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Men sitting around a table | Source: Flickr
Men sitting around a table | Source: Flickr

My Husband Wanted Me to Clean His Friend’s House for Money, So I Made up a Perfect Plan to Teach Him a Lesson

Prenesa Naidoo
May 15, 2024
04:19 A.M.

Mia has been through a lot in her life — after her parents died when she was sixteen, she became the sole caregiver to her younger brother, Jared. But what about money? Mia had to become a cleaner between school to survive. Then, she met Martin. A man who was her Prince Charming — but is he embarrassed of her? Does he want to use her? Read on and find out.

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When I think of my life, I like to think that I'm a success story in the best way possible. I'm the oldest sibling — an older sister to a younger brother. And when our parents passed away in an accident, I knew that I needed to step up.

A car accident | Source: Unsplash

A car accident | Source: Unsplash

"Mia, how are we going to survive?" Jared, my twelve-year-old brother asked tearfully.

"We'll make it work," I promised.

We had our parents' savings, and I sold everything we could part with. Our landlords — an old couple who had loved my mother as their own daughter, allowed us to live in their smallest apartment, free of charge.

A small apartment | Source: Unsplash

A small apartment | Source: Unsplash

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"But I can't allow that, Vera," I told the old woman. "My father would hate it if we took advantage of you like that."

The old woman smiled and continued her knitting.

"Then you can clean for us in return," she said. "Twice a week, maybe?"

I nodded. I could do that. After school and homework, there were still enough hours in the day.

A person cleaning | Source: Unsplash

A person cleaning | Source: Unsplash

Eventually, being a cleaner became my part-time job — between the hours after school and the weekends, it was something that brought in money.

"But you're always tired," Jared told me one morning as he poured out bowls of cereal for us.

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"I know," I agreed. "But this way, we have an income. So we don't have to stress too much."

"I'll help," he said. "I'll chip in wherever you need me. Just don't make me do any bathrooms."

A bowl of cereal and a mug of coffee | Source: Unsplash

A bowl of cereal and a mug of coffee | Source: Unsplash

Throughout the rest of my schooling life, I moonlighted as a cleaner, with Jared to help vacuum on the weekends. When I graduated from high school, I continued to clean. Now that I had more time and a respectable list of clients — it was easier to get into the wealthier areas, where I would charge double the amount.

"We're so proud of you, Mia," Vera said one evening when Jared and I joined her and Charles for dinner.

"But you've got to start thinking about what's next," she continued. "You can't be a cleaner for the rest of your life."

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A table with food | Source: Unsplash

A table with food | Source: Unsplash

Eventually, I decided that I'd take a psychology course at the community college — just to build on my education.

That's where I met Martin — three years ago. He swept me off my feet like a breath of fresh air, taking over my life and reassuring me that it would only get better from there.

A row of psychology textbooks | Source: Unsplash

A row of psychology textbooks | Source: Unsplash

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"I'm proud of you," he said when we went for coffee one evening, as I told him that my life had been sustained through my role as a cleaner.

After a few years, Martin proposed and I felt that the worry and hardship of my life were over. With Martin, there was financial security. With Martin, Jared and I were adopted by his parents — who doted on us constantly, making me feel that I had won the jackpot in terms of in-laws.

A couple standing at the counter of a coffee shop | Source: Unsplash

A couple standing at the counter of a coffee shop | Source: Unsplash

"They're pretty great, Mia," Jared agreed when we sat in our apartment going through everything I needed to take when I moved out.

"They'll take care of you," he said. "And I'll see you as often as I can."

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As I settled into my married life — Martin didn't expect me to work.

"You've worked your entire life," he said. "Take some time off. Rest. And when you're ready, then maybe you can think about studying or getting a job."

A woman sitting and looking out the window | Source: Unsplash

A woman sitting and looking out the window | Source: Unsplash

At first, I thought that my husband was being sincere. And in many ways, he was. I took over the role of being a dutiful housewife — ensuring that the house was spotless and that dinner was waiting for him when he got home.

My in-laws were wonderful. Brenda, Martin's mom, spent a lot of time with me — teaching me old family recipes and asking me about any strange things I had encountered during my years cleaning.

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"What was the worst thing you saw, Mia?" she asked, as she whisked away.

Baking ingredients in a bowl with a whisk | Source: Unsplash

Baking ingredients in a bowl with a whisk | Source: Unsplash

"There was once a lady who kept a cookie jar of old candy. Like I'm talking, really, really old candy. The wrappers were fading."

"Why did she keep it?" Brenda asked.

"No clue. But there was also a man who wanted me to keep his wife's drain hair. I had to pull it out the drain, rinse it out and put it into a box."

"That's disgusting!" Brenda chuckled.

Pieces of candy | Source: Unsplash

Pieces of candy | Source: Unsplash

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Then, Martin walked in.

"What are you two laughing about?" he asked, picking at the bowl of grapes on the countertop.

"Mia's old life," Brenda said. "She's seen some strange things."

"Enough," Martin said firmly. "That's in the past. I'm going to shower."

That was the first time my husband had dismissed the conversation. My alarm bells went off. Was it possible that despite everything Martin had told me, that deep down, he was embarrassed by me?

A bowl of grapes | Source: Unsplash

A bowl of grapes | Source: Unsplash

I pushed it aside, there was no need to dwell on something that could have been a simple miscommunication.

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But then came the dinner that changed everything — Martin's birthday dinner.

The air was filled with the buzz of conversation and the clink of glasses we gathered to celebrate my husband. I had always known that Martin's friends were a mixed bag, but his friend Antonio's presence always set my teeth on edge.

Despite this, I plastered a smile on my face, determined to make the best of the evening.

A group of men sitting together | Source: Unsplash

A group of men sitting together | Source: Unsplash

You just need to make it to the cake, I thought to myself.

As we settled into our seats, the laughter and chatter around us seemed to intensify. I hated that my brother wasn't able to join us for dinner as he was out of town on an internship.

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I was halfway through a conversation with Brenda, nibbling on the breadsticks I had made for the table, when Antonio's voice cut through the din.

"Man, Martin! Your home is great. Such a perfect place."

A fancy dinner set up | Source: Unsplash

A fancy dinner set up | Source: Unsplash

Antonio's eyes scanned the room before landing on Martin with a smirk.

"You're lucky, Martin. All this and a wife to keep things tidy. Hey, maybe Mia can come and clean my place for a birthday. It's a complete disaster zone without a woman's touch."

The table erupted into laughter — nobody laughing louder than Martin and his father. I felt a cold chill run down my spine.

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My eyes darted to Martin, hoping for some form of defense from my husband.

But what came next left me shocked.

Martin, leaning back in his chair, drink in hand, chuckled.

A glass of alcohol | Source: Unsplash

A glass of alcohol | Source: Unsplash

"Well, how much are you willing to pay?" he asked Antonio.

"I think $5 should cover it," Antonio said, snorting.

More laughter followed. Maybe it was just a joke, but it felt directed at me.

Amid the chaos, I caught my mother-in-law's gaze. Her expression was stern, her disappointment palpable. She subtly gestured for me to join her in the kitchen.

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A pile of dollars | Source: Unsplash

A pile of dollars | Source: Unsplash

"And on that note," she said, pushing her chair back. "I think it's time for the cake."

I excused myself to follow Brenda to the kitchen.

"I can't believe them," she hissed, her voice shaking with anger. "Especially Martin. My husband and I didn't raise him to disrespect women, much less his own wife."

She closed her eyes for a moment, while I had a sip of water, feeling light-headed.

"What Antonio said was unacceptable, Mia. And Martin's reaction was even worse."

I nodded, my own anger mirroring hers.

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An angry old woman | Source: Pexels

An angry old woman | Source: Pexels

"I never expected Martin to... to just laugh it off."

I wasn't embarrassed by my past. I needed to find a way to survive — for Jared and myself. There was nothing wrong with working a humble job. It was something that Martin had told me early on in our relationship.

But it seemed that the longer we were together, the more his true colors were being revealed.

Brenda placed a hand on my shoulder.

"We're going to teach them a lesson. Pack your bags tonight. We're going on vacation. Just the two of us. Let's see how they manage without us."

An old woman talking | Source: Pexels

An old woman talking | Source: Pexels

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I was stunned but found myself agreeing. The idea of leaving, of showing them the error of their ways was too compelling to resist.

"Martin is going to regret ever laughing along to that joke," Brenda spat.

"Where's the cake?" Antonio called from the dining room.

I sighed.

"Let's just get through this," I told my mother-in-law as she lit the candles on Martin's birthday cake.

A birthday cake with candles | Source: Unsplash

A birthday cake with candles | Source: Unsplash

The next morning, Martin and his father were passed out in our living room — the effects of the alcohol making them oblivious to any sounds other than themselves.

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We left a note on the kitchen counter for them:

See you in two weeks. This should be enough for you to keep the house clean.

Brenda attached $5 to the note, and we were off to a chalet on the beach.

A few hours later, our phones were bombarded with calls and messages from them, but we ignored every one. I drove with the wind in my hair, and Brenda happily eating trail mix next to me.

A woman driving | Source: Unsplash

A woman driving | Source: Unsplash

When we finally got to our destination, we unpacked our bags and I called Martin.

"I'm so sorry," he said. "Mia, I truly am. I didn't realize how hurtful I was being. My father, too. We're so sorry."

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My husband's voice cracked through the phone.

"We'll talk when we get back," I said, against the serene backdrop of the beach.

Upon our return, the sight that greeted us was as we expected — utter chaos.

A house on the beach | Source: Unsplash

A house on the beach | Source: Unsplash

But amid the mess was Martin and his father with bouquets of flowers in their hands and remorse in their eyes.

The apologies that followed were heartfelt, and the lessons learned were evident in their changed behavior.

I began to wash the dishes, which were piled high in our absence.

"I spoke to Jared," Martin said from behind me.

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"Yeah?" I asked.

I knew that he would have called my brother to see if I was with him, but I also knew that he would have to explain what happened.

A person washing dishes | Source: Unsplash

A person washing dishes | Source: Unsplash

"He said that I have one more chance to make things right with you, or he'll come and get you himself."

"That sounds about right," I said.

As much as I was happy to be home, there was something different about Martin to me. He was no longer the Prince Charming I had thought of him as. Instead, he was just a regular man with stupid jokes.

A man capable of hurting me.

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And while I had Brenda and my brother on my side, I knew that it was going to take some work for Martin and I to get back to where we were.

The first step in the right direction was Martin cutting ties with Antonio — a move that spoke volumes.

A woman with her hands over her face | Source: Unsplash

A woman with her hands over her face | Source: Unsplash

What would you have done?

Here's another story for you | Have you ever had an unwanted guest who overstayed their welcome? I had to deal with my father-in-law, who constantly belittled me and my career. Eventually, I had to take drastic measures.

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