Honey, where are my navy pants? Didn't you wash them?"
"I can't worry about your clothes because I've got to get your son ready! Who else is going to do that?"
"Well, I worked overtime last night! I didn't have time to wash and press a pair of pants."
This was normal conversation in our house—one spouse offering up a sacrificial responsibility, the other countering with greater sacrifice. I even recall one or two arguments over the fact that he keeps more pillows on the bed than I do. (It seemed important at the time.)
Our marriage had become little more than dueling to-do lists—a competition to establish who had the most hectic schedule, as if that were the secret of marital superiority: "She who works hardest wins."
But what did I expect to win?
Why was I competing with my husband over duties and responsibilities, eager to convince him that my burdens were far greater than his? How did it benefit me to prove that my husband "just didn't understand"? Why did I desire the title of "Most Taken for Granted" anyway, and why was I willing to spend hours of energy maintaining it? It's not as if there's a beauty pageant for martyred mothers and wives. And if there were, what would be my platform? "Of course I'd like to establish world peace, but I simply have too much laundry to do."
I remembered our courtship years and the excitement I felt when I'd get ready for one of our dates. I'd spend hours thinking about it and preparing for it. What should I wear? I'd think. Something he hasn't seen me in before. Where's my good perfume? Does my hair look okay?1