Skip to main content

acts of service

[photo credit]
have you read The Five Love Languages? well, neither my husband nor i have actually read it, but we know the five languages, and we refer to them all the time when we argue discuss things [it's actually pretty comical, now that i think about it, since we've never read the book]. he thinks that mine is "quality time", and i think that his is "acts of service". and that's pretty right on. we've recently also discussed the fact that my language is changing. i still want the quality time, for sure, but i also need "words of affirmation" right now. his, however, has remained "acts of service"... mostly in the form of my keeping the house clean.

i don't know why it took me almost six years to figure this out, but he really really appreciates a clean house. not just clean, but neat too. all the time. for almost six years of marriage, this has been our number one argument. i'm messy, he's neat. for so many years i just rationalized that it was something he should get used to, not try to change me, accept me for who i am, etc... how naive. how selfish. how totally backwards.

we would have the same argument every few days. the laundry wasn't done. he had nothing to wear. the counters was cluttered. the kitchen stove was dirty, which makes the entire kitchen look dirty. there are dishes in the sink. there's a trail of my stuff, tossed wherever i decided to drop it and not put it away. i'm not exaggerating when i say that every couple of days, we'd argue about this.

of course i took it as a personal attack, like he didn't appreciate the fact that i was working full time, going to school, nursing a newborn, running after a toddler, working part time, etc. [all of these circumstances have been true over the years, not usually all at once] but honestly, what wife isn't doing at least a few of those things? some of you are doing all of it right now, and we still have to keep the household running smoothly. anyway, the years went by with constant conflict in this area, and more recently i was beginning to feel completely defeated every time he would mention the condition of the house. it was getting gradually better, i was trying, why couldn't he see that? this demand, this requirement, and his reminding me of it constantly, made me feel like he didn't want me, i was a bad wife, i couldn't do anything right [sometimes i can be a little dramatic]. he should just love me for who i am, right? [for the record, he never said any of these things, he was almost always sooo kind and understanding when we'd talk about it. i was jumping to these conclusions myself.]

finally, i realized that this is something my husband needs, in order for him to feel loved by me. what could be so wrong with changing myself, instead of wishing that he would change and no longer need a clean house? i began a little routine of cleaning up every single day, just before he got home from work. i decided that i would notice, i would care, and i would do anything in my power to get the place looking presentable before he walked in. and you know what? he noticed. he saw it as a sacrificial act of love, and he so appreciated it. after all these years, i finally understood him. it has been one of the best decisions i've ever made, on so many levels:

1. i actually care about it now. i'm becoming more and more neat, naturally, and it doesn't take as much intentional practice anymore. i want things to be picked up and put away. neatness is not a bad thing. why was i so reluctant to become this person?

2. our home is relaxing, refreshing, calm, and orderly. we can be a family here. we can play and laugh and run and dance, and not have to worry about the messes getting in our way or holding us back or bogging us down.

3. no mess = no stress. in our marriage, that's the magic equation. my husband is instantly diffused when he walks through the door, relaxed and excited to see us. his mind isn't fixated on the messiness because it's not there. when i wake up in the morning to a clean house, i feel like i can start the day with a fresh start, a clean slate. it's so freeing to plan my day in the comfort and order of a cleaned-the-night-before kitchen.

4. i love decorating, and i love how our little house is coming along since moving in six months ago. i noticed the other day, that because it's so tidy and neat, you can actually see all the details that make our home, home. if it were a mess, no one would notice or appreciate how nicely everything is coming together, decor-wise.

5. i think that guests feel welcomed and honored when they walk into to a clean house. they feel like they've been prepared for, like you have been expecting their visit. they feel warmth, they feel home.

are you messy or are you neat? can there be a good balance between both? what is your spouse/significant other? does that create conflict? i'd love to know!! 


  1. Can totally relate! Great post!

  2. awesome post :) we love that book

  3. I'm definitely more of the neat freak. We still haven't found a balance!

  4. Hi, I'm a recent follower but until now have been lurking without a chance to comment. So glad to have a moment to do so. Loved this post. What a great reminder that a lot of the small tasks I do aren't simply my "role" or responsibilities but rather acts of love!! Just the reminder I needed.

  5. thanks for your comments, gals! i'm so glad to know we're not alone.

    kari, glad to "meet" you :) thanks for commenting!!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

on embracing disappointment

sometimes it's the hardest thing we'll ever do to pause our ever-moving-forward agendas long enough to see another person. to have compassion and grace and understanding for them, especially when it interferes with our desires, when it means laying down our own needs in order to meet theirs.

our own motives and our own agendas can feel so important and forefront, so that moment of yielding to someone else can feel almost impossible. like a death of sorts.

because you know what? it hurts to die to self. it just does, no matter how insignificant it may seem to an onlooker.

but i'm learning to embrace all of the emotions that come with disappointments like this, not to ignore them or feel shame for experiencing them (probably the hardest part for me). to feel them, acknowledge them, let them sit there while i figure out the next right thing.

it's hard work to live in the tension of wanting to be healthy and magical and able to live above the waves - while still being very…

here and there

ah, the joys of spray painting. i literally have a hundred picture frames. i've just collected them over the years. usually black or some sort of dark metallic. but since that doesn't really fit my decor style anymore, i'm embracing the spray painting addiction trend that's taking hold of the [mostly blog] world. my husband thinks i'm nuts, until i place everything back into the house and he loves me again because it looks perfect. i even spiritualized spray painting/repurposing here. yes, i really did.

this is my little bookshelf. given to me by my mom. the corkboard is from Homegoods. the other items i've had for years [except the lantern which is a $1 Goodwill find, painted black]. the "a" holds up my books, "j" holds my husband's, and "r" holds my daughter's. she knows that she can only touch her shelf but she always talks about ours. 
i'm thinking i should probably replace the two-moth old baby shower invitation with…

hope spoken 2014 | a little recap

well. it feels weird to be back here in this space. i haven't regularly blogged for over a year. i'm feeling like it's time for a redesign but that's beside the point. i'm really here to tell you about Hope Spoken conference that i attended in dallas 2 weekends ago. everyone has been saying how they need time to process everything. i'm no exception. what i'm about to share is really an email i wrote to casey and danielle a few days after i got home, but i've edited and expanded a little. there is still so much more in my heart and mind that's not quite ready to come out:

i'm finally sitting down to pour out my heart after such an amazing weekend. the first thing that's hitting me is these three girls went with a dream and a mission and a calling from Jesus, and were brave to walk through the door and keep going, as danielle describes it. i'm sure they imagined how beautiful it would be but i don't think they could have imagined just …