Sliding vs. Deciding

Observations on Love, Sex, and Commitment

Are You a Leaf Blower or a Broom?

You can't just send all your conflicts away into a cloud. Or can you?

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Whatever happened to brooms?

I know they still exist. We actually have a couple around our house, and—shocker—we use them. We have two regular-sized brooms, one for indoors and one for out. We also have a big ol' push-broom for the patio and sidewalk.

I think about brooms whenever I see landscapers out and about using leaf blowers to “clean up” after mowing a lawn. Have you ever thought about this? This style of “cleaning up” is not “sweeping up,” nor, if there must be a noisy machine involved, even vacuuming up. What it is instead is the now-common practice of just blowing the crud all over the place—into the street, onto cars, into the air, and back into the lawn.

To be clear, I’m not super green; I’ve been around the block and know a thing or two—just like those amazing men in the Viagra commercials who can do anything because they are at the age of knowing how. Whoops, got sidetracked; I am at the age of being sidetracked. Anyway, that’s not what I mean by green. I mean I’m not a big enviro-type. I do recycle pretty rigorously and I try to use energy efficient gear when I can. You could say I’m environmentally conscious and responsible, but it’s not my mission in life. Yet I do get annoyed with these leaf blowing machines. For one thing, they are loud, and that bugs me. I have sensitive hearing which I am trying to preserve for rock and roll and, you know, listening to people. And it does actually bother me to see all that dirt, dust, and detritus blown into the air. It’s got to cause a short-term spike in at least some type of air pollution for the immediate area.

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Today, while driving home from work, I happened to notice one guy blowing all the crud into the air in a tidy little cloud that hovered around his coworker—who did not seem to notice or mind. Cough, hack, no mask. “Thanks, Jack.” 

Oddly enough, I have a point to make here about marriage and relationships: I think a lot of couples never sweep up their messes. Instead they make a lot of noise, and blow the dirt all over each other, the kids, and maybe the neighborhood.

They don’t have to live that way. And you don't have to live this way.

I know we’re all increasingly living in "the cloud" or the "iCloud"—at least everyone keeps saying they have all their data there. (It was the Rolling Stones who, long ago, first sung about security concerns in the cloud: "Hey, hey, you, you, get off of my cloud…") Serious point now: In your relationship, recognize that you don’t have to live in a haze of your dirt. Instead of living in "weCloud," try a broom. Sweep some stuff up, and throw it out. Do your part. If you sweep up a bit and put the dirt in a bag, in most places, nice people will come by within a week and cart it away. And then it's all gone. Doesn’t that sound good? I’m not saying it’s easy to sweep up your messes—but it is doable.

Now, think creatively about what this metaphor means for you and your relationship.

Brooms. They’re gonna be big. 

Scott Stanley, Ph.D., is a psychologist and a research professor at the University of Denver, where he conducts studies on marriage, cohabitation, and commitment.

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