March 29, 2021
The clothes are already on the hangers. They’re laid out thoughtfully and neatly on the bed. I look down at the stack of shirts. I look over at the closet - their final destination. I cast my gaze more broadly over the space, estimating the distance, in feet, between where they are and where they could be. Three feet.
My wife is wise in ways she doesn’t fully perceive, and I’ve told her as much in our nearly 14 years together. However, at this moment, standing at the foot of the bed within arms reach of both the clothes and the closet, the true depth of her genius strikes my consciousness like a bolt of lightning.
Though the roles inside our home are consistently updated to remain balanced, we’ve settled on an agreeable routine for the laundry. She loads it and takes it out, I put it away. It’s not complicated and, if I’m honest, I think I get the better deal but combined with the myriad other domestic duties, we’ve come to see it as a fair arrangement.
Staring at the clothes on the bed, amnesia strikes for but a moment and I allow myself the brief indulgence of annoyance.
“Ugh, what the hell? She couldn’t walk the extra two steps to hang these in the closet?”
Enlightened being that I am, it took a moment to realize why she couldn’t “go the extra mile”. Balance. The laundry is already one-sided. It’s teetering on the brink of downright unfairness, but that little bit I do at the end when her willpower runs dry is enough to maintain equilibrium. Additionally, she chooses not to separate our shirts “properly”, so there’s added randomness and effort I undertake to sort them as I hang them.
This barely-subconscious act is without even a hint of malice. And it’s brilliant. It reflects the big-picture wisdom my wife has been executing since we started dating, and I can only thank the universe that I was awake enough to understand it as that and not read it as thoughtlessness or worse, careless malevolence.
I penned a mental note to myself to find a moment the next day to pull her aside and thank her, articulating in detail exactly how important those things are (and continue to be) for us.
I think people in relationships tend to take for granted some of the small things that keep the house of cards we call existence upright. When I feel the pang of annoyance or that someone isn’t “doing all they could”, leaving me to pick up the slack, I’m going to try harder to look at the other side of the coin before I proceed any further into martyrdom. Maybe that annoying thing that someone else should be doing is one of the hundred things keeping it fair, and that those same people are already doing more than I know. And maybe I should be damn grateful those clothes will remain on the bed until I get off my ass and walk them the three more feet to the closet.