But I’m Not a Housewife!

Domestic Bliss, Eventually

Archive for Candid Photos

Marriage Monday: Do I Spend Too Much Time With My Husband?

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First of all, don’t laugh at this picture! I’ve been meaning to start writing a marriage column on Mondays for weeks now and I was dying to have a sort of logo for it. Not wanting to worry about copyright laws, I decided to use a picture of my husband and me, and this was the only one I could find on short notice. It was the first photo ever taken of the two of us, when we were dating. It was also the onset of us spending all of our time together.

On with the post. Some people, such as Darla Shine in her book Happy Housewives, suggest that it is unhealthy to spend all your time with your husband. I suppose some couples would go insane if they didn’t have their “guy time” and “girl time” respectively. But that type of genderization of activities is something my husband and I don’t really buy into. Well, to a certain extent. Yes I do enjoy sewing and knitting and watching “Chick flicks” (that even I roll my eyes at but still want to watch) but my husband doesn’t really do much that requires that he hang out with “the guys” without their spouses. He doesn’t hunt, fish, camp, mountain climb, watch or play sports, or even really get into video games, (and he doesn’t need to be out at bars trying to feel like a single guy and flirting with other women). Besides, on the occasions he does do any of those things, he would rather have me there too! 

The only time we really go out is with our favorite local couple. We either have dinner and play cards at their house or we actually go to a bar where we compete in a weekly pub quiz. (We often place in the top three, sometimes even get first place. Yes, I guess we’re dorks.) The husband in that couple watches March Madness, but he doesn’t do it with my husband, he does it at home with his wife, who is probably making jewelry in the same room. Meanwhile we are at our own house watching DVDs we’ve rented from the library, such as Globe Trekker and Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. Sometimes I’m knitting and he’s reading the Sunday or Wednesay New York Times. We make dinner together. We eat together. We used to go to the gym together, but I’ve stopped going. See? We do have some “girl things” and “guy things” that we enjoy, but we can usually be together while doing them.

Then there are weekends. The particular day that I conceived of this post, we had spent the entire day exploring Denver together. We had brunch somewhere, roamed some old book and antique stores for hours, got some amazing deals on work-pants at Goodwill (seriously), ate ate a fun bar, while looking at some of the books we bought, went to a movie, and went home to do lie on the couch together. It was right after this lovely day that I read the segment in Darla Shine’s book about being closer with your girlfriends than your husband. Now, she didn’t write it without a lot of thought:

I’ve been sitting here thinking for a few minutes about how I should write this step. I think it’s a very important step, and I want to make sure you don’t take it the wrong way…so, here it goes…

Your husband should not be your best friend. He’s your husband, and obviously you should have a very deep bond with him, but you absolutely must have another outlet in your life. You’ll never be a happy housewife if you wrap your identity entirely around your husband and children. 

(And somewhere in the book she says the only thing she really needs her husband for is sex and that’s about it. When I find it I’ll edit it into this post.)

I know my regular readers must think I really have it out for Darla, and I don’t! It’s just that I’m a very critical thinker and I don’t like over simplified generalizations that are not thought through. 

Some of what she said above is true, we should maintain and nurture our female friendships, especially when we become mothers, but what if your husband is your best friend? What if you really do enjoy doing everything together? My sister recently told me that on Saturdays the whole family likes to go grocery shopping together. She, her husband and all four kids. And they really enjoy it, gasp! Now, I do believe that if you spend 24 hours a day with anybody, you’re going to get fed up with them for a bit, but the truth is, I can stand my husband a lot longer than I can stand most other people, and he has said the same thing about me. 

Now, a couple of weeks ago, I did have a girl’s night. One of the girls’ husband and daughter were away for the night, so we stayed up late and had a kitchen dance party. We played disco and hip hop and danced like crazy (while drinking a few cocktails) and we marveled about how this was more fun that we ever had as single women out at bars. But, the truth is, we often have dance parties when our husbands are around, after we get fed up with playing cards. Sometimes we can get them to join us in the kitchen, being silly and dancing, other times they are in the living room playing Wii

I know this type of life isn’t for everyone, and if you bicker a lot with your husband, you may need some time apart. (But, I think all that bickering is a separate issue.) And, if you are spending that time with your girlfriends trashing your husband, you are doing your relationship more harm than good.

Okay, I have tons more to say about this subject. but I’ll leave it here for now. 

Tell me, do I spend too much time with my spouse? Do you?

Size Matters, Part One: The Living Room

Today I’m posting some candid photos that cen help to explain my recent discouragement with keeping my house clean. Below is a picture of the townhouse I lived in last year. That was the giant living room. To the left of the photo was the front door, the TV surounded by built in cabinets and a fireplace. I got used to keeping it clean when our landlords put the house up for sale and started showing it regularly. There was so much storage in that house and it was brand new so it was easy to hide all of the junk and keep it sparkling clean.

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There was enough room, not only for coffee tables, but for the dining room table as well! (Don’t fret too much, we do have small dining room now.)

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But we weren’t ready to buy when they put it on the market (and didn’t really want to buy in that neighborhood anyway), so we had to move out. We decided to move across town to an older neighborhood instead of staying in the suburb that we were in. We fell in love with this older neighborhood with it’s Victorian houses, and loved it so much that we were willing to give up space, storage, and most difficult of all – a dishwasher! We gave up a dishwasher to live in a real neighborhood! So we moved into this charming Victorian row house and now look at the size of my living room:

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Notice the old bathroom rug on the floor. My twelve year old dog needs it to sooth his old joints when he’s chewing bones, and also to jump up on the couches because his paws slip on the wood. Notice how I’m so apathetic about the state of the house right now that I didn’t even bother to straighten the rug or to fold up the blankets before I took the photos. 

So there you have it. I was willing to give up a few things in order to leave the sterile suburbs for an older part of town that has more character and culture, and shops and restaurants that we can walk to. And, because we moved, we randomly ran into some old friends that we had lost touch with who are living right here! So our blessings are great, but my life as the designated homemaker for this family has become much more difficult.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still thankful every day that we live in the neighborhood that we do, I just wish I could adapt to this tiny, old house so that we could live in an organized, comfortable, and nurturing environment again.

The State of My Kitchen Today

 Okay, here we go. I went back and forth for quite a while about whether I could bear to actually post pictures of my dirty house. But then I read this paragraph by Rebecca Blood in The Weblog Handbook:

Weblogs Build Self-Awareness

It is impossible to write down your thoughts every day without noticing what you are thinking.

A blogger who complains weekly that she is tired of her job will begin, eventually, to enumerate the particular circumstances that make her so miserable. Writing the same thing over and over, she will confront the problems she is not addressing and be moved to make a change. Looking back, she will find a recorded, however informal, of the progress of her life.

And I realized, that’s exactly why I started this blog in the first place. To become more aware of my cleaning problem and to make changes. After all I stated in Day One that this was a self-intervention. Well interventions cause you to face your demons truthfully and to allow others to see them too. And the final reason: What do we blog readers often value about blogs? Honesty!

So here we go - My Kitchen!

Not so terrible at first sight, I think.

And now, a closer up of the sink (I’m not ready yet for full zoom). So full to the brim with dishes that we can’t even reach the faucet. The towels hanging willy-nilly from the cupboard and the oven are so not clean and fresh. That white thing is an up-turned colander in the the too-tiny dish drainer that we erroneously bought because our counter is so small. Next to it is the food processor, which doesn’t really fit in the cupboard. There are dirty pans on the stove, and you don’t even want to see the surface of it up close. I promise you.

Next, Let’s take a closer look at that little table that serves as counter space in our cute but tiny little Victorian house:

Dirty coffee cups, the paper towel roll which has no home, an empty can of soda and two empty bottles of beer. Several used coffee mugs. The Tupperware container from lunch. A bag of coffee, Nutella, peanut butter, bread, and a plate and spoon from my husbands breakfasts throughout the week. A bottle opener. Packets of soy sauce from the take-out the night before. And some dirty towels.

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And in the final photo you can see our espresso machine is perched on top of the toaster oven for lack of a better place. It used to rest on those two collapsing boxes full of dishes that we have no room for that have been sitting there since we moved in because they served as counter space. On top is a wooden bread bowl that used to sit atop the toaster oven until making espresso became to difficult when the boxes started sagging.

After deciding to post these photos, I read Joy in housework? on MetaFilter. It was excellent and made me laught because that’s precisely my problem right now. I hate, dread, and fear housework. I don’t know how to do it right/well and hence, I find it incredibly overwhelming.

One of the respondents to the query posted this:

Certain behaviours can encourage more mess. Don’t put dirty crockery into the sink, it means that the sink is now mostly unavailable for other washing, and that pot you may have rinsed out now sits to the side and goes unwashed. posted by tomble at 8:00 PM on October 23, 2006

How true! Just look at my sink!

The funny thing is, I am pretty sure that I will clean up this mess tomorrow after having catalogued it in this way. I won’t clean it perfectly, but I’ll take a stab at it.

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