Doing the Dishes can Save the World? No, But It Can Save My Marriage

dishesMost of our daily chores and responsibilities have been divided naturally between the two of us. Casey’s strong suit has never been doing the dishes and our old battles to determine whose turn it was to do dishes had to be cast to the side or we were going to end up divorced.

During our first year of marriage I just kind of assumed Casey would do all the dishes. Seems like a sexist things to assume, but Casey was unemployed and I was going to school and working a fulltime job. It seemed fair for Casey to do the dishes so I could have a break when I got home for the day.

I wasn’t raised to believe that it was a woman’s job to do the dishes, and I wasn’t raised to think that whoever works outside the home shouldn’t have to do the dishes. My mom had me do dishes every day once I became old enough to do them. Her reasoning was that she wasn’t going to let me go out into the world unable to share in the responsibility of doing dishes with my wife.

My dad only did the dishes two times per year and he didn’t do them well. Those two occasions were on Mother’s Day and on my mom’s birthday. Once my siblings and I were old enough to do dishes those two occasions became our responsibility.

Daily dish duties were divided between me and my older sister, so I would end up doing breakfast dishes on one day while my sister did dinner dishes and on the next day it would reverse. When my older sister moved out of the house the responsibility was divided between me and my younger sister.

Doing dishes drove me crazy. Being the only son I had outside responsibilities and inside responsibilities. I had the same number of responsibilities inside that my sisters had, but my sisters didn’t have any outside responsibilities. My chore load was almost double of what my sisters had and in my mind that was a grave injustice that equaled early American slavery and other such injustices.

The division of responsibilities led to many fights between me and my parents. Fights that ended up with me sleeping in our trailer in the backyard frustrated with my situation.

My mom must have known a thing or two about what my future would be like, because here I am the father of two and the husband of a wife who knows pretty much nothing about doing the dishes.

That first year of marriage resulted in piles of dishes stacked throughout our house. Eventually I buckled and began doing the dishes. From there on out we divided the dishes probably 70/30 with the 70 being tied to me.

A few weeks after Casey and I went through our near divorce, I started paying close attention to the things that caused us to fight the most. Dishes responsibility was near the top of the list. As I thought about all the things she had to do throughout the day that included taking care of the kids, writing, photographing, cooking, laundry, etc. I thought it was only fair that I do all the dishes.

I told Casey that since she did most of the cooking for the family I would do all of the dishes. That’s the way it has been ever since. There are occasions where I get frustrated with the amount of dishes that are dirtied in a day, but the amount of fights we end up having has been reduced drastically.

Who knew that my mom’s declaration that she would raise me to be a husband who helps with the dishes would help save my marriage.

Photo Credit: Flickr

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