"Washing dishes together strengthens our marriage," Joanne reflected.
Having not even been married a month, I listened with both ears and thought, "Ah, what an easy thing to do to strengthen something that already is fantastic."
My trip with Joanne that morning proved beneficial, even for just that piece of advice. Immediately, my little gray cells started moving in this logical progression on the drive home: Mr. B and I do not have a dishwasher, therefore we wash our dishes every day, therefore we can strengthen our marriage every night after dinner!
As we sat down to eat that night, I could hardly wait until we finished so I could try out this new marriage-strengthening supplement. At last, Mr. B put his napkin on his plate. I took a deep breath, and offered, "Want to help me wash dishes, love?"
Visions of great conversations and hearty laughing over dirty dishes and wet towels danced in front of me. We would become the greatest husband and wife ever, just because of a few dirty dishes!
Until Mr. B's voice broke the silence with a staccato and tired "no."
My forehead creased and I wondered how he could say no.
No to a good marriage, no to years of bliss, no to a steadfast covenant of love. What?! Could I be hearing right?
"Okay," I mumbled. "I'll do it by myself."
And I did. Grumbling and muttering.
After I finished the dinner dishes, I migrated to the couch grabbing at anything I could read to avoid confronting my frustration. Mr. B could see something was not right. Wisely, he asked what was wrong.
"You don't want to strengthen our marriage!" I blurted out.
"No, I just didn't want to do the dishes," he said.
The ensuing seconds of silence allowed me time to realize that my friend Joanne's words had created an expectation that I had failed to share with Mr. B. I then confessed all.
As a smile started to dawn on his face, he took me close and told me that if I had shared Joanne's advice with him from the start, we probably could have saved ourselves an hour of frustration and distance.
He was right. Now, a month later, we are still doing dishes, sometimes taking turns and sometimes doing them together. The difference now is that we passionately discuss whether our electric dishwasher should be white or stainless steel . . .when we get one, that is.
Catherine Baker is a graduate of Arizona State University and currently lives in Seattle, Washington. She got married in June and will share her experiences as a newlywed in a weekly column for WORLD on Campus.