Washing Dishes as Homemade Marriage Therapy

I saw the coolest blog post this weekend on the Boston Globe’s website. The title jumped right out at me. It’s called “Instead of Marriage Therapy, Wash the Dishes” and it’s writer Howard Scott’s contention that thirty years of washing the dishes has made his marriage stronger.

That’s right, keeping kitchen stuff grease- and germ-free through hand washing is my ticket to a relatively stress-free, relatively content marriage.”

According to Scott, he’s been the chief dishwasher in the home for his entire marriage and it’s helped him to be a better husband.

marriage work - washing dishes 2

Don’t get me wrong, this is a fun article, not a prescription for all of the husbands out there. But mixed in with the humor is an awful lot of real-world insight.

You’re thinking: That’s not therapy. But look at it this way. Marriage isn’t rocket science. It’s not like putting a man on Mars. It’s a simple proposition of two people being reasonable with each other.”

As Scott explains it, washing the family dishes every night is a constant reminder of what the day-to-day tasks of building a happy marriage are all about.

It also lends some perspective.

Washing the dishes is my reality check. It is saying that much of life is filled with such mundane tasks. Turn up the faucet, and it warbles that dishes are a symbol of a relationship. If I tend to the dishes, then I tend to the relationship. Fill the strainer with kitchenware, and I am preparing for tomorrow. Pour more detergent, and I think back to when I was so angry that spittle formed on the edges of my lips, and how that, too, has passed.”

I can identify with Scott’s thoughts on washing dishes. I too wash my dishes by hand. I find it a good time to slow down and think. He’s right, it is somewhat meditative and the repetitive motions invite you to focus on other things.

For Scott, it may also help him stay focused on his role in his marriage.

Washing dishes cuts me down to size. It reveals, over and over, that I am just another bloke trying to get through the day. So informed, I know any dispute is not about the dispute, but about my reaction to it. Next time I feel impatient or embarrassed or upset, I know that the person on the other side of the table deserves respect.”

What are some mundane, routine tasks that you do in your home? Next time you do it, spend a few moments thinking about the connection between what you’re doing and who you are as a spouse.

I know I’ll be thinking this over tonight…..while I’m up to my elbows in Dawn.

One Response to Washing Dishes as Homemade Marriage Therapy

  1. Cathy Lorient August 22, 2012 at 7:14 am #

    What do you think about washing dishes to improve marriage? Please post your thoughts or comments below. We’d love to hear from you.

    – Cathy Lorient

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