Friday, June 14 2024 - 10:51 AM
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My Messy Spouse

Like many young women in the first years of marriage I had expectations of a lifestyle that included the things of my dreams. At the top of my list was a neat and orderly home and yard. It took a while to dawn on me that this wasn’t exactly a priority for the man I married. Yes, he liked things clean; yes, he knew how to mow a lawn, but as for priorities, his and mine seemed to be polar opposites at times.

For instance, he didn’t think “messy” included anything like his desk, dresser top, or that vast storage space called the garage. He claimed those were his areas, and even if it looked a bit disorderly to me, he knew where everything was in that disorder. He almost seemed to thrive on it. The years rolled by, kids came along, we changed houses a few times, and nothing got better in that department. I couldn’t understand his inability to see the rightness of my dream. My inner rage burned brightest when there were others around, some of whom I knew to have their tidy lives in hand.

What would they think of the messy side yard? Perhaps they would wonder why I hadn’t put my foot down and demanded that he clean up his messes. Someone even commented to me, “Well, it’s obvious he isn’t house proud.” Boy, that stung.

The saddest part was that I didn’t defend him. I had married a loving man who became a great dad and a good provider. We’d never seen a cold or hungry day in our lives. It all came home to me one Sunday when I stood outside of church, next to my car, listening to a man complain about his wife. The tone of his voice is what struck me. It echoed my own inner voice when I was seething about my somewhat messy spouse. And it seemed like I was wrong.

I had to examine the messiness of life in a whole new light after that. We’d both signed on to a life together that included the dreams of two people, not one, not just me. Had I bothered to find out and help him with his dreams? I drove home slowly and pulled into the driveway. He was working in the yard which was his own sort of Sunday observance.

I went inside, changed into outdoor clothes and made lunch. Looking around at what we had built together, I smiled and looked at the man I’d married. There was no other conclusion to come to than that this life and home we built together was co-owned. The house was his, too, as was the yard. I knew then that I’d rather have a messy house and yard than a messy marriage.

“I’ll help you rake,” I said.

Susan Sundwall writes from Kentucky.

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About Susan Sundwall

Susan Sundwall

writes from New York.

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