Earlier this month my husband and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. When I mentioned the upcoming milestone to a friend, they responded with a request for marriage tips. What advice did we have for making a marriage work?
Honestly, I have to say I was not expecting that question.
First, I guess I don’t see 15 years as that long. (Pretty sure it was just a few months ago, no?) Second, if you know us in real life, you know that we are odd, nerdy goofballs that have always done things our own weird way… who would actually want advice from us?
I don’t exactly keep a list of profound and sagely advice that I can pull up at a moment’s notice and “wow” people with, so I kinda just laughed the question off. But the next day, when I was doing laundry, it occurred to me that there is one thing we do differently than any other couple I know:
It sounds silly, but hear me out. This has seriously prevented so many fights!
There is nothing more frustrating than having your favourite sweater or new jeans shrunk. And there is really really nothing more infuriating than having a brand-new bra completely destroyed–those suckers are expensive! And what happens when a laundry crisis of this proportion happens?
Well… hypothetically* it could go down something like this:
- The Laundry-Literate Partner (The LLP, if you will), blames the Laundry-Illiterate Partner (LIP).
- The LIP will say, “I didn’t mean to…”
- The LLP will say,
“Well it doesn’t really matter what you meant to do. It’s ruined now and it’s all your fault!”
“Well now you owe me a new one!”
“Well, it’s your fault we’re going to be late… now I have to come up with a whole new outfit!”
- The LIP may defend their self with a,
“Well, I didn’t know.”
…which will enrage the LLP.
- “How could you not know? Don’t you read tags!”
“I told you! Don’t you ever listen?”
“You always do this!”
- The LIP will get more defensive and try to turn the tables:
“Why do you even buy stuff that can’t be washed?”
- The LLP will exasperatedly explain that it’s completely normal for clothing to come with a variety of care instructions.
- The LIP will say,
“None of mine do.”
Adding fuel to the fire…
- Which may easily devolve into a personality critique, where the LLP is accused of being “high-maintenance,” and the LIP is accused of having “no taste.”
- The LIP will then throw down the ultimatum:
“Fine! I’ll never help with laundry again!”
- To which the LLP will say,
(…only to whine a few weeks later, “I can’t keep up with all this laundry. It’s too much for one person!”)
*The above scenario may or may not be based on true events. It may or may not be exaggerated for comedic effect. (How much is my little secret. heh-heh)
I really need to give my husband credit here. He didn’t ever give up for long, and he is the one that came up with the solution we still use to this day–which didn’t have a name until this exact minute–but which now will forever be known as:
The Two-Basket System (trademark pending)
Two different coloured laundry baskets would be great for this (but since we already had matching baskets, he simply differentiated one by putting zip-ties on the handle. Simple. Cost-effective. That’s why he’s the engineer!)
Anything placed in Basket A will be washed on normal cycle and dried in the dryer on regular heat. Anything that cannot follow this protocol goes into Basket B, which gets all the TLC it might need: sorted into whites, brights, colours, and darks; pre-treatment; cold water, delicate cycle, or hand-washing; dried on low, or hung, or laid flat to dry.
He takes care of Basket A. I take care of Basket B. The work gets done. We each do “our fair share.” Our whites stay white. The lifespan of my bras has quadrupled. And we have eliminated an entire topic from the list of things we bicker about.
So there you have it. A marriage tip. There may or may not be more someday. (I have optimistically called this “Tip #1,” but so far it’s the only one!)
Feel free to adopt a two-basket system, if you want. But more importantly, I hope you can find a way to tackle one frequent argument topic and lay it to rest once and for all.
Couples: what are your most frequently argued-about topics? Tell me in the comments. (It’s only fair.)
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