Good afternoon everyone! Time to start a new series (or rather, at least a new category or something) on my blog about marriage and ranting about life with another person. Oh sure, there's plenty of those out there, and I'm probably going to throw out some wild accusations and ridiculously blatant "everyone does this" statement, so I want to preface this entire blog by saying -
These things happen in my life and I've heard a lot of the same things happen to other people too, but if this doesn't actually apply to you - ignore it - and be glad that you aren't one of those people my blanket statements are referring to! Kudos! You have fought the preconceived notions and have won! Huzzah!
Meanwhile...I've been noticing some things about my own marriage and as I creep ever so closer to the ten year mark (and thankfully have overcome that dreaded "seven-year-itch" thing that our parents used to talk about) some of them have started to bother me more than others. And not too long ago I read a short blog about women oftentimes drawing the short end of the stick on things. I've had this discussion before and have had arguments about it and frustratingly brief moments where I've had to trash my entire rant because I've needed to re-word it. This time I'm not going to talk about jobs and women in the workplace, but rather women and their lives at home.
First off - I don't have kids. I think I've established that already, it's a choice my husband and I have made over the years through dating and marriage, and even though neither of us would stop a child from coming into this world, neither of us have encouraged it either. That said, we do have four cats, and before you parents out there go - that's NOT the same! - I will beg you to remember that there are a lot of similarities even if there is a point where those similarities diverge and I won't even begin to argue that point.
I will say, however, that having cats is similar enough in some respects to having kids that I'm going to tell you about a story that has been happening over the last few months. If you have kids, I'm sure you've had a moment or two like this yourselves. Cats, much like children, are sensitive creatures, and if you throw something at them that is much too different for their little brains to comprehend, they're going to really throw you for a loop.
In this case, my "middle" child, Tenchi decided that he didn't like the scented litter that we started buying. That's the long and short of it, but in reality we decided the house started to smell because some cat was peeing at the backdoor, presumably because of the outdoor cats that were peeing on the outside of said door. So...bring up a litter box, and the peeing stopped happening except for in the box. Huzzah - problem solved! Oh, but the smell... so we changed litters thinking that it would be at least a bit nicer for our house guests not to have to smell cat pee every time they came into our home - and for awhile, everything seemed to go okay. But then the pee started appearing again... EVERYWHERE. Pee in the kitchen, pee in the living room, pee in the laundry room, pee on the COUNTERS... And every day I'd spend an hour of my time tracking down the pee and cleaning it on hands and knees, and then finding MORE a few hours later somewhere else and it happened day after day after day, until one day I found myself sobbing inconsolably in the bathroom just not knowing what to do. Long story short - we did solve the problem was the litter...but then the cat wanted MORE boxes with that litter, and in different places around the house...and we're still dealing with that annoyance, but at least it's not in the living room and on the counters!
Okay...so, what does this story have to do with marriage?
My husband, and I love him, I really do.... didn't clean up ANY OF THIS PEE.
He'll pick up the random hairball. He'll even pick up random food pukes. But he won't CLEAN any of it.
What do I mean by CLEAN?
I read a very interesting blog (as I stated earlier) that husbands typically will "tidy" but they won't "clean." So when a man says "I cleaned" what he means is he's put two or three dishes in the dishwasher, but there's still those three pans on the stove still, or that crockpot soaking in the sink. To him, "cleaning" means the minimum amount that needs to be done to, say, have counter space available again. He won't see those three other pans or the fact that there are coffee stains all over the counter top.
Now...remember what I said before, men can and have bypassed this little quirk, and on the flipside, there are many women who do exactly as I explained about "tidying" rather than "cleaning". So, please do not come after me with pitch forks and toilet bowl brushes...I'm rather speaking of my own personal encounters with my husband.
So, when I find hairballs around the house, I get down on my hands and knees with the Resolve carpet cleaner, I peel up the hairball, discard that, and then start scrubbing with paper towels at the stain that's now also on the carpet. When I find pee - I get down on my hands and knees with the Nature's Miracle until I can't smell the pee anymore. When I find a line of puke on the wood floors, I take out my soap and water (or Bona hardwood cleaner) and scrub until the spot is gone.
Example of my husband from yesterday: "Looks like the cats spit up here on the floor." He points at the spot I've been watching the last few days to see if he'll actually clean it up.
It's still there, two days later.
He picked up a hairball the other day. Took me three days to finally decide I'd get down on my hands and knees and scrub up the rest that he didn't touch.
This scenario plays out time and time again in our household. A toilet will only get swirled with the toilet brush - but the bowl doesn't get wiped down, nor does the seat, the handle, or the back of the tank. (And this usually only happens if we have guests come over and NEVER happens to our own toilet unless I've specifically asked him to do it.)
The dishes don't get completely cleaned and put away - there's always a pot left out, a spoon holder left dirty, a stove that needs wiped or counters with coffee stains, or some random clean dish left out - or a small bottle cap left a foot away from the garbage can.
Speaking of garbage, the whole house will only get taken out IF I ask, and there'll always be papers or other random things laying around the house that could have been thrown away too, but they'll still be left un-tossed after the garbage man has come and gone.
Litter will be cleaned out, and maybe the floor swept - but not behind the box, and no one's checked to see if there's pee on the wall behind the box or on the mat that needs to be cleaned up too.
If the lawn needs mowed, it'll be mowed - but maybe the backyard will be left for a few days or even a week. But the trees will still need trimmed, the driveway swept, or large chunks left to grow longer than the rest.
So, to my husband, he feels as if these jobs are "done" and I complain that they are not. Because he has TIDIED and I wanted them CLEANED. And oftentimes I'll hear, "well, you don't like how I do it." Well...I asked you to CLEAN, I didn't ask you to "tidy up". (although sometimes I will ask that when guests are coming over and at least they're tidy enough for company since I so thoroughly clean most of the time.)
And then he wonders why he finds me sobbing uncontrollably on the toilet after spending hours cleaning up cat pee. "We'll solve it." It's got nothing (or rather just a little) to physically do with the cat pee, but rather the hours he's spent playing on his computer game or watching TV or reading while I'm down on my hands and knees making sure the house doesn't smell like cat pee for the next game night. Mind you, he did solve the cat pee problem mostly with buying the new litter and getting candles...but that was at most an hour or so of his time.
So...here's what I'm getting at - and let me know what you think because I'd really like to know what the answer is - how do I solve this issue of cleaning versus tidying?
Should I just bear it with a grin and an eye twice as the stress slowly overcomes me until my anxiety suddenly over-runs my life and I have a nervous breakdown?
Should I talk to him about it and just HOPE that he'll change his ways?
Should I make a list of how to clean with all of the steps and hope he follows them? Maybe my expectations are too high? No...I'm not going to compromise on how well we clean the house or it'll degrade too quickly I just know it.
Should I just stop cleaning and see if anything comes of it? (HELL NO.... you should see the state of our toilet before I couldn't stand it any more today!!! And the shower...EWWWWW)
So...how do I train him to see cleaning like I do? Sure, I don't like it either. Heck - if I could spend just half the time he does just wasting time when I'm home I'm pretty sure I'd be a lot happier of a person and I wouldn't have this facial twitch or so much anxiety that I literally can't move some afternoons because I just can't face the house looking like it does.... I can't stand the clutter, the mess, and I'm just happier when I'm not around it...but will that encourage him to help more? But do so in a way that doesn't make me stress out more? Can I teach him, but also be lenient enough to shrug it off sometimes if it's really not all that important? A trash can left full for a week isn't a big deal... but cat puke stains all over the house is pretty embarrassing... Maybe?
Well, that's what I have to say about that for now. Maybe it'll make me feel better to get it out at least, even if no one reads it. I just wish I could change him to see what I see... without him feeling that I'm being nagging and a grumpy wife who can't be pleased by anything. I really do try to suffer in silence, but after 8+ years, with a terrible boss at work, all I want to do is come home and relax sometimes and not have to feel like I have to spend every day off cleaning the house that he's helped to destroy.... is that too much to ask?