Dear Maria,

Do you make your bed every day? My husband insists that we do, but I always end up doing it. Some days, I let it go and wait for him to do it. I figure, if it’s so important to him, he can take care of it, right? But then I see the unmade bed later in the day, and I know he doesn’t like it, so I break down and do it. Do you think the bed needs to be made every day? If not, how can I convince my husband that it’s okay to leave the bed unmade?

Signed,

Rumpled and Resentful

Dear Rumpled,

Yes, I pretty much make our bed every day. I didn’t used to, as I grew up in a 2-story house, so it didn’t matter if you made the bed because nobody was going to see it (and better yet my mom never made me!). The master bedroom of the house I live in now opens onto the living room, so I make the bed. I confess, it took me a while to get into this habit. Now, I realize that I like the look of it. (My husband will smile as he reads these words, because, like your husband, he was the made-bed advocate in our house for a long time. You could say I came around to his way of doing things. At least on this issue!)

I think your question isn’t as much about the value of making the bed on a daily basis, as it is about how the two of you are resolving the issue. If you’re making the bed only to make him happy, that motivation will lead to resentment. On the other hand, if you find value in a made bed, then do it for that reason. Or leave it unmade. Whatever you do, make it your choice and not only to avoid conflict with your spouse. Making the bed, and who does it, shouldn’t be a big deal in a marriage.

If, however, there are multiple instances of you being left with housework that your husband wants done and doesn’t contribute to, then I suggest you have a sit-down with him and divvy up the jobs. The simmering resentment you’re currently feeling will boil over if you don’t. Marriage is a series of discussions, negotiations, and compromises. Talking about simple things like making the bed can help make bigger, more substantive discussions easier. So, making the bed and who does it isn’t really a small thing after all—it’s a daily reminder of the connection you share with your partner.

Here’s a piece of advice that has saved our marriage more than one time: “Whoever is loading the dishwasher (making dinner, loading the car, making the bed, etc.), is doing it right.” Share the load, keep talking, and appreciate your partner’s efforts. Here’s an article that says it’s a good idea to NOT make the bed. So, show him this letter, and the article. That should get the conversation started!