the game of housekeeping

I was explaining to one of my single guy friends the other day how having guests come over to your house is a lot different when you’re married than when you’re single.  It’s not enough to just toss the piles of mail and other clutter into your bedroom.  No, it’s time for a whole-house cleaning and makeover!  This is usually difficult (read: impossible) for men to understand, so I will try to explain.  Imagine you’re on a TV game show and every time someone comes over, your house is judged in the categories of how well you decorate, organize, and clean.  Forget the practical aspect of your guests understanding that people actually live in the house.  Sure, that seems like a valid excuse, and it is, but it only works with men.  If I go to a friend’s house and it’s cluttered, I don’t judge him, nor do I really care.  As long as my life is not endangered by the clutter and dust, it doesn’t matter.  I understand houses get messy sometimes and that there are many things you’d rather do than clean your house every single day.  And if you have children, it’s advisable to give up that dream of a house that always looks like a show home in a magazine or on certain TV shows, or you’re going to be frustrated a lot.

Anyway, back to my analogy before I go into rant mode.  Imagine you’re on a game show.  You and your wife are the contestants, and your guests are the panel of non-celebrity judges (even if their opinions get treated like they’re celebrities).  You might as well pretend it’s Martha Stewart showing up to judge you for how your house looks.  And that’s a critical aspect here — you are being judged, not just your house.  If it looks like people live there, you are obviously a poor housekeeper, and your life priorities must be all wrong.  And the categories you’re judged in include much more than just how clean your house is.  Even if you dust everything, vacuum, sweep, mop, do all the dishes, clean the bathrooms, etc., you can still receive a poor score.  See, it also matters how your furniture looks, and what art you have hanging on the walls, and what curtains you have, and how recently you’ve painted, and what your “theme” is, and so on.  I could not possibly list everything on the list because I am male.  I just don’t get it.

So let’s get to the next part of the game show — the prizes.  Well, there are no prizes.  It is theoretically possible to pass through this test unscathed, but unless you enjoy the process of all this housework, it’s not going to feel like winning.  And notice I said it’s possible to win in theory.  Realize that the difference between theory and practice is a lot bigger in practice than in theory.  Most likely you will lose miserably.  In some cases, even if you do all you know to do, you still lose regardless, even if the house is spotless and clutter-free, because you should’ve done more stuff, like hanging new curtains and pictures.

There are also some special complications that are bonus during this ordeal.  If your guests are your parents or in-laws, you may automatically lose.  But don’t let that faze you — you still must try your absolute best or you lose in more ways than one!  Sometimes it is a no-win situation, so you may not feel like trying at all, but there are definitely different levels of losing.

Well, there’s my perspective on the game of housekeeping.  I would enjoy hearing other perspectives.  And if anyone knows how to explain this to wives, to make the situation better, please share.  (And if it works, you should probably write a book and go around the country teaching at marriage enrichment seminars.)  Also, know that you can leave comments under an alias so your spouse won’t know it’s you.  So feel free to speak the unbridled truth.

How often should you clean your house?

Here at Buffet o’ Blog, we endorse marriage.  But through “research”, we’ve discovered that there are sometimes unrealistic expectations placed on various aspects of the marriage relationship.   (With that intro, you could probably fill a blog for years with content.)

One thing I want to address here today is the appearance of the interior of your house.   Both sides would agree that it should be kept fairly clean, even if no one wants to do the chores.  Things like dusting, vacuuming, and straightening up / removing clutter have to be done from time to time.  However, the needed frequency of such things is likely to be disputed.  So to help aid in that debate, I will present this bit of information to help clarify things:

It’s okay if your house looks like someone actually lives there.

Just that phrase, when applied properly, can help a lot.  It’s simply unreasonable to have your house always look like it’s a show home for a magazine.

But the application doesn’t stop there.  When you visit someone’s house, this concept also applies.  So if you go to someone’s house, and they have mail on the coffee table or dining table, and/or there’s kids toys in the floor, don’t judge them — it just means people live there, and that kind of thing is part of living.   Just because someone’s house doesn’t look like a magazine photo, it doesn’t mean they’re a slob or they don’t care.  Life’s too short to spend most of the time cleaning unnecessarily.

So there’s your free relationship advice.  It didn’t even cost you a trip to the Important Psychiatrist or a marriage counselor.  It’s free (and hopefully it’s worth more than what you paid).  But let’s be clear that you are liable for the response you get when presenting this info to your spouse.  🙂

impressed by throwing shoes

The other day an Iraqi journalist in Baghdad, Iraq, took his shoes off during a speech by President Bush and threw them at the President (and now faces up to 15 years in prison).  That’s crazy, right?   But the story has taken an even crazier turn.  An Egyptian man was so impressed that he has offered his 20-year-old daughter in marriage to that journalist.  The father said, “I find nothing more valuable than my daughter to offer to him.”  The daughter is okay with this idea, saying, “This is something that would honor me.  I would like to live in Iraq, especially if I were attached to this hero.”

To that, I have to say, WHAT?!?

Even if you agree with the journalist’s idea of throwing your shoes at President Bush, how can you support it THAT much?  That guy is NOT a hero!

The world is a crazy place…

women’s games in marriage

Men typically enjoy playing games, whether video games or sports or a battle of wits or just made-up games.  We enjoy the competition and the challenge.  Women, in general, seem to want the games to be “fair” to the point that no one has an advantage and no one loses.

But a strange thing happens when a man and a woman are married: the guy usually ends up playing a game he didn’t know he was playing.  In this marriage game, the woman makes the rules (and these rules are subject to change all the time), and the guy doesn’t know the rules.  So there’s not really any competition, just losing.  And perhaps the woman still wants everyone to win, but it’s ironically not setup fairly, and the guy loses a lot because he doesn’t know how to play (if he even knows he’s playing a game).

So in marriage, the woman wants to make it a game, but not fair.  The guy doesn’t want it to be a game, but he’s forced into it anyway.  So I’m wondering — when did things get all mixed up?

Do you want an example of these games?  Here’s one: the husband does something extra to help his wife out around the house.  To a guy, if he volunteers to help out with something, to be nice and make her happy, that’s a good thing.  But just offering to help and then helping isn’t enough.  He may be judged in the following categories: what he’s offering to help on compared with other tasks, if he really wants to do this or not, and how excited he is about doing this.  And so in trying to do good, he may be penalized because of the other aspects, and then it counts as a negative on his score.  So he may end up confused, frustrated, and less motivated to offer extra help next time.  Thus everyone loses…