You Wash, I Dry
You wash, I dry!
When you divide up the workload in your house, base your contributions on your skills, and not on your gender! Unthinkingly, household chores are often delegated based on what we saw growing up as children. This may be the perfect task delineation for you and your spouse, but it doesn’t have to be this way. If there is friction each week on who has done what, leaving someone feeling overworked, it is time to sit down and take another look at how you are managing your household. There are many ways to skin a cat 😊, clean a house, do laundry, and prepare tasty meals for your family!
As an example, Jody and I have very different skills and abilities. One of the many ways to see our differences is on Sunday afternoons. Each Sunday around 3:00 pm, Jody and I swim a mile at our local gym. It is a great part of our exercise routine, and we reward ourselves with 20 minutes in the sauna when we are finished. Exercise with a treat! We don’t accomplish the mile in the same way, or anywhere near the same time. Jody finishes with enough time for 10 minutes in the wet sauna before I finish the mile. You see, Jody is an excellent swimmer. He was a lifeguard in High School. I think he could swim the English Channel … with enough motivation and, I guess, enough grease on his thighs to keep him from chaffing. I definitely could not; no matter how much duck fat I smeared on! Now, I am a “good” swimmer, for a girl who doesn’t like any splashing or getting her face wet! But compared to the world at large, I am, at best, a slightly below average swimmer.
When I slip gently into the pool, I know that I have to use my strengths, my buoyancy and my determination to complete the one mile. 66 “one ways,” or 33 laps in the pool equals a mile, or so the sign by the pool says. I’ve never done the math. Over the years, I have devised a “splashless mile” plan – it works like a champ! I do one lap breast stroke … head out of the water, kind of a modified dog paddle, but way cooler than it sounds, I promise. Then one lap side stroke – on my right side going up, and on my left side coming back. I want symmetrical muscles! 😊 Then, I do a lap with the back stroke. My muscles do get a work out as I swim 11 sets of this combo, but literally, my face never gets wet. I can wear my glasses and swim away while seeing all about the pool and waving at friends and acquaintances! Whew! Mission accomplished. Now, I can’t swim the American crawl like my hubby, alternating breathing and never stopping for 33 laps, so please don’t ask me to. It would make me very crabby, and truthfully, I may drown! But with my own set of talents, I can swim a mile every time!
Jody is a very splashy swimmer, and I pray the whole way to the gym we will get our own lanes so that I can keep my lane more like Lake Placid than the Pacific Ocean. But if we have to share the lane, I take off my glasses and try not to drown in his wake. We both enjoy our mile in the pool, and from above water, passersby would never guess that we were doing the same thing. Who cares how I do the breast stroke, I’m getting it done! So, please don’t let traditional roles bog down your life. Be creative! Use your God-given talents … your own buoyancy … and accomplish your goal and get the treat – a happy and loving marriage!
Jody and I do chores in our marriage in the same way that we swim together. We look to our strengths, and not to gender roles. I am more creative than Jody, so I am naturally a better cook and meal planner. Jody is very organized, and likes things orderly, so tedious tasks are in his wheelhouse. Not a sexy topic, I know, but based on years of counseling angry married couples, this is often a great source of daily friction. So, keep reading, friend! I plan the meals and do the grocery shopping. Jody organizes groceries in the pantry and fridge after I come home from the store. Jody also unloads groceries from the car - he’s stronger. I have a “take them all in one trip” attitude, but through the years, this mindset has cost us nicely formed bread and many a broken egg. The really yucky jobs we handle together. “Many hands make light work!” I cook, he cleans the kitchen. Happiness!
How did you and your spouse decide who should do the shopping, the cooking, the vacuuming, and the laundry? I hope you didn’t fall into the gender rut instead of looking at each other’s talents. If you are presently doing a job that you DETEST, you might have stepped into the gender trap. So, let’s take a deeper look at this issue and see if we can’t make things happier around the home front!
Not A Natural Skill: God has gifted us all with natural abilities. We need to recognize these gifts and use them to serve our family (1 Peter 4:10). If you are unhappy with a job you have been assigned or are stuck with, talk to your spouse. If neither of you have the necessary skills to do the job well, pray about increasing your skills and encourage each other along the way. I find money management to be one of the areas that may not be a natural skill for either spouse. But handling money is required to survive! So, attend a seminar on money management together, or schedule time with an older Christian who is well established in financial planning. Let them mentor you! My bet is that you can collaborate and together come up with some skills. Or, one or the other of you will emerge as the leader in this area. Yes, I said, “one or the other.” Don’t get bogged down with who you think should be doing a job! Most passersby won’t notice or truly care 😊! Do what works in your family. I’ve met many a happy couple in which the husband enjoys the cooking and the wife manages the finances. Not traditional, but who cares! And until it is no longer an issue, don’t quit negotiating or talking about the job. Believe in each other! And know that two heads are truly smarter than one!
Wrong Attitude: Sometimes the issue surrounding a particular job is not skill based. Anyone can fold laundry, buy groceries, or sweep the floor. Sometimes the issue is attitude. Col 3:23-24 tells us that we should do everything as unto the Lord. Wow! Puts folding clothes in a whole new light, huh? 1 Corinthians 16:14 puts it even simpler: Do everything in an attitude of love, patiently, kindly, not boasting, or being a martyr. Don’t keep a list of wrongs or times that the laundry wasn’t put up. Instead, encourage one another. Let’s all hold hands and sing one verse of kumbaya, O.K. 😊!? Nah, I’m not talking about sappy hallmark love – I’m talking about Gospel-based love. Be Jesus to your spouse, to your kids, to your parents, and to the world. Actually put into practice what you hear from the pulpit on Sunday mornings and read about in God’s word. Live out the Gospel with the people you know the best. This is the greatest testimony I can think of … which brings me to my next point. Keep reading!
Service to our family: All of us must be willing to put on the role of servanthood and love our family well! This requires dying to selfish desires. It also requires true Gospel love (Matthew 20:27-28). Granted, there are some jobs that no one wants. I understand this well. In our house, these jobs are cleaning the toilet, picking up dog poop in the yard and managing the never-ending recycling. Jody and I are in a stage of life where we can hire out some of these tasks. But for years, we took turns with cleaning the bathrooms. And when our children came of age, they got to do the nasty jobs. Ha! Not hardly. Since the eye sore of dog poop in the yard bothers me more than it does Jody, I do it. Jody braves the cold weather in the garage and the occasional spider better than I do, so he handles the recycling. And at the end of the day, we appreciate each other’s contribution and service to our family, our home, and to our life together.
THOUGHT: If we can’t master the concept of serving our family in our own home, why do we ever imagine that we can serve corporately at church or in a hurt and dying world!? This sad truth is a reality for all the people who organize church children’s services, who work in the parking lot or who manage the greeting team. We have so many people who desire to be served instead of desiring to serve. Now, I’m just meddling. Sorry. Keep reading.
So, set aside an hour this week to talk with your spouse about the things that are working well in the ways you distribute the work in your house. Then bring up the areas that need improvement. Make a list of the ones that aren’t presently being done with happiness, and re-look at who is doing them. Maybe, and for a while, do these jobs together. These are not forever decisions. For Jody and I, and as each season of our life together has unfolded, we have made changes to our task list. Don’t get stuck in a rut! Live each season of your marriage as happily as you can! Allow God a chance to use your marriage and your family to show you what Gospel servant hood looks like. Keep reading friends!
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God- this is your true and proper worship.