Turning The Trash Into Treasure

Kory takes the trash to the curb every week. I hardly notice that he does this chore. Except when he forgets. Because when he forgets, we have to go two weeks without a trash pick-up.  The trash can and recycle bin fill to overflowing and things begin to get a little stinky. (On these occasions, I’ve heard him wonder out loud if all we do while he’s at work is sit around make trash!  Sometimes I feel that way.)

I rarely tell him “thank you” for taking out the trash. Strike that. I NEVER tell him “thank you” for taking out the trash. And I never offer to do the job for him. In fact, when he’s out of town, chances are that the trash won’t be taken to the curb. Why? Because sadly, I don’t know when trash pick-up day is, and I just don’t think about it when he’s gone.

Same thing with the cars. If something needs to be repaired, it’s Kory’s job. Not mine. Pest control, yard work, and house repairs too.  They all fall into the same category. Kory’s work. But don’t fret.  I have my own list of jobs around the house that are my responsibility.  Bills, grocery shopping, laundry, and cleaning to name a few.  And generally speaking, I handle these jobs on my own.

I don’t recall that Kory and I ever sat down and made a list of “his” and “her” jobs around the house when we were newly weds.  But over time, as we’ve learned to manage our marriage, careers, and children, different responsibilities have settled onto each of our shoulders, and now we have somewhat clearly-defined roles that help us keep our home in order.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  But Kory’s new sermon series on marriage, “More Than Just Married,” and the marriage Bible study we’re leading together on Sunday nights has caused me to think about our roles a little differently.  

Last Sunday night during our first Bible study session, we began discussing the difference between our “desires” for marriage and our “expectations” for marriage.  No doubt that we both had dreams and desires for marriage before we said “I do”.  But what about after we walked down the aisle?  Did those hopes for marriage stay in the category of dreams and desires or did they transform into weighty expectations that we began to dump on each other?  

As I’ve thought about this question, I’ve had to acknowledge that at least as far as I’m concerned, there are certainly some things that I “expect” of Kory.  And I know that I expect these things because when he doesn’t perform to my satisfaction, my response may be fueled with anger, sadness, or frustration.  I’m sure he feels the same way about me sometimes.

But when we carry around the weight of expectations, it dramatically changes the dynamic of our relationship with our spouse.  Why?  Because the covenant of marriage is transformed into a contractual relationship where each spouse’s decision to perform is contingent on whether the other is doing his or her part.  This is score keeping at its finest, my friends.  And the problem is that no one gets any credit for contributing because, after all, each of our contributions is expected by the other.  It’s the baseline.  The moral minimum.  The very least we can do.  To get ahead of the game, we have to do the bonus questions and earn some extra credit!  

Now I know that Kory and I are getting some things right in this department.  There are certainly things I consciously appreciate about him.  But there’s always room for improvement if we really want to experience the fullness of God’s design for our marriage.  So I’m taking some time to identify those things I expect of Kory, and I’m committing to transform those expectations back into desires.  

On Sunday night at Bible study, I discovered two tools that I’m hoping will help me do this:

1.  Expressions of Gratitude

2.  Acts of Service

First, I’m going to try to start being more intentional about saying “thank you” to Kory for all that he does for our family.  From taking out the trash to providing for us financially, he does so many things that are a blessing to me and to our children.  He deserves some words of thanks and affirmation for all that he does and all that he is for our family.

And second, the next time I notice that Kory hasn’t done something that is part of “his jobs” around the house, instead of getting angry, sad, or frustrated, I’m going to do it for him.  And while I do it, instead of grumbling about it, I’m going to try to consider it an unexpected opportunity to serve my husband and to show him the love and grace of Jesus Christ through the ordinary details of our life together.  

Now I know this will be easier said than done because there’s no doubt I’ve formed some bad habits in this regard.  And, as you know, habits are not easily broken.  So in the coming weeks, this will be at the top of my prayer list as I try to change my way of thinking!  

Now I better get going because I’ve got some trash to take out!


15 thoughts on “Turning The Trash Into Treasure

  1. Barry and I have been married almost 35 years, and there’s nothing that’s REALLY his job or my job. (Except for laundry. Nobody folds like I do, and my folded stacks look like they could go on a table in a department store.) Otherwise, we usually jump in when something needs to be done, or we ignore it equally. But we THANK each other for anything that’s done. He thanks me every single time I do laundry, it blows my mind. I thank him if he stops by the store. Everything snowballs….bad comments and grumblings, or good comments and compliments.

    • Sounds like your sweet hubby’s love language is words of affirmation! Am I right? That’s awesome that you both do such an outstanding job affirming each other! And I agree with you…good or bad, it all snowballs!

  2. Gerald does more than his share around the house – a lot of it because he can (or will) do ANYTHING that needs done while I do very very little yard maintenance, repairs, anything to do with the cars, etc. We clean house together and consider ourselves a really good team. We are both very grateful for our relationship and this time in our life (retirement). We look forward to Kory’s sermons on making our marriage even better.

  3. I wish i had known about this sermon series.there is a great song he could have opened the series with called loves not someplace that we fall its something that we do.its a very powerful and poignant song.maybe he could use it in the last of the series.it really is an amazing song

  4. Great post! We can certainly relate to having similar “jobs” and expectations. Taking out the trash is also George’s job, and I know it to be loathsome. A few weeks ago he grumbled that it was 14 degrees on the night trash needed to go out. So, I bundled up and did his job as he made dinner for the quads. It’s nice having predetermined jobs for efficiency, but switch ups can be good so we better understand each other’s plight. It helps with gratitude!

    • I love that you bundled up to take out the trash for George. And you probably enjoyed a respite from feeding the quads dinner! Sometimes, at night after dinner, one of us will say to the other,”Your choice. Clean the kitchen or supervise baths and bedtime routine.” And sometimes, one of us would definitely prefer to do one of those things over the other depending on what our day looked like! It’s all work, but switching things up, brings a fresh perspective!

      • You know what- I did enjoy the respite from my usual chore, and I think George did too. We do the same as you guys about choosing which task to do, except I jokingly say, “pick your poison”. There are always plenty of things to be done, but it’s better knowing that you are sharing the workload.
        Did you know your signature line on this has all of your contact information? I think it was some sort of a default…

      • Chores are like aches in the body. We can deal with them, but sometimes it’s nice to have the pain in a different place! Thanks for the heads up on my signature block. No idea what that happened. I reply from email all the time! That was a first.

    • So glad you stopped by to check out the blog! I agree that forgetting the trash can put a stink on things! At least you both take responsibility for forgetting! Happy Friday!

  5. The only specific task I have is laundry. No one sorts, washes, folds, irons, and puts away like I do. Doing 7 loads of laundry once a week is a lot but it’s worth it. Otherwise, my husband does A LOT! He dust mops our house every day, vacuums, cleans the bathrooms, and does the dinner dishes and cleans up the kitchen every night. Granted, he works from home and I work outside our home so he has a little more flexibility but I KNOW I need to be more appreciative. Thanks for the gentle reminder!

    • You are a blessed woman! My husband has been at a seminar the last few days. Given this post that I published a few weeks ago, I made a point to check our city’s trash schedule and confirm that, indeed, trash day would occur while my husband was gone. It felt really good to take the trash out for him this morning, and I know he will be surprised! I thought re-tweeting this post might be appropriate given that Valentine’s Day is coming! Glad you got something out of it. Thanks for stopping by! Have a great day.

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