It was the first week of the new month which meant it was time to review the monthly time sheets my wife is obligated to provide. It's true that my wife agreed to do time sheets kicking and screaming all the way. I had told her that time sheets are a staple in the world of business and that it would serve our purpose at home in running a tidy, efficient home.
So as was our custom we sat down together over a cup of tea and reviewed where her time was spent at home the previous month.
"I think you have too much free time," I said noting that almost half her time during the previous month had been spent with friends. "Don't you think that more time should be spent on household chores?"
My wife threw her tea mug at my head and just missed. It hit the kitchen wall and splattered into a thousand pieces. I acted non-plussed. "Well, I guess this means you'll have that much less free time this month. You've got to replace that mug and clean up that wall. If you've made some dents in the wall you'll need to call in a painter. And those funds will come out of your jewelry budget for the month."
My wife took a deep breath and said "I'm sorry for throwing the mug at you and missing. I need to get my fast ball back. I tried throwing a split-fingered cutter but obviously missed badly. Wait until next month when we have this meeting again."
I said "well there's no reason for you to get upset. We agreed that it would be good to see how you spend your time each month to see if you're responsibilities in keeping up our home life are being met. I use time sheets in my business life and I bill my clients accordingly."
"But you don't reimburse me for my time, now do you?" my wife said.
"This isn't a business, dear, it's our home. There's a lot of responsibility in taking care of our home and time sheets are simply a tool to let us know if your time is being well spent," I responded.
It had started several months earlier. I had come home one day after completing my monthly time sheets and thought it would be a good experiment to try at home. At first my wife was enthusiastic about it. She also wanted to know how she spent her time.
But when I got too serious about the exercise and told her that I would lock her out of the house if she didn't complete her time sheets on time this led to some friction. I have no idea why.
"I see that shopping for food and household goods took up twenty hours last month. Isn't there a way we can cut back on that time so that you can spend more time gardening?" I asked innocently.
"That's it," she said. "I'm at the end of my rope. From now on you will do the cooking, cleaning, the bill paying and I'll go get a job at the post office."
"Calm down," I said. "These time sheets are just guidelines. They're not meant to run your life. They're just tools. I use them in business to see how I'm spending my time and I truly believe that all homeowners would enjoy the same benefits."
"First of all, I'm not a business. You really need to get that through your head. I don't need to find efficiencies in the way I spend my time. All I need to do is put food on the table, clean sheets on the beds and manage our home. I don't stand to make a profit out of doing such chores. It's a sworn duty I have to you to do so. I do it out of love and affection, not out of any profit motive. Can't you understand that?"
I didn't respond immediately. I was on shaky ground and felt a need to defend my actions."But don't you think you could spend less time cooking meals and more on telling me what a good husband I am?"
That's when the second mug went flying. Fortunately, I saw it coming and ran like hell out of the house.