Team Chores: A Marriage Revelation
Hello good people and welcome to Stuff They Never Told You! I hope you are doing well. Let’s jump right into today’s Stuff on the personal revelations made possible through commitment.
ONE FROM THE AGES
Plutarch on the beauty and wisdom endeared through commitment:
“In the beginning, especially, married people ought to be on their guard against disagreements and clashes, for they see that such household vessels as are made of sections joined together are at the outset easily pulled apart by any fortuitous cause, but after a time, when their joints have become set, they can hardly be separated by fire and steel.”
Source: Advice to Bride and Groom
ONE FROM TODAY
A vital distinction, clarified by Mike Maples Jr.:
“Ego is about who is right. Truth is about what is right.”
Source: Tribe of Mentors
ONE FROM US
Commitment is never easy. It offers access to a level of depth and fulfillment that is otherwise impossible, but it is not easy.
Marrying my wife Neely has completely changed my life for the better, but it would not be near as wonderful or sustainable without a steady stream of growth. Marriage forced me to recognize many of my own flaws because their negative consequences manifested in a variety of friction points. Even more of these flaws and friction points became apparent when Neely and I became parents. SLOWLY we’ve both become a bit more self-aware and have come to a far better understanding of human personalities, relationships, and communication. Neely and I can now, almost effortlessly, move past and laugh about little frustrations that might have previously ballooned into larger fights.
Still, we (mostly me) have plenty of work left to do. Over and over a pattern has played out where there has been some source of tension that I felt completely self-righteous about. Each time those tensions came to the surface, I’d be certain of how unreasonable Neely’s perspective was. Then one day I’d suddenly realize that, in fact, it was I who had had a massive blindspot. An example:
For years mild resentments festered about the imbalance in household chores. Neely is the rock of our home handling most of the scheduling, family activities, child pickup, and in-home chores. Don’t get me wrong, I chip in plenty. The outdoor jobs are mine and I do as much as I can to help with food prep, dinner, cleaning up the kitchen, feeding the dog, taking care of the kids, etc. Part of the issue is just that running a household is a lot of work and during the work week, I work fairly long hours.
But the bigger issue has come on weekends. At a certain point during every weekend, Neely decides to clean everything—multiple bathrooms, windows, counters, floors, etc. Knowing that she likes it done her way, I’ve typically tried to help by taking the kids to the park to get us all out of the way. Sometimes this seemed to be appreciated, but sometimes she appeared to resent our leaving.
A few weeks ago, she said she was going to clean, so I said, “Okay, I’ll get the kids ready and take them to the park.” And then she was clearly annoyed and I couldn’t understand why. In my mind, I was helping. Taking two kids to the park, while wonderful, is not easy. So I got frustrated. As an argument brewed I walked away, indignant and self-righteous as ever. I decided to spite her by grabbing the cleaning supplies and starting to clean the bathrooms myself. That will show her. Minutes later she found me and she couldn’t help but laugh. It turns out this is what she had wanted. Not for me to do everything, but to share the load. She began teaching me how to clean “the right way” and we, happily, cleaned the house together. Then I had a revelation: When I took the kids to the park without her, it made her feel excluded from a family event while she was left behind to do even more of the household work.
Since then, we’ve cleaned the house together in an hour or less every weekend. It goes quickly enough that we both have time to take the kids to the park or whatever else we like. And she likes me more than ever.
So often in life, it seems the answer is there staring us right in the face and we can’t see it because we are blinded by our own perspective. There seems to be no way to make these revelations come more quickly. They are lessons only available when you care about something enough to commit to working at it over time. As I’ve seen over and over, the greatest depth and beauty in life are only possible through commitment.
Thank you very much for reading! A few reminders about my upcoming book release:
My book Setting the Bar comes out next Tuesday, November 9th!
I know people like to plan their Audible audio credits, so I made the Audible version available early. You can get it now!
If you don’t have an Audible but want to listen to the book on audio, sign up with this link.
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Life is too short to be normal,