Posted July 22, 2014

How My Wife and I Get Through Doing the Dishes and Why Your Workouts Could Use a Compromise

When my wife and I started dating 10 years ago, we went through the initial learning curve of figuring out how to live with the other person that always has a few bump along the way. She didn’t like that I would throw everything into the laundry and wound up shrinking a few of her favourite shirts. I didn’t like that she would find a way to create a goat-worthy mountain of dishes that wouldn’t get washed. She would find a way to clean the one dish she needed to make a meal, thus leaving the culinary Kilamanjaro unscathed.

When we finally moved in together, we got a small condo that had a dishwasher. This gave some opportunity to wash the dishes, but eventually the discussion lead to loading and unloading the dishes, as well as what to do with the dishes that didn’t go into the dishwasher. Hilarity ensued, and by hilarity I mean me washing the dishes more often than not.


This would become a recurring theme while we lived in the condo. I would come home, she had cooked dinner, occasionally for me as well, and there would be a pile of dishes in the sink. I would do the dishes, because they had to get done in order for me to cook my meals and have something clean for breakfast tomorrow, plus dirty dishes tended to attract bugs. What could go in the dishwasher would go in, once it was unloaded, and we would start the cycle all over again the next day.

When we bought our current house, we were remiss to find it didn’t have a dishwasher, and although we could realistically plumb one in, it was a small kitchen and we didn’t want to take up some of the cabinet space. As a result, we were faced with a conundrum of where to put all the dishes that weren’t currently washed. We discovered we could fit almost all of our dishes in the sink and on the adjoining counter, and also across the table where the microwave is if needed, and this was all in the span of about 2 days of accumulation.

You see, it’s not that my wife can’t do dishes. She is more than physically capable of doing them, but she abhors doing dishes like nothing else. Being sentenced to doing them was a most severe punishment in her eyes, and one that she did not take kindly to, and as a result, it worked out best if I did them, then reminded her occasionally of the fact that I did all the dishes. To her credit, she took on doing all the laundry, most likely in an attempt to prevent me from shrinking more of her favourite shirts.

We eventually reached a compromise in terms of dishes. When I washed, she would dry. This helped us clean out the entire sink in one shot, and allowed for a continuity of work between us where each person felt the other was contributing something to the mix. She even started doing dishes herself once or twice a week.

I’m not writing this to rag on my wife in any way, shape or form, but to illustrate a common theme and area of concern for married couples and how it can be parlayed into your own workouts. My wife absolutely disdains doing dishes, and as a result we’ve had to ¬†find a compromise to help us work together in order to get the dishes done on a regular basis.

Now let’s consider someone who absolutely hates working out but they know they need to in order to get the benefits from it. There’s the odd occasion where lifting weights is the furthest thing from what I would want to do, but it still has to get done in order for me to stay in decent shape, get closer to some of my own goals, and to help keep my low back from hating me consistently. For those days, doing a normal workout may not be optimal, so I would do more of a mess around kind of workout where I just do one or two sets of different exercises, pick 4 or 5 movements total, and I’m in and out in 30 minutes.

I also hate doing any kind of cardio. The concept of sitting on a stationary bike and pedalling while going no where is not my idea of a good time, nor is running on a treadmill with the sole purpose of staying on long enough to watch a sit com. Sure, I could go outside, but Edmonton weather is a mixture of freezing rain, raining freeze, freezing sun, humid and blazing, road construction, and mosquitoes. As a result of this, my cardio comes in the form of me biking to and from work each day while trying not to get a door prize from parked cars or the odd side view mirror shoved into my shoulder from texting drivers.

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This may not seem like a lot, but it’s 20 minutes each way on a daily basis, and it’s something that I do automatically without having to think about it.

There’s other days where I want nothing more than to tear into the gym with ruthless aggression, so I go and get after it with all the intensity of a Facebook hashtag-laden status update. Cleaning can produce similar results, like this past weekend where I cleaned our bathroom for a good 2 hours. I could lick my dinner off the toilet by the time I was done with that place.

This isn’t the norm, but rather an occasional event that takes place from time to time. Most of the time cleaning the bathroom involves scrubbing out the toilet bowl, giving the outside a quick wipe, doing the same for the sink and tub, and then a quick hit with the Swiffer. 20 minutes, in and out.

These are examples of creating compromises within relationships that allow you to work symbiotically while still accomplishing the goal. The first example with regards to doing the dishes was a compromise where I would wash and my wife would dry, and occasionally she would do a load on her own. This helped her not feel like she was being suffocated by the work and helped me not feel like I had to do it all.

The second example was compromise within a fitness program to allow me to do the stuff I would want while also minimizing the impact of the stuff I didn’t want to do. Biking to work helped to kill two birds with one stone in that I was able to do some cardio without wanting to scratch my eyes out.

Compromise isn’t something that should be viewed as giving in or a failure to get your way. In a relationship it should never be about give and take, or a point scoring system. If you feel you “won” something over your partner, you aren’t in it for each other and it ultimately won’t end well. Compromise helps people feel like they’re working on the same path instead of coming to odds, and in the end more gets done with less effort and struggle.

In a fitness plan, compromise helps you to still get the benefit of what you’re looking to do without going through all the uncomfortable stuff you don’t want to do. For instance, if you’re looking to lose weight, high intensity cardio conditioning may sound like hot buttered death, but if you were to get a similar weight loss effect by simply cutting 100 calories out of your daily diet, you could probably achieve similar results with much less discomfort. If food is a major driving force, keeping the good stuff while pushing a heavy sled around for 10 minutes might be a better trade.

If you hate weight training but love going for hikes outside, hit up a bodyweight bootcamp circuit to help you get the most out of the outdoors while still giving you something that will still get you to your goals.

There is never only one way to do anything, and trying to force a round peg into a square hole doesn’t usually go well. Find a way that works well for you, and stick with it. If you don’t like doing something, find another way to get the same results or a different way of doing the activity that results in the desired outcomes without the same feeling of hatred. ¬†Finding a way you will stick with and enjoy is more important that the actual act of doing it once. We’re all in it for the long haul, so you might as well enjoy it while you’re there.

And our next house will have a dishwasher.