Husband & Wife Articles


Kitchen Sink Wisdom

On marriage problems and clogged drains

By Sue Haggerty

Five years ago, my husband, Pat, and I bought a house. With five children at home and limited time, proper house maintenance often goes by the wayside. This was never more evident than on the weekend we hosted guests and had no kitchen sink.

For months prior to this incident, our kitchen sink sometimes backed up into the downstairs bathroom sink. It was hard to find time to investigate the problem. The downstairs sink kept draining, so we kept pushing off repairs. One night, however, our cousins were visiting from out of town. After we stayed up late, our guests went to their basement sleeping quarters only to find the bathroom sink completely clogged with gross food from the kitchen garbage disposal. This proved a bigger problem than we thought.

The next morning was a Saturday so we decided to investigate the problem ourselves rather than pay an exorbitant weekend fee for a plumber. My husband went out to the hardware store and bought a 25-foot snake which attached to a drill that seemed well-made and efficient. Unfortunately, it was neither. Within seconds of encountering our clog, the snake was completely warped and useless.

Sue Haggerty and her husband, Pat, are parents to five active children: Moira (9), Orla (7), Aoife (5), Eamon (3), and Oisin (2).

Pat went out again. This time he returned with a 50-foot, one-inch thick snake that had a hand crank attached. Clearly this heavy duty tool would do the trick. In between, we poured Drano down the sink hoping maybe a little chemical magic would help.

Most of the pipes were behind drywall so it was hard to find where the clog was located. We finally removed a ceiling tile that exposed the intersection of three pipes. We figured out which pipe the clog was in. Getting the snake down into the correct pipe though was proving impossible. Instead of going down towards the clog, it was hitting the intersection, and taking the path of least resistance, up the air vent to the roof. Pat spent half the day working the wrong pipe.

Meanwhile, we had already invited extended family over for dinner to visit with our cousins. I made dinner without the use of a kitchen sink, walking to the bathroom to wash my hands. After dinner, the hallway bathtub became our dishwashing station. Luckily, no one minded paper plates.

The next morning, we woke up early to tackle the project again. Pat went to the roof to attack the clog from the air vent. With one hand on the bathroom pipe and the other one holding my cell phone to let him know if he was hitting the clogged pipe, we finally seemed to be on the right track. Yet by now the heavy duty snake was badly warped, so Pat headed back to the hardware store. He rented a heavy duty electric auger, hauled it up to the roof and we began again.

We worked together for another hour to finally clear the pipe. After two full days and three different snakes, the copper pipes started ringing with a clanging noise instead of the dull thud that was caused by the six-foot blockage of food. Although it took an incredibly long time, we felt elated at our accomplishment, and were happy also that it only cost us $100, far less than hiring a plumber.

Like home maintenance, marriage needs proper care in order to avoid “blocked pipes.” Fighting, unkind words, and unspoken frustrations don’t go away. They just get stuffed down inside of us. As they become lodged, they harden. For a while, we’re able to still function. We’ll put a smile on our face or let go of an unresolved problem, but eventually, things start backing up. Once it reaches this critical point, it’s harder to clear because too much time of unresolved hurt has passed. It will take a hired professional or stubborn resolve as a couple working together to tackle the differences that have caused the impasse in the first place.

As married couples, we need to work on our marriage all the time, but especially when there is trouble. Don’t ignore the signs. Making time to solve our differences, even if it takes days of going in the wrong direction, hitting a solid wall, or breaking all the tools. More importantly, we can maintain our marriages by learning from past mistakes. By cultivating the art of communication and becoming better listeners, we can strengthen our marriage, protecting it from future wear and tear.

Sue Haggerty, a freelance writer from Virginia, is married to her best friend, Pat. They have been blessed with five children who help them encounter Christ.