful tool for time management but it’s not a treasure. Of all the things holding me back from peace of mind, the state of the dish drain is not one of them. I’ve never thought, I’ve got to get into therapy and deal with this dish drain situation. I can’t take one more minute of it! Okay, actually I have thought that.

I am starting to see that my desire for rigid systems is the way I self regulate. If the chores are under control. Then maybe my life is under control. When I see my husband sprinkle water on dry dishes it can feel like he is inviting chaos over for dinner. I am not saying he is; I am saying it can feel like it. But that’s on me. It’s not true and it’s a stupid over reaction.

I really love being efficient but as I stated here, Being Efficient isn’t a Great Epithet, rather than be admired for something that leads to imperceptible gains, I should like to be remembered as someone who was pleasant to be around. Maybe those newly wet tupperware lids are a sign to go make some art or tell someone I love them.

Being Efficient isn’t a Great Epithet

Being Efficient isn’t a Great Epithet

Here lies Caren McCaleb. She could put dishes away faster than you. Ponder that and go do something great with your life.

That’s what I am reflecting on after a little incident this morning with a bunch of stray plastic lids. I need to re-frame my habitual response.

I have a pet peeve that’s triggered almost daily. It’s about putting things away. I want every item to have a place in the home where it lives. I want them to be in that place, and only that place, when they are not in use. My husband does not seem to want this. He is okay with things being in all sorts of places. In my model, every object has an assigned parking lot that no one else can park in, in his, the parking lot is first come first serve and just because you got the prime spot yesterday doesn’t mean a plastic lid can’t claim it today.

The reason I prefer my model is that it is more efficient. When I am putting things away, especially the dishes, I can grab what I want to return and just place it where it goes. In his model, I grab what I want to put away, go to the place it lives, notice the space is now occupied by an interloper, set down the object I’m holding, resettle the interlopers, pick up the object again and finally place it. The peeve I feel, the irritation, is that extra few steps. I don’t want to move the stupid plastic lids before I can set down the bowl! I’ve got other important things to do like surf the web for bad news.

Imagine if every time you came back to your apartment, you have to double park your car, knock on the neighbor’s door, ask for his keys and move his car from your parking spot to his. Such a needless pain in the ass.

Or is it?

My husband consistently does a bunch of things I hate to do; bill paying, laundry, feeding the dogs, last dog walk of the night, veterinary interactions, communicating with our tax guy, installing everything that needs installing, car maintenance, Wi-Fi maintenance, staying calm. He also does a bunch of things so much better than me, like making chili and being a DJ. His chili is perfection and he is a genius music curator. Is there something on this list that I would trade for better tupperware management?

If we both did what I can do, how would this other stuff get done? If we both did what I can do, what would be the need for me? Rather than see this an act against my efficiency, I need to see it as an opportunity to be of use.

When I move the plastic lids to free up the space for a small ornamental bowl, I am contributing to this family. I am not being denied quality of life. I need to see my task as a gift of gratitude to those I love and not as stolen piece of mind. The piece of mind that will be lost is when I don’t have my wonderful husband and his wonder skills.

I don’t hold my husband close and tell him how lovely it is to be married to a very efficient man. Please let me give him a better reason to hold me close in return.