You Never Know Where Inspiration Will Strike

Posted on Nov 5, 2013

Today’s article was inspired by a Swiffer commercial.

(Yes, I use their products.  No, I am not a paid spokesperson.)

The commercial features Lee and Morty Kaufman, an adorable couple who have been married for 44 years.  They are clearly proud of their relationship, calling it a happy union.

I love this commercial because it shows a happy, successful couple having a typical conflict about their division of labor.  At first, the division seems equitable: he does the laundry and she cleans the home.  However, their comments about this division show that there is a conflict underlying this arrangement.

Lee remarks, “I like a clean kitchen.

Morty jokes, “With only 2 of us, how much dirt can we manufacture?”

Lee replies indignantly, “More than you think!”

At this point in the commercial, the Swiffer box arrives on their front porch as if by magic.  They begin to explore the products together.  He shares her excitement by trying the products himself.  He continues to joke with her about the task of cleaning, saying that using the mop is like dancing.  At the end of the commercial they are dancing together.

The resolution is as magical as those fabulous Swiffer products:  the conflict was not settled by changing the division of labor or their opinions about it.  Rather, Lee and Morty demonstrate how a couple can break through a gridlocked issue when each party’s concerns are addressed:
  • Having a clean home is very important to Lee’s sense of herself as a homemaker. Now that they are older, cleaning the house has become more challenging.  She clearly wants to maintain her high standards but she is no longer physically able to do so.
  • Morty is worried that Lee is going to hurt herself and doesn’t value a perfectly clean home as much as he values his wife’s wellbeing.

In the end, Morty still didn’t think that Lee needed to maintain the house to such a high standard of cleaniless, but he understood that cleanliness has a special meaning for Lee and supported that.   Because the products were so much easier to use, he no longer worried that Lee would hurt herself in pursuit of her goals. Lee continues to take the job seriously; Morty continues to make light of it.  Lee was more receptive to his lightheartedness because she felt understood instead of belittled.

No one was right; no one was wrong.  

No one kept score of whose contribution was more important.

They focused on being happy instead of being right.


We could all stand to be a little more like Lee and Morty.