Written By God’s Little Flower, China, Originally in Simplified Chinese
Embarrassing as it is to admit, the title of this article had in fact been a prayer of mine.
I had only been a Christian for a short time then and was encouraged to pray for my future marriage, I listed out 10 items I expected in my “ideal husband.” “Loves washing dishes” was number nine. The rationale behind my request was, “Lord, I really don’t like washing dishes. Wouldn’t it be perfect if my future husband truly enjoyed washing dishes?”
Of course, as you have probably guessed, God did not bless me with a husband who loves washing dishes. However, God did use the mundane task of washing dishes to teach us an important lesson in marriage.
Who Will Wash the Dishes?
When my husband and I were engaged, we attended a few seminars and classes on marriage. Many of the speakers mentioned that one of the primary reasons for conflict between spouses was the unreasonable division of housework.
So, to avoid future argument over minor housework, my husband and I discussed how we should divide the chores when we got married.
Since neither my husband nor I planned on managing the home full-time, we both agreed that it was best to divide the chores equally. As for who was responsible for which specific chore—that depended on each person’s strengths, personality, preferences, and energy levels.
Speaking Truthfully to Each Other
Based on the principle of “speak[ing] truthfully to your neighbor” (Ephesians 4:25), I honestly told my husband that I did not enjoy doing housework. There are a few reasons for this. First, I did not have high standards when it came to the state of my home. Second, I dislike simple, repetitive work. Third, I get physically tired easily. Instead of doing housework, I would prefer to help him with other activities, like creating PowerPoint presentations and proofreading articles.
My husband’s views were similar to mine. He had even lower standards for food than I did, and did not expect the home to be neat and tidy all the time. Instead of enjoying the luxuries of life, he would rather have a simple life and a happy wife. If I could assist him with simple things in his research, he would be very happy.
Therefore, we decided that the goal for our housework would be simply to ensure that the condition of the home wouldn’t obstruct our daily living and so minimize our time spent on housework.
After this, we would review our division of chores every so often, share our thoughts and feelings, and adjust our plans based on our work situations. For example, we originally ate mostly at home over the weekend, but in seeking more time for rest, we decided to eat out more frequently.
No Fear in Love
Besides the issue of housework, my husband and I applied the same principle to other aspects of our lives, and would honestly discuss other issues as well. For example, how we spend time at church, how we spend our money, how often we visit each set of parents, how we respond to various opinions from family members, how to maintain communication when one of us is traveling for work, how to invite friends, etc.
We would share our own thoughts and feelings, identify a common goal, define our expectations, and finally come up with a reasonable plan we can both agree to. Every so often, we would re-evaluate the plan and make adjustments if necessary.
Most things in married life are neither absolutely right nor absolutely wrong. It is enough for both husband and wife to come to the same view. And the foundation of a common understanding is that both parties are willing to communicate honestly.
My husband’s love and acceptance allow me to express my thoughts and feelings without reservation. He is often willing to admit his weakness, and helps me understand his needs and sympathize with his feelings. Seven years of married life has helped us more deeply experience God’s love as expressed in 1 John 4:18—“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear”.
Recently, I mentioned again to my husband that prayer I made about dish-washing many years ago, and he smiled playfully, “I imagine there are few people who ‘like’ washing dishes. I would guess that even the Lord Jesus didn’t ‘like’ washing dishes!” Clearly, all these years he has been willing to take on the responsibility for washing dishes merely because I did not like washing dishes.
Looking back, I thank God for not answering my self-centered prayer. Instead, He has allowed me to experience His love through a husband who does not like washing dishes, but was willing to lay down his own self-interests for my sake. That’s the most important lesson I’ve learned in marriage.