Friday was mine and Dan’s 16th wedding anniversary. Sixteen years of relatively smooth sailing. Not bad. We’ve gone from two working adults with two dogs and two cars in a 1000 square foot home with a beautiful garden to one full-time and one part-time job with two children (13 and 10), five animals (too many), one car and a 2600 square foot home with a beautiful garden.
A couple weeks ago, Colleen reprinted this post from The Happiness Project. Â I’ll wait while you review it.
Certainly it got me thinking about Dan and me. When we were first married, I remember quarreling about “who did more” and it made me crazy that on Saturday – housecleaning day – Dan didn’t necessarily feel like cleaning at the same time I did. I was deeply annoyed to be bustling around while he was reading the newspaper and enjoying coffee.
Now those quarrels make me laugh. I could do all that work with my eyes closed and still have time to take a 5 mile hike with the dogs, get an hour-long massage, and go to the movies. I hardly knew what was coming my way!
As Gretchen says, it’s easy to think that your work is more and harder and to undervalue the contributions of others. I do appreciate that Dan is good at his job and makes a salary that allows us to live very comfortably. But I think I do more – work part time, take care of the kids, manage the household finances, make appointments, grocery shop and prepare food. But what do I have that Dan doesn’t have? Freedom and flexibility is a big one. A condition of my employment was that I would take off whenever necessary and that I would only work three days a week. If Dan and I switched places, we’d both be in trouble: he’s no good at the stuff I do and would dreadfully miss his work, and we’d be living a radically different lifestyle based on the salary I made while working. So is my work “better” “more” or “moreÂ important”? Or is it just different and part of an overall picture that makes our family and our marriage successful? Even if my work was better and more important, does it benefit me or my family to think that way, or will it just create resentment and a feeling of self-entitlement? I can tell you that if Dan started strutting around thinking that his contributions were so much more important than mine, I’d slap that notion down in a heartbeat.
Decluttering can be about so much more than just your stuff. It can be about attitudes that don’t help you and don’t move you closer to your goals. Decluttering animosity, anger, and resentment so that you can be your best self and do your best work will free you to accomplish so much. If decluttering is your goal, sure it would be lovely if your spouse got on board, but it’s your goal. Act on it. Change your attitude and you can change your life.
Today’s Mini Mission
Round-up and declutter stationery ~ Keep a pen in each room of the house if that makes your life easy but the bulk of your stationary items will be more easily found if they are all stored together. If you donâ€™t have a desk or set of drawers for this task why not use that spare shelf you have cleared in the linen closet during your last towel and sheet declutter.
Eco Tip For The Day
Aluminium can be recycled so be sure to recycle all items made from it including aluminium foil when cooking.
It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow
Deb J says
Cindy, this is a really, really good post. I so agree with the idea of decluttering your life and checking your attitude. I have been asking God to show me if anything needs to change in my attitude and what to declutter from my life. I think these things are different, of course, for each person but I certainly know that how you look at your spouse (or my mom) can make a huge difference.
By the way everyone, Mom is decluttering all sorts of places today. On her own and without asking for my input. WooHoo!!
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Deb J, it seems that a person can change more than there own attitude given time and gentle encouragement. your mom has become the declutter Queen of 365 Less Things. Does she know you write about her and that she is changing other peoples live with her example without even knowing it?
Deb J says
Mom knows I write about her. I got home from Bible Study this morning and she had cleaned out several places in the kitchen to scrub them down and then put stuff back but sorted it all while doing it. I was shocked. She’s really getting into this. This afternoon she was telling her sister that she (the sister) needed to start getting rid of things and stop hanging onto things her boys would have to get rid of. She was really telling her things to do. I got such a kick out of it.
That is great, Deb J! She is really getting it done!
Thanks Deb J!
I do more than half of the housework, but it is easy to overestimate my contribution. I forget about things my husband does, like keeping track of when the furnace filter needs to be replaced, filing the taxes, and maintaining the computers, because he just handles those things and I never have to think about them. I’ve also come to realize that it in many cases it is easier, and I’m happier, if I just do a chore rather than tell him that he needs to do it and then wait for him to do it. Instead, I can do the chore, tell him I did the chore, and get a backrub out of it. We’re hoping that next year I’ll be the breadwinner and he’ll be working from home; I’m a little worried how we’ll adapt to reversing the roles.
I’d love to get a backrub for doing chores. Sounds like a great trade off to me!
Happy anniversary Cindy! I really enjoyed your post and that is a lovely photograph of your family. Have a wonderful day!
Congratulations on your wedding anniversary. Trying to decide who does more in a marriage or in a household defeats the overall purpose which I believe is to be happy, enjoy your children and family life, live a relatively peaceful existence and provide for your family the best you can all the while, loving God.
Sometimes, I think I do more and sometimes, I know my husband does more. He is responsible for all the household maintenance, does the outdoor work like mow the lawn and pays the household bills. He also keeps track of our finances. My husband is retired so has more time at home for doing some household chores but doesn’t because “that is my job”. We have argued about this in the past but he has come a long way and will vacuum, dust mop the floors and empty the dishwasher. I am still working fulltime and find my energy flagging by the end of the day so don’t think I hold up my end of the bargain as well as I should. But we are still happy and when I get a wild spurt, the house becomes cleaner and when I am tired, it sits and waits for me. We just celebrated 40 years of marriage in February and hopefully, can enjoy each other’s company for a long time to come. Perhaps, I’ll just hire a house keeper to help out. 🙂
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Maggie, I would do just that ~ hire a housecleaner to help out. If your husband doesn’t want money “wasted” on that then he might just have to help out a little more with the inside chores. Don’t wear yourself out is my advice.
This is unrelated to the (Great!) post but I Hope people Tell you all the Time how Great you Look with Not dying your hair!
Colleen Madsen says
I second that! Go, the silver fox.
Grace from Brazil says
Happy Anniversary! What a beautiful thing to celebrate and I hope you find a fun way to do that. (I know you will). When this article was first posted here it made a profound impact on me. Oh my! We only see our point of view and it is so weighted on our side it is scary. I used to get upset that I had to make the bed every morning even if I got up first. But then it dawned on me while I was moodily tucking in the sheets that every single morning of our married life my husband makes the coffee in the morning and brings it to me! Does he ever appear moody? Never. He does it. I was only seeing my side. Oh Lord save us! How I needed my eyes opened. Like Cindy said, I would so much rather be doing my job than his. Yeah it is a lot of work at times but I love the room for flexibility, creativity and joy it brings into my life.
I’m right with you Grace and I’m sure guilty as charged as well.
Deb J says
Happy Anniversary! Hope it was a good one. Proud of you for making it 16 years and counting.
Colleen Madsen says
Hi Cindy, what a great post and a big happy anniversary to you and Dan. May there be many more.
Funny you should bring this topic up right now. I often live the other side of this coin these days feeling a little guilty that I get to stay home and choose my own schedule and blend work with pleasure while my hubby goes to work five days a week. That’s not to say that I haven’t had the complete opposite attitude at times during our marriage not only feeling that I did more than my fair share but also knowing that he has no idea the pressures and workload of a mother and wife. It may be a labour of love but that doesn’t mean it is all a bed or roses.
Anyway I am away visiting family at the moment and since I left my immediate family at home a drain has clogged, a glass was shattered all over the tiles and the washing machine has broken down (economically unviable for repair). Needless to say all this complication is quite an inconvenience to those left at home to deal with it. These are the sort of problems that usually would be miraculously solved if the domestic goddess was around. It is nice to be missed.
My husband of course is a great bread winner, holiday planner and IT person among other things. We balance each others strengths and weaknesses out nicely, which is a sanity saver for me sometimes, and why I think we are still happily married after 26 years.
Colleen – I love the term Domestic Goddess! My mum used to put herself down as a Domestic Engineer as occupation, eventually she did return to the work force and she stopped using it.
A few years ago, Adrian made the fatal mistake of saying to me one morning “just what do you do all day I’d really love to know?” and then left for work. So I decided to tell him everything I did that day……by texting him. Sewed button back on school shirt SEND found missing library book SEND checked J’s homework SEND made school lunches SEND looked for C’s drink bottle under her bed, found in wardrobe SEND searched for J’s school hat SEND dropped kids to school SEND paid school camp fees at office SEND picked up flea treatment for cats from vet SEND dropped dvd’s back to store SEND – as luck would have it, it was a really busy day on the domestic front and I was sending him a text every 5 or so minutes. By time the end of the day he agreed never to question how I fill my day again.
I love that idea, texting him with every single thing that you did. That really gets the point across, too funny, but so true!
Jen – it was later in the day after I text: answered ‘where do babies come from?’ question from X that he text back “I take it all back, you are busiest person on earth!”
Even now, years later if he ever finds himself about to ask the what-do-you-do-all-day? question, he stops.
Jo H. says
Inspired and hilarious, Moni!!! Using humour to get your point across undoubtedly helped him to “get” the message without resentment!
Hey Moni, the best answer to this question was achieved by my dear friend, who has six kids, dogs, cats, chickens and a good bit of room for a sheep to roam and a little horsey for the kids to ride. When she got asked that question she kept the kids home from school and just let the whole day unravel, by the time hubby got home the place looked like a tornado had blasted through, everyone survived and so did the animals but I do feel she got her message across. I have seen many little cartoons and stills and jokes about this being done, but believe me when you know someone who actually did it, well you gotta take your hat off to them. Hubby (bless him, he’s a great guy) got the message so loud and clear that to this day never ever has he asked what wifey does all day, and I know he’ll never ask any other woman either. Hahahaha I just love these lessons!!!!)
Mine never needed to ask me, he found out quick smart that he is soooooo much better off in his job, helping run a company rather than a household!! hahaha 🙂 🙂 🙂
Dizzy – oh that is priceless, have seen the cartoon but to see it in real time would be classic. Ironically, when I go away, my hubby heads straight out of town too, to whatever other family/friends he can wrangle an invite to. He says he does not, but every time a coconut.
Deb J says
My mom did this once but not for my dad. At church some people tended to say, “Let Leona do it. She doesn’t work.” So one day she listed everything she did in that day and gave it to these people. Sure stopped them cold.
I think it does everyone good to be reminded about what you would take care of if you were home Colleen.
Megan S says
A wonderful post Cindy and congratulations on your 16th anniversary!
It’s so true that attitude is everything. When one simplifies possessions (and life in general) it is easier to see the things that really matter and appreciate the different ways of contributing to a relationship 🙂
Hi Cindy, congratulations to you and your husband on your anniversary! And I endorse the previous comments about your hair – looks fab, I am in the process of growing out my colour and feel so happy about it!
In the early days of our marriage (38 years and counting!) there were lots of disagreements about whose responsibility certain jobs were but now we seem to have a solution that works for us. Well, I guess we should after all these years. I’m the current breadwinner (hubs forcibly retired, not too happy about it but jobs few and far between in our area), I’m lucky enough to work (mostly) from home. We share the housework but he does the vacuuming and showers which I hate doing, he tidies up in the mornings (dishes, bed), makes the morning tea and lunches and looks after the outside, which is quite a job as we have nearly an acre of land. I know that he feels he needs to do more as he doesn’t bring in any money but we manage fine and I quite like things as they are. Within the next 18 months I hope to retire myself, but I feel that we’ll still to continue to share the responsibilities around the house – at least I hope so, as vacuuming and cleaning the shower are my pet hates haha!
Cheers Judy xx
Happy anniversary Cindy! Hope you have many wonderful years ahead of you. Funny how “in sync” we are in thoughts. Just today I was telling a friend about how we divide work in the house, me and my husband each doing what is more apt to do and getting things going and keeping a happy and functional home.
Happy anniversary Cindy and I really enjoyed reading this post! I think your hair looks beautiful (and your family too!) I’m very fortunate as I think (actually I know) that I do less than my husband 🙂 He works from home and I don’t have a paid job, so he is almost always around to help with the cooking/shopping and he does his own washing (doesn’t trust me after all these years for some reason!) He’s even taken over the vege garden which was meant to by my responsibility. However, I’m the main emotional support for the children – 10 and 12 – and as they get older they seem to need even MORE nurturing and attention than ever, plus he travels for work every few weeks so I need to be 100% available (don’t have family or friend support network). Where I live (country Victoria) it is quite uncommon to be a SAHM, and I am aware of what a privileged position I am in, and am trying not to feel guilty about it, but we made some good choices over the years and managed not to get into debt so it made it possible to be in this situation now.
I agree that the older the kids are, the more attention they need – or at least a lot of different types of attention.
Mark Adam Douglass (Minimalist Couple) says
Decluttering the negative emotions from your life: That is a very powerful and important message. Thanks Cindy
And the eco tip is something I only just realised (d’oh)! One less piece of trash yay
Cindy – congratulations on your wedding anniversary and what a lovely family you have. I have a tendancy to get grumpy when I feel I am doing the bulk of the housework but thank you for the reminder that there are many many different facets to a household and vacuuming, mopping and dusting are only a small part. I work for my husband and although he grumbles, I have flexibility to accommodate the kids (who are his kids, but he is trying to run a business after all) to work school hours only and to be able to take time off when its required.
Also thank you for the reminder that decluttering is my goal. As Adrian often comments how much he enjoys the results of my decluttering that I often try to get him more involved and am suprised when he declines the opportunity but really, I’m the person who woke up one day and decided to change how I ran the household.
Attitude is everything. If one chooses to be positive even in a negative situation, it will rub off on others. Just like decluttering physical items, eventually it will get noticed, and others will see the benefits and get on board too. Keeping emotions in check and letting bad emotions go, that will do so much for our well being.
I also get frustrated because I wonder often if everything is equally divided, but when I sit back and think on it, I know that it is. Of course, I don’t always like to admit that :), especially if I want my opinion to win out. Sometimes when I am tired of all the constant, neverending work there is to do, I try to remind myself of a few things. There are people who cannot physically do the things that I do, like taking care of a home, so I should be grateful that I am physically capable of maintaining my home. Of course, there are those who would be grateful to have a home to live in, so for that I am thankful that I have one. Lastly, sometimes my frustration with my children being able to do their part gets tested often, but I remember that the small stuff is not important and our children are only with us a short time before they become adults and leave the nest.
Happy Anniversary, Cindy!
Jo H. says
These are the things that help me readjust my thinking, too, Jen – you’ve said it well!
Jo H. says
Congratulations on your 16th anniversary, Cindy!
Very good post – I can easily slide into resentment over who is doing more, because I tend to focus on the present moment and not add up all the other moments in the day and week. I’ve found I’m worse if I haven’t had enough sleep, so I try to make sure to get enough. I am extremely lucky that my husband is not like me – he always assumes I’m doing the best I can. I’m trying to be more like that. An old dog CAN learn new tricks 🙂
Happy Anniversary and congrats for a great post. I 2nd Megan S and Jen. I love to think that I do more and I do at times, but what I love is the fact that everyone does their bit. I know all to well that if nobody did their bit this house goes to ‘Hell in a Hand Basket’ by day 2!!! What keeps me from feeling put upon if it ever arises, or if I feel I need to winge that they are not helping whatever, is the fact that I do have a home to maintain, I do have loved ones around in good health, I do have the option to spend or not, I can pay the bills and keep my boys fed & watered, I do have a darling that works so I can have and do the above, most of all I can converse with my loved ones about anything and that is my greatest treasure.
Great Pic of your family, and yes I love the silver fox hair too, were you an auburn haired beauty as well?? I won’t let my greys grow through until I have had all the cancer colours through my hair for the year!!!! I will probably chop it all off and leave it whatever colour is under the ‘colours’!! 🙂 🙂 🙂
Further reading has me thinking. I live alone but have a bf. The best way for meto frame things is knowing that normally I do everything. So anything is a help – eating at his house (him cooking), him chopping something while I shower. So instead of thinking about what he doesnt do I realise that anything is great after doing it all! Anyone single would surely agree – it’s just remembering that when you develop relationships
Hi Sarah N,
Sounds to me like you two will just slip into the doing everything, together and for each other. If he’s the better cook you’ve got it made if not find out if he can properly clean a loo, make a bed and can drive all household appliances. Like you said any help is great.
My hubby, was told by his mother that he needs to know how to do everything in the household incase he doesn’t find a wife!!! Thank God for that piece of wisdom I say. Every guy should be able to do all the basics. We have been teaching our son everything, from cleaning the loo all the way to hanging the washing effectively and the art of folding a fitted sheet hahaha cooking & cleaning inbetween. He reckons he’s so clued up now he may of grown ovaries!!! to which I slapped him with a pr of pink fluffy ended rubber gloves hahaha. I’m sure his girlfriend is pleased though LOL 🙂 🙂 🙂
Jane W says
Congrats on 16 years! 🙂 I hope you have lots more to come yet!
I’ve come to realise over the last few weeks that perhaps I don’t do enough to help my fiance – I’ve been complacent because he wasn’t working and I was so it seemed only fair that he helped out a lot with the chores and I only did a few things, but now he is working I perhaps need to readjust and help him more.
Of course, the more we declutter the less there is to look after/tidy up after/find a place for which is nice. I look forward to having a home together of our own one day (we currently stay with my dad) and it not being full of clutter and unnecessary things – we already discuss quite frequently things we won’t be doing/buying once we reach that point in our lives. Perhaps that will mean we ultimately don’t need a house as big as we would have done.
Happy Anniversary, Cindy!
I love hearing wisedom from those who have been married longer than I have (it’ll be 4 years in July). I agree that attitude adjustments do go a fantastically long way in enjoying life. Happy Anniversary and thank you for the post!