My wife and I share in the housework. One of my main responsibilities is the kitchen. I have to keep the stove and oven clean, sterilize the countertops, sweep and mop the floor, throw out old leftovers, take out the trash, etc. I hate washing dishes more than any other chore, though. I’ve heard of machines that wash dishes for you, and I hope against hope that they actually exist and that some day I will own one. For now, though, I wash them by hand in the kitchen sink. I usually put it off as long as I possibly can. I know from multiple experiences in my bachelorhood how unpleasant a kitchen can become when I wait too long on that: Mold grows, roaches congregate, mice investigate, and women run away screaming. I haven’t let my kitchen get that bad since I got married.
The best, healthiest way to take care of a kitchen and keep it clean is to clean it every day. With a little bit of work every day, I can keep it clean so that mold has no chance to grow, roaches and mice have no reason to wander in, and women have to fumble around for some other excuse to leave. But I’m lazy. I let three or four days’ worth of dirty dishes accumulate before I do anything about it. I end up doing a good deal more work washing half a week’s dishes all at once than I would have if I had just put a little effort into maintaining a clean kitchen over each of those days.
So is it hard to have a kitchen? Yes. Would I give it up? Never. A kitchen is one of the biggest blessings of modern life. It’s where my wife makes chicken pot pie and chocolate chip cookies, two of my favorite sensual experiences. It’s where we can converse with friends over a common cooking activity. It’s where we can find a bit of comfort in a late-night snack. Without my kitchen, what would I do? I’d have to eat out for every meal, a habit that would deplete my bank accounts and quickly become tedious in spite of the variety of restaurants near my house. I’d have to get all my glasses of water from the bathroom and keep the refrigerator on my porch. I’d lose the social heart of my home. I have to put effort into maintaining my kitchen, but I wouldn’t give it up for anything.
I thought about this the other day when I read somewhere that there are two kinds of marriages: bad marriages and hard marriages. Everyone says marriage is hard, that it requires a lot of effort, that trouble and pain and knockdown drag-out fights are par for the course. Every time I hear such a statement, it seems that the speaker or writer is adding under his breath, "…and it’s just not worth it."
The truth, though, is that marriage is like a kitchen, only more so. Every day I have to let my wife know how much I love her. I have to build her up, enrich her life, and make her glad to be married to me. This requires effort, sometimes strenuous and difficult effort, but the effort is a joy. If I maintain my relationship with my wife, I find rewards worth more than I ever imagined. If I didn’t maintain, things would deteriorate and I would end up with more of a mess than I ever dreamed. So is marriage hard? Yes. Would I give it up? Never. Without my wife, what would I do?