What is the problem with doing the dishes?

While serving our first couples mission at BYU-Hawaii, three different young married couples came for counseling with the same complaint: my husband (or my wife) doesn’t do the dishes on time. They leave dirty dishes in the sink for hours or days! The pile of dishes grew larger and larger and some became infested with maggots! But, when you think about it, was the problem really about dishes or something else?

In the missionary apartment assigned to my wife and me, we had a dishwasher. The dishwasher was about 180 cm tall, left-handed, gray hair, and wore glasses, and looked a lot like me! My wonderful companion likes to cook and that took about 20-30 minutes for a nice evening meal. And I learned that doing the dishes takes about 6 minutes. What does that have to do with mental health?

What is something more that we can do? What can we do differently?

  • What if I volunteered to wash dishes even if it’s not my turn?
  • What if I make a plan for the future but focus on what I need to do today?
  • What if I trust the Lord and turn my worries over to Him?
  • What if I keep relationships appropriate and develop healthy emotional connections?
  • What if I see the good in others despite their weaknesses and my weaknesses?
  • What if I keep on doing good every day even when I’m physically, emotionally, or spiritually tired?

In Adjusting to Missionary Life, there are several invitations to do something more that applies to us all:

  • Befriend your companion. Share ideas, serve each other, help each other, forgive each other.
  • Help someone else. Smile at people, help them out, and offer service.
  • Listen to understand and offer support and encouragement.
  • Plan well each night so the next morning will be positive and productive.
  • Review your plan with the Lord in prayer. Write down promptings or ideas that come to mind as you pray, and prepare to act on them.
  • Cheerfully do what you can and let God make up the difference.
  • Focus on helping and ministering to others.
  • Compliment others often. Thank them for things you appreciate.
  • Find ways to serve others. Look beyond your own feelings of discomfort and minister to those who are in need of a kind word, an act of charity, or friendship.

Then wake up and do something more than dream of your mansion above.
Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure, a blessing of duty and love.
(Hymns, 1985, number 223).

And, by the way, I will be happy to help with your dishes!

[Note: The ideas and suggestions contained in these articles are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a qualified mental health professional. In addition, if you are experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please seek medical or mental health assistance immediately.  In the U.S., call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or use the Lifeline Chat at 988lifeline.org/chat/. Services are free and confidential.]