Many years ago, I was sitting with a group of friends catching up about life, work, and relationships. One of these friends had recently moved in with their partner. Since they were the first among the group to live with a significant other, we all wanted the scoop. What was it like living with the person you love?
They told us it was wonderful. They said how nice it was to not go back and forth between their individual homes and how fun it was to spend all this time together, building a home and a life. Then, they told us a story—their only complaint really—about the dishes. After a meal, one person would immediately rinse the dish and put it in the dishwasher. The other person would stack the dirty dishes in the sink until it was full and then load them into the dishwasher all at once.
I could hear myself picking a side. Clearly, this is the best way and I can’t imagine why you’d do it that way and anyone who does it in another way can simply not be right.
We laughed about it and moved on to the next person’s “life update.” But I’ve thought about that dishes conversation a lot in the years since. Dishwashers always seem to be a point of contention, no? I can say with full certainty that when I’m visiting my parents, I have strong opinions about how to load the dishwasher.
Earlier this year, a friend sent me an article from the Guardian titled, “100 Ways to Slightly Improve Your Life Without Really Trying.” (I highly recommend reading the whole article.)
The article is light-hearted (#1 starts with Exercise on a Monday night (nothing fun happens on a Monday night.)
And profound (#6 Everyone has an emotional blind spot when they fight. Work out what yours is, and remember it.)
And practical (#24 Start a Saturday morning with some classical music – it sets the tone for a calm weekend.) **Note: I’ve been doing this all year and it’s a fun switch up I really enjoy.
But the one that made me laugh harder than any was #17. “Don’t be weird about how to stack the dishwasher.”
The simple phrasing of “don’t be weird” catches me everytime. Because that’s what it comes down to, yes? Most likely, the silverware will get clean whether you put all the spoons together or mix them with the knives and forks. And commenting on the dishloading style of a loved one does feel, in one word, weird.
Maybe it’s something many of us have grown up with. Or maybe it’s something you have strong feelings about. But maybe… just… don’t? And it’s not just the dishwasher is it? It’s all of the simple things that we try to control or manage (perhaps when other parts of our lives feel uncertain?)
I’m a pretty organized person. I live by my grandpa’s saying of “A place for everything and everything in its place.” But at the end of the day, some things just aren’t worth being “weird about.”
Figure out what you might be clinging to that does. not. matter. And then let it go. There are better ways to use your energy… like finding a good classical music playlist for Saturday mornings or planning tomorrow evening’s workout.
P.S. In case you needed reassurance that the dishes don't matter.... that couple is married now.