This article was originally published on fivestarman.com. It has been republished here, with permission.
Early in marriage, I did something spontaneous that proved to be one of the best things I could do to show my wife that I loved her - I helped her clean the house.
I'm not alone. The American Time Use Survey suggests that men do 35 percent of total household tasks. Housework is becoming a shared project for husbands and wives. Even better, when husbands and wives work together, cleaning time is actually cut by two-thirds rather than just half.
I think of this as "the closet principle" - the principle of cleaning areas (at home or in life) that would otherwise go without.
Why "the closet principle?" Jesus taught that when we pray, we should go into our closets where men do not know or hear our prayers, but God alone sees and hears our prayers. There, we demonstrate humility and gratitude for the things we have been blessed with. What we do in secret motivates and blesses our lives publicly.
The same is true in housework and marriage.
What you do for your wife in secret is really what makes all the difference. Cleaning house is something you can do without sharing your sacrifice with others. It's a gesture of love for your wife that speaks to her personally, "I love and value you." What you do in secret will bless your life, and your relationship, outwardly.
Here are five benefits to cleaning the house:
1. It demonstrates willingness to be a servant-leader
How can your wife have confidence that you would lay down your life for her if you can't pick up your clothes?
2. It reinforces the concept of team
How can two people walk together unless they agree?
3. Cleaning house releases creativity
There is something about creating order in your home that releases creativity in your work. When God found chaos and confusion, he said, "Let there be light." He exposed the chaos and put things in order.
As I was writing this article, a friend called and shared how his wife, a New York Times bestselling author, was experiencing writer's block. She said, "I'm not getting anywhere with this book. I'm going to clean my closet." An hour later, she had a rush of creativity and was able to meet her deadline. My friend said, "Man, this closet principle really works!"
4. Cleaning house shows gratitude and humility
When your blue-gloved hand is gripping a toilet brush, you show humility. That brush is the equivalent of a sword that cuts through pride. It's a good thing.
5. Cleaning house makes you attractive
It has been suggested that a man helping with household chores is the number one turn-on for a wife. Who knew? You become more attractive when you're pushing a vacuum cleaner.
My wife, Kay, and I discovered that we thrive in an environment of order. It seems to bring us peace. We're more comfortable when things are in place, and we're able to relax.
Having a clean home seemed to also keep strife out of our home. We even became more selective about what we watched on television. Just as we kept order in our house, we also kept the "trash" out that came across the TV.
We raised three children in a clean home, and they thrived as well. They picked up on the atmosphere of order and duplicated it in their own homes as adults.
Now, many people may think I'm obsessive about this, but by nature, I am not OCD. I disciplined myself to want a clean household. I suggest that you, too, put this to the test. Why not take a weekend with the family to clean house? I promise you, you will discover a sense of accomplishment. Your family will experience unity. And more than likely, you will flow with creative ideas.