Definitions are important. While we might use the same word to describe something, often men and women really are thinking different meanings of those words.
One of these word vs meaning debacles happened a few months ago and it centered around the word: clean.
Audrey was in a cleaning mood one day. I, as the non-shlump-of-a-husband that I am, was there to pitch in and help. Sure, I would have rather laid around on that Saturday morning, but since I value a clean house and a happy wife, I’m all over it when someone wants to put it into 3rd gear.
However, as we started “cleaning” it immediately became apparent that my wife and I have two different perspectives on the word “clean.” Turns out, I think that 90% of cleanliness is organization while Audrey feels like 90% of cleanliness is sterilization.
To me, having the dirty clothes in the hamper is clean. To Audrey, having the clothes washed is clean. To her it’s no problem to have piles or baskets of clean clothes waiting to be folded lying on the bed or couches, but I would consider that an unclean room.
To Audrey, washing the dishes and putting them on the counter to dry is clean. To me, either having all the dirty dishes in the sink or all the clean dishes put away in the cupboards constitutes cleanliness.
We both recognize the value of the other person’s argument. I know you have to actually scrub toilets and bath tubs every once in a while, and Audrey knows that an unkempt room feels cluttered and out of whack.
The good news is, it’s not a fight. We know now what the other person means when they say “clean” and better understand what we’re signing up for. Our divergent definitions actually complement each other. When I clean, I organize. When she cleans, she sterilizes. Together we tend to maintain a pretty clean house.