Marriage is sometimes a chore

Published 1:44 am Saturday, October 4, 2008

I hate to admit it after all these years, but when my husband and I married, I couldn’t cook. I couldn’t iron. I’d never really cleaned house, not even my own bedroom. Those were important, necessary and time consuming jobs then, because we didn’t have as many conveniences as we do today.

I could blame my lack of knowledge on my mother who worked and almost always had household help. Those dear women who worked so hard cooking, cleaning and ironing for us spoiled me…

I didn’t blame my lack of household skills on my mother. I wasn’t that interested in learning, so I paid the consequences and learned the hard way. Unfortunately, so did my husband. I wonder how he put up with me, especially that first year.

One morning not too many days after we were married, he asked me to cook him an egg. “Over easy,” he said. I hadn’t a clue what he meant. My parents and I always had toast and cereal for breakfast. He was used to a hearty breakfast at an Army mess hall. I attempted to flip his egg over with a fork that first try. He’s never let me forget it.

While I struggled with ironing my own clothes to wear to work and church, he wisely stuck to his long-time habit of taking his army khakis and fatigues and white dress shirt to the laundry.

I had seen Lela, Alberta and Patience (in that order), fill a soft drink bottle full of water and top it with a little aluminum gadget dotted with holes, then sprinkle my skirts, blouses and dresses before they ironed them. Once I figured out how to set up my new ironing board, I attempted to do the same neat job they did with my clothes.

There was no air conditioning in our first apartment and summers got every bit as hot and humid there in Columbia, S.C., as they do today in south Alabama. I sweated and fretted over that ironing board for hours, trying to make my clothes look as neat as to what I was accustomed. Ironing became my least favorite household chore.

Eventually, though, I learned to iron to my satisfaction, although I never got brave enough to attempt Army khakis. I did tackle fatigues when absolutely necessary. They weren’t razor sharp, but met my husband’s approval.

My cooking struggles continued for years, but somehow my family thrived on meals I served them. As the years flew by, they even occasionally bragged on my cooking.

These days, I would say most brides know how to punch in a number on a microwave, toss clothes in and out of a washer and dryer, flip an egg over in a non-stick pan with a non-stick spatula and spray a fine mist of starch on a piece of clothing when they occasionally must pick up an iron.

Back in my newly married days, that would have been a dream come true.