If organization goes hand in hand with a commuter marriage then so too does cleanliness.
So I will shout from the rooftop that my Windex wielding, yearly maintenance scheduling and slightly OCD husband makes possible for us what for others could not be. It’s really something that I don’t take for granted after a relative exclaimed, “I could never be in a commuter marriage with *Bob! I’d spend the whole time we were together cleaning toilets and picking up after him.” Actually, I recently told my husband that I need more dual maintenance “jobs” at our home in Texas. When he pointed out the jobs that I do, I humbly settled into the idea that there I can somewhat relax and get a break from the daily cleaning and cooking routine.
I recall early on when we were dating we both admitted that we were each pretty happy with the traditional roles we play as a man and woman in the world. That means that while I can assemble a bar stool and he can bleach and iron clothes, when we are together he wields the tools and I (to his amused disgust that the cute blue bear got to me) add liquid Snuggle Fabric Softener to every load. I try to make extra meals that he can unfreeze after I leave and he calls to remind me of the maintenance schedule for my car. It is with ease that we stay in-tune with both a together and long distance homemaking routine. In fact, I would venture to say that every day we discuss some household chores, what’s been done and what’s pending. In that way, I think that we pretty much mirror traditional couples in the divvying up of household management.
I keep a honey-do-list for him when things break (ode to the ten-year-old son) or are beyond my skill set at our home in Wisconsin. I like to tease him about it, as he does to me by telling me what jobs are waiting in our lush and manicured Texas backyard. It’s a way that we stay engaged, not only with each other but in one another’s daily surroundings.
Another thing that we consistently do is start and end every day together. You know how when you are dating and the person will text good morning for the first few months and then after time it fizzles out? For us, it hasn’t. It’s a commitment that we’ve made and stuck to just as we continue to talk on the phone for about an hour every night when we are apart. Sometimes it’s on speaker phone while multitasking or watching a show together before bed. Most of the time it’s a fully engaged conversation. We share our schedules so we know when the other is available to talk and check in with one another multiple times during the day. Sound familiar? It may not be as immediate as, “Honey pick up milk” or “Did you leave the coffee pot on?” which frees us up for subjects like “Did you see the latest Twitter storm?”
As I wrote in How to Survive a Commuter Marriage consistency and follow through on commitments are key to a successful relationship. I would also add: Have an agreement about tasks at each household and make that early on. And if you can’t teach him to be clean, maybe this Guide to Easy Household Maintenance for Summer (coming Soon!) will help.
*Name has been changed.