A Dishwasher Saved My Marriage: How Chores Nearly Tore One Couple Apart

24 April 2023 | BY

Here’s how dirty dishes almost caused one couple to break up, but thankfully their therapist had some golden advice.

A Dishwasher Saved My Marriage: How Chores Nearly Tore One Couple Apart

Finally moving in with the love of your life is a huge milestone most look forward to, and for Stella and Melvin who had been dating for almost a decade, moving into their new BTO and starting their life together as a married couple was a natural segue into their happily ever after.

But little did they know that life in their forever home would just spell the beginning of their marital struggles, and the realities of daily life would put their marriage to the test. Here’s how dishwashing almost drove one married couple to the brink of divorce.

Different living habits

Stella and Martin’s relationship trajectory was just like any other couple with a decade’s worth of dates under their belt. But like most couples with traditionally Asian parents, living together was something they’d never experienced before saying “I Do”. Naturally, it wasn’t until they moved into their 4-room BTO that all of their quirks and “patterns” started to surface.

HDB BTO KitchenImage for illustration only.
Image credit: @hk.idstudio

For one, there were seismic differences in how they preferred to function at home. Stella was someone you’d label a bit of a neat freak. Dirty dishes in the sink were one of her biggest pet peeves for fear of ants and roaches making their way into her newly renovated kitchen. Melvin on the other hand, was your typical guy who was more than happy to leave the dishes in the sink until that dirty plate mountain caused a shortage of plates and cutlery.

For the first almost 6 months of their marriage, Stella took the reins chore-wise, making sure that every dish would be washed and dried at the end of every night. A spotless kitchen made her feel more at ease in her own home and helped her mentally rest.

A Dishwasher Saved My Marriage: How Chores Nearly Tore One Couple Apart - Dirty Dishes In SinkImage for illustration only.
Image credit: @joyfullittlesnippets

But with both of them working full-time, taking on the bulk of the chores around the house was an added pressure for Stella who mentioned that coming home felt like the start of yet another job she had to get done.

She thought that helping out around the house would come naturally to Melvin, but even when the couple hosted game night with their close friends every week, Stella would be the one tasked to clear the mess in the house after. While she’d be busy tackling the dirty dishes that constantly built up in the sink, Melvin would be unwinding with a game of Call of Duty.

Confronting her husband about the issue

All of this only fuelled her frustration and meal times became a point of contention for her because Melvin would take no hints. The couple did engage a weekly part-time cleaner for the general house cleanliness, but Stella still found herself unable to deal with a sink full of dirty dishes for the rest of the week as Melvin would leave extra dishes in the sink to make the most out of what he was paying for the cleaner.

With tension around the house growing day by day, Stella decided to confront her husband about his lack of initiative, but he was insistent that there wasn’t a need to wash plates every day. On the other hand, Melvin felt that Stella was being way too uptight, and this only led to more frustration and tension in their relationship. 

Therapist had suggested a dishwasher

A washing roster was something Stella had brought up as a solution to fighting over the dishwashing. Each one would be responsible for washing and cleaning all dishes for their allocated days in a week, but Melvin wasn’t receptive to the idea.

Days passed, and they continued to argue about the dishes. It seemed like such a small thing, but it had become a symbol of all the other problems in their marriage. They both felt unappreciated and disrespected, and they couldn’t see a way to move forward.

A Dishwasher Saved My Marriage: How Chores Nearly Tore One Couple Apart - Couples TherapyImage for illustration only.
Image credit: Priscilla Du Preez

It wasn’t until they attended a couple’s counselling session that they were introduced to the idea of getting a dishwasher.

While the therapist highlighted some other deep-seated issues that were contributing to the friction in the house, the suggestion of a dishwasher was a simple solution to help save both Stella and Melvin’s time and effort – making dishwashing less of an abhorred chore.

A Dishwasher Saved My Marriage: How Chores Nearly Tore One Couple Apart - Electrolux DishwasherImage credit: @lifeonthe17th

So the couple went to their nearest Courts and picked up an Electrolux dishwasher that they could have fitted into their current kitchen cabinet setup. It did cost the couple around $2,000 for the dishwasher and making some small adjustments to their cabinets but they noticed that their investment started to pay off fast.

Stella noticed that Melvin took pride in loading the dishwasher; to him, it was like a game of how many dirty dishes and cutlery he could optimise each wash cycle. Based on best practices, the couple also didn’t rinse off grime before loading the dishwasher, they just ran an additional cleaning cycle once they were done with their washing.

And for Stella, taking out the clean dishes was far easier than washing dirty. She found the process therapeutic and was happy that all the dirty dishes were nowhere in sight at the end of every day.

How a dishwasher saved their marriage

Even though Stella and Melvin thought they knew everything about each other when they got married, it wasn’t until they started living together under the same roof that they learnt each other’s “new” quirks.

In an ideal world, no married couple would risk their marriage for the sake of chores, but the everyday demands of life and the emotional toll it takes can really wear you down and lead to resentment towards your partner.

It may sound incredulous, but getting a dishwasher was a game-changer for them. It helped them avoid those daily arguments and work towards a happier, healthier relationship. Of course, they’re not at 100% happiness yet, but they’re in a much better place than when they first moved into their BTO.

Read other Singaporean homeowner perspectives here:

Cover image credit: Elahe Motamed, @joyfullittlesnippets

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