How we stopped pushing, and found more happiness in our relationship.

Before I jump into the point of this post ( did someone say #clickbait?? haha, trust, I’ll get there), I’d like to set the scene with three things to note.

  1. My partner- holy shit, how old am I??- Patrick and I have one of the most chilled-out relationships in existence. We’ve been together for five years, and while we have the occasional stern / serious conversation or crack it personally, we never ever escalate it to a fight. Some people reckon that’s unhealthy, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a partner you can communicate with in a way that sees things sorted before they get out of hand, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with living a pretty blissed-out existence. Both of us have been in situations before where our relationships were those fiery, passionate, breaking plates and bursting into tears situs, and honestly it wasn’t for either of us.
  2. We grew up together. We met in school, and we got together a few months after finishing year twelve. At the time, I’d have told you that we were already adults- now that seems laughable! When we first hooked up, we’d spend our time out clubbing (!!!!) til four or five in the morning, and sleep all day. Neither of us had any responsibilities at all, to be honest, and our existence was just that- existing, albeit in a beautiful love-bubble.
  3. Everywhere you see, most people you talk to, have similar ideas about how running a household works. Whatever the side of conversation they’re on, it’s always along the same vein: one person (usually the laaaady, let’s be real) does the vast majorities of the cooking, cleaning, homemaking etc, and the other person jumps in and helps sometimes and gets a big gold star, and when they don’t help, the first person builds up a whole lotta pressure ’til they explode with either ‘you never do anything around here’, or something completely unrelated but probably stemming from exhaustion and the feeling that they’re being taken advantage of. Sound familiar? Think about your mum- I honestly can’t think of one of my friend’s mothers who hasn’t got to that point before, and I sure as heck know I’ve seen it myself!

Okay, enough of the dot-points: let’s get onto the good bit.

I finished up working on weekends about a fortnight ago. In that time, something has changed for us. I am ashamed to say that on some level, we’d spend the last two-and-a-bit-years of owning our home completely buying into number three, above. Except for the fact that I’m pretty stubborn, and the fact that there were very rarely the explosions- refer back to point one for a no-fighting refresher.

So instead of doing the work- be it tidying or cleaning or cooking or generally having knowledge of what we had to be on top of- and then getting all resentful and naggy (okay, it did happen sometimes), I’d just.. not do it! If old mate wasn’t giving me a hand, I wasn’t going to be the sucker, and it’d just not happen. It’s worth noting too, that while we are not unclean people, we are both the sort that get home and chuck our stuff on the bench and go on our merry way. We kind of didn’t realise that it was all building up until I’d get home knackered on a Sunday arvo, the house would be a mess and we’d both kind of glower at each other and get it done with a loud playlist punctuated with lots of sighing. Sure, it got done, but was that really the best way to live? To be low-key irritated at each other, and have a massive bloody scene to get through once a week?

We knew it was a problem, but the couple of times we talked about making it easier we just couldn’t crack it. Should we get a cleaner? Probably a bit slack, and definitely money that could be spent elsewhere. Maybe we should split the jobs differently? No way, cleaning the fridge out was the bane of my existence and when Patty hung the clothes up it looked like we’d been robbed and ransacked by someone that had a particular affinity for work-shirts and floral maxi dresses.

Then, one day, we both just gave in.

There was no discussion, there was no argument or agreement. I don’t really remember who started it (probably me let’s be real), but one of us saw that there was something the other one should’ve done that wasn’t, and we did it. I guess the other one then saw that there was one less job for them to do, and he did the dishes before dinner. With only a couple of pots, a chopping board and a wooden spoon to wash after I’d cooked, I just cleaned as I went- and just like that, he didn’t have to wash up that night. It sounds simple, but the ripple effect was insane.

We saw a job that needed doing, we did it. I didn’t feel like I was smothering my inner feminist when the chore was super quick and beneficial to us both, and I know that Patrick feels like he’s got a lot more of the weekend to enjoy now, too.

I didn’t realise how hard we were pushing against each other when it came to menial tasks until we stopped pushing.

It’s affected our relationship as a whole, too. We’re more considerate of each other. We’re slipping into and out of each other’s boots so often at home that we’re closer than ever, and have fallen into a sync that I didn’t really realise was possible- even as blissed-out as we always have been.

It only takes one person to stop pushing, for the other one to have nothing to push against. All the time we read stuff on Facebook or Instagram where a wife is mentioning how isolated she feels when she’s juggling the lot, or a husband in his fifties who’s ‘bloody classic’ing a meme about nagging wives and their slack other halves.

It only takes one person to make the change, but if our generation all discover this switch (and from chatting to friends about it, I know we’re by no means the first ones!), maybe we can create a future where we’re all a little happier and more fulfilled at home- and where a cheeky bum pinch makes us smile, instead of asking about the state of the dishes if they’re hoping for a somethin’ somethin’ in return.

Honestly, constantly pushing is exhausting, and so is falling into an uneven routine and lying down to do it all. We’ve chosen to stand, and lean on one another, and it’s the best bloody choice we’ve made yet. Let’s hope it sticks around, at least ’til we’re rich enough to afford a cleaner haha!


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