Posts Tagged ‘men and housework’

renovation-roulette-1-mIt’s occurred to me that one of the greatest tests of a marriage is that dreaded of times, the renovation period. If your home is over twenty years ago, it can seem a neverending cycle, and if either one of you is even borderline attention-deficit, that’s the time it will show up in spades.

Such is the case in our home. My husband has the energy and ambition of two men half his age.  That can be both a blessing and a curse. Understanding his thought patterns can be like following a billiard ball as it richochets from ball to sidewall to pocket. He’s knocked a kitchen wall down at one in the morning because of a sudden inspiration. He’s started gigantic projects without planning the workspace or storage for such a huge undertaking.  At times, it makes me want to pull out my hair, but compared to women whose husbands lack that kind of confidence, I consider myself lucky. Point my husband in the right direction, clear an area for him to work,  remove all the breakable items around him, and he’s off to a great start. But leave him to fend completely on his own while I go and try to write? Don’t count on me getting much done.

Twenty-odd years ago, I read an article called “The Truth About Men and Housework.”  It was written long before “political correctness”  guided everything in print, and we thought it was hysterically funny because in my husband’s case, at least, it was completely true. One of the things it stressed is that by their very nature,  men prefer to work “in packs.” I remember one part in particular that went something like this:

“Your husband will be three steps up a ladder and call you to hand him something he forgot to carry up with him.  Don’t worry. You can finish your shower later.” 

The writer wasn’t suggesting laziness throughout the piece, but a man’s need to have someone nearby to comment on their work and assist them in some small way, speeding up the process.

That’s the pattern my husband and I have settled into, and it works for us.  Perhaps it will for you too. I am much like the operating room nurse. I keep track of the renovation “instruments,” otherwise he’d spend a couple of hours of the day searching for his measuring tape, or the Phillips screwdriver he just had in his hand, or the dropcloth he had yesterday. I’m the one who runs for the paper towel if he splatters paint . I hold the light up so he can see if the drywall paste is on smoothly. I constantly shift things around him as he makes progress in the job, all part of my own obsession to keep things under control. It works for both of us. I stay calmer and he avoids tripping on things and breaking an ankle.  After all, he’s a big guy, and if he falls, he falls hard.

He’ll also work non-stop, forgetting the time. I remind him to come and eat, and I bring him tea and cookies when it’s time for a break.

Now, before you start thinking that this is all a little too “Stepford Wife-ish” for you, I should tell you that it’s not always sweetness and light. When he messes up badly or loses something for the tenth time that dayand his frustration level skyrockets, that’s my cue to let him howl at the moon alone.  His tirade generally doesn’t last long. Ever heard of a surgeon carry on an operation alone without the surgical nurse to hand him the scalpel?

Not to worry though. Unlike the surgical assistant, I stop short of wiping his brow.

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