April 23, 2012

How Doing Yard Work Improved My Marriage

My husband and I lived in apartments for the first four years of marriage. We were in grad school and it just worked best financially…cuz as all of you homeowners know, owning a home can be costly (especially when something breaks!).

One of the things my husband kept saying to me when we moved into our home was: “OK, so you’re going to help me with yard work, right?”

Uh. Riiiiiight.

See, when I was growing up, my mom did the “inside” chores and my dad did the “outside” chores. So naturally I assumed it would be the same with my own marriage. I’d clean the kitchen and the bathrooms, and my husband would mow the lawn and pull the weeds.

But my husband did not agree.

Fast forward a year after owning a home. I still hadn’t helped him once in the yard. Granted, I was completing my Master’s degree and spent every Saturday in the library studying. But as of last August, I no longer had that excuse.

But I still didn’t helped him, and eventually Mike stopped asking.

And I was relieved.

Then, last fall, we somehow got talking about the division of labor around our home. I think I was complaining about how I needed more help around the house. (Newsflash: Lindsay is not perfect after all! Ha!)

And then Mike gently reminded me that I’d never followed through with my “promise” to help with yard work.


He was right. Here I was asking for his help, and yet, I had failed help him.  

So finally, I did.

And I discovered some stuff in the process.

His Love Language
I realized one of my husband’s love languages is quality time. But that quality time doesn’t look like mine. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my quality time means I learn every detail and we chat face to face about deep stuff.

My husband’s is shoulder-to-shoulder time just spent next to each other, working together toward a common goal.

It’s different than mine, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less valid.

And I showed him love by helping him with the common goal of yard work. Not glamorous. But love all the same.

What He Does
I realized he does a lot more than I give him credit for. Just doing my portion (picking up the branches he’d trimmed) tired me out and took me two hours…but he’d been doing double that work. It reminds me of the saying about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes; when you do it, it gives you a greater appreciation for that person and what he does.

I’m Kinda Selfish
When I saw just how much my husband does in addition to working full time, paying our bills, being a church deacon, teaching music lessons, fixing stuff around the house, and being an amazing husband and friend, well, I realized my own selfishness in not helping him with the yard sooner. Sure, I had certain expectations in my own head about what I should and shouldn’t have to do in our partnership. But that’s just it—it’s a partnership.

The next time my husband asks me for help with something, I want to listen and respond instead of dragging my feet and claiming “my right” to say no.

Your Turn: Has there been a time in your life when an expectation you held hurt a relationship (marriage or otherwise)? What have you learned about someone else through walking a mile (figuratively speaking!) in his/her shoes?


  1. First, a confession: I have never mowed a lawn. Never.

    But, redemption: I actually love yard work. My parents live on a little acreage and I get excited to go home and help my dad with stuff. Maybe it's 'cause I simply enjoy spending time with my dad. But there's also something about being outside using muscles I really don't otherwise. :)

    I've definitely had expectations that have hurt relationships...the expectation that the other person is just like me...or that they should automatically know what's going on inside my head. Or even that, possibly unknowingly, I somehow expected them to be perfect. Not cool. But the good thing is, somehow God (usually in conjunction with the other person!) gets it through to me that my expectations stink...and I must adjust...and eventually all is well. :)

    1. That's cool that yard work = time with your daddy! :) And yes, I've experienced some of those expectations too. Expecting people to be like me...yep, that's a big one.

  2. After almost eleven years of marriage, four children, two homes and owning a business togther, there have been hundreds of times my expectations (and his) have been a struggle! Ironically, my husband owns a landscaping/lawn care business. :) What I've learned is that communication is key, and once something has been communicated, it needs to be respected.

    Filling each other's love language needs is also very important. When we aren't meeting those needs it leaves us drained and cranky. It's usually an act of sacrafice, but it's worth it.

    Because my husband works outside all day long, one of the ways I've found to bless him is to have our yard mowed when he comes home from a long day of work. It's his "job" to do the outside work, because I manage the inside, but offering that little gesture of love goes a long, long way. When I walk into the kitchen and I've found that he's done the dishes, or when I go into the laundry room and see a pile of clean clothes that he's washed, it goes a long, long way for me, too.

    1. Communication + respect = happy marriage. Got it. :) Thanks for your insight, Gabrielle!

  3. Linds, my mom always did inside chores and my dad outside, except for the garden and we all got stuck with that crap. That's why I'd pull bean plants up by the root and cover them with dirt to hide them. Can't pick beans on a dead plant! LOL

    My hubby does all the outside work, and really doesn't want any help. He doesn't trust me with the lawnmower, but that may because my dad told him about the one time I mowed the lawn. Not good. Not good at all. But that's okay with me. I hate yard work.

    I'm a when-I-say-do-it-I-mean-now kind of gal and when I had honey-do projects and my DH didn't get to them right away it caused serious fights. I learned: I'm selfish. My defense: You knew this going in. LOL We've matured since then. A little. Ha!

    Excellent post, friend. :)

    1. I love your defense. That's hilarious! And blah on gardening. Pretty sure I have a black thumb.

    2. Okay, now I really want to hear about the one time Jess mowed her lawn!! :)

  4. I love doing yardwork! I just don't have the time for it anymore. Ugh.

    Every house we've owned has had a BIG backyard which is great when you have little kids. But once they are teens, they do not want to help out with the yardwork. So, that means mom and dad are stuck with most of it.

    Since I enjoy it, it can be fun. But not in summer.

    Note to self: the next house will have a small backyard. Just enough for some grass and flowers and a patio for entertaining. Other than that? Ha! NO way.

    I learned alot about my husband when he graduated from the Marine Corps. I learned how strong he really is under pressure. It takes a lot to be a Marine and even more to be an honorable Marine. I admire him for that.

    1. Yeah, yard work in an Arizona summer does not sound fun. Well, as I've expressed in this post, yard work at ANY time is not fun. But in summer? Yikes. At least we have a pool to cool us off afterward!

  5. Okay, I'm completely blushing here because I've never mowed a lawn...ever. I don't even know how to start the mower. Thankfully my husband enjoys it, so I think I'll stay off the hook for a long time. :)

  6. That's OK, Sarah...I haven't either! Mike just wanted help with trimming the trees and bushes. We have a lot! :D

  7. Gwynly's love language is quality time, so I've learned to hang out with him more when he's doing his thing. What's cool is that it works both ways. He's started hanging out with me and lending a hand when I'm fixing dinner, one of my least favorite chores. Gotta love a guy who can cook--even if he's better at it than I am. =)

    1. Aw, that's so sweet! My guy will cook if need be...if I provide him the recipe and all the ingredients. He did a lot of cooking when I was in grad school.

      Some of the best times are just spending time accomplishing a goal together.

  8. It’s nice that you got to understand your husband more by doing yard work with him. It really pays to know that guys generally do things quite differently, and that they express themselves a bit less. It can be infuriating at times, but at least you know the next time you go out to do something, he’s reaching out to you, whether on a date or plain old yard work.