Monday, December 3, 2012

Marriages Breakdown over CHORES -- Stop the Presses! [NOT]

The elevators in my workplace have little monitors that run a cycle of 'news' stories and weather reports to give the occupants something to stare at during the ascent and descent.  Last week one caught my attention.  It seems a group of UK divorce lawyers did a file audit and discovered that the common denominator in more than 1/2 of marriage breakups was HOUSEHOLD CHORES.  Well . . . duh . . . that is hardly news.

That being said, back in the day when I was actually a divorce lawyer, my observation was that the arguments about the socks on the floor, really were not about the socks on the floor.  They were a symptom - - much in the way that an emotional or actual affair is not really the problem in a relationship, but a symptom of the problem in that relationship. 

As someone who has never professed to be Debby Domestic or Suzy Homemaker, I marvel at my friends whose homes seem to always look company ready.  My house can look company ready, but I need a good 24 hours' notice.

Given that I share my dwelling with the Pumpkin, 2 canines and 2 felines, the landscape can get a bit crazy.  The cats consider EVERYTHING either a toy or something upon which to shed.  This means that it is not uncommon to find random small objects kicked under the sofa or entertainment unit, or worse, sitting in the middle of the hallway just waiting for the unsuspecting human to step on them -- think pop bottle lids.  The dogs are more selective . . . socks are meant to be carried from place to place (one at a time), discarded kleenex is a snack food and windows are to be decorated with nose prints and drool deposited whilst barking at the neighbourhood squirrels.

The girl-child is trailed by an assortment of food containers, dishes, school papers, craft supplies and totally unclassifible items.  She has finally learned that the answer to the "where is X" question most often results in a blank look from her mother.  Hey, kid, I can barely keep track of my own things, you're on your own.

The fact that I am an adult with ADD does not make things easy.  Being as distractable as a 2 year old at Toys-backwards-R-Us often leaves me standing in a room holding some item or other and asking myself "what is this, and where was I taking it?"  With any answer being interrupted by my "hey, look a butterfly" mind.  I set whatever I have down and then 10 minutes later realize what I was doing, but can't remember where I left the item I now need. 

I know for a fact that my less than Martha Stewart style was part of my contribution to the pile o' crap that ended my marriage.  The fact that Renfrew's style of dealing with almost any issue was practiced passive aggression did not help matters.  Also, the fact he conveniently forgot how to do much of anything around the house while he was in Mountie training did not help.  [Believe me I apologised to the WiL for any part I played in his selective amnesia about such things as the inner workings of dishwashers and the role of brooms and vacuums, but I have since caught him sweeping the floor at their house, so I think he may have found a memory spell somewhere.]  The girl-child has informed me that his ability with large appliances (like clothes' dryers) hasn't improved...she has a great new collection of very soft sweaters thanks to his laundry efforts. 

But the housework issue wasn't the death of us.   The housework only represented our disregard for each other and for each other's time and effort.  The more he stopped contributing and participating in the day-to-day stuff around the house, the angrier I got.  The angrier I got, the less I did.  My requests for help were treated as nagging demands, so I stopped making them.  By the time all was said and done, we weren't taking care of ourselves, much less each other.  Yes, it was about more than the socks on the floor.

What did I learn?  I learned that ignoring an issue doesn't make it go away.  And I learned that sometimes the smartest thing to do is hire a cleaning service -- and use the time you would be cleaning to focus on what matters:  each other.

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