Jazz and I have been in the midst of an all out “all-purpose cleaner” war. You know, all-purpose cleaner. The stuff you spray down your counters with when you clean. We have been having a slight disagreement about what product we should be using in our home. You see, I am a little bit of a skeptic. Also a little bit of a hippie. I am terrified that the chemicals inside those bottles of all-purpose cleaner (or any type of cleaner that uses chemicals) are going to kill us, or give us dementia and cancer. And let’s not even mention what they do to the earth. In my opinion, it is not necessary to use chemicals for everyday cleaning. I mean, on occasion, for a tough clean or to keep all the white clothing I wear bright, I can permit a little chemical action (I am no purest). But for everyday cleaning I had been making my own all-purpose cleaner out of white vinegar, a couple drops of dish soap and some essential oil (to cover up the vinegar smell –because Jazz HATES the smell of vinegar). And I was feeling pretty proud of myself. We were saving money, saving the earth, effectively cleaning the house, and not dying.
Until one day…
We were doing one of our “oh my god, friends are coming over and our house is trashed” kind of cleaning binges when Jazz just disappeared. Twenty minutes later, he walks in the door. I was not particularly paying attention because my head was in the closet putting away piles of laundry. I walk into the kitchen when the smell overwhelms me.
Is that bleach?
What are you doing?
Cleaning the kitchen.
Yep. That other crap you were using doesn’t clean and it stinks.
What?!! It cleans perfectly well and smells better than BLEACH!!!!! (Stacy walks away with steam spewing from her ears)
It’s fine. He just wants to get the house really clean at the moment. It’s not for everyday. I’ll just make some more vinegar cleaner. It’s fine.
The next morning, Willow is sitting at the table, waiting to be fed, while our new bleach cleaner is being misted all over the table in front of her.
What are you doing?
Cleaning the kitchen.
In front of our daughter?
You are going to kill us!!!!!
I got so mad, I hid the bleach cleaner in a conspicuous location after Jazz left the house. But, when I went to go make a new batch of my healthy, non-toxic, vinegar based, all-purpose cleaner, I found that Jazz had thrown out the spray bottle I used to make it.
It would be so nice if the person you are in a relationship with was exactly like you. That they shared all the same values and had the same style and liked the same food. It would be convenient if you each loved what the other person loved and just wanted to spend your time doing and learning about the things that the other person loves to do. And in some cases, this can be partly true but in most cases it is not.
There is an unhealthy and misplaced idea in our culture that in order to have a successful relationship you need to be similar people. And if one individual changes, the relationship is in danger (hence the term, “you’ve changed” in any romantic drama). But this idea disrespects the humanity of the person you love. Every human is different and a healthy relationship is seeing all there is about a person (even the things you don’t like or agree with) and respecting them enough to let them be the way they are without feeling you need to change them (or change who you are to be like them). Besides, if that idea was true, we [Jazz and I] are in some serious trouble, because you can tell by just looking at us that we are our own individuals. Jazz dresses straight out of an episode off “the Fresh Prince of Bellaire” (if you’re too young to understand, that means he wears bright, vibrant colors and patterns and picks his hair) while I am a bit of a minimalist and literally own nothing but black and white.
Yesterday evening I came home from work. The house was spotless, the laundry was done and Jazz and had been busting his ass all day to get some important work done. I felt immeasurably grateful for all he had done so that our weekend might be spent with more hours of time together (and let’s be honest– watching some Netflix) rather than cleaning the house. Then he said he bought something for me, and he handed me a bottle of all-purpose cleaner.
What is this?
It’s Green Works. It’s a “green” all-purpose cleaner.
Because you don’t like using the bleach cleaner.
Yeah, but I really want to use my vinegar cleaner.
I thought this would be a good middle ground.
Honestly, I was still a little frustrated, ( the same people who Green Works make the bleach cleaner after all!) but given a moment to think about it, I felt adored. Jazz was acting out of love and respect. He wanted the house “clean” but he also wanted me to feel safe and heard. By accepting this gift of Green Works I was showing love and respect to Jazz, understanding that using vinegar to clean our counters made him uncomfortable. It is things like the bottle of Green Works that is the key to successful relationships. Not that one person changes for what the other person wants or that both people try to be the same but rather that there is constant movement toward one another. A gravitational pull of love that can only result in generosity. An outpouring of grace upon grace upon grace. That both individuals compromise some of their desires in order to serve the other. That’s love. That is mutual respect.
I think it’s time to stock up on some Green Works.