Look, I think many of us can agree that cleaning and organizing can be a total drag — hence, why so many of us will go as long as we can without doing either. But of course, many people aren’t about that life, and that’s definitely something that deserves some consideration. But knowing the best ways to deal with a messy partner can definitely be a bit tricky. After all, relationships involve give-and-take in pretty much every other area, and living conditions are no different.
Now I know all of the peeps out there with borderline compulsive cleaning habits think that we less organized folks are simply being lazy AF, but I promise you this isn’t always the case.
Truth be told, I think the main difference between those who fall into either the “clean” or “messy” category is the ability to manage your time. Sometimes cleaning up a mess right after it’s made just doesn’t jive with the fact that I have an appointment in 30 minutes and it’s going to take me 35 minutes to get there. The result? That pasta sauce that splattered everywhere and the sink full of dishes is just going to have to stay put until I get home… at midnight…at which point I’m way too tired, so hopefully they’ll get done in the morning… after the gym… maybe? See how that happens? But take it from me, the secret to living in peace with someone who’s not on the same page when it comes to cleanliness is totally do-able, but will certainly involve some compromise.
1. Choose Your Battles Wisely
First off, it’s important to remember that getting upset with your partner for not having the same habits as you can be v problematic, because at the end of the day you didn’t have the same upbringing and don’t have the same needs. When talking about your desire to keep things clean, be careful not to harp too much on the small stuff, but rather, focus your complaints on the bigger issues that have a larger impact on both of you. This way, your partner won’t get burned out and start feeling like you’re always being nit-picky .
2. Accept That Habits Don’t Change Overnight
Habits take a while to change, especially if you are hoping a particularly “bad” habit will be unlearned and replaced with a “good” one. So try to be as patient as you can when asking your partner to make adjustments to their usual mode of operation. And understand the fact that you’re probably going to have to bring your grievances to their attention a bunch of times before you notice an improvement.
3. Make A Chore Chart
While there is certainly a distinction to be made between “messy” and “dirty,” both issues can be addressed by setting aside a designated time to clean as a couple. My partner and I like to do it when we first get up — 20 minutes of straightening-up a few times a week can make a huge difference. If staying on top of their designated chores is the issue, then having a cleaning chart with glittery stickers á la pre-school should be enough to entice/shame them into staying on top of things.
4. Keep Your Expectations In Check
Everyone’s breaking point is vastly different when it comes to how messy is too messy. And it’s very unlikely that a super messy person is capable of becoming a militantly clean person. So it’s important to keep your expectations in the realm of possibility. If you are expecting them to up their cleaning game but you aren’t willing to loosen up a bit too, then the chance of things escalating into fights is much higher.
5. Don’t Forget About Positive Reinforcement
Some people just don’t do well with being criticized about something after the fact. Instead of complaining that the sink is full of their dishes once it’s piled high, try gently reminding them to put their dishes in the dishwasher after they’re done eating. Once they’ve started following through, don’t forget to thank them and let them know that you appreciate their efforts.
At the end of the day, living with a bae that is way messier than you can definitely feel overwhelming at times. The truth is that you may end up doing more than your fair share of domestic work to keep things in check for the time being. But at the very least, your SO should be putting in some effort — and if they continually disregard your requests, then a more formal conversation might be the next step.
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