Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Dishwasher Primer (By Ron)

I read with interest Gayle's comments about how we dealt with responsibilities early in our relationship. She was right, she didn't like the way I loaded the dishwasher. I don't remember why, but that's not important. As I said in an earlier post, I was selfish enough to learn how she wanted it done.

So, have you ever looked carefully at a dishwasher? Have you checked the baskets that roll out to make it easier to load? Most dishwashers, like ours, have compartments that are designed for certain sized glasses, cups, plates, saucers, pans, etc. There is a certain symmetry about a dishwasher. If you load it wrong, what it is supposed to wash does not get clean. Somehow over the years of our marriage I became the (best) loader of the dishwasher. That's right. I don't like the way Gayle loads the dishwasher. I don't like the way the cleaning lady loads the dishwasher. I do like the way I load the dishwasher.

This blog is not really about dishwashers. It is about change. When Gayle let me know how she felt about the way I loaded the dishwasher, change began. Yes, I listened and watched as she showed me how she wanted it done. I don't think it mattered at the time because I really didn't have a great deal of experience loading dishwashers and was willing to learn. I began loading it her way.

It's good to remember that change continues throughout your life. I don't recall when the worm turned, so to speak, but there came a time when I noticed that Gayle no longer loaded the dishwasher to my satisfaction. I didn't stew over it and get mad, I just rearranged the dishes. I didn't hide it from Gayle, either. I told her what I had done and why. She was fine with it. Her solution was to let me be the chief dishwasher loader. That works very well for me.

Often, change is not quite so obvious. Sometimes it happens even without your knowledge. I can't pinpoint the time that my method of loading dishes became my preference, but it did. I didn't even know it until the first time I rearranged what Gayle had done. It may not seem momentous, but small changes can make a huge difference in relationships.

We talk about someone not picking up their socks, or not closing a door (a huge problem with one of my couples.) On the outside looking in a lot of things may seem unimportant. The thing to remember in any relationship is that we each get to assign our own level of importance to any problem. Keep in mind that the reaction to a small problem like picking up socks can mask unexpressed anger or hurt. Be aware. Be present. Watch, listen and learn as your relationship matures.

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