In our house, Bart does the dishes. Not only does he do the dishes, but he cleans out the sink, starts the dishwasher, and wipes off the counters. On Monday, I purchased some spiffy counter-cleaner-disinfectant-mutant-bacteria-strain-causing spray. After dinner, I said "Use this on the counters please. And let it sit sixty seconds before you wipe it up so that it will actually kill stuff." And you know what? He did. Why? Because he's awesome. (Also, because his fabulous father did the dishes in Bart's house growing up and Bart picked up the fine habit).
What is even more awesome is what I do while he does the dishes. While he rinses, scrubs, and loads, I do nothing. I lay on the couch and read a book or browse blogs or watch a movie. Bart has commented recently that it's very obvious that that is my absolute favorite time of day and he is so so right. I look forward to that time of evening all day long.
After working all day and then making dinner, I love being able to sit down and relax. I like knowing the kitchen is totally clean (except for an ice cream bowl or two that might mysteriously appear later in the evening). I feel so relieved knowing that my main responsibilities are done and that the rest of the evening is mine to do as a I wish (even though working out is sometimes something I feel more like I should do rather than something I want to do, but such is life. . . ).
It also helps that our living room is so much nicer now. Since we painted a month or so ago, bought a new bookcase, and hung pictures on the wall and above the fireplace, and bought a new stereo, it's a great room to be in. Before, it was my least favorite room in the house. Now I love being in here. Amazing what thirty bucks of paint can do (and a husband who will paint the fourteen foot walls).
Not only am I deeply appreciative of Bart's doing the dishes, I'm also really grateful that he doesn't expect me to talk to him or sit in the kitchen with him. As much as I enjoy talking and visiting with him and other people, I absolutely need time by myself to relax and to unwind. If I don't have a chance to sit down and do my own thing, by myself, for some period of time after dinner, I feel like the whole evening has raced by and I haven't had a chance to breathe.
I remember feeling this same way growing up about the time of night when my brothers went to bed. My two younger brothers are ten and eleven years younger than me and, once they'd gone to bed, the house felt so quiet and clean and peaceful. I love that feeling. I'm glad to have it now, and I'm sure I'll be a thousand times more grateful for it when I have kids of my own.