Definitions are Important

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.

5 thoughts on “Definitions are Important”

  1. I totally understand where you are coming from! Except my problem is that I like to sterilize and organize, so it makes me cleaning day that much longer…

  2. Oh, that’s funny. I think our definitions change over time and under different circumstances too. Mike has definitely regressed to “if it’s not moldy or moving it’s okay” (but he is definitely an organizer – he organized all our closets this past weekend). For me, if it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind (hence the need for our closets being reorganized). While I usually end up being the cleaner in the house I’ve definitely relaxed at this stage in my life with little one(s) around. Hey, if I can walk through a room without tripping over a toy and the dishes get washed every day then what more needs done? I do miss the days when the house was spotless, but hey if my husband and kid are happy, the dog is walked, and everyone’s fed, then I’m good. I’m sure when we get to heaven our interview won’t involve the cobwebs in the corner or the dust bunnies under the couch. (so don’t look at either if you ever visit : )

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