Cleaning has been an issue between T and I for as long as we have been living together.

Don’t get me wrong, I am far from a clean freak.  I have never been someone who aspires to constant spotlessness, and I am far too embarassed to admit in print how infrequently I actually clean.  But drifts of German shepherd hair in the corners, clothes piled around the bedroom and living room, and the inability to actually see any horizontal surface in the kitchen eventually gets to me.  It makes me feel guilty and embarassed for being lazy.  It means when I finally do clean and see just how dirty everything is from my own inaction, I get more and more pissed-off at myself.  Not a good place to be.  The dogs have learned to just stay out of my way when I clean.

T, on the other hand, HATES to clean.  With a burning passion.  He would much rather pay someone to do it for him, and that was pretty much the arrangement he had for years before we met.  However, he is a good enough man to want to help me out when I clean.  He really, genuinely feels bad if I am cleaning without him, and he insists on helping me out.  Despite the fact that he is miserable the whole time.

Which results in the paradox.  I don’t want to be the bad guy and make him clean when he hates it,  but then I get upset that I can’t just clean by myself.  Bad feelings all around.  This makes me, a staunch feminist who believes wholeheartedly that marriage is a 50-50 partnership of equals, wish that I had a 50s-era husband who would just pick up his feet as I vacuum under him.

image from americanmemoryofthe1950shousewif.bgsu.wikispa

But this weekend I may have found a solution.  While we sat on the couch not cleaning, I suggested a possible plan that was recieved with lukewarm support.  We sat on the couch some more, still not cleaning.  I brought the plan up again, and noncommittal noises were made.  There was some more not-cleaning to be done.  Finally, as I started to motivate us to clean, accompanied by the usual, “Fiiine, if you want to clean, then we’ll clean…,” I said what must have been the magic words, “Honestly, I would rather do it by myself.”

And then he accepted the plan.  While I cleaned the house, he took the dogs to the park and did some light grocery shopping.  Both were chores that  needed to be done.  I vacuumed and scrubbed everything I wanted to, sucking up dog-hair drifts, and cleaning toilets and sinks.  Part-way through, I realized that I wasn’t pissed-off at all.  I was actually in a pretty good mood for a change.  I heard T and the dogs come home when I was most of the way done, but, mysteriously, he didn’t come upstairs until the moment I finished cleaning.  And when he did, he announced that dinner would be ready in five minutes!

If I had made him clean with me, no shopping would have been done this weekend, and the dogs wouldn’t have gotten any exercise.  This may become a routine, although I will be sad if I never get to go play with T and the dogs at the park anymore.  So we’ll see how it goes.

But I have to say, it is wonderful to have a husband who is a true partner and helps you out with all the chores.  No matter how you divide them up.  *smile*