My Advice for Marriage? Work "Next to" Your Spouse
One of our most strategic marriage decisions is emptying the dishwasher together.
Billy and I both dread this chore. If we could avoid it forever, we would. Alas, paper plates and dining out aren’t friendly to the environment or the wallet, so we tackle the challenge whenever needed. (I can hear your relief!)
(Aside – I realize this is a first-world problem. I have a machine for washing dishes – what a luxury! The machine uses clean water – such a gift! The dishes were used to serve easily attained food – what a blessing! Trust me. I know the complaint is ridiculously spoiled. Therefore, I will now add self-loathing to the list of emotions I feel about the dishwasher!)
Still, the exercise of unloading the dishes has become symbolic of one of our top goals: working next to each other.
Of course, we also strive to work WITH each other (sharing the same goals and purpose), but what the dishwasher represents is our commitment to work in physical proximity to each other.
This is big for us.
We don’t just stack dishes to make the job faster, easier, or to model teamwork for our kids (though those benefits exist), we do it to increase our “together time.” OK – before you roll your eyes – hear me out.
I’m NOT saying doing housework next to each other is romantic. I’m NOT saying we suddenly enjoy the chore. And I’m certainly NOT saying we do this perfectly every time.
What I AM saying is we consciously decide NOT to divide and conquer our “to do” list. Instead, we dig in and knock it out together in the name of being together.
When the backyard needs work – we roll outside together.
When the bed needs to be made – we each grab a side of the sheets and make it happen.
When the kids have to get out the door for the bus – we are both involved in the chaos.
We aren’t necessarily shooting for efficiency; we are making excuses not to be apart. We both have demanding jobs and I travel a good bit, so “apart” happens often enough. We don’t have to fight for “apart,” we do have to fight for “together.”
Our list of “next to each other” will look different for you in your marriage. Your “next to” could include grocery shopping, watching SportsCenter (!), or running to Home Depot. The task doesn’t matter; the proximity does.
The key is to find opportunities for staying near enough to allow for chit chats, jokes, and connections to happen.
How do you do “next to?”