To love, honor, and motivate

By Mir
October 26, 2007

When Otto and I got married, he was a 36-year-old bachelor. He’d never been married, never lived with a woman. People would elbow me and cast meaningful glances in his direction while joking about how it would take me a while to “train him” (as if he were a puppy who would require frequent newspaper smacks on the nose to learn not to pee in the kitchen), and his friends would shake their heads sadly while telling him “Dude, life as you know it IS OVER.” And I had been on my own with the kids for over four years; we had our habits—such as they were—and bringing Otto in was sure to make for some difficult changes, we thought.

I am not going to sit here and tell you that it’s all been smooth sailing, because change is hard. Period. We’ve all had to adjust and that takes some doing, plus it just takes time for new routines to feel comfortable. So has it been a cakewalk? Of course not. Has it been the stressful calamity some predicted, ending with Otto fleeing from the house to the safety of the garage—where no one shrieks about being touched or poked or looked at, where cups aren’t left to put themselves in the sink, where everything is where he left it and no one needs to sit on his lap right this second? Really no.

And I’m going to tell you a secret about Otto. Let’s keep it just between you and me, Internet. I know you won’t tell anyone. I don’t want it to get out, because if it did, it would really ruin the pervasive notion that there aren’t any good men out there. (As much as I would love to believe that I GOT THE LAST ONE, that does seem statistically improbable.) Anyway, come closer, and I’ll tell you:

Otto is a better wife than I am.

It’s true, and it has nothing to do with anything that I’ve done. He came that way! No training necessary! (Lest you start hating him, or me, just a little, for this, rest assured that he has his foibles just like the rest of us, and I am still working on training him not to tease me when I’m already in a murderous rage. Apparently the “do not poke a caged animal with a stick” rule was not part of his repertoire before our union.) But the truth of the matter is that Otto the Bachelor was a tidy and organized fellow, and Otto the Husband shows me up on a regular basis.

Otto makes the bed every day. Otto always puts his dirty clothes IN the hamper, and when the hamper is full, Otto does the laundry. Otto is—so far as I can tell—incapable of going to bed with dirty dishes in the sink. Otto watches a small amount of television and enjoys relatively healthy snacks while he does so.

For the most part, since our marriage, I have risen to his level. Of course, with him around, sometimes I don’t have to—if I blink at the overflowing hamper long enough, say, he’ll do the laundry. And if I make dinner, magical elves tend to clean up the kitchen while I’m putting the kids to bed. It’s a wonderful arrangement (for me, anyway… as I write this I’m starting to feel a little sorry for Otto…) and without much fanfare we have settled into a comfortable routine.

It all sounds perfect, right? Well, it is. As long as we’re both here.

Enter difficulty: Otto has been away all week. For the first part of the week, my parents were here. They just left on Wednesday morning, which I now realize was only a couple of days ago, but it feels like the kids and I have been on our own for a week. Now, in the interest of both full disclosure and a feeble attempt to justify myself, I’ll point out that this week has been stressful in the moreso-than-average way for a couple of reasons, but still, in the last two days I’ve come to realize something frightening.

I’m the bachelor in this relationship.

Without Otto here, I’ve adopted a “what’s the point?” mentality. Wednesday night I fed the kids macaroni and cheese from a box, and last night we picked up fast food on our way home from practice. Two days worth of dishes sit in the sink. I haven’t made the bed since I’m not sure when, and last night I slept in my “lounging sweats” because I changed earlier in the evening and then was too tired to bother finding my pajamas. There’s a pile of clothing on my bathroom counter that may or may not be clean; I’m not really sure. After I put the kids to bed I park myself on the couch in front of the television with my laptop, and I watch a mind-numbing amount of inane programming while doing some work and making my way through the bag of candy I bought to give out for Halloween. This morning—alright, I admit it; I was strung out and hung over from Skittles and Starburst—I slept through my alarm and Monkey had to come drag me out of bed.


And although I haven’t hidden any of this from my dear Otto, still he has called every night and professed his desire to be home with me, with us, and resume our romantic coexistence. Last night as we talked he suggested that on Saturday night we sit down, maybe with a couple of nice glasses of wine, and snuggle up and… go over our insurance options before the open enrollment period ends. It brought a tear to my eye, the way he just KNOWS how to make me melt like that.

I am totally going to do the dishes and make the bed before he gets back tonight.


  1. StephLove

    Whenever partner is out of town (which has been a lot the past few months), we eat mac-n-cheese from a box. One recent night when she was gone, I asked my 6 y/o for menu suggestions and he had peanut butter on apple slices, some string cheese and veggie bacon for dinner. I threw in some steamed carrots and called it good. If I’m feeling really ambitious I make pancakes for dinner.

  2. Felicia

    I am so the bachelor too. I have been so lazy before I told my child to fix a bowl of cereal for dinner. I meant busy not lazy…yeah yeah that’s it. Does Otto have a brother?

  3. Therese

    When my kidlets were small (sob, those were the days) and hubby was out of town, we always had “pancakes in the night” and all the things dad didn’t like for dinner (pizza, fast food, PB&J, etc.)
    Also, Otto has some fringes in this. There is all the S*X that he probably didn’t get as a single! For men, that makes all good….

  4. Jean

    Husband away since last Tuesday. Highlight of my children’s dinners? In descending order: fishsticks and pasta, chicken nuggets and the same pasta, mac & cheese from a box, grilled cheese sandwiches. Throw a bag of baby carrots on the table and call it dinner. Highlight of my dinners? Two different flavors of ice cream in the freezer consumed after the kids are in bed. Need I say more?

  5. Leandra

    My hubs is IN town and we stopped for fast food after soccer last night, too. And I never really realized it, but I am SO the bachelor too.

  6. liz

    You actually MAKE the mac & cheese from the box? Sometimes I stop at the Publix deli for a container of it on nights that I’m a grad school widow.

  7. RuthWells

    I must have an opposite gene somewhere, because while I’m totally the bachelor while Hubby’s around, on the rare occasions that he’s away I am *SuperMom*! My kids gaze at me in amazement as wonderful, ambitious meals appear on the table like magic. I clean, I do small repairs around the hous, I do projects with the kids. I even make desserts. Then, when Hubby returns, I crash like a stone and immediately revert to my slovenly ways.

  8. dad

    Nice post Mim.
    Good find too.

  9. Marissa

    When my husband comes home from a trip he must unpack that very second. He also considers it “awesome” when we do laundry on vacation and come home with all clean clothes. However, I have never, ever, in the almost eight years I’ve known him seen him make a bed–EVER. He thinks it’s pointless.

    Count your blessings Mir. Being the bachelor is fun!

  10. Daisy

    You knew he was the right one for you. You knew it then, you know it now. Sigh. What a sweetheart.

  11. Megan

    I live with three teenage bachelors while I’m the slightly obsessive tidier. My sister was in town last week and looked at me in utter disbelief because I was folding plastic grocery bags. Yes. I fold them. Then they can be neatly stored away and re-used as bin liners. I’m not proud of this – it’s a sickness. However Child 2 has a friend coming over tonight and I just realized the only vegetable in the house is red potatoes and know what? If we didn’t have the guest on the way I’d probably bake me up some potatoes and call it balanced. Niiiiiice.

  12. Paula

    I’m gonna get this over with and put it right out there: I am jealous of you. Hubs is always at the office. When he’s home, he’s on the couch. He leaves trails of crumbs and spillage wherever he goes, and I can’t recall that he’s ever done a load of laundry.

    Yes, I know this relationship is retrograde. But trust me: I’ve tried everything short of taking a sledgehammer to him. Besides, he’s not sexist or malicious about it. He’s just slovenly to the core. I ask him: if I were working full time, would you pitch in more? And he says: No, I’m hopeless.

    Judge away, people. But I love the bastard.

  13. Em

    Dude, as a fellow bachelor wife, don’t do those dishes. Kiss him and say sweet things when he comes through the door, maybe exaggerate how hard it was to get along without his wonderful husbandly charms and he’ll be doing the dishes happily before he knows what hit him. You might find him whistling.

  14. Bob

    no fair. in our marriage, we’re both the bachelor. which, I guess, means when I leave Sunday for Bahrain it’ll be status quo ante for the 3 weeks I’m overseas. with maybe less grass mowing.

  15. All Adither

    You’ve got an upstanding young man there. Is he cute too? Is he handy?


  16. Kristi

    You and me? The same. Except that last night (while the huz and my boy are in Boston for the World Series, leaving me here with the 3 girls) my food of choice was Pringles and popcorn, not Skittles and Starbursts. The morning stupor is probably identical though.

    Yes, when the cat is away, the mice get fat and lazy.

  17. laurie

    This weekend I heard a new menu for when the spouce is not around;A friend’s dad would make them butter and sugar sandwiches! Or butter (not peanut butter) and banana sandwiches! (and they loved them and it made a fun memory)Those were new to me. Your kids certainly fared better than that.

  18. The Other Leanne

    Every woman should have a wife.

  19. Beth

    Y’know, it’s kind of funny. What you’re describing is the married equivalent of my current dating situation: I’m *so* the guy and he’s *so* the girl! It’s sort of fun being the bachelor ;-)

    You’ve found yourself a wonderful partner and I’m so happy for you!

  20. Sherry

    My husband has been out of town for two years (Army Strong!). I’m surprised we don’t all have scurvy.

  21. PunditMom

    Sounds like you and I went to the same “wife” school! Make the bed? Dude, we’re just going to mess it up again! ;)

  22. Lisa

    He is outstanding! And so are you! It’s ok to be tired (OK, exhausted!) and let things go sometimes.
    When I was growing up, my dad traveled 4 days a week, and we let things go some while he was gone. And Thursday nights were about straightening up the house, getting things caught up so we could all relax and be together on the week-end instead of mundane housework!
    I guess I ended up marrying a form of my dad, ’cause my hubby buys groceries, sorts and runs laundry through (but trust me-we don’t want him folding or hanging things up!), does all the outside maintenance things.
    Maybe this reflects on their mothers instead of us, but either way if you have one of these kind of hubbies, count your blessings!

  23. Aimee

    Dude! I am the bachelor TOO, and I never realized it until just this second.

  24. Nancy R

    Go Otto! I think some credit should go to his mom for ‘training’ him. I totally credit my mother in law with my husband’s ability to vacuum, do laundry, and clean the toilet.

    Otto has had extra time to get ready for married life.

  25. Kendra

    My husband is the ‘kitchen genie’ (dubbed so by my mother). Every morning whatever clean dishes are in the sink or dishwasher magically get put away, dirty ones get washed, and the coffee gets made.

    This is the same man that will dump a whole pile of clean, folded laundry to get at the 1 piece that is near the bottom of the stack and leave the carnage for ME to refold, carry upstairs and put away. (No matter that it has been sitting downstairs for 3 days trying to levitate up the stairs on its own! Gulp.)

    We all have our trade offs, I suppose!

  26. saucygrrl

    Oh! This is just TOO MUCH! This is exactly how it is with Sean and me. And he even puts up with me coming back to him and saying “you did my underwear wrong again. Only the candy in the house is Reese peanut butter cups and I’m on… I don’t know… my 10th one in two days…

  27. Contrary

    At our house, we recently decided to divvy the chores up so that someone was specifically responsible for each chore. I volunteered for the kitchen because in a very sick and twisted way, I enjoy cleaning a kitchen. What can I say? I’m a freak.

    My daughter has the living room and hallway and my husband has the bathrooms.

    So they clean once, maybe twice a week and I’m in there scrubbing pots and pans every day.

    I would feel like I got the short end of the stick, but at least I don’t have to dust (hate), vacuum (so much hate) or scrub the toilet (hate squared).

    So basically, even though I’m doing way more work, way more often, I still feel like I got the better end of the deal. I think maybe there’s something wrong with me.

  28. Erin

    My husband lived on his own for years before we met and was raised as the only child of a single mom, and he is absolutely wonderful around the house. He does laundry, dishes, cleans, and cooks, among other things. Left to our own devices, I would be the “bachelor” and he the “wife.” Definitely.

    He is a treasure for many more reasons than his helpfulness around the house, but when I recall my mom teaching my dad how to fold (not DO, mind you, but FOLD) laundry a few years ago (after 28 years of marriage), I must say I am awfully grateful for my Mr. Smith.

  29. Sheila

    Once again, you have confirmed that you and I are living in parallel universes. My husband is also the better wife in this relationship, and also does not complain about it. My kids get cereal for dinner 80% of the time that he is out of town or at work late. I too, bought Starburst and Skittles for Halloween giving (on sale at Target AND with a coupon, thankyouverymuch), on the sorely mistaken assumption that I would not bore into it before Trick or Treating began (Reese’s Cups would last about 1.04 days in my “hiding spot”…I am weak). Guess who woke up with sticky red and yellow spots on her chin?

    Wouldn’t you love it if the armor cracked a little and JUST ONCE they would leave their socks on the floor for a change? I for one would appreciate it in a now-I-feel-better-about-my-slovenly-self kind of way. In the meantime, I’ve got you (and your legion of commenters) for solidarity. Thanks, all!

  30. Amy-Go

    There are two bachelors in my marriage. It’s a miracle the house hasn’t fallen down yet…

  31. Belinda

    How do you get ninety-seven comments before this post even appears in my feed-reader? More to the point, what is wrong with my feed-reader?

    Alex and I were both 34, never married when we got married. Which means that we are both soooooo set in our ways that much strife ensues. After 8 years, we’re just beginning to work it out, though he still puts clean glasses away in the cabinet right-side-up, which is SO WRONG. At least we hang toilet paper the same way.

  32. Jess

    DH is soooo the wife in our relationship. I hate to clean. I have no problem with washing clothes but folding them and putting them away makes my skin crawl. I can not cook to save my life. In fact I don’t cook to save lives.

  33. Burgh Baby's Mom

    My husband and I were just having this same conversation yesterday. It came up when he called me to thank me for doing laundry–for the first time in four years. He is SO the girl in our relationship.

  34. Katrina Stonoff

    Me too. Mars was 39 when we met and had never even had a girlfriend. And he totally trumps me on every part of the housekeeping list. He’s even learned to cook.

    When he’s gone? I am LOST.

    When I’m gone, he’s lost too. Though, for the life of me, I don’t know understand it.

  35. carolyn

    As a single mom, I find that I too need an Otto. What you did this week while he was gone? I do all the time. When the kids go to their dad’s, I clean and get all picked up…and then it all goes straight to hell. Ah, my life…Does Otto have a brother?

  36. Crisanne

    I’m with Amy-Go…I think we’re both bachelors. Does it help that we both wish we weren’t?? I’m feeling a little guilty now, I think I’ll go clean something!

  37. Kristy

    Does Otto have a single brother I could date? ;)

  38. Vane

    Ever think about selling clones of your husband? :)

  39. Zuska

    You are my hero. I do the same things when my spouse is out of town, so it’s nice to know I’m in good company.

  40. mama speak

    I’m for giving Kudos to Otto’s mama! She raised her boy right. My husband’s mom, not so much. She did/does everything for her two boys and husband. I mean EVERYTHING. The women is 70 w/arthritis in her spine & I find myself yelling at all of them to get off their arces & get their own beer when they’re visiting; Drives me nuts!
    That being said, when my DH was a still a boyfriend & had just moved in I asked him to run a vacuum, (the humanity of it!) he looked at me like I was speaking in tongues. Then had the nerve to say, “me?” “Um, yeah, I believe you helped dirty the rug, so knock yourself out there honey.” He wasn’t too pleased. But that was at a time when he would do laundry, but only do HIS laundry. Since we’re still married he’s obviously gotten better (or dead) but the first couple years were rough. His mother once said to me, “I guess I didn’t do you any favors doing all that stuff for him?” Nope, you didn’t.

    Here’s to the mama’s that raise their boys right so they can move out & benefit some other woman!

  41. Dawn

    DUDE. You are me.

  42. Anna

    When my husband leaves town I have been known to have 1/2 an angel food cake for dinner. The other half is for breakfast.

  43. Sara

    I *wish* I were the bachelor! Oh well. Could be worse. My father-in-law didn’t like things to touch on his dinner plate and so he would eat one thing at a time and his mother (my husband’s grandmother) would WASH THE PLATE between each thing he ate. My mother-in-law told him when they got married, “if you want your plate washed between each food, go eat at your mother’s.” I’m not quite that bad off…

    Also, I like your dad’s nickname for you.

  44. Manic Mommy

    When Andy’s away, I revert to strange single behavior I exhibited while living alone for five years – wash floor at 11:00 pm? Okay.

    The other Leanne is right; I would love a wife. I probably wouldn’t make her put out as often, either.

    Still crushing on Otto.

  45. mimbles

    Mir, I’ve been reading for a while and I can’t actually remember whether I’ve commented before or not, but seeing you addressed as Mim has dragged me out of lurkdom. We’re clones, clearly, I too am the bachelor in my relationship (looks like it must have been quite a big batch of clones), but the clinching factor has to be that my short version name is Mim, derived from Miriam :D

  46. Tracey

    Think you’ve now got enough anecdotal evidence to prove that it doesn’t necessarily matter how long you’ve been married, if your spouse is away it’s very easy to fall into slack mode when it comes to cooking etc. (Lack of appreciation factor?) My husband has worked away a lot for the past 10 years (out of 18 married), and when he’s away for more than a few nights (sometimes it was weeks at a time), I’d get so lazy with the dinners. Frozen pizzas for the kids, and I’d get one of those TV dinners that we usually scoff at for me.
    I have always blamed the division of labour thing in our house (him = breadwinner, me = a rather undomestic SAHM) meaning that I was just totally sick of cooking, but I think I also well and truly have that ‘bachelor gene’.

  47. fiona

    That is marriage at its best, when we rise to one another’s standards not fall. When you are together you do your best for each other, when apart…well… disgusting bachelordom here we come!!!!

  48. Cele

    I think marriage is a comfortable balance, and I’m really envious you two found it so darn early. It must have been that “beat myself against a brick wall period between dating and marriage” that sealed it for you.

  49. sumo

    So, wait… which of you is peeing in the kitchen?

  50. Tootsie

    Hey! The Skittles & Starburst combo pack was the bag I chose to raid pre-Halloween! Right on!

  51. Kelly

    Sadly I’m the bacholer too.. Although I didn’t quite realize it til I read this post.. Drats! The hubby is always cleaning around here. If he is ever home alone, does he do what most men would do (ve

  52. Kelly

    OOOOOOPPS.. 19mo at his best, always trying to interrupt mommy even if I am typing and not talking! Anyhoo, the hubby is always DEEP CLEANING if he’s left alone in the house for very long. I try not to leave him often b/c he does tend to like to toss things in the garbage that I am SURE I will need ….someday..

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