My wife and I occasionally reminisce about one of our favorite stories (one of those “I’m such a good husband” tales) so I decided to share it with our readers. It’s basically a statistical analysis of how I rated as a supportive help-mate for my wife.
Years ago, something happened (or didn’t happen) prompting Ellen to voice the opinion that I wasn’t pulling my own weight around the house. Knowing deep within how completely incorrect she was, I was deeply hurt and fired up to prove her wrong. My fourth-grade teacher said I had a future in math, so I decided to make this a numbers thing.
Grabbing a sheet of paper, I started listing household tasks in one column, and then created two adjacent columns to record the percentage of each chore Ellen and I performed. How sweet this was going to be when, upon completing the list, I would see the 50-50 split in nearly every category, except for those where the percentage was heavily weighted on my side.
The first job, taking out the trash, went 30 percent Ellen, 70 percent Scott. Sweet…already I was feeling vindicated and proud of it. Next was cooking meals; Ellen 65 percent; Scott 35 percent. Nothing to worry about … there was a long list below to work through.
Making beds: Ellen 85 percent; Scott 15 percent
Washing dishes: Ellen 70 percent; Scott 30 percent
Ironing cloths: Ellen 95 percent; Scott 5 percent (for putting up the ironing board)
Buying gifts for my family: Ellen 80 percent; Scott 20 percent (think they know?)
Yard work: (I knew this was mine) Ellen 75 percent; Scott 25 percent (ouch!)
The list kept on going and the numbers, way too often, ended up being 60 percent and above on Ellen’s side. You know what’s worse than being proud and arrogant? Knowing that you’re both without any basis in fact for being that way. Numerically, I was crucified.
Since that day, my scores have improved. At least I think they have; I’m not eager to retake the test and probably destroyed all evidence of the list shortly after I asked Ellen to forgive me for not being the type of husband I’d promised when we got married.
I don’t remember our exact vows but I know they didn’t sound like this: “I, Scott, take you Ellen as my wife, to enjoy seeing you and to feel good being around you from this day forward, to have my expectations met, to be encouraged by you, cared for when I’m sick, supported when I’m out of work, and to feel proud introducing you to my friends, until I choose to walk away because I don’t feel the same emotional attachment to you that I do today.”
Marriage vows aren’t like that. Most couples agree to care deeply for the other, not to gain personally from their behavior, but because they want what’s best for their spouse. That’s love, and when it perseveres and grows, you’ve got a formula for a satisfying relationship that will deeply touch the heart and soul of both parties.
So why is such a humiliating story a favorite of ours? It marked a turning point in my commitment to love, honor, and respect Ellen in a way that demonstrated how important she is in my life. And, in addition to it being an early step in an ongoing journey of learning that love isn’t as much about how we feel but rather how we act, a marriage (and life) principle also sprang from this experience … You Won’t be Perfect – You Can Grow Better!
Do you think your spouse would have grounds to be happy with your score if you took this test? If not, maybe it’s time to grab a piece of paper and get started.
Scott McIntyre is retired and writes on marriage, travel, downsizing, humor and the motive behind people’s words and actions. He is a contributor to Spokane FaVS.