By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate
In 29 years of living in wedded bliss, I have discovered that the key to keeping the romance in marriage is for a husband and wife to talk dirty to each other. That is why my wife will often give me a come-hither look and, in her sexiest voice, say, "Would you clean the bathroom?"
And I will gaze into her beautiful brown eyes and reply, "Sure. You want me to do a load of laundry, too?"
"Yes. And vacuum upstairs."
"I love it when you talk like that."
"And don’t forget to take out the garbage."
So I was not surprised to read that the Pew Research Center, which was probably named by a spouse with a dirty bathroom, recently conducted a survey of married people and found that the sharing of household chores is considered the most important element in a good marriage.
According to the survey, 62 percent of the 2,000 respondents put chore-sharing at the top of their list, ahead of child-rearing and, yes, sex. I’m not sure who these people are, but I’m glad I don’t know them.
Still, it is a fact that housework is the glue that holds a marriage together. Unfortunately, the glue must be cleaned up, preferably with a damp cloth so it doesn’t ruin the furniture.
Not to be outdone, I conducted my own survey, with the sole respondent being my wife, Sue. When I asked her about the importance of doing chores, she said, "I wish I had a housekeeper."
"You don’t need a housekeeper," I told her. "You have me."
Sue acknowledged that I am "cheap labor," adding, "You’re much better than you used to be." Then she pointed out that it took me 25 years to learn how to use the washing machine.
I am ashamed to admit that for a long time, I was laundry-challenged. It was probably due to a traumatic experience I had in college. I went to a Laundromat, stuffed my dirty clothes into one of those industrial washers, threw in a box of detergent and walked up the street for a beer. When I returned, the entire Laundromat looked like a scene from "The Blob," with suds creeping across the floor. Naturally, they were coming out of my machine.
With Sue’s guidance, I am much better now and have even been known to do multiple loads without flooding the house.
When I asked Sue which chore is my strong point, she said, "Cleaning the bathroom." I am flush with excitement to say that I could give the Tidy Bowl Man a run for his money.
My worst chore: vacuuming. "Your vacuuming skills aren’t the greatest," Sue said. I hate to vacuum because I keep running over the cord. I’m lucky I haven’t been electrocuted. I can best describe this chore with a word that also describes what a vacuum cleaner is supposed to do.
Here are some of my other chores.
Loading the dishwasher: This used to be my weak point. One night I put in too much detergent. Like my college laundry experience, the result was a cascade of suds. Sue often criticized how I loaded the dishwasher, but now I can do it without breaking a glass that might sever a major artery and cause me to bleed all over the floor, which I would then, of course, have to clean up.
Taking out the garbage: I create most of it, so I might as well get rid of it. It’s a dirty job, but, well, you know the rest.
Dusting: I am dust and unto dust I shall return. Until then, I solemnly Pledge (lemon-scented) to keep our furniture clean.
Sweeping the kitchen floor: I also use the broom to sweep Sue off her feet.
After returning home from a recent trip to the supermarket, Sue remarked, "The house looks spotless." That’s because I had cleaned the bathroom, loaded the dishwasher and taken out the garbage. I even vacuumed. "You did a very good job," Sue said. "I guess I don’t need a housekeeper after all. I have you."
I was going to say that I should get a French maid’s outfit, but I figured it would kill the romance.
Copyright 2007 by Jerry Zezima