Relinquishing Control…

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I once read an article in a magazine that claimed women were more likely to ask their children to do chores around the house than their husbands.  And it’s probably true.  After all, what could our husbands possibly know about keeping a house clean and running?  Probably best to let them do their “husband” thing while we become more and more frustrated at their lack of interest as we load the dishwasher, start another load of laundry, step on toys left all over the living room floor, and get dinner on the table.  Right?

Turns out, no.  Not at all.  But, in most cases, it’s really not the fault of our husbands.  We don’t want to turn the control over – or, at least, I don’t.  I like to know that the dishes are all in their right places and the laundry is sorted into three laundry baskets to make putting it away easier (or, to be totally honest, grabbing clothes in the morning because we didn’t put them away).  I don’t know why I do; I just do.

Except I don’t anymore.  Slowly, over the past eighteen months, I’ve lost control of our house.  Although he travels for work quite a bit, Justin actually runs most of our house now.  It’s a bizarre sensation, asking Justin where certain dishes are or finding the bed made almost every day – and not by me minutes before climbing into it again.  It really hit home last Sunday when, as I finished breakfast, Justin undecorated our tree and packed up the ornaments.  Then, he put all the rest of the Christmas decorations away, taking care to pack them all in the ginormous “Christmas box” he’s had since he was little.

I’ll admit; this was hard for me.  I have certain boxes for my ornaments, certain boxes for Robbie’s.  But this year, they were all jumbled in together with Justin’s childhood ornaments.  In random boxes.  And our Christmas decorations weren’t put into the plastic bins I painstakingly labeled “CHRISTMAS” with green Sharpie years ago.  It took every ounce of willpower in me to not correct the job Justin was doing.  And you know what?  It felt pretty good, especially because within an hour, all the decorations were put away and in the basement.  And I didn’t have to do any of it.  I’ve also figured this will make decorating even more fun next year because I have no idea what I’ll be unpacking.

A beautiful thing happened when I didn’t correct the job Justin was doing; he continued doing other things around the house.  And let’s be clear – there was nothing to correct, which is the key here.  Just because Justin’s way isn’t mine doesn’t make it wrong.  Hard to believe, I know.  Yesterday, for instance, I got a text while I was at school.  It simply said, “What can I do to help you today?”  Funny thing: I did need help.  The rabbit in my classroom desperately needed a new water bottle.  And so Justin stopped (at two stores) to pick one up for me.

Today, he stopped to buy fabric we (read, I) were supposed to pick up over a month ago for a chair I want reupholstered.  And while he was in the neighborhood?  He stopped to buy new shoes for Robbie.  Tonight, while I was putting Robbie to bed, Justin cleaned the kitchen.  All of it.  Later, when he could have been watching TV or puttering around on his iPad, Justin clipped coupons while I wrote a grocery list.  Did I mention that I don’t go to the grocery anymore?

Don’t get me wrong; I still do a lot around the house (especially when Justin is traveling).  However, as Justin would be more than happy to tell you, when he is in town, he does a lot more around the house than I do.  So, give the husband a little more positive reinforcement when he makes the move to help out.  For goodness sake, don’t correct him.  In the scheme of things, he’s not doing anything wrong; it’s just different.  And, when you don’t have to do it and can spend a little more time having fun together, different is a wonderful thing.

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