Are you married to a slob?
It’s always the same argument:
Your partner leaves her crap all over the place and you feel like you’re the only one who cares enough to pick up.
Sometimes you feel like the maid, picking up her dirty cups, clearing the counter, and loading the dishwasher perfectly while she does so carelessly, not even noticing her piles of magazines sprawled across the floor that you nearly tripped over to bring her coffee mug from 6 hours ago to the sink.
I see this all the time between partners, and it is annoying in the most secure of relationships, and downright devastating if your love is already on the rocks.
There are a few keys to overcoming this all too common stylistic difference between messiness and neatness.
First, recognize that (more likely than not), your issues with “stuff” are just that: A stylistic difference.
When your partner’s negligence around cleaning feels like an assault on you, like she doesn’t care about you or that you are not important to her, you have a bigger problem on your hands.
The reality is that more likely than not, your partner simply has a higher tolerance for mess. She knows where her stuff is even if it appears like a disorganized mess to you. And she will NOT be happy when you throw her stuff out because some of it is necessary.
She may feel like she has bigger priorities than going through her magazines and discarding the ones she doesn’t need. Maybe she feels like she needs them all.
If any part of you feels unimportant to your partner because of her mess, bring that up. Let her know. It requires some vulnerability on your part as you’re taking a risk to let her know you feel like you don’t matter to her.
The good news is that you’ll be opening a dialogue in which she may have something to say to you as well.
Even if you feel like you’re married to a slob, she may feel that you don’t respect HER or her stuff either.
After all, from time to time you may just go on a cleaning binge and throw away some of her “junk,” which is to her, treasured.
If you’re feeling a massive amount of tension around this issue, she may be too.
You’ll feel some relief talking about it together if it’s true that neither one of you is trying to disrespect the other.
Make that clear.
And agree to work on this “stylistic” difference together so that you can live together with as much peace as possible.
Take the lead, since you’re the one reading a blog about the topic:
Ask how can you be a better partner when it comes to this issue?
What’s ONE thing you can start doing or NOT doing that would make your partner’s life easier?
Make sure the answer is simple and do-able.
And do it.
See if your partner is open to hearing from you what she could do differently as well.
Focus on ONE thing (e.g. “don’t leave dirty cups around,” or … let’s get real, “just leave one cup around that you’re using.”)
Make it fun.
You could even play a game with each other, who does the better job adjusting their behavior to help their partner?
Relationships are NOT a quid pro quo exchange but you could keep score and whoever wins gets something…you guys can decide that.
The alternative is to just deal with it. Live with it.
But if it irks you because you feel disrespected, have the conversation to determine if it is just a stylistic difference, NOT an indicator of how much love and respect your partner has for you.
Also, make sure to watch my webinar with space organizer and happy home creator, Lisa Sharp, where we dive in deeper about clearing the clutter in love.
Just click on the picture below:
To your clutter free love,
I am married to a first class slob. Granted for years I have either picked up after him just like his grandmother did. When it became too much I ignore it. I talk to him until I was blue in the face. His view is…. don’t complain, I do the grocery shopping, put them away, plus I do the cooking”
I have even because of of all our problems (clutter being in the top 3) have moved out for 5 months. It worked while I was gone but now I’m back home he is right back to all his habits that I now longer can deal which caused me to leave in the first place. I’m in my late 60s and do not have enough income to support myself.
Now besides myself and don’t know what to do.
What a difficult situation. My first recommendation would be to get some professional support for yourself and for both of you, so that you can really tackle this situation.
But – for the short-term, I wonder if there is a way to create some sacred space within your home that is just yours, or designate a space for him that he can let it all just be and be messy.
I strongly recommend couple’s counseling – The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy has great therapists that you can look up by location so you can find someone close to home.
Short of that, if you feel beyond assistance for the marriage, I wonder how you can reduce expenses together so you can live separately, can you downsize and/or create some income for yourself (I realize you are of retirement age but do you have any hobbies you can turn into a small business or could you get a part-time job, sell some of the junk, etc…?)
Trust that you will find a solution. I realize that may be difficult to do when you don’t see one, but you may surprised what might happen when you can just trust that you will find a way to improve your situation.
Not sure if any of this is helpful as I don’t know any more than what you’re sharing and there are so many factors involved with any situation like this, but 1:1 professional support and/or couple’s therapy could be extremely useful – even if just for a short-term.
I wish you all the best,