About a month ago, I joined the 31 Days to Clean Homemaker’s Challenge. Well, seeing as I only made it to day three it is easy to see that I didn’t make it very far into the challenge. However, it very much was a learning experience for me as instead of being thrilled that I was doing a big clean up my husband was very resistant to the emotional aspects of the challenge (letting me know what I does he especially likes, for example). He told me he didn’t want me cleaning the house all the time. It actually led to an all out argument because I felt that if he didn’t want me cleaning all the time all he needed to do was help. I told him that if he could do one little thing in the house each day it would mean so much to me. Needless to say, that was the end of the Homemaker’s Challenge.
Flash forward a few weeks and I’m reading Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married by Gary Chapman and everything became totally clear to me. Gary Chapman is the author of the 5 Love Languages series of books that say that each person gives and receives love in predominately one of five ways. For those of you that haven’t heard of this, here a very brief summary of the languages (you can find out more here).
1. Words of Affirmation. Hearing your partner telling you that he loves and appreciates you. You tend to tell people how much you care about the.
2. Quality Time. You want to spend time one on one with your partner. Talking and really being together.
3. Acts of Service. You do things for the person that you love and expect that they will do things for you as well.
4. Receiving Gifts. You love getting thoughtful gifts and will show love my buying things for others.
5. Physical Touch. You want to be near, hug and hold hands with the person you love.
It’s actually quite obvious, I show love for my family by doing things for them. I love to cook and when things are stressful I’ll go all out with a special meal for supper. I bake cookies for the kids. I’ll organize a closet and feel that when my house is unorganized that I’m not doing a very good job of loving and taking care of my family. It also warms my heart when my husband or children bring their plates over to the sink without me asking (seriously). When people leave their stuff out and about I feel horribly unloved (“if you loved me, you’d pick up your stuff”…. “I’m not appreciated, they act like I’m their slave”…..”who cares, Mum (Katrina) will pick it up”….etc.). Mike, on the other hand, values quality time (however, unlike it the book, quality time can (and often is) watching a movie together) and when I’m running around the house trying to clean it to show my love to him he is thinking “she must be avoiding me.” At the same time I’m thinking “why can’t he just get up and help me for 10 minutes? Why do I have to do EVERYTHING?” Opps, can you see our predicament?
This is something that we need to talk about further in our relationship but for now, I’m trying to get as much of my housework done in the day when Mike is away (it helps immensely that he is now working outside of the home) so that I am able to relax with him in the evening. I’ve tried to let him know that little acts of service (even something simple that takes 10 minutes or less a day) means a lot to me and leaves me feeling much more appreciated and loved. While he isn’t out sweeping the kitchen or doing dishes he does seem to be more careful about picking up after himself. It makes a huge difference just to realize that he isn’t being unhelpful because he doesn’t love me, but rather that having a clean and organized home isn’t at the top of his priority list. It’s also helpful to know that what I’m doing to show love is actually pushing him away because he takes it to mean that I’d rather be doing dishes then sitting on the couch with him (and it his eyes, it’s “wow, she REALLY must not want to be with me because who could possibly like doing dishes?”).
While this stuff seems obvious, I’ve very much enjoyed the reminders that I’ve read in Gary Chapman’s book and I suggest that you take a peak at it for yourself if you are in (or plan to ever be in) a relationship. Common sense but sometimes one needs a good reminder!
(and no, this is not a review….more of an update as to why I’ve failed (but learned so much) at the 31 Days to Clean Challenge)