My Wardrobe: Part 2 - The Bleached Marriage
In December of last year, I decided to clean up my wardrobe and retire some clothes that had served me faithfully for ages. I saw three suit cases of clothes retired leaving my wardrobe pretty much empty. But that is fine. What is the point in having these clothes taking up space when you absolutely don't wear them.
One particular Shirt got me all emotional. It was a peach color Slim fit Van Heusen Shirt I bought in the States earlier in the year. It was the newest and youngest of the stuff I was retiring. As I looked at the shirt, I was filled with angst, sadness and everything in between. Why was I retiring a shirt I wore just once? I mean, I wore it and washed it only ONCE!
It was not about the price or the brand. The Lord knows I don't remember how much I bought it for, but it did not set me back that much. I was retiring it because of what happened to the shirt the first time it was washed. And how I was feeling as I held that shirt was exactly how I felt the first time I picked the shirt to iron after it had been washed.
So, as a general rule, I wash my own clothes. No, I have not taken anything of mine to the laundry before. I have considered it many times; i see guys who do it, my wife does it, I desire to do it one day, but for now I feel I am just fine doing it myself. From my socks to my most Prized Jackets, I clean my stuff. Bless YouTube. I basically wash for the entire family. My Wife, however, finds it prudent to take her high end stuff to the laundry. We both agree it is for the best. I cannot unleash a nuclear holocaust in my house because a button got lost, in the process.
Then we had the last baby, and a very helpful Nanny with her. She was not just babysitting; she was quite handy around the house. Then she took over the washing of stuff. She would occasionally wash my stuff when I was Uber busy and MY laundry basket was tipping over. But regardless of the circumstance, she was not to touch my T shirts. Those ones are for the washing machine. I need to keep the stretch in the neck and the arms. They get messed up when hand-washed by someone who has not specialized in the art of washing the neck and the arm. Then of course my underwear...It is a no no!
On this particular day, I came back from work and she had already washed and dried the clothes. My wife had folded and shelved them in my wardrobe. They left town the next day.
One day, I was feeling funky and that was the shirt I wanted to wear. I pulled it out and the first thing I noticed was the neck. I was faded beyond explanation. I was horrified. I examined it well, and it was really faded like a shirt that had been washed for ages. I checked the arm and it was the same. I noticed patches in other parts that were evidence of a chemical application. It became clear she used bleach. The same bleach she might have used on my white shirts.
I was livid! I called my wife and ranted, but decided not to speak to the nanny about it. I knew she would have a better way of telling her. I was so much angry I knew I would say something to the lady I would regret later. But that was it for the shirt. It was done.
So while I was decluttering and held the shirt, my mind went into overdrive with tonnes of questions flying through my mind in and out of orbit. Why didn't I tell her not to use bleach? But then this won't be the first time she had washed colored stuff for me. She never uses bleach. Maybe, like my T- Shirts, I should have made her stay clear of this shirt and other similar ones. But I didn't even know she was going to wash for me. She did it out of a good heart. I mean, why did I leave that shirt in the laundry basket knowing it could be washed any time? But who in their right frame of mind uses bleach on a colored clothe. I had questions flying through my mind...questions I had suppressed since the day I discovered the incidence were all out with glee.
While pondering over these, I strayed into the world of Marriage. Who is in your marital business? The daily happenings in your marriage could be your laundry basket. Who is helping you fix them? Which items are for their hands and which ones are for your hands and your hands only? Do you have one person helping you fix everything, or you have different people helping you fix different things? Like me, my underwear and my T- Shirts, are there certain areas of your marriage that is a no go area for anyone? Do you generally attempt to solve your key marital issues, bringing in QUALIFIED outsiders only when you know you are overwhelmed?
I put a lot of premium on my T- Shirts because I don't want them looking old after two or three washes. So I use the washing machine all the time....or I personally do a hand wash. What in your marriage do you put that kind of premium on? Romance? Meals? General house keeping? companionship? Which areas of your marriage do you hold dear; so dear you are willing to put everything on hold just to personally handle them?
I could send my dirty stuff to the laundry and have it cleaned for me at a fee, or I could learn to DIM on YouTube. You can learn to do stuff at home or you can have people come to do them for you at a fee. From those scrumptious pastries to that mad Jollof, you can learn how to do them, or keep outsourcing them. One thing is clear though, there is a hidden charge somewhere, and you pay for it in one form or the other, in the now or in the future. The cost might be subtle or catastrophic, it may be recurring or a one off; but you pay for the choices you make regarding your marriage. Some of them are cost borne to invest for a better returned; when you do key stuff yourself. In the end it won't be a cost, but delayed gratification. Others, however, are painful prices you pay. It is all in the choices we make regarding our marriage.
We all have that one person who has become a kinda go-to person in our marriages. They came in for a different purpose, like our Nanny. Soon we found them to be so handy we started allowing them space to do things we used to do ourselves. They moved from just friends we chitchat with, to friends we can leave our spouses with when we are busy and are unable to meet a family obligation. We soon allow them to have a peep into our family finances and conflicts, and sometimes offer as-a-matter-of-fact advice.
They were just friends, but now they order and pick up anniversary and birthday cakes and deliver them on our behalf, because we are busy and the demands at home are tipping over. Some represent us at PTA meetings because their wards also attend the same school. We throw joint parties because we are of the same birth month. We have become so enmeshed with them, they have become a shadowy third arm in our marriage, becoming a substitute to us on so many levels.
They have become that person who can make your spouse do what you want, failing to see that if your spouse would listen to them and not you (when he or she is not a person who bears authority over your spouse or someone your spouse extremely respects) then there is, in a sense, someone your spouse has a soft spot for. Don't worry, lemme talk to him/her; then bam, that argument of two days has disappeared and your spouse is doing your bidding. Are you not worried someone has this must control over your spouse, right in your marriage?
They are handy no doubt, and like our Nanny, there is not a single time you would imagine they would use a bleach on a shirt that is not white. But it can happen. Their advise; it could be from a good place, only it is not meant for the fabric of your situation. It could have been given with the best of intentions, but it is from a bitter place of their myopic perspective and personal experience.
They are used to using bleach for all hard dirt, it does not matter the nature and color of fabric, they just apply. You are unique and you understand your spouse most intimately and in an almost purest form. There are situations you navigate using wisdom and personal knowledge that is only inherent to you. Once this third party comes in, someone who is not trained to do this job, they are likely to judge the situation the same way they judge all situations that look like this one and apply the same solution.
Beautiful thriving marriages have collapsed because of a single word of advice from someone whose advice in the past have worked. Homes have been wrecked because of a single responsibility given to someone who has been responsible in the past...The Dress she wore, the way she said it to him in the moment of vulnerability...the arm of comfort he offered in the time of great stress. It was an innocent evening, she wanted to go watch that movie so bad. You, as usual, was not available so this trusted friend came in handy...It was supposed to be an innocent evening...Then the conversations took a mind of their own (these bloody conversations when the night is cool and breezy), things started coming up, emotions took a flight towards hell, and the back seat of a car parked on an empty parking lot happened.
Bang Bang Bang..like she was his to hit. But of course you gave her to him. You did the very first day you refused to draw the line.
You gave him completely over to the Sow, without sorting the socks from the fine linen...failing to restrict her visits to your home when you are home, but rather explicitly telling her to take care of him while you are away on your many trips.
Like, the questions I was asking myself...Did you see it coming? No! But then who do you blame when you outsource an intimate event like a Movie Date to a friend? Who do you blame when you leave the organisation of birthday and anniversary parties and other intimate memorable moments to a friend. This is your marriage; have you no sense of what is holy, personal and off the grid to the outside world?
She has a key to your bedroom, tell me what else is sacred again in that holy matrimony? He has assess to your wife even when you are at work and she is home. Is there no sense of privacy? It is not the Juju I fear for which reason I don't want anyone to touch my moojies. No. There just has to be something about me that is private enough. My Pioto is one of them, Just don't touch it!
Some of us are counting the cost of that bleach. Yes the shirt was not that expensive...but I wanted it to last. I did not buy it with the intention of wearing it just once. But what if it was a more expensive brand? Maybe the bleach in your shirt was a gossip, a minor theft or a needless flirt. It hurt you but when you look at the brighter side, you tell yourself it did not cost you much. What if the bleach was in a shirt that cost me a fortune... What if it is two Kids that are not yours, but for your best friend? What if her child whose father no one knows is for your husband? Your husband's crazy behavior is because of what you have told this friend of yours and how she has twisted it to him. Why won't he believe her when the things she say to him about you couldn't have been known by anyone? Well she knows, it sounds credible because you shared it with her.
The shirt is gone, thanks to some silly bleach that I couldn't explain why it was applied.... But to you and to me, my advise is not to let something precious go to waste in our marriage because we left it in the wrong hands.