I chanced upon an advice column by Mrs. Socorro Ramos, the founder of National Bookstore. A woman who was getting married was seeking advice about her fiancé. She said that she’s a very neat person, to the point of being O.C. (obsessive-compulsive), while her fiancé is a slob, and was worried that she would be miserable when she begins to share a home with him. Would she be able to bear with his sloven ways? Should she break up her engagement now before it’s too late?
Her advice to this woman hit me hard. While I am not particularly neat or organized, I consider myself to be a more tidy person than John. He has many virtues, but being neat is not one of them. Sometimes, he leaves a trail of pieces of clothing – shoes and socks on the floor, then his shirt, his pants - in the distance between the front door and our bedroom. I don’t think he would appreciate more details than this. Early in our relationship, he promised that he would be less sloppy when we would have children, but our children have been born, have grown up and have gotten married, with one having two children of her own, and I still trip over John’s shoes.
Mrs. Ramos advised this distressed woman to think of all the good qualities that her fiancé possesses, especially those that made her think of him as the man of her dreams. She also asked her to think of other negative traits – aside from being a slob – that would make her want to give him up. If his negative character is stronger than his better qualities, then by all means, cancel the engagement now. But if the reasons she fell in love with him in the first place are stronger than his sloppy ways, then she could consider marrying him. She could keep peace and romance in her household by resigning herself to picking up after him. Each time she picked up a piece of clothing from the floor, she should say, “I love you, (name of her fiancé).”
I told John about this advice column and the wonderful advice that Mrs. Ramos gave, and told him that I have been following her admonition, and that now, as I kick his shoes to where I won’t trip over them, and pick up his socks, his shirt (and sometimes his shorts or brief, and his pants, I cheerfully declare, with each piece of clothing that I throw into the laundry basket, “I love you, John.”
This ritual has been going on for months, and once or twice (okay, maybe a few times), John has heard me give the same advice whenever the topic of neatness or sloppiness crops up.
The other night, he was home earlier than I was, and as soon as he saw me, he picked up one sock, and I heard him say, “I love you, John.” He looked for the other sock, picked it up and repeated, “I love you, John.”
He is funny. It’s one of his virtues and for that, how can you not love this man? I love you, John.