Bicultural marriage test—Can ours survive that pesky jar of mayo?



Ok, I get it.  Married life is not easy, even if you REALLY love your spouse.  I learned that when I began married life in 2009.  I’ve always known that my husband, (an intellectual being with a Ph.D), can remember difficult mathematical formulas, yet seemingly can’t remember to put his jar of mayo away after use. Ever. Among dirty socks, hair shavings left in the sink, or dishes plastered all over the kitchen counters that just can’t seem to make their way into the dishwasher, stands the icon of icons of messy husbandry…the inevitable jar of Hellman’s mayo.  Always left there on the counter, seemingly waiting for me, the ever “dutiful wife” to swiftly return it to it’s rightful place in the cool fridge.

Was this what I signed up for? A messy husband — blissfully oblivious to his careless ways as he creates a hurricane through my immaculate house? Then  I’d have to laugh because I would think to myself, maybe I’m being neurotic?  Shouldn’t I just let the little things go, and not let it ruin my mood?  But then I’d remember why I’m the way I am….going back to my childhood and growing up in a home where we had “room inspections”  to make sure things were neat and tidy.  My father was drafted into the military at the age of 18 and came back with stringent military habits that spilled over into the way we were expected to live—orderly and neatly.  So fast forward 20 years later, and I find myself married to an international man who grew up having maids run behind him cleaning up after him throughout his life.  That was what he was used to.

Our love affair was beautiful.  The conflict started when he got married to me, an American woman who’s culture thrives on the “do it yourself” mentality, (which also includes cleaning up after one’s self).  I started to resent his disorganization and lack of care for the mess he’d leave behind him.  And of course, that damned jar of mayo—greeting me each morning and the last thing at night awaiting for the final tuck into its bin in the fridge.

Finally and joyfully—after five years of marriage, juggling baby and part-time work, my husband and I came to some agreements. He would make more of an effort to do things like load the dishwasher, wipe the counters down and simply be more mindful of ways to eliminate mess, which that in and of itself made a HUGE difference. I think just doing those small things made me feel avenged somehow.  I didn’t feel like I was being pigeon-holed into the traditional male/female role, expected to pick up after the “King of the House”, like his maids abroad.  My anger melted away and was replaced with thankfulness that he was trying to make some adjustments for the sanity of our home-life which ultimately saved our marriage.

Occasionally I’ll still see that jar of mayo on the counter, but now I don’t flare up with the old hostility I once felt. I smile a little smile to myself as I casually grab the mayo and put it back in the fridge as I happily go out the door.



4 thoughts on “Bicultural marriage test—Can ours survive that pesky jar of mayo?

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