We are midway through our series on Romantic Realism, lifted from this essay. The fifth sorrow of love, which is one that I frequently see play out in my office is “There’s so much laundry.” This is a very unsexy component of a long term relationship, but one which makes or breaks many . . .
- “In the history of Western literature, no Romantic hero or heroine has ever ironed their underpants. It may seem like merely a trivial point. But it is a crucial and personally urgent fact, because it signals that we’ve taken our cues about what belongs to love from a societal narrative that is radically incomplete and misleading in nature.”
- “Romantic culture takes no interest in the myriad of challenges that fall within the realm of the ‘domestic’, a term that captures all the practicalities of living together, extending across a range of small but crucial issues, including who one should visit on the weekend, when to empty the trash, who should clean the oven and how often to have friends over for dinner.”
- “We don’t go into relationships ready to perceive domestic issues as important and something to which we should devote sustained attention. We don’t acknowledge how much it may end up mattering whether we can maturely resolve issues around how to clean the kitchen floor.”
- “Domestic problems may feel trivial or silly and yet, nevertheless, take up large sections of our lives that drive us to heightened states of agitation. Such agitation is precisely what the Romantic neglect of domestic life has unwittingly encouraged, yet ends up contributing to a critical erosion of our power to love.
- “We readily fall into the roles of the nagger and the shirker. The nagger is trying to influence the other’s behavior. The shirker, for their part, simply avoids doing what’s being suggested. But what if we admit that sharing a space obliges us to do practical tasks and that we are highly likely to resent them? Domestic preoccupation isn’t really a sign of the death of love. We will be reconciled to the reality of love when we can accept without rancor the genuine dignity of the ironing board.”
Perhaps because I do see so much volatility around divisions of labor and organizing of life that I believe this is one of the bigger sorrows of love for which we much reckon.
Until next time, peace.