How a Simple System Squashed My Marriage’s Biggest Cleaning Spat

We’ve got a good thing going, my husband and I. Our homekeeping is a pretty solid division of labor. I cook, he does the dishes. I’ll spend time during the week vacuuming and tidying up all over, and once a week he handles all the laundry. What I’m saying is, our cleaning routine works for us. Mostly. There is one thing we never could seem to see eye to eye on…

Let me paint a picture for you: I work from home which basically means that I spend my entire day at our dining room table, working at a laptop while moving from mugs of coffee or tea to glasses of water. Not just moving, but alternating. There’s a morning coffee, then water with lunch, then usually another coffee or tea at the top of the afternoon. Then I might switch back to water later. And maybe even cap it off with another coffee after dinner if I’m pulling an all-nighter at my “desk.” If I grabbed a new glass for every drink, we’d go through a lot of dishes. So, you know… I just rinse and reuse one mug and one glass and leave the pair of them out on the counter during the day. Or, I used to, I should say. Before the new system.

Before the new system, my countertop collection of “I’m still using that” glassware was nothing but a nuisance to my husband. Where I saw economic resourcefulness, he saw clutter. Without a doubt, he’d come home from work and stash my glasses away in the dishwasher. Which, you know, defeats the whole purpose of me trying to use the same glass all day.

Enter: The Kitchen Purgatory System

The simple solution to our woes? Kitchen purgatory. It’s a lot like that clothes chair in the bedroom that everyone seems to keep: It’s a designated place to put not-clean, but not-yet-spent glasses. Leaving something in the kitchen purgatory area is a symbol of intention: I’m not leaving this here because I’m lazy, I’m leaving it here because I’m going to use it again.

All that the kitchen purgatory system requires is intention and a footprint. Your version of kitchen purgatory might be a tray or even just an out-of-the-way corner. Our purgatory is a special towel—it stays stretched out on the counter next to the sink during my workday hydration sessions, but it’s easy enough to tuck away on the weekends or when we need the counter space.

You should try it. It’s amazing how such a simple scheme can squash your spousal spats.

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