Here’s a magical marriage moment brought to you by Katie and Todd Beasley. It went something like this:
“I’m going to try to vacuum the furniture without burning through the belt again.” This I explain to my husband as I’m clumsily applying the vac hose to our sage green couch. Some time recently we discovered that the belt on the vacuum kept burning through. The result? I don’t vacuum nearly as often as I should for fear of breaking the darn thing altogether. Todd figured out that the bristles are supposed to disengage when the switch is turned from floor to hose, but for some reason the bristles keep spinning until a rather acrid smelling smoke fills the room. If you hold the base of the machine in just a certain way at just a certain angle as you vacuum with the hose, then the bristles behave nicely and the work can continue. It just takes twice as long and a lot of coordination. It also helps to do some stretches beforehand.
“I haven’t vacuumed the couch in FOREVER because I’m afraid of burning this thing up and not having it to use on the floor.” Also, I’m too lazy and don’t care much for stretching….
“Actually it hasn’t been that long . I vacuumed the furniture…,” he paused, thinking. “Well, you were out of town, so it hasn’t been too long ago.”
It took a moment for that to sink in. I had recently spent a weekend with my mother for her birthday. He cleaned while I was gone? Surely not. “Wait, you vacuumed the furniture?” I was only vaguely aware of how condescending that must sound.
He shrugged nonchalantly. “Yeah, you knew I cleaned the living room while you were gone.” Actually, I thought he’d just straightened up the place a bit. Big difference.
Now I was fully aware of my tone, but I pressed on with the full-throttle, won’t stop until I offend you, don’t care if I’m a shrew condescension. “But YOU vacuumed the FURNITURE?”
Todd screwed his eyebrows together so tightly that I knew my tone had found its mark. “YES,” he said slowly, emphatically, “it was dir-ty, covered in dog hair.” Then he added, “I had to replace the belt.”
Now, this should be a commentary on how not to talk to your husband. I deliberately provoked him—not because I was surprised that he was cleaning. I’d been out of town several times in the previous six weeks, and each time I came home to a tidier than usual living area. I knew he’d done some work. But I only vacuum the furniture every four months or so (if that) and even less since the vacuum started acting up. I’d be happy to come home to a house that’s been picked up—no laundry on the couch, no toys or clutter on the floor, and the dirty dishes and cups removed from all the end tables to the kitchen sink. Not only had Todd cleaned¸ he’d taken it a step further and deep cleaned.
While I should certainly take a lesson on how not to behave, that’s my secondary concern. Here’s what I got out of this little marital episode. It’s just like me to doubt my husband like that. Not because he’s done anything to deserve the scrutiny but because I’m just jaded that way. It’s par for the course to assume that he won’t inconvenience himself for me, and if he does, he’s working some kind of angle. Be honest, ladies, you roll your eyes when your husband volunteers to do the dishes because you’re sure he just wants to have sex, right? Right?
The truth is, the whole reason I was explaining to Todd about the couch in the first place is because I wanted him to know how much work I was doing, which, to tell the truth, wasn’t that much. I had spent a couple of hours watching TV that morning and about an hour folding laundry (also while watching TV) before I finally moved on to real work. The real work had just begun when he walked in the door to have lunch at home. We can’t have Todd believing that the stay at home mom sits around all day and does nothing, can we? We can imply that she worked all day when she’d actually done next to nothing. Ugh. I irk myself.
In rather sharp contrast, Todd took care of the furniture without telling me. I unknowingly came home to a living room that was not just cleaner than I’d left it, but cleaner than when I clean it. Apparently sex had nothing to do with it. Why is it such a stretch for me to believe that the good things he does have more to do with us than with him? Furthermore, it should not be such a leap of faith that he does kind things for me all the time—without feeling the need to declare it for my approval–just because he’s a great guy. It looks like I married up.
And while we’re on the subject, enough with the eye rolling (I’m preaching to myself, here)! I don’t know how it works with other couples, but we’re going to have sex whether dishes get done at all, let alone who does them. That’s a given because we have a great marriage and want to keep it that way. Perhaps I have some work to do emulating that generous quality that comes naturally to Mr. Beasley.