19 years ago I read an article in whatever magazine was sitting in the breakroom. Jeremy and I were recently engaged, and this article was about the marital bedroom (I doubt it used those words – where am I, 1940?); my interest was piqued.
The author suggested only having things in your bedroom that pertained to your marriage. No pictures of the kids, no refrigerator drawings, no decor from your college days or bachelor pad. Beloved stuffed animals from your childhood? Nope. Pictures of you and your parents/friends/whoever? Nada. Pictures of the two of you with your favorite couple? Negative. Only things that specifically pertained to you as a married couple.
For whatever reason, this spoke to me as sound advice and I followed it for over 18 years of marriage (I say “I” because Jeremy had no part in decorating our home). Our bedroom was our sanctuary. Kids were not allowed to sleep in our bed, nor were they allowed to enter without invitation. Even if the door was open, a knock and announcement of entry was required. It was our favorite room, and we had a bedtime routine that we looked forward to every single day. We knew that once we entered that room, we were safe to just be us. Not Mom and Dad, not Employers, not Our Parents’ Children, or Our Siblings’ Siblings. We were Jeremy and Michelle. Husband and Wife. Two Who Are One.
This article also addressed clothes being left on the floor, pantyhose (remember those?) hanging in the shower and clutter in general that accumulates in a bedroom. How should you, as a loving spouse, react to these messes that will inevitably irritate the holy crap out of you? Don’t. Don’t react. Don’t react? Do. Not. React.
Q: How in the hell do I
make him pick up after himself deal with his mess?
A: Pick it up and put it away for him.
Q: I’m sorry, what??
A: Yep. Do it for him. First, it will remove the irritating mess. Second, it will be love shown. Third, you will become a servant. A servant of Christ. Do not react. Do not nag. Do not beg or barter. Do not yell. Be his wife, not his mother telling him to clean his room. Be who he wants to come home to at night. Be who he thinks about all day. Do not react.
Facebook showed me a memory from this day, one year ago. It’s a picture of our cat Fiona sunbathing. I noticed something in the picture that I hadn’t noticed before – Jeremy’s jeans wadded up next to his side of the bed. One year ago, his jeans were wadded up next to his bed because one year ago JEREMY WAS STILL ALIVE. His mess meant he was still present in this world, present as my husband, present as the kids’ dad, present as his sister’s brother, present as a friend. He was present. Here. With me. With us.
His bedside is uncharacteristically clean now. There’s no water glass sweating all over his nightstand. No piles of clothes. No dirty dishes or empty beer bottles. All that’s left are his slippers, reminding me of what once was. I didn’t react. I picked up his pile of clothes for the last time, without a peep of nagging. God, thank you for giving me the gift of that article 19 years ago. Thank you for acting through me to be a kind and loving wife. Thank you, thank you, thank you.