Bring on the bottled scent of fresh mountain breeze and seaside lavender. I’ll happily perform the swivel dance of transferring clothes from washer to dryer. I’ll hang those darlings with delicate personalities to gently air dry. I don’t mind the doing part. I’ll do laundry ’til the cows come home.
It’s the folding part that I tend to put off. The cows have come home and gone to pasture several times, and that basket of clothes is most likely still sitting there developing more wrinkles than a baby bulldog.
And don’t even get me started on ironing. Let’s just say that some clothing items are double and triple clean after cycling through as many rounds as it takes for me to time the wrinkle-free removal from the dryer just right. It’s an art. And I am no Picasso.
So there are times when I will find myself standing side by side with my husband tackling a mountain of laundry sprawled across our bed. Because I have more flexibility, and since I own more of those delicate darlings, laundry has largely become my area. But we both work outside the home, so we tag-team many household chores. Well, the duties that haven’t been doled out to the kids. They have their own mountains of laundry to climb. We wouldn’t dare deprive them.
I glanced over at his handiwork. He’s a much better folder than I am. I chalk it up to the Marine in him. I can’t be expected to compete with formal training after all.
“Oh Babe, you don’t have to fold my panties. I just toss those in the drawer.”
I was met with a look of bewilderment. “But I thought you liked yours folded. That’s why you fold my underwear.”
Now my expression mirrored his. “I only fold yours because you like them folded.”
Laughter quickly joined the fresh laundry scent that filled the air. Turns out we both couldn’t care less about neatly folded unmentionables, yet thought it was a priority for the other. There we stood, in our fourth year of matrimony, surrounded by stacks of clean clothes, folded undies, and fresh assumptions.
We walked into this marriage with hearts full and hands empty, leaving baggage and expectations at the door. However, over the years, we’ve realized that if you’re not careful, they can still follow you like toilet paper stuck to the bottom of your shoe.
After the tragic ends of both of our previous marriages, our perspective of this holy union shifted a bit. God helped us see marriage as a tool with an eternal purpose, not simply an instrument for our temporary happiness. With that weight lifted, so did our expectations. We had separately experienced some of the worst a marriage can suffer. And we survived.
So the only expectations we carried down the aisle with us were those of good plans we knew the Lord had for using us together.
Oh, but expectations are sneaky. Assumptions are sly. Miscommunications are cunning.
I didn’t expect the overwhelming emotions that come with having a blended family. I didn’t expect his cancer to get worse. I didn’t expect past hurts and fears to be triggered so easily. I didn’t expect to ever let the little things come between us.
But there isn’t a single marriage that can just sit in a laundry basket without getting wrinkles. It takes intentionality. It takes proactive work. It takes prayers of protection and constant communication. It takes seeking wisdom from the Word. It’s gently and discreetly removing a trail of stuck expectations from each other’s shoes. It’s doing laundry and folding clothes. And undergarments, apparently.
Priority or not, I can’t help but continue folding my husband’s skivvies. The man willingly cooks many of our dinners. Another thing I didn’t expect. I guess unmet expectations can be a good thing also. As it turns out, the fact that my husband and I are doing life and laundry together is a testament to the God-given blessings of a life unexpected. And I’ll gladly fold his undies ’til the cows come home for good.