Monday, March 29, 2010

"Happy Wife" vs. "Spotless House"

These two rivals used to compete fiercely in this house. And what's worse, is that I used to think both of these competitors could win. And in the beginning of my marriage, they usually did, even though there was always a struggle.

After all, I am a complete and total neat freak--to a great fault. And my husband was..well, a guy!  Hence the struggle!

But then came along baby #1. And while it took some intense training, I quickly learned how to still end the day in a nice tie...10 points Happy Wife, 10 points Spotless House.  Everyone is happy.

Then came baby #2 just 18 months later. I was still in the habit of obsessively arranging each and every toy perfectly on the "toy shelf" with each part in it's respected place and all figurines poised perfectly.

So needless to say, the competition really started to pick up then! The house was usually "a horrible wreck" (meaning toys were on the floor and I hadn't vacuumed in 2 days). Before, I had only THOUGHT the battle was fierce. Now it was getting ugly...and so was Happy Wife. Spotless House usually ended up on top most days. I kept can I bring this whole thing into balance again? But it was an uphill battle.

Then the bell rang (per say) and the Lord faithfully stepped into my corner and started to do a work in my heart. It was then He showed me a hard, cold Truth that I had been blind to for years. My house had become an idol.

In many ways I was worshiping and valuing a tidy, "showroom" house above all else and the sad part is, I didn't even know it. The physical state of my home was directing my mood and my heart.

I decided something needed to change...and it was my perspective. I needed to start looking at the eternal things and not the temporal ones.

2 Corinthians 4:18, "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

It was STRAINING on my eyes, let me tell ya!  I was so used to letting my eyes rest upon the temporary things!  As I changed my focus, it was a difficult but it has been worth it--it's a much prettier view.

So by the time baby #3 came (again, just 18 months after the last baby), I was ready and prepared to do everything I could to make sure "Happy Wife" won every time. I was determined to keep my eyes on the eternal and not the temporal.

There were still definitely days when the gloves came out and fists were flying...But Spotless House and Happy Wife were learning that they didn't have to start every morning (and end every day) in a fight. In other words, I was learning the condition of my home did NOT need to rule my attitude.

So when baby #4 came onto the scene (yes, once again, just 18 months later!) I had really learned to master my flesh. I could logically talk myself into the fact that it's okay if laundry is sitting in the basket not folded, the dining room table hadn't been cleared off and all the linens and pillows in the house are in a pile in the living room for the conventional need of a "landing pad". I was training myself that those things were temporal and did NOT mean Happy Wife went on vacation!

Now that I have 4 little ones, there are often messes left here and there. More times than not there are dishes piled in the sink and laundry is still sitting on the couch waiting to be put away.

But Happy Wife has taken over this house. On most days, our house is still pretty clean and tidy (I'm still working on not obsessing!) but one thing is true...I have finally started to believe and apply what my husband has told me all along,

"I'd rather come home to a happy wife than a spotless house."

And if it's a Happy Wife he wants, I'm determined that Happy Wife is what I'm gonna strive to give him!


Grace said...

What a great reminder Grace! Thanks for that!

Bri Dodson said...

How ironic you would write this today! I just wrote a similar post this morning about this epiphany I had last weekend. That my attitude had been horrible all weekend because one shelf in my kitchen wasn't organized. Not like that one shelf was the only disorganized one...but that that one shelf needed to be organized for me to feel in control of my clutter/messy weird.

Anyway, this reminded me of what I went through last weekend. I'm sort of the opposite though. My husband likes things clean, but our house is almost always a disaster area. I am trying to get more diligent about setting time aside to get house work done/decluttering our lives, but for me this one shelf has to be clear or I lose all desire to clean anything.

It amazes me how God creates people to be so different, yet can still push us in similar it!

Raising Saints said...

Those "landing pads" can provide a great place for mommy naps .. just make sure there's another pillow on top of you so you don't get hurt when a child launches off the couch! ;)

Grace Wheeler said...

Bri~I can understand the obsession with a single shelf and how it "rules" your mood! When I get something on my mind that needs to be done-I really struggle with not having tunnel vision about it! We're in this together! :)

Danielle~Ha! Great idea on the nap! I'll remember that next time!

Kara said...

A happy wife is way more fun than a spotless house :)

ummm... I have no idea how to "link" myself for what works for me wednesday... suggestions... feel a little silly!

Grace Wheeler said...

Kara~Just go to the site I posted in your comments and at the end of her "WFM Wednesday" will be a thing called a "McLinky" click on that and add the url to your exact post. Then write a title for it and submit it...does that make sense?

Grace Wheeler said...

oh wait, I just tried it and it said it's closed now :(

Do it on her site tomorrow, she does it every Wednesday (hence the word: Wednesday!) :)

Mrs. McFadden said...

Thank you for this post! I think it rings true for most mommies and wives who want a tidy house, but can't balance the tidy house and the happy house wife. :0)

Sara S. said...

I meant to comment on this one the other day when you wrote it, but I didn't have time. I love, love, love this post. This is the struggle i am having almost everyday as well. And even though I feel like I am hardly being successful in either, I know that my husband and kiddos would much prefer a Happy Wife and Happy Mommy. Thank you for these wise words! I miss you!

Sherri said...

Love this post. I am visiting from Lynette Kraft's blog. In one way or another, I think every mom/wife struggles with this issue. My only problem is that "happy wife" doesn't happen until I have "somewhat organized house", because I have a "happy husband" when I have at least a "somewhat organized house." I am not even a neat-freak, but we both find greater peace with a picked up room. I guess the best thing to remember is that our attitude shouldn't be based on the state of anything wordly - only the state of our heart, with an eternal perspective. My husband is truly one of the few that likes a really tidy house, and feels more at peace when he comes home to a clean house. He also has an opinion about which shoes I wear to church. Go figure :) God is helping me to be encouraged and motivated in the house area. Thanks for the post. I am going to be a follower.

Em said...

oh! you've taken the words right outta my heart! When the house is messy, it knit-picks and nags at me until I panic -- the way-less-than-spotless-house gets the best of my mood again or becomes the scale I use to judge my success or worth. I need to take to heart what you've written here about not letting the condition of my home rule my heart or attitude! For Pete's sake, I'm not even a mom yet, so I needed to read this. Thanks!


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post! Even though my housework skills are seriously lacking I loved your post. Its easy to let anything you are doing become an idol, and its up to us to ensure, with God's help that it doesn't happen.

LittleBlessingsFarm said...

What a great Blog ever so true.

Stacey said...

Oh. My. Word.

I seriously have a post JUST like this one!!!

The Lazy Mom

Sam said...

We may have been separated at birth...

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