Friday, January 10, 2014

The conversation that changed our marriage

Matt and I both think the transition into our marriage was easy. One day we had a lot of roommates of the same gender, the next just one of the opposite gender. It really wasn't that big of deal.

Now that doesn't mean we don't have fights.
We had our first fight on our honeymoon. Matt wanted to catch up on our finances and was a bit distressed when he discovered we went over budget for our trip.We fought. I cried, but within an hour or so it blew over.

Money was a big issue our first year of marriage, but now two years later, it's something we rarely fight about. We found a groove (oh...and a job.)

We've had many problems that we have been able to find a solution to, but one that was a really difficult problem was cleaning.

You see, I have ADHD.
A messy house doesn't bother me.
Matt was borderline OCD when we got married.
He had to have the house clean.
Hence the problem.

When we first got married, his solution was just to clean everything himself.
But as the school work piled on, he would be up until 3-4 in the morning cleaning up our house.
It drove me nuts. He never had time for me. His solution was that I should help out more.
And I tried, but after a day or two, I'd quit.

Through the next two years of our marriage, we tried different tactics.
He got more lenient. The house could be a bit mess. I tried harder to keep it clean. But it still wasn't working.

I wasn't happy with the cleaning, and it was still messier than he liked.
Each solution we came up with was like a shoe that slightly pinches.
We just couldn't come up with a solution that fit us just right.

Then two or three weeks ago, we were talking about love languages. We were discussing how we try to express love to each other other than saying "I love you." It was just one of those cute and fluffy conversations couples have until I said,

"Like I'm expressing love for you, when I put away the laundry."
Matt: "Yeah, and then you point it out and expect me to compliment you on it when I get home. The thing is that someone has to put away the laundry; it's not like you're just doing it for me."
Me: "Yes, I am."
Matt: "Wait, in my absence, you would never put away laundry?"
Me: "I'd probably just leave them there until the hamper was empty of clean clothes, and then scoop up all the dirty clothes on the floor, wash them, and repeat the cycle."
Matt (clearly baffled by this point): "I don't get it, for someone who loves nice clothing so much, doesn't it bother you to see them all over floor."
Me: "Honestly, I don't even really notice."
Matt: "WHAT?!"
Me: "Well, as long as I can do what I need to do in the room, messes don't bother me. That's why I'm so bothered by a messy kitchen. When the dishes aren't done, I can't cook or eat."
Matt: "So let me get this straight, you derive absolutely no pleasure from having a clean house? It doesn't make you an ounce happier to see it neat and tidy versus...the way it looks right now?"
Me: "Nope! Why would I waste my life cleaning when I could be doing something more fun?"

That was a turning point.
We haven't fought over cleaning since then.
The house has been cleaner than normal.
Matt helps me do the dishes most nights before bed.
He gives me extra compliments when I clean now,
which makes me want to clean more.
The solution actually really simple, I didn't need an elaborate (or even simple) chore chart.
Matt didn't need to clean the whole house every day by himself.
Weirdly enough, the solution was as simple as understanding each other.

(See that little black thing in my hand? It's a toy for my camera that Matt bought me so I can use my tripod more. It just came in yesterday. I think between Christmas photos and the pictures I did with Madeleine and me, he felt bad that I had to use the timer.)

No comments:

Post a Comment