Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesday's Too Clean Tip--Stop Cleaning

My husband and I enjoy attending couple's counseling sessions.

I know counselors get a bad rap and that people who attend them are stereotypically bonkers but that's not how it is with us.  Matt and I want to make our marriage work and that means we have to work on it.  For us, having a third party help us talk over issues has been incredibly helpful.  We may never stop our couple's counseling.

Are you wondering what in the heck this has to do with cleaning?

Nothing and everything.

At our last session Matt revealed something that was eye-opening, hurtful, and convicting all at once.

He said that I'm task oriented at the expense of being people oriented.  A Martha instead of a Mary.

I've always liked things cleaned and organized and am happy to labor day in and day out to have stuff in order.  But there is a problem with that.  My husband feels like get gets the last of me.  That when there is nothing left to do at the end of the day, I'll spend time with him.  That when it comes to intimacy, I'm the pool of exhausted goo in bed that he must try to woo.

I can't even begin to explain how heartbreaking it was to hear that he often feels like he is at the bottom of my priority list.  That tasks like dishes, vacuuming, and toilet scrubbing leave him in last place.

To be honest, I feel like a collassal failure.

I've always thought I was keeping the house nice for my family.  That a hot meal when he came home made Matt feel loved.  But my family doesn't feel like I'm doing it for them.  They feel like I'm doing it for me.  And the more I think about it, the more I know THEY are right.  It is all about me.

When people comment about how clean my house is, who feels proud?  Me
When people ask me about cleaning tips who feels thankful to know the answer?  Me
When I can tell you exactly where something is because I put it there (and labeled it) who feels like she's got it all together?  Me

Cleanliness, organization, and "having it all together" are so highly esteemed in our culture.  I bought into it--hook, line, and sinker.  What's worse? I've encouraged OTHERS to buy into it too.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a well organized and clean home UNLESS the people that make the space feel like home are left in the dust (or in the newly polished furniture streaks, in my case).  That's my family.

And that's why I have a challenging New Year's Resolution: Stop cleaning.

You might be thinking "that's easy" but for me, it's not.

I actually LIKE to clean.  My urge to clean is directly connected to my self-defense mechanism (you should see me clean and organize when I'm mad or sad) and helps me "feel" like I'm in control.

Not having everything where it should be is sort of like asking me to run a naked 5K.  It's gonna be hard and it's not going to be pretty.

Cleaning and organizing are my idols.  And they can't be.

On 1/1/11 I vowed to pick charades over cleaning,  love over laundry, and making memories over making dinner.

Of course I'll still clean my house and make dinner but in moderation because my baseboards won't care if they don't get wiped down this month but my kids and my husband will care that I spend more time with them than with my dust bunnies.


  1. OH MY GOODNESS! I am so glad that you posted this...well, I am and I am not... ;) You see; it was as if I was reading about myself. Holy moly. Nothing like some good ol conviction over coffee in the morning! Honestly; thank you for posting this. I really needed to hear it and I too should join in on your new years resolution.
    All along I was convincing myself that I was doing all of the obsessive cleaning for my family; but it really was for me! *sigh*

  2. It's not a problem I have (I have to work at cleaning - I hate it!) but I can appreciate where you are coming from and hope you are able to ease up a bit so that you have more time for cuddling! :)

  3. Cleaning is my all time worst thing, I'm hopeless at keeping up with it, I prefer to play which in the end is probably just as bad. Callum never ever says anything but he does 80% of the tidying because it gets left so long that I can't handle it by myself because my disability means I tire easily. I should learn some self discipline so maybe this year I'll learn self discipline and you learn to relax.

    I wish you luck my friend!

  4. Great post. Hubby and I have been married almost 30 years, and our oldest will be 22 this month. There was a time when the kids were little that I wanted a clean house. Like, I REALLY wanted a clean house. For an entire month, I tried. I cleaned every day, picked up after the kids, and went behind them making sure things were clean. I told myself I couldn't do anything fun for me until the house was clean, dishes done, floors mopped or vacuumed. Yeah, I didn't do much for me. Then, in a nutshell, I realized it wasn't working, so went back to my "normal." I said something a few years later about that month, while I was trying to be clean. He said, "Yeah. I remember that month." Oh. Yowzers. Fast forward 20+ years. We have a house cleaner that comes every other week. It's done wonders. I love them. Hubby loves that I love them. Life is good. Good luck in your quest for relaxation. You deserve it.

  5. This totally resonates with me and my New Years Resolution is pretty much the same thing. And 12 days in...and I'm not regretting it. I'm loosening up and enjoying every moment more and not stressing that the clean laundry on the bed isn't folded.

    Thanks for sharing~

  6. Have you heard of the Five Love Languages? This post reminds me of that. People express love in different ways and this breaks it down into a few categories. It's really helped me understand myself and my husband a little better and know that some of the things I do, even though I think they are important, aren't that important to him and vice versa.

    Thanks for sharing.


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