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.