By: Shannon Ralph
Reason #22: We split household duties.
Like most married couples—at least modern married couples—Ruanita and I split household duties. I was marveling just yesterday at the patterns and rhythms Ruanita and I have developed after nearly fifteen years of living together. Not having traditional gender roles to guide us, we have had to figure out our own delegation of chores. Our own roles in this relationship. Through the past fifteen years, we have managed to do just that. There are no questions anymore. We each have our jobs we are responsible for completing. Perhaps we chose these jobs. Perhaps they chose us. Perhaps they were thrust upon us against our will, kicking and screaming the entire way. However it happened, we each know what it is we do. And we have becomes experts at the tasks we handle. Here is a sampling of the rhythm of our household:
I drive everywhere we go, in part due to my (borderline) control-freak nature, and in part because Ruanita’s aggressive driving style thrusts me into sudden onset panic attacks every time I sit in the passenger seat. So I drive. Ruanita is the ever-present, ever-vocal, ever-critical passenger.
I cook. Ruanita washes the dishes. I despise dishes with a hatred that runs deep and wide. And Ruanita can’t cook. At all. Nothing.
Ruanita kills all bugs. I handle any and all hairy critters. Feathered fowl are a contentious issue still up for debate.
I buy all of the kids’ clothes. Ruanita buys most of the kids’ toys. She is the fun mom. I bring home new underwear. Woo-hoo!
Ruanita does almost all of our laundry. I marvel at the way in which my dress pants miraculously appear in my closet right when I need to put them on for work.
I do not iron. Nor does Ruanita. We simply walk around in wrinkled clothes, looking like vagrants. We kinda sorta rock the vagabond couture, if I do say so myself.
She mows the lawn. I plant and tend to all of the flowers and other “pretties” in the yard. Though the “pretties” have greatly diminished since adding a dog to our household. There is no surer way to kill every blade of grass and any and every flowering plant in your yard than to set a boxer loose. If her toxic urine doesn’t destroy it, her squirrel-chasing will.
I am responsible for anything that requires assembly. Ruanita, wisely, leaves the room and stays out of my way lest she be bludgeoned to death with one of those itsy bitsy IKEA allen wrenches.
She takes care of all repairs and maintenance on our cars. I turn up the radio when I hear an ominous-sounding noise.
I handle anything and everything remotely electronic. Ruanita asks our six-year-old son how to use the television remote.
She plays My Little Ponies with Sophie. I play Mario Kart with the boys. She tends to encourage imagination-building games. I stare mindlessly at beeping dots on the television screen with my sons while drool forms at the corners of our mouths.
I schedule and attend almost all doctor/dentist appointments with the kids. Ruanita somehow gets to avoid the hell that is our extremely vocal, physician-phobic children.
Ruanita cleans the toilets. I do not. Nor do I do windows. Nor empty the dishwasher. Nor dust. (Okay…I readily admit that I suck in the area of domesticity.) In my defense, I emptied the dishwasher last night and nearly died. Ruanita had placed all of the knives sharp end UP in the silverware tray. I could very easily have grazed an artery when I reached in there. I, therefore, refuse to empty the dishwasher on the grounds that I prefer to keep all of my blood inside my body.
Ruanita plays Play-Doh with the kids. And Legos. And those little teeny tiny bead things that you iron to make plastic thingies that have no real function other than to pile up on my children’s bedroom nightstands. For the most part, I find Play-Doh, Legos, and beads and the unavoidable mess they create to be an affront to my anal nature, and I refuse to participate.
Ruanita makes the beds. I don’t see the point since we are just going to climb back in them in a few short hours. (Yes, Play-Doh mess bothers me. Unkempt beds do not. What can I say? I am a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma…or something equally annoying.)
I do any and all painting in the house. Ruanita is not allowed to go near a paint can. Monet, she is not.
I open all beer bottles for Ruanita. She opens all jelly jars for me. I prefer not to venture a guess as to why I can open a beer bottle like a veteran bartender, but do not have the dexterity to open a jelly jar.
I do all of our grocery shopping. Ruanita stays home with the kids so I can sip my latte and shop in peace. I am able to purchase all of our groceries and remain completely within our budget. On the few occasions when Ruanita has shopped in my place (I must have fallen victim to some sort of flesh-eating bacteria at the time because I can’t think of another reason I would hand over the shopping duties to Ruanita), she came home with a vast array of products that we neither needed nor had the funds in our budget to buy. So…I shop.
I plan all of our social events and force them upon Ruanita. She begrudgingly complies. Sometimes.
Ruanita vacuums. I forget how to turn the vacuum cleaner on. Honestly, I have no freaking clue where the “on” button is.
I bake cookies, cakes, and pies. Ruanita eats cookies, cakes, and pies.
Ruanita knows where every single thing in the house goes and has an item put back in its place before I am even finished using it. I, on the other hand, know where nothing is and constantly have to ask Ruanita to help me find things. Her catchphrase when I can’t find something: You. Have. To. Look. My response: Shut the hell up and tell me where it is!
These are the rhythms of our household. These are the patterns we have constructed that have, in turn, created the home we dearly love. It’s amazing to me how we have worked this all out. Through years of trial and error—lessons learned and barriers overcome—we have become a cohesive unit. Everything gets handled. Every task gets accomplished. Neither one of us is “the man,” but our grass still gets mowed and our cars get serviced and our beer bottles get opened. Just like your family, we figure it out and we get it done.
That is one more way that my marriage is just like your marriage.
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