This is just an idea. The basis for the premise is supported by 58 years of married life and a general sense that the application could find it’s way up and down the ladder of any basic relationship.
The method is simple yet complex. The material needed to do the job is small and inexpensive. The plan revolves around a clothes hamper. I thought of it yesterday when I carried the clothes hamper into the laundry room. I dumped them on the floor and began sorting. They had one thing in common; they were dirty and needed a thorough cleansing. I sat on a nearby chair and began thinking. “What would happen if we continued to pile our dirty clothes, soiled underwear, pajamas, towels and soggy socks on top of each other?” When the clothes hamper filled, we would begin pushing down on the stack to make more room. Eventually the lid would refuse to stay down and clothes would begin to fall from the top of the stack.
Now, just suppose we had a super sized clothes hamper that could hold all of our dirty clothes for one year. Stretch the imagination and envision a hamper so large that you could deposit all of your dirty clothes in it for 5 years or 10 or 50 years. Think of the stench that comes from all those years of dirt and sweat and soiled stuff. Ugh! What a mess!
There are two basic reasons why we wash our clothes each week. The dirty clothes need to be washed and we need clean clothes to wear. Socks that are not cleaned regularly can stand up in the closet. Pants that are never renewed are eventually beyond cleaning. The dirt, the smell, the germs, the works, do not need to stay in a loving home. This was the song we used to sing, “This is the way we wash our clothes, wash our clothes, wash our clothes; this is the way we wash our clothes so early in the morning.”
Now just pretend that all these dirty clothes are conflicts that arise between husband and wife. Instead of discussing them they just ‘throw them in the hamper’. This practice is reinforced by terms like, “I don’t want to talk about it,” or “Just shut up and don’t bring that up again.” On other occasions it may sound something like this, “Quit nagging me about it” and the offended party ‘clams up’ or exits the premises. This ‘stacking up of dirty underwear’ can go on and on, and eventually the hamper fills up and runs over with conflicts and disagreements that were never discussed. The older they are the more they stink. “Don’t bring that problem up again”, when it was never discussed in the first place. It was just thrown in the clothes hamper and never worked out. The whole place stinks!
About this time the idea comes, “Why don’t we just get a divorce?” While there are still feelings for one another, a back up plan is adopted – “Let’s go see a marriage counselor!” The appointment is made and the time arrives. The door to the counselor’s office is entered at a slow pace and with a heavy heart.
“Did you bring your clothes hamper”, he asked. We didn’t know you knew about our clothes hamper. We inquire, “Which one?” “The one you put all the years of troubles in – the arguments, the strife, the discord, the hurt and lack of forgiveness in! That’s the hamper we’ll need to begin with”
You say, “We brought it but we left it in the trunk.” It took both of us to carry it into the counselor’s office. He opened the lid and the awful stench filled the room. He worked his hand down deep into the hamper and retrieved some dirty linen that had been there since the first months of our marriage. He held it up and declared, “If you have any chance of saving your marriage, we’ll have to go through all this stuff, piece by piece.”
At this point both of you were thinking, “I’d rather have a divorce!” You strain as you envision the pain and struggle you have avoided in all those years. You see now the lack of wisdom and maturity you have missed by just putting discord and disagreements in the clothes hamper. You know now why you have grown farther apart rather than closer together through the years.
What would happen if all who read this column would just buy a new clothes hamper and put it in the middle of the den or living room. When relatives, friends or visitors come, they will say, “What’s that”, pointing to your new piece of furniture. You say, “It’s a clothes hamper. Don’t you know a clothes hamper when you see a clothes hamper?”
Lifting the lid they will seem rather shocked and declare, “Why, it’s empty!” “Yes,” you reply. “We empty it every night before we retire. That’s the reason we have been happily married for so long”.
Jesus said, “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they two shall be one flesh . . . What God has joined together, let not man put asunder (divorce)” (Matthew 19:5-6).
“Dear Lord, please give us more empty clothes hampers. In Jesus name, Amen.