The Love Fail

It’s the end of the week and time for a “marriage situation” post.  We’ll post the situation today and its biblical solution tomorrow. As always  my comments will be normal shading and Paul’s will be bolded. This week we write about a somewhat normal occurrence within any close relationship. Marriage usually is not made up of big sacrificial moments of love, but of ordinary moments in which we love…well, ordinarily (see Marriage Matters). What happens when, despite your best intentions, you have a love fail? So without further ado…


The Love Fail

“I love you babe.”

“I love you too.”

“Yes, but I love you so much that I promise never to do laundry again. . .”



Here’s this week’s situation. It was one of those Saturdays where Liz works all day at the hospital and I work all day watching the boys. When nap time finally came around I was tempted to surf the internet, but decided to find some way to show love for Liz. . .something she would really notice. So I turned my attention to the laundry, knowing that Liz planned to concern herself with it when she got home. Well, past experience has shown me that the dryer is a no-win appliance–something always shrinks, fuzzes, pills, or disappears. So I decided just to do a bunch of wash and let Liz worry about the drying. So I threw a bunch of dish towels (an accident I swear), normal towels, jeans, dress shirts, a dress or two and whatever else I found lying around in the laundry room baskets that were more or less the same color into the washer. As it turns out, “this too is vanity and vexation of spirit.” There are things that shouldn’t be washed at all and things that shouldn’t be washed together, and all this is a mystery to me to this day. So on the day in question, I had no concept of this truth and when Liz came home, I surreptitiously pointed out my feat of sacrificial love. Unfortunately, once she opened the washer I heard encouraging things mumbled like “grease stains,” “delicate cycle,” and “probably ruined.”


From my perspective, I was initially thrilled to hear that Paul had done a load of laundry. I mean, how sweet, right? How thoughtful. In that moment I was so thankful for the husband that God had given me. And that sentiment lasted the whole way up the stairs and into the laundry room. But as I opened the washer and saw in the same glance both the dish towel I had used to clean up a recent grease spill and the cotton dress I had worn the previous Sunday, the feeling quickly evaporated and in its place was left a dull sense of misfortune and frustration.

So how should I respond to Paul’s “love fail”? And how should I deal with Liz’s disappointment? Read our answer here, in “The Love Fail II.


  • hannah says:

    Well first off Liz, its a great way to get a new dress. I think it was a great example of an everyday attempt to love in a practical way. Of course we can always learn how to do so better-or how to show it another way. I love how you stated at the beginning about the ordinary moments of love. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Elizabeth Elizabeth says:

      Ha! I told Paul about your comment and he laughed. So if I want new clothes I should ask him to do more laundry : )

  • Erin says:

    Well, I think it’s safe to say this was an intentional “mistake” perpetrated with the hope that you would beg him to never help with the laundry again! Love may be sweet, but revenge is sweeter!!
    Just kidding.
    In the heat of the moment, that might have been the first thing in my mind, but as my uncle & aunt once told us: There will be times in marriage (especially early on) that it will seem like the only logical explanation to your spouse’s behavior is that he/she hates you and is trying to make you miserable. In reality, your spouse probably isn’t even aware that they hurt you in any way… they might just be doing things “the way they’ve always done them” or they might even be trying to do you a favor. Sometimes you have to assume they love you. Give them the benefit of the doubt.
    So for the wife, I say: Don’t treat it as a love fail. Go ahead and beg him never to do laundry ever again, but sincerely thank him for being considerate and for going out of his way to show you he loves you. Keep in mind that you’re not the only one disappointed by the situation – his sacrifice of time and the effort to do something outside of his “norm” was real – so he may actually be MORE disappointed than you are by how it turned out.
    For the husband, the temptation might be to think (or say!), “What an ingrate! See if I ever do any housework around here anymore if this is how it’s received!” (pride/self-protecting) Or, “I’m such a failure! What’s the use trying – I can’t do the simplest thing to help; my wife probably hates me right now!” (self-pity/self-protecting) But I recommend a humble apology and reassertion that the misguided act was done in an effort to show love plus a willingness to be vulnerable by asking either for either a.) instructions/explanation of how to do it the right way so that next time it will actually be helpful, or b.) a list of suggestions: things you could do for her that would make her feel loved (not everybody receives love through “acts of kindness” or whatever that’s called).
    Sorry so long! Looking forward to reading “the correct answer” tomorrow :)

    • Elizabeth Elizabeth says:

      Lots of good thoughts Erin! And I love the advice that your aunt and uncle told you : ) So true! (and hard to remember in a moment of frustration : )

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