They say marriage is all about compromise. It’s the give and take, the equal distribution of responsibilities, the separation of church and state… or something. I zoned out a little bit while the preacher was talking. Anyway, marriage is a partnership, and so the missus and I long ago divvied up our chores, so that we might have a harmonious and long-lasting relationship. And things have been one hundred percent complaint-free ever since.
Except that one time. After which, things have been one hundred percent complaint-free ever since. Because I’m scared out of my freaking pants. Here’s how it happened:
It didn’t take us long as a couple to figure out which sorts of chores we were each good at — or which ones one of us was more comfortable handling. Take paying the bills, for instance. My wife handles that — not because I can’t, exactly. Sure, math was never my strongest subject, but the credit card people tell you your annual percentage rate right up front these days, and all the tickets and citations have the fine amount in big bold letters, so I’m sure I could figure things out.
“That woman knows where the buttons are, and she’s not afraid to push them.”
But she never agreed with my ‘Price Is Right‘ approach to bookkeeping, which I used before we got together. Any time I had an expense, I’d write it down in the checkbook — but it was an awful pain being too specific, so I’d always round up to the next dollar or ten or hundred. That way, when I balanced things out, I knew I had at least whatever the book said in my account. As long as it stayed above zero, I could budget out cash. I just had to be sure I didn’t ‘go over’, or there’d be trouble. Like overdrafts and bank fees and losing the sweepstakes with the new boat and those fancy end tables. Nobody wants that.
My wife, though, apparently likes to actually know how much money we have at any given time. Or every given time. And my ‘well, I had a hundredish and I spent tennish, tennish, and then twentyish, so I probably have enough left for pizza‘ ways didn’t suffice. So she handles the checkbook now.
And I take out the trash. Fair’s fair. Once a week, she sits down and wades through receipts, bills and ‘THIRD NOTICE: DEADBEAT ALERT!‘ letters, trying to reconcile inflows and outflows. And once a week, I lug thirty pounds of banana peels, unread magazines and used Q-tips down to the curb, trying to avoid spillage, seepage or breaking my back in half. We call that a wash.
Meanwhile, we’ve divided up all the other little bits of stuff that have to get done around the house. She walks the dog — but I shuttle the mutt to ‘doggie day care’. I set up the computers and the wireless network; she tells me what I should wear to parties and reminds me which names belong to which people. Most everything else — going to the grocery, changing a lightbulb, cleaning up dog pee — happens when one of us desperately needs it to happen before the other does. If we’re out of bananas, it’s her trip. If it’s graola bars, it’s mine. If the dog whizzed on her couch, that’s her thing. If the dog peed on mine — well, my first thought would be to string the mutt by her tail from the ceiling and play ‘pissy pooch pinata’. But when I’m done seeing if I can knock candy out of her butt with a big stick, then cleaning the pee is still my job.
And the stick thing? It hasn’t worked yet. I’ll keep you posted.
Like I said, neither of us have ever complained about our little jobs around the house. We’ve either chosen them or figured it was in our best interests — by avoiding bankruptcy, say — to tackle them ourselves. That doesn’t make them any more palatable, but complaining isn’t going to get either of us anywhere.
Which I found out the hard way, the time I groused about getting stuck with the laundry.
I didn’t pick laundry; I don’t even remember how I wound up with laundry. But every weekend, I dutifully gather up the baskets of dirty togs, toss the clothes in the washer, forget about them for a day or two, throw them in the dryer, let them sit for a while and lug them upstairs. Somewhere in there, I fold the wrinkled-up clean clothes from last week’s loads, probably. Usually. Unless there aren’t any left, after I pick clothes out the laundry basket for a week to wear. Which is always.
Anyway, I don’t mind doing the laundry. But I don’t love it. And one day, a few years ago, I made the mistake of being a little too vocal with my under-the-breath mutterings about it. My wife heard, and asked what my problem was.
Me: Oh, the laundry. It’s just such a chore.
Her: Well, yeah. We’ve both got our chores.
Me: Yeah, but laundry’s so hard. It takes so long.
Her: Hey, so does the budget. And walking the dog. And making out Christmas cards. You gotta deal.
Me: Aw, but it’s just relentless. And I don’t even wear half of those clothes. So far as you know.
Her: Look, we both have things we have to do. Laundry’s one of yours. That’s just how it is.
Me: But I don’t want to. Why do I have to do all the hard things?
Her: Hey, balancing the checkbook is hard!
Me: Pffft. Not as hard as laundry.
Her: The way you half-ass it, maybe. Walking the dog is hard.
Me: Yeah. Not like laundry, though. I don’t see you sorting the mutt’s turds into pairs and folding them.
Her: Ew. And hey, you think laundry is hard? Well, lookee here — I can make babies.
Me: But… I don’t want any babies.
Her: Then you’d better shut your yap and do the damned laundry, then, hadn’t you?
She had me there. So I did shut my yap. And I’ve been keeping it shut and doing the damned laundry, every week, ever since. That woman knows where the buttons are, and she’s not afraid to push them. Maybe if one of my chores was working out the lovemaking schedule, then there’s something I could do about that baby thing she’s hanging over my head.
But it’s not. Lovemaking schedule making is one of hers. That’s just how it is.
Or so she tells me. And at this point, I’m too afraid to question it. Pass me the fabric softener and don’t make any waves, man. I’ve got chores to do.Permalink | 1 Comment