Cleaning the pool… for the covenant

Posted By on May 6, 2010

My beloved husband and I were, when I wrote this article, fast approaching our three-year anniversary. In a few more months we will have been married four years. And every day I fall more in love with him. People kept telling me when I married him, stars in my eyes and all, that this”first phase” would be over soon amidst the worries about the household and most definitely when we had children.

I will not hide that having that first child (non sleeping and early walking) has been a tremendous challenge for both of us. But instead of making the feeling of “being in love” disappear, this actually made it grow with each passing day and challenge. After all…who can not fall in love with a husband who, after three years of my cooking, still thanks me for every single meal? Who still tells me how sweet I am to cook for him?  When being in love does not revolve only around romance and roses, it grows stronger with time and challenges instead of diminishing in the day to day reality of living.

Each day, we strive to be “worthy” of the other. On one hand, that is a tall order. On the other hand, we also know that if we fail the love does not diminish. It makes us want to be the best husband and wife possible for each other. And in that, each of us has our own strengths and weaknesses.

My strengths are mostly in listening, being there and cheering my wonderful husband on. My weaknesses are in the domestic area. I cook well and happily, but keeping up with laundry (or, more precisely, folding and putting away the laundry) and tidying up after “Mr. Energizer Bunny” are not exactly my strongest points. I try. I honestly try. But by the time he goes down for his afternoon nap, I often have the strong need to just sit and gaze at something. Do some knitting. Read. Play on the computer.  Just for an hour or so.  Anything aside from work.

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I keep the household running, and most days it runs fine, though, now and again, I look around and think, “Yikes, I need to pay a little bit more attention to this or that.”   My husband, however, never complains. He is grateful for what I do and somehow overlooks the things I do not do–which actually inspires more than any nagging would do, and I end up trying to do more and better, because I just love to see him smile.  We have a routine that works for us, with the inside work mostly for me, and the outside work mostly for him.

A few weeks ago, I asked if he would not mind if, instead of watching Joseph on Saturday morning, I’d clean the pool instead. This is usually his job, but I felt rather groggy after a bad night sleeping and needed to do something more physical to snap out of it. He watched our little Mister Energizer  Bunny, and I cleaned the pool. Afterwards I felt much better.

Of course this did somehow set a precedent, and a few days ago, my husband casually asked while he went off to work if I minded cleaning the pool for him. While I said (and even meant) “Of course,” there was something grumbling inside me. I didn’t mind cleaning the pool in itself, but I wanted to do it while he was taking over watching our son, not really in my oh-so-precious hours of naptime. Nevertheless, I promised him to clean the pool if it wasn’t raining. After all, the weather looked very changeable; we might have an afternoon storm again as we had had several times the last few weeks.

My first impulse was to say some quick prayers for rain during the afternoon nap. I had said I was going to clean the pool if it didn’t, and, of course, I would, but I really didn’t want to “waste” any of my precious free time on this chore. While pouring beans with my boy, however, something seemed to touch my mind. Perhaps the Holy Spirit was giving me a nudge. What kind of an attitude was this? Did I resent this one, small request my husband made? When had naptime become “my” time, just for fun time instead of an opportunity to serve the whole of our family? Something changed, and while I pushed the stroller towards our daily visit to “the doggie around the corner,” I started to pray that it would not rain during Joseph’s naptime. Because cleaning that pool was, to use an overly grand expression, a way of honoring the covenant of our marriage.

When I married my husband, I gave myself away to him, and he gave himself away to me. Doing something for him should not be a chore but a joy. It should not be something to grumble about–that I give away something of myself (in this case “free” time) but instead an evidence as nothing is mine or his, but all is ours. That does not mean we stop being individual people. Quite the contrary. We are people who chose freely to give of ourselves to one another. I know that, of course, and in principle I have no problem with it. It’s the practicality of it that sometimes threatens to get away from me. It’s easier to be sacramental in spirit than it is body. “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Still, the spirit overcame the flesh in this instance at least, and my prayers for it not to rain were answered. I put Joseph to bed and managed to actually almost joyfully clean the pool, which took longer than it usually did. Afterward, I felt so much better about myself than I would have if it had rained, and I had been “excused” from cleaning the pool.

After all, I had served my husband. And guess what? That wonderful husband of mine thanked me happily for it, because he appreciates what I do every single day from the first changed diaper, to the last made meal. How blessed am I?

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About The Author

I’ve been a contributor to LAF through many changes in my life. From Miss Eva B to Mrs Eva H. From living in Europe to living in the USA. From being single, to being courted. From being courted to marriage and further into motherhood. I like to share the realities of life as well as the inspirations, the beauty as well as the work that it takes to honor God in our daily life.

Comments

4 Responses to “Cleaning the pool… for the covenant”

  1. Cassandra says:

    Great reminder. My husband asks for very little and sometimes I feel resentful when he does ask for something. It’s hard to overcome selfishness. 🙂

  2. Tess Bomac says:

    My mom always says to “do it with a good heart.” I didn’t really know what she meant until I started teaching 8th grade boys who drag their feet and show disdain whenever asked to do something. Puts my childhood in a different light….

    I started working when I was 11, and held various service-oriented jobs until I was 24. I became very, very good at “seamless service”, having worked in HR; as a secretary; as an executive assistant to a priest, who needed a lot of help, but done in a manner that was discreet and drew no attention to my presence; as a waitress; as a babysitter; as a personal assistant to a disabled woman; as a tutor for students ranging from 10-57 years old; in retail.

    What I’ve noticed is that it is hard to juggle the things I do right now. My husband and I both work the same number of hours outside of the house each week. He does a lot around the house, but mainly stuff that is easy to notice, like watching the baby while I write, or vaccuuming. I do things that become invisible the way I do them, such as wiping down the bathroom daily so that it ”doesn’t seem to get dirty” and managing all of our paperwork/appointments.

    If my husband asked me to take on one of his tasks, for no other reason than it being nice not to do it himself, I’d have a hard time with that. I would have to imagine it would be the result of him not noticing all the other stuff on my plate.

    Obviously, once I am home full time, I would hope to take on most of what he does at home so that our evenings can be spent on more enjoyable tasks.

    Is that wrong of me to feel that way now?

  3. Hi, Tess! I can only imagine how difficult it must be to work full-time, then come home and try to work full-time there as well. It’s very difficult to “serve two masters.” I know you will be glad to get home and be able to pour your energies into it without losing so much time and energy to another boss.

    As far as the “invisible” (sometimes thankless) jobs go, I think we wives need to remember that a lot of the work our husbands do away from home is also invisible. I’ve heard resentful wives talk about how their husbands have it “easy” because they go away to an office or a truck or what-have-you all day–seemingly forgetting that their husbands are not just sitting around doing nothing all day in those jobs. It is very tempting to treat our husband’s work as “out of sight, out of mind.” But being the provider means daily hard work (often for unpleasant bosses or in difficult situations). The beauty of the biblical division of labor is that neither spouse has to “do it all.” With the wife keeping the household (meaning not just cleaning and cooking, but also keeping the books, looking out for the budget, etc.), the husband is freed from those worries — just as the wife is freed from worry over bringing in a paycheck when she is able to be at home full-time. The Bible shows that both husbands and wives share responsibility for bringing up children, managing the family estate, and demonstrating hospitality (even Jesus cooked for His disciples!), so this isn’t about a rigid separation of spheres or resorting to cultural stereotypes. With Scripture as our foundation, we are freed to be creative and work well within our roles. Proverbs says that a good wife is a rare jewel and a “crown to her husband.” What she does as his helper benefits the entire household and even earns public praise (Proverbs 31:28-31).

    When my husband asks me to do something, it’s usually because he has confidence in my ability to tackle it rather than because he doesn’t see how much I have to do. 😉 If I am feeling a bit overwhelmed, I ask him to sit down with me and help me reevaluate my priorities and either delegate tasks or just drop them altogether. Communication is key. We talk about everything. We’re working toward the same goals, so it is so helpful to stop every now and again and take stock of what we’re doing and why. So if your husband asks you to take over a key task and you just don’t feel you can manage with all the other things you are doing, ask him for a pow-wow–seek his advice. Together you’ll be able to set realistic goals and bump things off the to-do list that really don’t matter in the long run.

    Hope this helps!

  4. Tess Bomac says:

    Hi Jennie,

    Thanks for the feedback. That’s a good point–why don’t I start with open communication with my husband, rather than starting with resentment?

    Best,
    Tess

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