OK, that’s an exaggeration…she didn’t really almost ruin my marriage, but she did make me very twitchy and short-tempered with my husband for a few weeks.
It started out innocently enough: One morning, my perennially messy husband began bemoaning the state of his dresser, as he tried in vain to locate an undershirt without pit stains or holes in it from within a tangled wad of old t-shirts.
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“You should read that tidying up book,” I said sarcastically. To which my husband replied, “What are you talking about?”
After I explained the basic premise of Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” which was so hugely popular a few years back, I noticed a foreboding twinkle in my husband’s eye. Next thing I knew, he’d downloaded the audiobook and was listening to it every morning as he got ready for work.
His obsession began slowly, presenting itself in his innocent yet sweeping suggestions of how Kondo would handle my ongoing fight against the after-school clutter that my children amass—with graded papers spilling out over the dining room table and squished school snacks littering the bottoms of backpacks. At first, it was kind of endearing that he was noticing what I struggle with on a daily basis and offering sympathy and advice (albeit unsolicited advice).
Then, a week or so later, my husband quietly observed me tussling with our Tupperware cabinet. As I tried to find just the right storage container with matching lid for leftovers, he said, “Have you ever considered holding each of those storage containers in your hand and asking yourself, ‘Does this bring me joy?’” This was the first of many times in the coming weeks that my eyes rolled violently back in my head and I cursed the day that I ever uttered the words “Marie Kondo” to my oblivious husband.
But the straw that broke the camel’s back was the day that he suggested that “we” (meaning I) change the way that “we” (I) fold our laundry to better facilitate the ease with which we can find what we’re looking for in our dresser. I’d had enough.
You see, I’m the laundress (if you will) in our house. I’m the one who pre-treats stains, washes, dries, folds and hangs our laundry. It’s a job that I actually (mostly) enjoy—I find it meditative to quietly fold clothes and I enjoy the scent of fresh laundry—call me crazy. Also, I have it down to a science. I have a certain way that I do things. Certain days I launder bed linens and towels. Certain ways I sort delicates from denim and certain ways I fold t-shirts, socks and towels. Don’t question my madness and please don’t accuse me of proliferating a 1950s housewife stereotype because I’ve already done all of this myself. But this is what works for our family. And so it is.
So, you can imagine the offense that I took when my husband, who has maybe used the washing machine once in our marriage—and, in spite of holding a degree in technology, still seems wholly unable to figure out how it works—suggested that I was doing the laundry wrong. That’s when my head just about exploded. But I humored him and let him earnestly teach me the “roll technique,” while fully planning to go about folding the clothes my own damn way as soon as he’d left the room.
But then, something unexpected happened: I started working at perfecting “the roll” and I figured it out. I began to see the value in it. I found that I was easily able to fit more shirts in our drawers and was able to find just the shirt that I needed without upending the whole drawer in the process. Rather quickly and unexpectedly, Kondo’s method of rolling t-shirts turned our drawers into organized, easily navigable laundry holders. Maybe Kondo—and my husband—were onto something here… grumble, grumble.
As the weeks passed, the verve with which my husband initially embraced the “KonMari” lifestyle began to wane. While he has steadily kept up the momentum of many of the ideas and organizational tips that the author explains in her book, he has let go of some of the more rigid habits (for instance, he’s finally stopped uttering the words, “Does that bring you joy?” and I’m forever grateful because that was annoying as all hell).
And I’ve actually continued to implement the roll method of laundry folding. I think it’s safe to say that I am not only a believer now, but also a proponent of the whole idea (but don’t tell my husband this). Another good thing to come from this journey is that now my husband often helps me fold laundry, so that’s an improvement in our previous division of the laundry labor.
All in all, I like the ideas that Kondo presents in her book. Nothing that she writes is particularly earth-shattering, but she does offer a fresh perspective on organization. What challenged me most was my husband reading one book on organization and thereby declaring himself the resident expert on de-cluttering and laundry. Ultimately, though, the KonMari method effected change in our home and I think that my husband has a new appreciation for what I do on a daily basis to keep our home functioning. Also, I’ve learned to be more judicious with my self-help book suggestions from now on. Be careful for you wish for…
Originally published May 2017.
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Dear Husband: I Need More Help from You