I Didn’t Get Into This Marriage For A Clean House

A few weeks ago I was chatting with my mother over the phone when she said, “Doesn’t it bother you that Mel won’t keep a cleaner house?” It was a Saturday. I was working on the dishes. I honestly didn’t know what to say. My mother didn’t say it in an antagonist way or anything. It was more out of curiosity.

She’d obviously noticed that our home wasn’t all that tidy. Not that it was only Mel’s job to clean it. I see our marriage as a partnership, so cleaning is as much my responsibility as it is hers. I will admit, though, there is often kid clutter, dishes in the sink, and half finished art projects on the counters. I will also admit, it isn’t as clean as my mother’s home, but that doesn’t bother me. In fact, I don’t really think about that at all.

I didn’t really know how to respond to my mother, so I floundered. I never really know what to say in moments like this. But thinking back, I believe my mother’s perception of our house really reflects the era she grew up in.

She’s part of the baby boom generation. I didn’t know my father all that well, but I do remember him giving me this advice about picking a wife: “Stop by her house unexpected. See how it looks in there. You can tell a lot about a woman by how she keeps her house.” I think my mother’s concern over a clean house has a lot to do with her trying to meet the expectations of her youth.

But the thing is, unlike my father I didn’t really think about a clean house when I married my wife. I thought about how I liked what she had to say. I thought about how she made me feel. I thought about how she smiled a lot. I liked that. I thought about how she was sweet and thoughtful, and how she seemed like the kind of mother I’d want for my children.

After a few moments of struggling to find the right words, I finally said, “I didn’t get into this marriage for a clean house. I got into it because she seemed like someone I could spend my life with.”

Silence.

I put some dishes in the washer. Eventually mom said. “Well… that probably is more important than a clean house.”

“Yeah,” I said, “I think so too.”

Screen Shot 2017-08-21 at 8.24.39 AM
Recent Posts