Sunday, March 31, 2013

Standards of cleanliness

Was pondering some things as I cleaned house this morning.  Now, keep in mind that by "clean house" I mean run a duster over the most obvious flat surfaces, sweep the stairs and the wood floors, vacuum the carpets and area rugs in all areas where they are not obscured by furniture, and wipe down the toilets.  On a less regular basis I wash the tile floors of the two bathrooms and the kitchen and run a damp mop over the bamboo floor in the dining room.  Today was an abbreviated version and took me about half an hour, if that.  I am comfortable with the level of cleanliness in my house.  I have never contracted any diseases or serious health issues related to any lack of cleanliness and there are no infestations in my house of any sort.  I have occasionally thought that it might be nice to have the place cleaner and have even given some thought to hiring a housekeeping service to come in every once in a while to do a more thorough job, but thought is as far as it has gone.

When I was married, however, my wife had a completely different standard of cleanliness.  To her, a room wasn't clean unless every single surface had been scrubbed, every single piece of furniture moved, every window polished, etc.  The bathroom would sparkle when she was done, the house exuded an air of cleanliness and organization that I loved.

I just wasn't willing to expend the time to do it myself on a regular basis.

Now, don't get me wrong. I didn't nag at her to clean the house, she did it because she wanted to.  I didn't make comments or bring up the lack of cleanliness when she didn't clean because I was OK with the lower level of cleanliness even if I enjoyed her efforts when she decided to really go to town.

So why am I bringing this up?  Well, I've read several articles that suggest that "division of labor" and "doing your fair share" is a major bone of contention in modern relationships.  The point that some of the authors have made, however, a point which is reflective of the relationship I described above, is whether "your fair share" is, or should be, the level at which you are comfortable.  If I am comfortable in a house that is cleaned to my standards, am I failing to do my fair share if I don't take the time to raise the level to someone else's standards?

Now I'm not talking about being a layabout bum who contributes nothing.  When I clean the kitchen I clean it to a higher standard than the rest of my house, I maintained all our vehicles in good running order, I cut the lawn and worked in the garden, as well as working at least one job and often two, but the cleanliness of the house was something that wasn't high on my priority list.  To be fair to my ex, she didn't complain about this issue (until later in our relationship when other things were causing more issues and it was a way to score points in a deteriorating situation).

So there it is.  Debate point.  Is cleaning the house to someone else's standard an expectation in a relationship and if you are cleaning to your standards, (absent health conditions) should this qualify you as meeting your obligations?

Post post thought: Another reason to engage in pre-marital counseling prior to even moving in together.

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