Divorce him for the Dishes by the Sink?

(Last Updated On: September 4, 2017)

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Divorce? He leaves dishes by the sink occasionally. Sometimes, he doesn’t pick up his dirty underwear and believes dusting is a waste of time. He rolls his eyes when I disinfect the kitchen. He gives it a lick and a polish when I would use bleach and a flamethrower.

And my personal pet peeve – If I give him a ‘to do’ list, my husband will find the one thing he’s been meaning to do that is NOT on my list, and do that.

These things can drive me crazy or hurt my feelings. Sometimes, I feel disrespected and ignored . . .

but divorce him?

Not even kind of.

Can I unpack this viral post written by a man whose wife was apparently driven to divorce by dishes by the sink? In the end he understood how he could have better loved his wife, but I was left wondering if she ever learned how to better love him?

He leaves dishes by the sink sometimes and doesn't pick up his dirty underwear. He thinks dusting is a waste of time. Should I divorce him for that?

I have had many days my heart was broken over something he said or did. I’ve said goodnight in a huff wondering how I could be married to this selfish man for the rest of my life. I’ve cried myself to sleep.

But truth really is often about perspective.

Those same nights, he went to bed defeated, wondering why he married me, feeling disrespected and unloved. He wondered if I could ever think he was good enough just the way he is, if I really loved him or just the man I wanted him to be?

Ladies, I get it.

I see those dishes and underwear on my ‘to do’ list that never gets done. I’m child rearing, blogging, homeschooling, homemaking, friendship building, small group leading, Bible reading, part-time working. I need three of me on our slowest days.

When he adds to my list, it is the mic-dropping-straw on the proverbial camel’s back.

But, I’m the one reading into those choices. Dirty dishes by the sink really say I’m too tired to do one more thing. The dirty underwear shoved into the corner screams it’s 3 a.m. and I haven’t had my coffee.

His Army job is long and hard, but he comes home to me everyday. He kisses me goodnight even when we’ve been snippy. He brushes our daughter’s hair and flies her around the house, even when she is getting too big, even on his bad shoulder.

I can choose to see it his way. If it only takes 4 seconds to move that dish to the sink, can’t I just do it? Even if I hate folding his stupid Army socks, better to be folding them than wearing them 16 hours a day.

Because he just wants my respect and love and to make me happy, even if he sometimes has no idea why things are important to me, even when I don’t really either, but really, really just like it my way.

I’ve learned that if I really don’t have the energy to wash the dishes by the sink, they’ll wait until one of us makes it a priority.

In fact, when I stop trying to keep every spinning plate spinning and some drop, he sees my need and picks up the slack. When instead of nagging, I just said, “I can’t, I’ve got nuthin’ left,” he’ll get out paper plates and frozen pizza.

Again, humility and broken realness win.

When I said, “I know it’s just a cup, but I work so hard to keep the house nice. I would feel so loved if you would just put it away.”

He replied, “I’ll try. But it’s just a cup. I’ll forget.” I said, “Thank you for trying. If you forget, it’s ok.”

Then he didn’t forget often because I made it about being a team against the chaos, not me versus him.

I am really saddened to see Christian women sharing this viral post because it doesn’t take a faith-based view of marriage at all.

I vowed for better or worse in a rose-colored fog, but that was the promise: for worse.

“WORSE” was this vague undefined something like a tragic accident that might happen to other people, but probably not to us. I didn’t picture dirty underwear, empty toilet paper rolls, arguments about dishes and countertops, parenting squabbles – the boring mundane worses that make marriage hard.

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I read the entire post, I know he was exaggerating to demonstrate how he hadn’t really respected her and his callousness pushed her further away. But oh, how I wish I could interject into every woman letting these little molehills become mountains.

Don’t let dishes by the sink destroy your marriage!

My marriage isn’t perfect, but we’ve come a long way since I stopped seeing everything from the world’s perspective. Marriage is part of the refining fire that makes us more like Christ.

Mark 8:34 ESV /  And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Deny myself. Deny the human parts of me that say, “I deserve.” Deny that I deserve anything except to serve God with all that I am everyday. With ALL that I am.

Jesus carried a cross. I can pick up dirty dishes by the sink. Real marriage takes grace. Click To Tweet

God gives me grace and forgiveness when I fall down. When I yell at the kids or gossip or ignore His directions. Over and over.

Forgiven people forgive people. We don’t say divorce.

It isn’t easy, but that means when I’m tired or sick, I try to do one more thing, take one extra second to think before I speak, to honor my husband by respecting what he does and thanking him for everything he gets right and the hearty attempts, and choosing carefully when, how, or IF I approach those things I wish were different.

Learning how to talk with him is a work in progress. We are learning a common vocabulary of patience and grace. And divorce isn’t in it.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness….” 2 Corinthians 12:9

I’ll be honest, sometimes the chaos wins these days, but happiness does too. The house is dustier but the laughter is louder. Because I quit seeing dishes by the sink as a failure of his love and just there waiting for one of us to clean them .  .  .  eventually.

Communication is a work in progress. We are learning a common vocabulary of patience and grace. Click To Tweet

There is a difference between ignoring dirty dishes and abuse. If you're being abused, get help.

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58 Replies to “Divorce him for the Dishes by the Sink?”

  1. My husband spent 3 years belittling me, ignoring my requests and my needs (just as a small example … one day I was feeling good about myself and I asked him to kiss me because I felt cute, and instead he bit my nose and laughed in my face. Because it’s funny.) … then he decided to divorce me.

    The issue wasn’t the dishes in the sink. It was his complete lack of respect for me as a person, his perception that every thought or desire I had was trite and unimportant. The idea that I could take care of everything for the whole family on my own, because other things were more important. Only I didn’t have the guts to divorce him. I let him make that decision himself, when he decided his three kids and I really weren’t priorities for him and he didn’t want to deal with how inconvenient we were and how we got in the way of his hopes and dreams of doing HIS thing 100% of the time.

    I waited too long. I should have left him years ago, before bringing children into the mix, who have a father who treats them like objects and playthings instead of independent human beings. They do indeed deserve better.

    1. There is definitely a difference between a failure to communicate and a refusal to. Sounds like he was just an awfully broken person in general and perhaps never could change. There are people like that. Then there is my story. I was sure that my husband was just selfish and mean, but I wasn’t listening to him, didn’t see things through his eyes, wasn’t really loving him with my whole heart either. When I started loving him sacrificially, asking almost nothing in return, it took a long time to see small changes in him. It has been a few years of deep sacrificial love and sometimes screwing it up to get us to the point we are at now. We are just learning how to talk about the real issues behind the dishes instead of argue over them. I’m sorry your husband’s heart was so hard he wouldn’t turn and love you appropriately. Sounds like he needs to deal with some serious heart issues on his own before he should be in a relationship. I hope you are finding healing and renewal after such a heartbreaking marriage.

    2. I’m sorry but this is like the 3rd blog I’ve read about how women can love their men better and if they do it right and with enough humility then they will be able to stay married and not miserable they ask sound like settling to me and no way would I want my daughter’s simplest request to go obviously ingnored and disrespected bc if the small ones get ignored you better believe the ones that mostly occupy her heart with be completely ignored. If two are to be married happily both both both have to give one hundred percent and park selfish desires and conveniences at the door. It’s not a woman’s job to deny her basic needs to survive a marriage. Ugh. Rant over

      1. My point wasn’t let him trample on you. It was to be honest about what the real needs are. And learn to let go of the stuff that doesn’t really matter. Each of us have different ways of processing our environment. My husband doesn’t see a dirty dish the way I do. He isn’t trying to hurt my feelings, he is just very concrete. By letting go of reading into things and telling him how I appreciate his help, I gave him the power to be kind and generous with his energy. There are plenty of days, he comes home from a
        minimum 14 hr day and sees I’m busy with something or wiped from homeschooling and hops right into getting things done in the kitchen. When he is done making dinner, the kitchen is a disaster. But dinner was made. Wouldn’t it be terribly ungrateful of me to complain at how dinner got made? In a perfect marriage, both spouses are humble enough to admit how they are really feeling and apologize often for miscommunications. In my marriage, it had to start with me. It was a lonely endeavor at first and very hard, but when he saw me loving him, he began to change. He sees me, listens to my concerns, and mostly does the important stuff the way I prefer. Would I want my daughter to be in a marriage like mine is a good question because statistically, that is what we do, we marry into our parents marriage. We’re still a work in progress, but yes, I think learning to let go of the little things made me a happier person in general. I don’t think it is settling, it is choosing which battles are worth fighting. My husband comes home every night. His only hobby is hunting and puts food on our table. When I was out yesterday, he swept and vacuumed and cleaned the kitchen and made dinner. He makes my life easier. Sometimes that dirty dish by the sink or the pan he didn’t wash correctly gets way too big in my view to see that it isn’t worth hurting our relationship over. There is a difference between Godly humility and submission and being run over by an arrogant, hostile spouse but sometimes it takes letting some stuff go to see if there is resentment on both sides of the table.

  2. Read the rest of his blog. Then I think you will see how your post is a little silly. You took one of his many, many articles way out of context and way overboard. Instead, spend some time reading through all the things he’s said, especially his letter #12 (and others, but that one is particularly awesome) and then maybe you’ll actually start to understand the person behind the posts, and why it culminated with this most recent post.

    1. I certainly only read his one post which does skew things as would only having one conversation with a person, but I don’t feel I wrote a rebuttal so much as a biblical perspective and how MY thinking which was exactly how he wrote his ex’s thoughts was destroying my marriage. How I learned to tell my husband how I felt, what I needed and know when he needed me to let it be just a cup. I can only speak to what has saved my marriage. We were on the brink of disaster when God started speaking into my heart and I started being able to see my husband and his past, struggles, wounds and find ways to love him and communicate with him instead of let those angry feelings destroy me and my marriage when it didn’t have to.

    2. I definitely did not see this post as a rebuttal. She is “unpacking” it. As in saying let’s look at this again. I think both posts are fantastic. He hit on a very real topic for men. When he was talking from his wife’s perspective I was like preach it brother! However Jen is making the point that we can influence our marriages at women. God is awesomely good at changing hearts when we allow it. Imagine being loved daily, unconditionally even though you don’t deserve it. I’ve never seen aan change with nagging for threatening but what Jen describes here… That’s how a wife could affect change in a man. Well said heaven not Harvard!

  3. I have to admit I didn’t read the other post, although I have seen it floating around FB all day…I am so happy that I read this one first. I think that you hit it spot on–no, blatant disrespect is not ok, but is that really what is happening? And is it both ways? I know that me and my hubby fight about some of these very things–but he loves me and is a good man, and you make a good point–if it really only takes a few seconds, why can’t I just let it go sometimes and do it???

    Thanks so much for this, it is just what I needed to read tonight.
    Miranda recently posted…Global Belly Laugh DayMy Profile

  4. This is such excellent wisdom for both husbands and wives. It’s all too easy to let the little things bring us down. I love reading John Gotmann’s books. His research suggests that many couples argue about the same things for years. His suggestion is that we choose to let the little things go, and not drag our relationship down. Change can be hard. Sometimes its better to fix our spouses minor grievances and annoyances for them (such as doing their dishes, or a chore that they simply won’t do) as opposed to getting caught-up in an ongoing battle. I think this is something that husbands can do for wives too–perhaps filling the car with gas for her, as opposed to reminding her that she returned home on empty again, etc.

    Such an important reminder. Thank you!
    Jed recently posted…Becoming Mom in a Blended Family HomeMy Profile

  5. This is such an awesome and thought-provoking article, filled with many gems of truth. Many thanks & much appreciation for this, Jennifer!!!
    Blessings & Shalom,
    Raven

  6. Amen and amen! I often walk down that road too but divorce never enters my mind. Yes I get frustrated by the dirty clothes, the sink full of dishes, and the many other things but I always try to remember to put things into perspective. My husband works long hard hours at work then goes to school full time too. He also is writing a novel, playing games with the girls, scheduling family activities, and working on my “honey do” list. And while I’m busy with all my things too he never, ever gets frustrated with me not vacuuming the floor before he comes home or not having dinner ready when he walks in. So if with all he has going on he can over look my lack of getting certain things done, then I can certainly over look his. Besides, every time I have to clean up behind him is another chance to pray for him!

  7. Truth is…I get really angry when he leaves his jeans by the bed because “they don’t need washed yet.”
    Truth is…he gets annoyed when I leave my wet towel in the bathroom.
    Why would I leave my towel in the bathroom?
    I got distracted by fighting kids and threw on some kind of appropriate attire to deal with it. Then again, maybe I just forgot.
    Why would he leave his jeans out?
    He didn’t think they needed washed and he and saving me laundry.
    I just heard on the radio today that we love others in the way we love ourselves. If we are hard on ourselves and leave no room for error, then that is how we will love others, including our spouse.
    Before we get angry, I think we need to ask ourselves why we are angry. What kind of “slack” (aka grace) do I want?
    Personally, I saw changes in my husband when I started praying for him. The Bible says to pray for our enemies. Some days, I admit, he feels like the enemy. Those days are fewer and fewer since I started praying for him.
    After almost 20 years of being married, I am starting to think that maybe we have it figured out. Then, I get a reality check. So, we keep on going through this thing called marriage together and lesrning to love each other sgain every day.

  8. Two imperfect human beings trying to live together in harmony is a great challenge. Give and take is required on both sides. Stepping back and putting the situation in its proper perspective is usually needed. But, most importantly, trying to handle conflicts the way Jesus would is key to any successful Christian relationship.

    1. It is a dance. Sometimes a tango, sometimes a waltz, sometimes the Charleston! Crazy. But we have to give when we can what we can. If both people do that, it works out.

  9. I love this post! I’d read it earlier and thought that this was an excellent reminder to be a bit more gentle and soft – like a wife should be towards her Hubby. Today was an especially hard/emotional day and I truly needed to be reminded of this! Thank you!

    1. I’m glad it was helpful when it wasn’t easy to be softer side of self. Even writing it has been a good reminder to myself. I had a super stressful day and I made myself take time to talk to him, hug him and kiss him as our ships passed in the night. I’m so glad I did. He smiled and teased. It was good for my heart.

  10. “…because I made it about being a team against the chaos, not me versus him.” I think that is one of the Keys. Both people in a relationship have to feel to their bones they are on the same team, no matter what. This issue isn’t about women catering to men or men doing chores, and the sooner we all let go of that notion, the better. No, it is about how we lift one another, every day, not because we should, but because it is who we are. Because we have cultivated our love to the point where ego has no place inside our circle, and that doing for one another comes as naturally as breathing. You may not agree all the time, but you have to know you are both headed in the same direction, and that if one falters, the other will stop, lift them up, and help them regain their footing with an open, loving, forgiving heart.
    Renée ♥ The Good Hearted Woman recently posted…Picture Perfect Chicken Enchilada Pie {Recipe & Video}My Profile

    1. Very true. Our gender roles in our family are all over the place so it just happens that I’m doing more of the household things in this post, but it absolutely has to be where ego doesn’t exist!

  11. I believe we should show grace to all. Even the annoying best friend that I chose to spend the rest of my life with. Although, leaving dishes in the sink would not be on the pet peeve list he had for me. I am sure he has a few. That is why we either talk it out, work it out or let grace abound. “Dishes in the sink” is not going to rock this marriage. Great post totally understand and agree with it without taking things so literal.

  12. Wow…this is an important post. I’ve been married 40 years and learned day by day. If I would have had blogs like yours, I would have learned much earlier how to be unselfish. My husband hates it when I say I was selfish but’s it true — always looking out for #1 — me! People think unselfishness and thinking of another hard, but truly it’s easier than selfishness. Your husband is a blessed man.

    1. Thank you for those kind words, but it is something that I feel like I have so much work to do, so many times I just don’t want to do the dishes, clean the kitchen, vacuum the floor and let him do it for me. I still feel so selfish. But half the battle is being able to say, I don’t have the energy right now, but I’ll do it in a few so he doesn’t feel like he has to all the time. I am glad you feel like my words were wise. We’ve only been married 9 years to your 40! I can only imagine the wisdom you have to share!

  13. wow… I had to go back and reread your post after some of those comments – I’ll admit I did not click over to read the post that influenced you – I’m glad you wrote this, because it is important to remember that our husbands are humans too. So often we make them into superheros, and while my husband is my hero, he does not have the super powers of superman, and I shouldn’t expect him to. We both work hard and there are days when it doesn’t all get done, and that has to be okay. I think that is what you are getting at. Marriage is about the long haul, not the small things, like chores.

  14. This is worth my time! I spent a few moments perusing through the comments. There is always loads to learn isn’t?
    Thank you for the hearty conversation you brought to the table. You are brave writing about this.
    Hugs and have a great week

  15. Can’t tell you how much I needed to read this. My husband and I clash all the time because we see things so differently, and sometimes we’re too stubborn to give in and admit that what we’re fighting about really isn’t that big of a deal. There are many times I feel as though he just doesn’t care…but then again, I’m sure I’ve made him feel that way too. I’ve been so discouraged lately because we fight more often than not, and it’s hard to see past that into a happy future together. This was a much-needed read today. Thank you!

    1. I am so glad God put this in front of you today. This is a marathon, not sprint. It takes a lot of intensely practicing grace, when you don’t feel like it, when he least deserves it sometimes. You have built a wall of resentment. Imagine taking down the Berlin Wall brick by brick. It will take a long time for him to see your change as real, then he might start to soften and change too. But it really is beautiful once the changes start happening. Go back and click on the dirty underwear line for one of my favorite posts about serving my husband.

  16. I know you respect your vows before Christ and yes, I get that you can’t forsake love for every little nitpicky thing your husband does or doesn’t do for you. I get it. You are also a Christian and you lean on Jesus to help cope with the emotional hurt your husband saddles up on you by disrespecting you.
    But you must realize, your husband is rebelling against Jesus not you. You are a constant reminder to him from Jesus about an aspect of Christian living that Jesus demands from every follower of His.
    John 13
    Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

    9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

    10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

    12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

    Jesus, first and for most, is our servant. “And those that follow Him, must take up their cross and follow ME.” Your husband, if he’s a believer in Christ, is to be a servant, have a servant’s heart, and the desire to aid and help others in the name of Jesus.
    It is a call from Jesus to stop what I call Christian Narcissists that have taken over Christianity. YOU have chosen the correct way to deal with this and that is telling on your heart. But this situation is telling on the quality of Christian your husband is. If he can’t pick up, clean up, and take care of his living needs and piles that on you like you are a married maid, then God needs to put him flat on his back living where he can’t take care of himself at all and learn what it’s like to be bedridden. There are many who CAN’T get up and use the bathroom and would love to do so and he just flouts you and your place around with disrespect? No thank you. He can hire a maid and pay her to clean up after him. You’ll find many Christian Narcissist men find wives and women as their forced married labor to serve them and never dare to anything special or rest from their work.
    You shouldn’t have to “nag” or “plead” with him to pull his weight. A functioning psychologically sound man should be able to do so without being told. I wish you the best, but you have a dud of a husband, psychologically and spiritually. And I hope he reads this and realizes he is no good to God with this current attitude of foolishness.

    “Those same nights, he went to bed defeated, wondering why he married me, feeling disrespected and unloved. He wondered if I could ever think he was good enough just the way he is, if I really loved him or just the man I wanted him to be?” <——-I have no respect for this…..ingratitude and forced depressive thoughts because other people find him a slop and lazy?

    He who wishes to be first in the kingdom, must be a servant.

    1. This post couldn’t possibly address every aspect of our marriage. My husband doesn’t treat me like his maid. He literally gets up at 3 a.m. and works until 5-8pm most days. When he works like that, he doesn’t always have the energy to pick up or help clean. When he is home more, he does a lot. This morning, he did a bunch of chores before leaving for work and came home early and made a Cinco de Mayo feast. My point in the post is to not always read into the other person’s failures as disrespect. Sometimes we’re just tired. And my husband isn’t a believer, so I’m very cautious about my witness. I pray for him daily and have seen his heart healing and changing. But my point is that Jesus didn’t wash the disciples feet because they were dirty, he wanted to show them absolute humility and service. We are called to the same thing. Someday I hope my husband will love Christ like I do, but for now, my willingness to serve him has been an amazing and beautiful thing in our relationship. I’m not taken advantage of. But that isn’t my job. My job is to die to myself daily and God will work out the rest.

  17. In the chaos of life, we have to let grace win. We have to respect and love each other instead of keeping lists of wrongs. The idea of loving how we want to be loved very much comes into play in marriage.

  18. This is beautiful – absolutely, positively, breathtakingly beautiful. I wish I could like it 200 times!! A true picture of a marriage as it is – raw, uncut, and breathtakingly beautiful.

  19. Jennifer, this is such a great and gracefully written post that I am shocked you got negative comments on it. One of the first things you learn while studying Communications is that EVERYTHING is a two-way street. We think we’re reacting to them, while they think they are reacting to us. That’s why I love how you mentioned seeing things from his perspective.
    Lauren C. Moye recently posted…The Refining Fire of MotherhoodMy Profile

  20. Hello, fellow blogger and friend!

    On the first of each month, I do a special round-up called #(Month)25 where I share the best of other people’s content with my followers. I share five posts from each of these categories: Christian, kids/motherhood, relationships, money, and miscellaneous. I just wanted to let you know that this blog post was featured in my #February25 Roundup. Hooray!

    Here’s a link to the post so you can see for yourself: http://wp.me/p7RdMZ-D4

    In Christ,
    Lauren C. Moye

  21. Awesome post! I’m a young wife and I’ve been married for almost 2 years. In that small amount of time, I’ve learned everything about my husband and I’ve learned everything he doesn’t do that I think he SHOULD do. But God showed me grace. Awkwardly, God showed me grace through his socks that he leaves around. I argue with him that it doesn’t take a second to put in the hamper but then it dawned me on how much i like to leave my “dirty laundry” around and yet God still picks it up and cleans it. He picks me up when I have fallen and gotten dirty. When I had notice this type of grace I’ve realize I should stop arguing and appreciate my husband for who he is. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Oh, We’ve been married almost 11 years now, and I’m still learning things about my husband and God reached out to me through dirty underwear! It’s in my Secret Service Post!

  22. These feelings of resentment and frustration resurface every now and again in my marriage. My husband is very laid-back and I’m not, so I’m usually grudgingly doing most of the work. But I have learned that when those negative thoughts start, I shut my mouth and start praying for Jesus to intervene. He hasn’t ever forsaken me and I hope others could learn to lean on Him during these difficult times!

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