Article by: Christine M. Gilbreath, 2012 National Guard Spouse of the Year
We moved into our new house about six years ago. We painted, unpacked, placed furniture and proceeded to make the house a home. I particularly love our bedroom-the furniture, the set up, the wall color. It all speaks to me. It had just one flaw that I could see: my husband.
I am an organized person. I like and appreciate a clean environment, even if I’m the one that has to keep it clean. I’m not saying my husband is a slob. Quite the contrary. But his definition of clean, neat, and organized doesn’t always match mine.
Here’s how it went in our new home: Every night, he would come home from work, go to the bedroom and change out of his uniform. He would sit in the small seating area to make changing easier. The main problem came into sharp focus as soon as you looked in through our bedroom door: The seating area was perfectly outlined and the first thing you saw were the remains of all parts of his discarded uniform: boots, socks, undershirt, blouse, pants, all of it. At least until I cleaned them up.
Which I did. Every morning. Every morning! I couldn’t take seeing this pile of dirty laundry as the first view I had entering my beautiful bedroom. Resentfully, I’d walk the 15 feet to the laundry hamper located in the master bath with arms full of dirty laundry. I’d be muttering to myself about selfish, lazy, blind, uncaring men.
DAY AFTER DAY
Every morning I’d repeat the internal conversation: How can he, day after day, be so lazy and uncaring? Why could he not just take the items with him to the hamper when he went into the bathroom? It bothered me. It angered me. If he loved me, he wouldn’t treat me this way, right? I would mention it, nag about it, and in some passive aggressive fits of temper scatter his dirty clothes over his side of the bed to make my point.
Then one evening, completely exhausted from a long day of volunteering, I sat down, undressed and just left everything where it was. I’d get it in the morning. I just needed to relax, get out of the clothes I’d been wearing and working in for more than 14 hours. I woke up the next morning, reached for my fresh coffee on the nightstand (that’s another story), got out of bed and on my way to the master bath saw “my mess.”
I realized many things that morning as I picked up my clothing: I’d been the selfish one. I’d been the unreasonable one, the uncaring one, the ungrateful one.
Every day that he came home and changed his clothes only proved that every day he went to work to support our family. Every day he left his uniform all over the floor just proved how eager he was to get comfortable-comfortable in his own home-and join us in the living room. Having to pick up his clothes every day just proved that he was home with us. Not deployed-home. If I loved him, I’d be happy to do this small thing for him. This wasn’t just my house, just my bedroom; it was ours, it was his. I was being unfair expecting him to bend to my will, while never once considering his feelings.
That night, after he got home and changed, we made a trip to Target. There we purchased a medium-sized dark-stained wicker basket. We took it home and placed it next to the chair he used to change. I took his boots and placed them behind the basket; I took his clothes and dumped them inside. I then turned to him, smiled, kissed him and told him how much I loved and appreciated him and what he does for me and our family. I thanked him for providing me with such a beautiful bedroom.
I have never had to pick up his clothes from the floor again. I never see a mess or his boots from the door, and as an added bonus his uniform gear is already separated and ready for laundry.
I gained quite a bit that day: peace in my home and marriage, a new perspective and way to look at personal conflicts, a clean bedroom once more and a beautiful accessory that adds to the decor. All it cost me was a little humility, a bit of compromise, a touch of pride, and a $30.00 basket.