Thank You For Inconveniencing Me.

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 8.442% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I try to help my wife around the house.  But it’s hard, because her default mode is NEVER MIND, I GOT THIS.

I tell her I’ll do the dishes after I clock off-shift at work, only to hear the clink and rattle of dishes because “They were sitting there, I had free time.”  I tell her I’ll put out the trash when I’m done writing and then hear the “floomp” of bags being toted out the door.  I offer to help her in the kitchen while she’s cooking and she sometimes lets me in, gives me a couple of terse orders to do the most menial of tasks, but then a few minutes later she’s like, “Actually, I’ve got this,” which is her nice way of saying “Get out my damn way, son.”

Then she collapses in the evening, wondering why she’s so tired.

I love her, but it shouldn’t be this much of an effort to do the dishes. Especially when I don’t care that much about the dishes – I’ve still got that bachelor mentality that the best way to deal with dirty dishes is to let them marinate in the sink for a week or two.

It’d be really easy for me to settle back and let her do the work that I, largely, don’t care about.  I mean, I like having dinner, so I’d miss that, but the kitchen being messy or the trash waiting outside for another week or two wouldn’t bother me all that much.

Except slowly, surely, over time, she’d drain her batteries doing all the housework, and that’d make her unhappy.

So I spend a lot of my effort chasing after my wife.  Reminding her “Hey, I’m busy right now, but I will get to that.”  Hearing the clink of dishes being put away and racing into the kitchen to thunder “CUT THAT OUT” as she scurries away guiltily.  Remembering that yes, I am tired, but if I don’t take the trash out right now then she’ll do it, so I haul myself out of the couch right after work to get that shit done so she’s got one less task on her plate.

And she still does more housework than I’m comfortable with, honestly.  Part of that’s societal conditioning – she’s raised as female, she’s expected to do the cleaning – part of that was her family dynamic where she had to be the responsible one or nothing got done, and part of that is that she is an endearing butthead and would rather get things done her way (the right way, of course) than cede ground.

Yet over the years, there’s been a tentative trust built up.  Because she does get tired.  And she has, on some level, come to realize that she needs help sometimes, which is hard for her to admit because she copes with problems by remembering that she’s a Strong Woman – she handles stuff, she fixes things, she needs no help at all.

So if I forget and leave a mess somewhere, she’ll ask, sometimes, in a vulnerable voice, “Hey, would you mind doing these dishes now?”

And again: I do not want to do the dishes, because in my mind we should let them pile up until we have no choice but to do the dishes.

Again: this is a bad time, because I was in the middle of playing videogames and I was just about to get into an awesome boss fight.

Again: I could make a grunting noise and say, “Sure, I’ll get to it later,” and know that she’d get frustrated and do them for me, and one problem would be solved.

But instead, I groan and get off the couch and take her hands in mine.  “Thank you for asking me,” I tell her, smiling so she knows I mean it.  And she gets to go do a bit more sewing, or listening to her YouTube videos, or just feeling better because the house is cleaner and she feels like we’re a team together.

In a very real sense, what I am saying is “Thank you for inconveniencing me.” Because her default mode, as with so many other partners I’ve witnessed, would be to never inconvenience me at all and let the inconveniences pile up on her side until eventually the relationship collapsed.

I do the dishes.  It’s an irritation.  But it’s also an honor: she trusted me enough to say “Hey, I’m tired, could you help out?”  Which is a trust I take quite seriously, especially when I have someone who already does so damn much.

It shouldn’t be this much of an effort to do a task I don’t want to do.

But I’m damn glad I’m doing it.

1 Comment

  1. Jerri Lyn
    Apr 16, 2018

    This sounds very much the post you did a few years ago about speaking her love language. I even bring it up in conversation when the Languages come up because it’s a brilliant illustration: “Her love language is Service but his is Touch so he wonders, ‘Why am I in here doing dishes when she obviously needs a hug? but I do them anyone because she said this is how she feels loved.'”

    It’s a good reminder for all of us. Thanks for the post!

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