This morning I posted a response in a forum, and went about my day without thinking about it much. Little did I know how many people would message me thank you notes about what I wrote (it’s over 400 by now…just absolutely mind blowing). I thought I’d bring my reply to here, just in case there was anyone else who would like to read it!
The question was along the lines of, “Am I expecting to much by wanting my wife to keep an orderly house?”
“This is going to be a really touchy subject. I battled with this for a long time (as a wife), and there isn’t really a clear way to handle it. The thing is, at least for me, I had always worked before kids. I always went to college and worked and had this great purpose in life. And now my only job is laundry and dishes, and in my mind, none of it mattered. No one asks about projects I did anymore, no one talked to me about my purpose in life. Things just got really meaningless and depressing, and I just gave up after a while.
On one hand, you are absolutely correct with your position. You aren’t asking too much, and she should have the house together.
But on the other hand, she’s probably feeling extremely belittled with what she does all day. The things I did before I stayed home were real estate, art galleries, literature and poetry. And now I am in charge of mopping, which you can pay someone else to do. It’s a huge step down on the social ladder, and you really feel it. EVEN THOUGH I wanted nothing more than to stay home and raise our kids…no one cares what you have to say anymore, because you’re just a housewife. So, you just start giving up, and it reflects on your duties in the house…
The big change for me, which won’t help you at all, was when I started homeschooling. It gave me a creative outlet and a greater purpose during the day, and I could take pride in talking about what I did for a living again. If you can restore this aspect in your wife, you will build her up and she will be able to work happily in what she does.
If you want something a little more pragmatic, try looking into flylady.com. She is annoyingly organized, but her simple task of “Shine your sink” helped me get a handle on cleaning the kitchen and not getting overwhelmed with the enormity of the dishes.
Also, help her break the situation down into edible bits. “Cleaning the house” is very different than “picking up the toys in the bathtub.” There were many times I would just cry from being overwhelmed with the house, because where on earth do you start (fyi, you cannot answer that…just a head’s up 🙂 ). Just start with something small. Tidy the kids bathroom. Then that’s done. Now just put the clothes in the kids room away. Just one thing at a time. Because the way her mind works, she’s not only thinking about the clothes she’s picking up, but do they fit still? Do you need to get new clothes by now? Do you need a better dresser to organize them? That reminds me, we have the clothes in the closet that haven’t been hung up in a month, but we need more hangers. I need to go to Target and get more hangers. And while I’m at Target I need bananas, and we’re out of bread, and I don’t know what we’re having for dinner tonight, but I’m not in the mood to cook, maybe I’ll get something frozen…..
Women’s minds are a million rabbit trails. If you can help her focus on just ONE thing without getting overwhelmed with a million things, or the future of the house, or her purpose in life in the universe…you’re on a good track.