Not too long ago, XUP posted about her domestic routine, which reminded me that it was time to get some chores done around the house which, in turn, reminded Janie that she needed to lounge on the couch and watch Xena without taking her shirt off.
Around these parts, I’m known as the anal one, the one who is constantly buzzing about, wiping the counters down and putting things away. I have been called obsessive from time to time but, in all reality, I’m just bothered by the clutter we seem to collect on a near-hourly basis. Janie, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to mind when the sink is piled with dishes or the stack of paid bills to file is six months old and heaping. She’d rather read or take a bath or spend her free time wailing about her sciatica.
This is the single most fought about issue in our house, hands down. A significant number of therapy sessions were centered around this issue with nary a resolution.
What it boils down to is that I grew up in a house where cleanliness was strictly enforced. My father left notes on anything possible as reminders to cleanup after ourselves right down to the very serious “DO NOT TAKE ICE IF YOU DO NOT MAKE ICE” note masking taped to the ice tray in the freezer. And he meant it. While I do not go so far as to leave laminated reminders around the house, I do have a very real expectation that anyone who lives with me should do their best to keep things in order. Janie tries very hard and, in the many years we’ve lived together, she has come quite far. There have only been a handful of times we’ve made one another cry, but there have been significantly more times that we’ve made one another very angry. Like, just right now as Janie is reading this, I bet she’s leaving her dirty teacups on my side of the desk and scribbling me a nasty note on my monogrammed notepad, something to the tune of “You’re a rotten whore.”.
Janie grew up in a more relaxed house, without the benefit of strict instructions on how to properly fold a bath towel after each use and what, exactly, hospital corners can do for one’s sanity. It has been incredibly difficult for us to reach any amount of understanding on the housework front. Just last night we had a discussion about what it means for each of us to do a chore. To me, it’s survival. I cannot sleep with dishes in the sink and cat litter on the floor. God forbid there be an odor coming from the trash can, because what will the world think of us if our trash smells like trash? To Janie, a chore is her way of expressing her love for me. She cleans the house to do something nice because she cares about me and knows I’ll appreciate it. I see this as her job, you know, because we live in a house we both own and who wouldn’t want their home to be clean? She doesn’t see it like that, she sees it as I did this nice thing for you today and I could use some appreciation for all the hard work I put into folding that laundry. Here is where things usually tend to get ugly, so last night we settled on each having the knowledge of the other’s point of view. Since I understand that doing housework is paramount to bring home flowers in Janie’s mind, when I get home today I’m going to vacuum the living room and then insist Janie take off her shirt because I did something nice for her and in return she should do something nice for me.