It occurred to me this morning as I was rotating the towels: this is something my partner would never do. It would never even cross his mind.
I believe it’s safe to say that towel rotation (and categorization) is a woman thing. In our house, it entails popping into the two bathrooms to pluck used towels off their hooks and rails and replacing them with fresh ones. As an extra bonus to this weekly routine, I also replaced the towels in the basket in our guest bedroom. They’re not dirty, per se, because they haven’t been used. But after a few months of sitting there untouched, they are certainly less than fresh. Towel rotation isn’t something a woman puts on a list or marks on the calendar so she can remember. It’s hard-wired into our DNA and takes up room in our brain that in men’s brains is reserved for NASCAR statistics and tire pressure recommendations. It’s not as if he assumes the tooth fairy had a day off and decided to fly in and rearrange the towels. He simply doesn’t notice.
It has always amused me that a man can walk by a coffee table covered in enough dust to fill a teacup and not take note. When he reaches to change channels, he’ll be oblivious to the remote-shaped clean spot in the dust. It’s not that he’s ignoring it; he truly doesn’t see it. If it’s pointed out to him, he’ll respond with a surprised, “Oh yeah! That does look dusty.” And then he’ll go on with his day.
The mistake we women often make is to assume that our male partners care about this stuff as much as we do. It has been explained to me by my guy that as long as he can reach the fridge without climbing over too many obstacles and as long as his view to the big-screen TV is unobstructed, he’s fairly happy. A man will notice a piece of white popcorn accidentally dropped on a black rug, but he’s likely to overlook the more subtle signs that his surroundings have become less than pristine. Another thing I’ve learned about living with a man is they tend not to mind being asked to help with the chores. Because they don’t always notice when it’s time for a cleaning, a non-whiny, non-nagging hint is actually appreciated. The men I’ve known would also rather vacuum than dust any day. After all, a vacuum has a motor, and that makes it a vehicle.
It’s the same with dishes. At one time, used plates and cutlery were being stacked in the sink to wait for me to load them into the dishwasher. Apparently the machine was viewed as my exclusive territory, so I calmly stated that I hoped to share in the joys of loading, starting and unloading as much as I hoped to share with him life’s other pleasures and pains. It was simply a matter of opening the gates to this domain and saying, Hey, come on in, the water’s hot and soapy and I’d like your help.
A huge mistake women sometimes make is redoing whatever chore their man has agreed to take on. If you assign it, you have to live with the results, even if they’re not as thorough as you might like. He’s trying — really! — and he’s already agreeing to do something he sees little value in beyond your eventual praise. So go easy on him and keep it in perspective. It’s not a disaster if he doesn’t vacuum under the La-Z-Boy this week. And don’t expect him to notice that you’ve rotated the towels or removed a layer of dust from the furniture. After all, you can’t remember where his favourite driver stands in this season’s Sprint Cup series, and he doesn’t give you grief for that.