Paul and I split the dishes, as I've mentioned. I end up with more, because I'm home during the day with the kids, and so I'm responsible for all the dishes they generate during that time, which I believe is fair; I also do my own dishes, of course, and any that I use making meals for the children. He is responsible for his own dishes, and for the dishes he uses when he makes dinner for the older kids. Whichever one of us makes dinner for the grown-ups, the other one does those dishes. We treat this as an agreement that, while not actually carved in stone, is at least written on stone in Sharpie marker.
When I do my share, I don't mention it. When he does his share, he mentions it. "I did the dishes!," he announces, leaving me in a quandary. If he did MY share for me, of course I would thank him--but that's not what's happening here. If he routinely thanked ME for doing MY dishes, then I guess I would thank him for doing his, too--but that's not what's happening here, either.
What IS happening here, I think, is that he's revealing what he doesn't realize he believes: that I'm only doing what I should be doing anyway, whereas he is doing something special, something that isn't really his job to do.
It has been suggested to me that I should be grateful for what he does do, since other men do less: look at our fathers' generation! our grandfathers' generation! They did SO MUCH LESS. I think that's like saying I should be grateful to a stranger for not mugging me, since there are other strangers who would. People should be compared not to people who are in flagrant disregard of what is fair and right, but to people who are in compliance with what is fair and right.
I may have gotten a little beyond the dishes problem here. This is what can happen with household matters: they seem like small things on paper, but they can represent larger issues. The problem comes when one partner sees them as symbolic of a larger issue, and the other partner sees it as a small thing. Paul: "I did the dishes!" Me: "Why not just MUG me while you're at it, 'Grandpa'?"
Life-improving products, part 4 - (Continued from part 1, part 2, and part 3.) Stearns Youth Life Vest (photo from Amazon.com). I’d been too scared to take the kids to any body of water oth...