Love & Trash

When I think of love, I think of trash.

I’ve never believed in soul mates, not really. I believe in compatibility and commitment, in choice and work. I believe in the partnership of marriage — two people walking hand in hand not in an attempt to complete each other, but in an attempt to complete a purpose.

I believe these things are easy to forget.

Ken and I are far from romantic. We’re practical, choosing to acknowledge each other in the small daily rhythms of life. Me, the dishes, laundry, errands. Me, the maker of plans. He, the maker of phone calls (hallelujah) and sweeper of floors. He, the fixer of anything/everything broken.

And then there’s trash duty.

With every bag he ties, double knots, slings around his shoulder, I hear I love you.

My prince charming has never ridden in on a white horse wearing a knight’s armor, red rose clenched in his teeth. He arrives donning boxers of the plaid variety, with sometimes socks, and if so, holes. He pads into the kitchen on a Saturday morning, noon-ish, dogs scampering close behind, each of their manes disheveled from dreams.

He might find me grating cheese for our lunch, or feeding Scout pureed avocado, banana, berries. He might find me on the couch during a reading lesson with Bee, or attempting to finish the dining room table jigsaw puzzle in  a few stolen minutes.

He might find me in the sunroom hosting an impromptu dance party, or in the living room yelling about the mess.

But he will find me, and he will say those three lovely words with a peck on the cheek:

Need a break?

And I will sometimes return from those breaks – those rare moments when I sneak away for a luxurious book in bed – to a clean(er) kitchen, an emptied sink.

Glad Kitchen Pro trash bags on the counter, a sure sign that love is in the air.

When I visited India last fall, my new friend spoke of her arranged marriage. It took me twenty years to fall in love with him, she said. I was deeply unhappy for most of those years.

I asked what had changed, what had made her fall in love with him after all that time?

Her answer was simple: I just changed my mind about him, that’s all.

It is hard work to change your mind about someone. It is easy to survey your spouse at their worst and grow resentful. It is easy to watch grand sweeping romantic gestures in the movies, on your Instagram feed, on your neighbor’s front porch and wonder what it’s like to have a love so vibrant, so romantic, so celebratory.

It is easy to stop noticing the one who takes out the trash, and it’s easy to start wishing he’d just bring home flowers every now and then.

Last month, Ken was out of town for a week. When trash night rolled around, I bundled up the kids and we snuck out the back door to the side of the house, hauling bins down the driveway for a morning pick-up.

My knuckles cracked from the cold and as I pulled Scout in closer for warmth, the recycling bin blew over leaving a trail of cardboard, envelopes, paper towels down the street – confetti lost to the wind.

Love is harder than I thought.

Here, then, is what I’m getting at.

To love is to notice. It is to see the one taking out the trash, folding the whites, changing the oil, feeding the baby. It is resist the temptation to allow the division of labor to turn into division of hearts. It is to notice these small, great acts of ordinary service and to hear I love you each and every time.

It is to offer your own great acts of ordinary service and to say it back.

Tonight, as I type this, I hear the familiar rumble of the trash bin wheels echoing from the side of the house, Ken at the helm. It sounds a little like the hooves of a white horse, an armored knight.

It sounds a lot like love.



This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Glad – all opinions and text are mine. Grab your Kitchen Pro trash bag (53% more bag!) at Target.



  • ‘I love you’ is indeed (essentially, foundationally) all the little things, and being able to ask for flowers occasionally if that’s what you really need…I’m still working on that last part.

  • Oh,thank you so much for these words… needed in this moment. A little reminder of the wonder of love and grace and appreciation. Hugs to you and yours.

  • I just finished reading your book (I read it in one sitting, late into the night. That’s saying a lot because I have a one-year-old and a two-year-old so sleep is precious.) I can’t even tell you how much I loved it. I’ve read so many blogs and books on simplicity, slow, minimalism, etc. and they all leave me feeling like I’m doing something wrong. They all offer solutions, but it never seems as easy or tidy in my own life. (This is the same reason I’ve given up reading parenting books.) I related to every single word. Thank you for writing about the struggle and how to be ok with it–how to even find the good in the moment. It’s something I so needed to hear/read at this current crazy season of my life. I realized that I don’t need more quick fixes; I need to just be. I feel like blogs and social media these days are overwhelming. Everyone is telling me what I’m doing wrong and how to fix it. But every time I come to your blog, I feel like I can breathe a little easier. Thank you for being that place.

    • Oh Mary – thank you for your kindness and encouragement! I’m a firm believer that life isn’t a project, or a problem. We need far less solutions than we think we do, if only we pause to enjoy, accept, embrace and love (both ourselves and others). It’s hard, and tempting to rush around trying to fix everything, but it’s a beautiful way to live and learn!

  • I think this is one of the best marriage posts I’ve ever read. It is so simple (if not always easy), and so within reach of us all! <3

  • I couldn’t agree with you more!
    And this thought came up in my head and blows my mind: someone asks you to write about garbage bags of all things, and you come up with a beautiful and so so true story about love and marriage!?! It’s incredible.

    • Ha, thank you Liesbeth!!!!! Just over here writing what I know, or at least what I need to be reminded of myself! :)

  • Thank you for sharing your heart. This was something I needed to be reminded of even after 44 years of marriage. “I just changed my mind about him, that’s all.”
    I enjoyed reading your book too.

    It makes me want to snap a pic of hubby doing his “I Love You” chore and post on FB.right next to my girlfriends’ dozens and dozens of roses. Flowers Shmaowers. —– don’t get me wrong. This gal loves a little sprig every now and then too.
    Thanks for keeping it real.

  • Oh, I just love this. Im traveling with my husband. Right now. He’s at business meetings and I’m a school teacher off for the week enjoying the sunshine while he works. I’ve read half your book in the last two days-love it! And this post is just so perfect! Yes, it’s those everyday small gestures you depend on. My hubs also takes out the trash and when he travels I realize how much I appreciate it. Thank you for your beautiful words and beautiful heart!

  • After 28 years of marriage, I could not have said it better. So much love and care in the mundane!

  • This is one the most honest descriptions of marriage that I’ve ever seen. So simple, so true.

  • OH MY GOODNESS ARE THOSE MERMAN LEGGINGS??? My son wanted so badly to be a merman for Halloween last year and we could not find anything mer-personal related that wasn’t intended for girls. So I’m just gushing over those pants. Where did they come from??

    Oh and love the post, and the book which I read the entirety of a few weeks ago. Thank you for your honesty. :-)

Comments are closed.