Dirty Dishes and Love

Dirty Dishes and Love


(Love) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things   (1 Cor. 13:7)

One afternoon my wife, Peggy, shared with me her thoughts about an article she read titled “She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes by the Sink.”  I could feel myself getting defensive.  This has been an issue of contention in our marriage for almost 30 years.  More so now since we do not have a dishwasher.

The author explained he never realized how much leaving a dish by the side of the sink bothered his ex-wife.  It was an issue that meant nothing to him, but everything to her.  She didn’t want to be her husband’s mother and tell him what to do and how to do it.  The author never figured out until it was too late.  It wasn’t about the dishes, it was about respect.

Peg took it in a different direction than I had expected.  Of course, she did talk about how my leaving dirty dishes in the sink bothered her more than I fully appreciated.  But it would have been worse had this act made her feel disrespected.  There were too many other areas where I made her feel respected to get bent out of shape about the dishes.  Still, it annoyed her that I didn’t fully understand how much dirty dishes upset her.

The article launched us into a conversation about our own “dishes left in the sink” issues.  It was a calm, loving conversation.  The kind we couldn’t have discussed this way 20 years ago.  Still, after 30 years of a good and loving marriage, there were still issues to discuss and resolve.

The conversation didn’t stop there.  We also talked about the issues that irritated us, but we blew off because they were not that important.  Peggy looked at me and said, “I didn’t realize that annoyed you, I’ll stop…” But she didn’t need to stop it. It wasn’t important enough to stop.  All relationships must have some level of endurance.

A seminary professor once commented, “Marriage isn’t about love.  It’s about endurance.”  Thankfully he does work for Hallmark, but he has a point.  The older I get the more I find beauty in how we endure each other.  Of course, our relationship isn’t only about endurance.  But I doubt we would experience the depth of love we have without it.

I thought I might share the original article and invite you to consider a conversation with your spouse or partner.


  • What are your “Dish left in the sink” issue?  The critical thing you need from your spouse/partner to show mutual respect.

  • What are the issues you don’t like but can blow off?  Sometimes it’s nice to hear how people are patience with us.

  • Most importantly, how do we discuss the issues and agree to move forward?  How do we hold each other accountable in love for our own needs?

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