Broken Dryer, Broken Promises


My wedding vows were easy to say. When I married Big Guy, I promised, “ I take you, [Big Guy], to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.”

It was an easy promise to say. It wasn’t such an easy promise to keep.

I have done the better and worse, richer and poorer, and sickness and health. I’ve loved him. I’ve cherished him. We are still married.

To have and to hold, though? I blew it big time on that bit for a couple decades.


Sadness isn’t an emotion we typically associate with dryers. When I hear my dryer, though, that’s exactly how I feel.

I am sitting at my desk, listening to my dryer squeak. I don’t know for sure why it squeaks. It just does. It’s on the list of replacements/repairs I’d like us to get to at some point. The heavier the load is, the more loudly it squeaks.

In our home, my job is to do the laundry; Big Guy’s job is to carry dirty laundry to the basement and make sure I have what I need to do the laundry.

I don’t know why he hasn’t worked on the dryer yet. I guess it isn’t a priority for him. After all, he’s rarely home when the dryer is running, and when he is, he’s out of earshot. It simply isn’t a priority for him. It isn’t that he doesn’t love me or doesn’t care. We haven’t had the money to repair or replace it, and he doesn’t enjoy handyman work.

I understand that. I really do. When things are important to me, I try to take care of them myself—but anything that involves electricity or moving parts is completely outside my ability. I have to rely on my husband for this.

If we had more money, I would pay someone to come take care of it—but we don’t, so I keep waiting for my husband to follow through with his promise. And truthfully, it means more to me when my husband works on something—even if he hasn’t able to get it fixed and we have to call someone in after all. When I see him putting his own physical self into something I’ve asked him to take care of, my heart swells. There is just something yummy about my guy and his tools working on something for me. So yeah, I could call a guy, but it just wouldn’t be the same. My emotional needs are filled when it’s my husband trying to take care of something for me.

I asked my husband to fix it months ago, and it hasn’t been done. I’ve asked him about what he’s learned, and he said (well, “snapped” might be a better word) that it was the tumbler. I’m not sure whether he has actually looked at the dryer or done any research to figure this out or whether he’s just saying that so I won’t ask him about it anymore.

I can manage without a dryer. I have a clothesline, and when I can, I hang laundry outside. I don’t even mind hanging clothes up in the basement when I need to. But we are headed into a cool fall (at the moment it is only 50⁰ and gloomy) and the clothesline isn’t going to be an option much longer.

I try not to bug him. Some people would say that I should mention it once and then contentedly go on my way regardless of the state of the dryer. But I have laundry to do, I don’t always have a car around to go to the laundromat, and the basement gives our clothes a musty smell. Plus, towels that air dry aren’t nearly as soft and fluffy as towels that have been in the dryer.

It’s been a rainy week. Laundry has been piling up and we are running out of towels and clothes—so I went down to the basement and put a load in the washing machine while I was on the phone with my mother-in-law. A little later, I went downstairs to transfer it over to the dryer. (I was still on the phone with my mother-in-law.)

And now the dryer is squeaking. Squeak-squeak-squeak.

Every single time I hear the squeak of the dryer, I feel a little sad. That constant squeak-squeak-squeak in the background reminds me that my dryer needs to be fixed and that my husband hasn’t fulfilled his promise to me. It reminds me that finances are tight for us now. It reminds me of the struggles we’ve faced in our lives and that the dishwasher needs to be repaired, too. It reminds me that something is broken.


My squeaky dryer is a metaphor for what my husband experienced for so many years when I was turning him down for sex, giving lip service to working on it, and caving in with duty sex now and then.

  • He didn’t know why I didn’t want to have sex. He just knew that I didn’t.
  • He had a list of sexual things he wanted us to get to. I’m not talking about fancy stuff; he just wanted to expand our basic menu a bit.
  • Sex wasn’t a priority for me. I didn’t think about wanting to have sex often, so it was easy to forget about it.
  • I didn’t particularly enjoy it—some because of my own heart hurt that kept me from allowing myself to be truly vulnerable and some because we had developed a pattern of not taking the time that I needed for it to be enjoyable
  • When Big Guy would bring up his concerns about our sex life, I almost always said, “I’m working on it.” The problem is, I wasn’t really working on it. Whenever I said that, I had good intentions—but working on something involves more than just wondering why it’s a problem all the time. Once we got past our fight or I would agree to have requests, he would leave me alone about it for a while and it was easy for me to forget about it again.
  • It meant a lot to him to see me really put myself into it and be truly engaged. He felt much more loved than when we had “let’s just get it over with” duty sex.
  • Although the physical release was something he could take care of himself, the real thing he was seeking—emotional intimacy—required me, and me alone.
  • Big Guy could manage without sex most of the time. It isn’t like a lack of sex was going to cause him to die. But marriage without sex with me was like having an itch that was never sufficiently scratched because he just couldn’t reach it himself.
  • Every time I said “no” or complained about his preoccupation with sex, he was reminded that I was reneging on my promise to have and to hold him.
  • The need would pile up so much that sometimes he would just have to take care of a physical release himself or he would get to a boiling point and confront me about it. He knew he’d have to hear me making noise and complaining about it, but things would get to a point where he simply didn’t have other good options.
  • Every time he heard “no” or “can we just get this over with,” he was reminded of all else in his life that wasn’t good.
  • The heavier his need was, and the more he pushed, the more I complained about it.
  • Every time he took care of things himself or got a rejection from me, he was reminded that something was broken in our marriage.


So I’m sitting here now, listening to another load going through my dryer and wishing I didn’t have so much laundry to do—yet I am no longer thinking about my husband and his promise to take care of the dryer. I am thinking instead about a promise I made a long time ago. I broke my promise to my husband over and over, for many years.

A marriage is so much more important than a dryer, don’t you think?

Photo credit: Chris Taylor

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6 Comments on “Broken Dryer, Broken Promises”

    1. On behalf of your wife, thank you. I have now seen my husband doing a bit of research on the problem we’ve been having with the dryer, and he has also started working on a section of our fence that wants to fall down. So, yay!

  1. My wife knows that the problem exists but has NO interest in changing anything. I see it as a lack of enthusiasm which just smacks even harder than simply lack of intimacy.
    Enthusiasm leads to passion, Passion leads to action, Action leads to specific deeds and tasks – So I see it as a lack of enthusiasm.
    I’ve asked my daughter to vacuum a room. After having just started the task my wife interrupted her and stated, “Look, if you’re not going to do it with at least some enthusiasm then just stop!” My wife completed the task on her own and my daughter walked away feeling a little sheepish.
    I was unaware of that event so later, I confronted my daughter about the vacuuming while in the room with my wife. My wife quickly spoke up and told me that if she couldn’t do it with at least some enthusiasm and just absolutely dreaded the task then please just stop! She looked as though it was just killing her and obviously carried an attitude of dread while doing it.
    Obviously, you see where I am going with this:

    With raised eye brow and tilted head, I repeated back to my wife the basic meaning of what she just stated, “If you cannot do it with some enthusiasm then forget about it; I will simply do it myself. I wouldn’t want you to be “forced” to go out of your way for ME thus dreading not only the task but ME as well.”
    Truly, I want to lift up my wife. I want to be there for her. I want nothing but good things for her; however, I find it terribly difficult to be supportive as time moves on. It’s the difference in knowing that I have told her I would do anything for you – simply ask and I will do it for you; she cannot ask me that because she doesn’t want to actually carry out requests of mine. I say it’s laziness but what do I know?!
    I really want to push forward and be responsible for my soul and, hopefully, glorify God no matter what the current moment is or what the outcome. Unfortunately, it’s so difficult to wrestle with that pride that screams in my ears, “What’s in it for me?! When do I FINALLY get mine?! ……… When is it my turn?!”
    One part of me says, “I can do this. It’s for the ultimate good. Keep going and be supportive and push down my own desires and needs.” Meanwhile, I find it insanely difficult when I contemplate the remaining days of my life and that stupid rhetorical question, “Do you really want to live the rest of your life like this – always lonely, always in need, always desiring, always having to turn your eyes away from other woman although I am always starving and thirsty.”
    If I say or do ANYTHING to change things it only makes it so much worse.
    Wow…. I really didn’t think I would write all of this! So sorry.

    1. You had a lot to say. 🙂

      I want to ask about this part:

      Meanwhile, I find it insanely difficult when I contemplate the remaining days of my life and that stupid rhetorical question, “Do you really want to live the rest of your life like this – always lonely, always in need, always desiring, always having to turn your eyes away from other woman although I am always starving and thirsty.”

      Today I read Christian Men and Sexual Frustration. The same thing stands out in that as stands out in your comment: the problem of temptation.

      One thing my husband he never did was talk about the struggles my refusal placed in front of him. He shared his heart in terms of emotions and the rejection he felt, but he never spoke about the ways he was tempted. About a year and a half ago, we had a conversation in which he revealed something about how he had communicated with a woman he’d known online, and I was stunned. It made me realize that I had made him ripe for temptation. I suppose I shouldn’t have been shocked, but I was. It was the first time I’d had any inclination that his mind had gone somewhere it shouldn’t have when I was refusing him.

      Instead of making that a rhetorical question that you ask yourself, have you considered asking your wife this question? Does she fully understand what you experience without that connection with her?

      As I have done some reading on men’s sexuality, I–who write about sex and am sex-positive–am often surprised to learn how constant and pervasive sexual thoughts can be for a man. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a lot of other women who, like me, haven’t understood the constant temptations faced by a sexually starving man.

      1. Just to confirm that. Back in 2008, I told my wife “Every woman that walks by is a reminder to me of how long its been since we’ve had sex.”

        This was near the turning point for us. I dont think it was any ONE thing that I said but a whole bunch of conversations, but this did seem to hit home.


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