The Playroom: Wife v. Husband


Author: Maraya Steadman '89, '90MBA

Maraya Steadman

I am lying in bed. It’s 7 o’clock in the morning. The dog woke me up sometime after midnight and again at 4:30, and the night before it was my 3-year-old. But it’s a welcome interruption to be called by a child for a cuddle in the middle of the night. It happens less and less, and I don’t mind. But the dog?

So I am tired and I am lying here past the time I should be up, and I hear my son,

“Sarah, guess what? Dad’s underwear was on the floor and I smelled it.”

My daughter, like any girl on the planet, ignores him. So, he repeats himself with that goofy laugh guys do when they are listening to sports radio talk shows or they notice a pretty girl or they see their dad’s underwear on the floor.

My son at age 6 thinks underwear is hysterical. Underwear on his head, underwear in his sister’s drawer, underwear on the floor. Really, all I have to do is look my son in the eye and blurt out, “Underwear!” and he is on the floor laughing.

And as I am lying there listening to all this and I’m tired and I’m cranky, I think,

“Geez, can’t the man ever throw his underwear down the laundry chute?”

And I know that if I go downstairs and start in on my husband (because I am, after all, tired and cranky) about not picking his dirty shorts up off the floor we’ll end up in a dispute.

Wife v. Husband.

Me with photo exhibits detailing all the days I picked up his dirty underwear off the floor and I’ll have date stamps in the corner of the days as they go by. Day one, underwear on the floor. Day two, still on the floor and there is my son laughing, and then by day four there is a picture of the dog with shredded underwear in his teeth.

I will have spreadsheets to go with the pictures and all these exhibits and I will state my case, “He doesn’t pick up his dirty underwear, and if I don’t do it, it never gets done.”

During my cross-examination the attorney will ask, “Mrs. Steadman, during the 15 years of your marriage have you ever witnessed your husband putting laundry in the laundry chute?”

As I try to sputter a “Yes, but,” the attorney says,

“Yes or no, Mrs. Steadman, answer the question.”


“And when you saw your husband putting the laundry in the chute have you at any time seen a pair of his dirty shorts going down the chute?”

Speaking faster this time, “Yes, but he’s only done it like once in the past month!”

Again, but louder this time the attorney states, “Yes or no, Mrs. Steadman, answer the question!”


At this response, the attorney will throw back his head punch his fists in the year and yell, “Aha! You see, I do throw my underwear down the chute!” Then he will start to wiggle his butt around the kitchen singing his “I win” song.

And I will grumble something about how I should have married a plumber because then at least the shower would work.

But I do concede that sometimes my husband throws his laundry down the chute. Sometimes I do it. Sometimes he makes the lunches, sometimes I do. Making the coffee in the morning, taking out the garbage, feeding the dogs, getting the kids home from practice. Sometimes it’s me, and sometimes it’s him.

And I think that’s the way it should be. Sometimes you and sometimes me. Together, somehow, getting it all done.

Maybe I should just learn something from son. Maybe I should just learn to laugh about underwear.

Maraya Steadman, who lives in a Chicago suburb, is a stay-at-home mother of three children. She can be reached at

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