Thursday, March 15, 2012

Settling In... or "Boy, We sure do have a lot of laundry! (wedding series post #4)"

OK, first, I know that when I outlined this wedding series it went like "leading up to wedding events #1, wedding #2, honeymoon #3, married life #4" and if you are a faithful reader of this blog (and I'm pretty sure that if you are one of the few readers of this blog, you are) - you'll notice that I posted three "pre-wedding events" posts and then skipped right to this "married life" one.

I promised its not because I don't want to regale you with the funness of the wedding or the sheer joy that I had in spending three days poolside in Playa Del Carmen. Its mostly because it has officially been over 4 months since I got married, and the sum total of our thank you cards sent out remains at 2, I figure I'd better do something wedding related to get myself moving! This "settling in" post is mostly about: Laundry.

Here is the naked truth.... There is more than double the laundry to do now in this house. It boggled my mind the first few weeks, and I almost couldn't handle it. I have decided that men wear more clothes than women (undershirts, shirts, jeans, undies, socks - every day! I don't have to wear undershirts or socks every day, and I often can re-wear a shirt or jeans a few times), and that double the towels is a lot of towels. I really struggled at first, because I work from home most days and that big bin of laundry, and the (massive amount of) dishes in the sink, and the state of the house in general wore on me like water torture.

See, there is a difference between working from home and homemaking as work. I appreciate the latter, and even might take it up someday, but the former means that I have to pretend that I am not at home, but rather that I am in a professional office somewhere. But the laundry, and the dishes, etc, called out to be addressed.  And part of me said, "Tiff, just do it! It would bless Curby to do the laundry today rather than over the weekend, and you're at home already, why not just do it?" ... the other part said, "Tiff! Get to work! You and Curby can do the laundry together! Your job is not to do the laundry, its to write this giant paper."  And so I struggled.

Then, when Curby and I were together, we just wanted to hang out and not "work" - so the laundry pile got bigger and bigger. We actually have two laundry bins and they were both full to overflowing. It was driving me bananas. So on one Saturday, we tackled it and after 6 loads, we were awash in clean, unfolded clothes - huge piles. Those eventually were folded, and even put away. VICTORY!

Soon after, my friend Em and I were having lunch and she said, "Before you guys used to do that stuff when you were apart, and then you could be together and just have fun. But now you need to do that stuff when you are together - you need to do this as a part of life."

She is a very wise young (single) woman. And her insight into this issue was a revelation.


And so one of my first lessons of marriage was that those things which were chores before have to be repurposed into fun times now.

One of the other lessons we learned early on is that it is OK ("nay, better!," says Pastor Adam) to not have defined roles (in terms of chores, duties, responsibilities - gendered or otherwise). For example, its better to not have it be Curby's "job" to take out the trash, or my "job" to do the laundry. Because once something becomes a job, it becomes an obligation - and then when someone doesn't do it, they fail at their obligation. Instead, we want to have a house where each of us serves the others, where people succeed at blessing each other. And so our philosophy is to do the things that need to be done. If the toilet paper runs out while I'm in the bathroom, then I change it, if the trash needs to go out and I have a chance to do it, then I do it. This means that our actions can serve as gifts to each other - when Curby notices the trash and takes it out, its a gift to me; when I offer to do the dishes, its a gift to him. We still have our "things" that we end up doing regularly, our routines - before bed, Curby usually makes the coffee and I take the dog out to the bathroom. But we usually discuss the tasks before starting them - if I'm wearing shorts or pjs and its cold out, I might say, "Can I make the coffee and you take the dog?" or I might say, "I can do both tonight - you go get ready or bed" - there is not an expectation that one of us will do a specific chore - just that it will get done.

This has really helped our marriage.  In particular, it has helped in the area of laundry. There may be a time when one of us is a stay at home parent, and that person may decide that laundry is something that he or she can handle during the daily routine. But for now, we do laundry together - it is not a man's or woman's task, not Curby's nor mine alone. I might take the laundry down and start it, and later Curby goes and switches it. I like folding and Curby hates it, so I often fold the main clothes and let him fold the socks.

And while the laundry runs, we watch episodes of "Chopped" or "Psych" or play "Lego Star Wars" on the Wii and make the whole laundry day fun.

So even though the pile of laundry sometimes still gets large (We had 5 loads again this weekend...), it is no longer stressing me out all day long. I know that its not my "job" to do it during the day, and I know that it will eventually get done, together.

Lesson #1 complete.

More lessons to come. :)