First Comes Love; Then Come The Dishes

Your spouse is your best friend, your lover — and your housemate. It doesn’t sound sexy, but hashing out how you will work together as domestic partners will help keep your love alive. Wouldn’t it be a shame to ruin a perfectly good marriage over a sink full of dirty dishes?

I married for love. You too, I bet. As a result, we expect things like loyalty, trust and respect from our romantic partners. But there is one other very important expectation that is often overlooked. How will our partners work with us to tackle the domestic demands that sharing a home entails?

You already know that people you love can irk you as housemates. Remember how your sister always stole your favorite t-shirt without asking? Or what about your college roommate who left empty milk cartons in the fridge? Perhaps your BFF became persona non grata after you shared an apartment.

Love and passion are easier to sustain when you work well as domestic teammates. Resentment over housework is a libido killer — the death knell in any relationship. So, how can you and your partner be best friends, lovers and awesome roommates?

Here are the three most important lessons I’ve learned about keeping peace on the domestic front through 25 years of marriage.

Be flexible

Accept that your partner’s aesthetic standards may be higher or lower than yours. Are you a neat freak who goes ballistic if there’s one dirty dish in the sink? Or could you care less that dust elephants roam through your house? Establish reasonable standards together based on what matters the most to each of you, then discuss how you will work as a team to get it done. Creating an environment you both enjoy requires compromise — and isn’t that the essence of marriage?

Show appreciation

Take time to thank your husband for the work he does. Kiss your wife on the lips after she takes out the recycling, even if the chore is on her side of the domestic ledger. Everyone appreciates knowing that his or her work is not invisible. Appreciation also means avoiding micro-managing — there is no “right” way to fold towels. And never underestimate the use of humor as a motivational tool: “You look so damn hot in those rubber gloves” goes further than a snippy comment like, “It’s about time you did those dishes.”

The dishes can wait

Your house is not a museum. Dirtying pots to make memorable family meals, buying books that overflow from the shelves, or being the neighborhood hub for your children’s active friends is what life is about. Accept that “mess” is a byproduct of a life well lived. Keeping a spotless house can rob you of precious time to have fun as a couple. Don’t let mundane day-to-day tasks take over. Your relationship should never become too much work and not enough play. Always make time to go for a romantic walk, catch a movie, or enjoy a pint at your local pub. Trust me, the dishes can wait.

As featured in the summer issue of 2life Weddings digital magazine:

Image(s): Peter Willems

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