Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Husband and Wife Ironing Controversy

Photo from

One of my clients had an interesting controversy about ironing and her husband that I wanted to share. Her husband hates ironing. So does she. Neither one of them is good at it.

Leah had this internal, old-fashioned voice inside that told her she should be ironing for her husband. That is what she saw her mom do. That thought is an old agreement she believed about what she thought roles and responsibilities are for a stay-at-home mom.

But in the real world in the 2000's, Leah does not like ironing. She barely irons her own clothes. Also, she works from home and does not think she has extra time to iron for him during the day -- when she isn't taking care of the kids, she is working. Some of her thoughts were, "He doesn't iron my clothes, why should I iron his. We are in this 50-50. I work just as hard around here all day as he does at work."

Every time her husband picked up the iron he ended up swearing and getting totally frustrated. Because of Leah's internal beliefs that she should be the one ironing, she felt a dagger go into her heart every time she heard him get pissed off as he was ironing. Part of her felt bad, like she should iron for him, but another part of her thought he needs to be responsible for his own ironing, just as she was hers.

This went on for years. Like more than 10. And they never really talked about it. It was just an experience that kept occurring.

It recently came to light again. Leah heard her husband complaining about ironing more and more. But she didn't say much other than to suggest he look for a tutorial video on YouTube. He did that, but didn't really find anything helpful.

photo from

Finally, one day, Leah decided to try to help make her husband's ironing experience better. She went out and bought him a new iron and ironing board. Her husband was excited about the new purchases and hoped it would help, but it only helped a little bit. He still got frustrated when he ironed.

Leah's next idea was to take his shirts to the cleaners to be professionally pressed. She did that and surprised him one day. It worked! He loved the surprise! They talked about the expense, which neither one of them had too much of a problem with, considering the frustration the ironing caused.

Finally, knowing he was in a good mood about the subject, Leah was brave enough to be honest with her husband. She said she had this old-fashioned, internal belief that she should be ironing for him, but that she did not want to. She said it felt like a dagger in her heart when she heard him get frustrated about ironing, because she thought the swear words were aimed at her. She said she didn't want his ironing to be her responsibility, but she wouldn't mind dropping shirts off at the cleaners and picking them up. He said she was awesome. That made her feel very relieved.

The moral of this story is in communication. Leah should have been more honest with her husband a long time ago, but she wasn't because she was afraid to rock the boat. Instead, she let this pattern repeat itself for more than 10 years and grate on both of their nerves. Now the issue is out in the open, making it easier for both of them to be honest.

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