Recycled Love

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Expectations work best when they are expressed, not assumed.

Love in Marriage: 365 Reasons I Love My Husband

Hazelnut Spread – good, but oh, so sticky! (photo: Silvia)

Do you have chores neither you nor your spouse prefer and therefore sometimes tend to ignore? Until you can’t. We have a few of them: cleaning out the fridge (though that tends to happen weekly because of trash day), scooping out the cat’s litter box, folding the clean laundry, and cleaning the toilet bowls, just to name a few. But I think the one we both put off for as long as possible is rinsing out certain recyclable containers. Specifically, Hershey syrup bottles and Nutella snack pack containers.

Cleaning out the Nutella packs = yuck! That hazelnut spread sticks like some super paste to the sides of each container.

But one of has to do it, especially once they’ve multiplied on the countertop by the sink like a family of rabbits. And there is one major difference between David and I when it comes to clutter like this and that is he doesn’t tend to notice it until it gets in his way of doing something. Me, on the other hand, am hyper aware of pretty much any clutter. Our brains just work differently, and that is an area we’ve had to work on accepting and understanding in and with each other. It hasn’t always been easy because I think as human beings even though we embrace our individuality, we sometimes expect other people in our lives, especially a spouse, to do things the way we do, to notice things like we do, and to approach life the same way we do.

How boring would that be though, right?

Reason 3 of 365

In our 20 years together, I’ve learned that expectations need to be expressed; they don’t work if they’re implied or not communicated. That can lead to a build up of frustration that creates arguments over what is really a small thing. But if we let it fester, it begins to feel like something bigger than it actually is. I know this because I am guilty of this. And as for my husband, he’s gotten better about asking what I need him to do. Communication helps us avoid petty arguments about things that don’t factor into the big picture of our marriage (being in it for the long haul).

If you’re a fan of the sit-com, Everybody Loves Raymond, you may remember one of their most highly acclaimed episodes involving a suitcase deposited on the landing of their stairs that sits there for weeks because neither Ray nor Debra are willing to carry it upstairs. It becomes the source of a passive aggressive standoff between them, despite advice from family to simply deal with the simple task. Even when Debra finally relents and chooses to be “the one” who will remove the baggage (literally and figuratively in this case), the two argue over who gets to have the credit of carrying the case upstairs.

in it for the long haul (photo: Mabel Amber)

This episode received several awards for its writing and the acting. And I believe it was so popular and so funny because married couples see themselves in the episode. In fact, one of the writers admitted the episode was based on an actual incident between him and his wife. But we’ve all been there, haven’t we? 

And like I said, for me it was Nutella packs and Hershey syrup bottles. But I’ve learned to say, “Hey, can you take care of those, please?” Do you know what happens when I do that? They get rinsed out and put in the recycling bin. Guess what happens when I decide to wait out my husband until he  notices? It doesn’t get done, I fester with frustration, and I end up doing it myself with a whole lot of resentment. 

I will say this often in this series because I need the reminder: love is a choice. Love is an action word and it’s something we have the privilege of participating in. Whether we participate actively or passively is entirely up to us. How we participate will determine what our relationship will look like and feel like to us.

There are times when my husband surprises me and clears off the collection of plastic on our counter, and that is a wonderful treat. But when the plastic sits there for a few days, I know I can choose to do it because it’s bothering me, or I can ask him to do it because I just don’t want to deal with the stickly hazelnut paste. Either of these options creates the desired end result: clean counters and a strong relationship.

Because relationships, like life, are built on thousands of small moments and how we react to them.

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