Marriage Speed Bumps: Cleaning the House

I know that marriages aren’t all unicorns and glitter. I didn’t expect them to be. This isn’t our first problem, and definitely won’t be our last. In fact, I have a feeling this may become a series, who knows. But, this is our current problem: keeping the house clean.

I come from a family that is avid about keeping the house clean. When friends used to come over, and I would apologize for my messy room, they would say “what mess?” and I would look at them crazy. You mean you can’t see the stacks of paper and mounting dust? Sheesh, what do you consider a mess? My mom always kept the house sparkling. I’ve never seen a pile of dishes in our sink. I never saw the trash overflowing. Our laundry would miraculously be done. And this was with a husband, 3 kids (sometimes more if friends were over), dogs, and a mother-in-law. I know no different.

So when I moved in with my husband, I was infuriated with how little he appreciated a clean house! Now, we’ve been together for 4 years, living together for 1. It was far from a surprise that he was not the cleanest individual. I would often go to his house and realize clothes were all over the floor, “making the bed” was not in his vocabulary, and I rarely saw him do household chores. Really, any cleaning that was done was a joint effort when I would come over to visit. So it wasn’t that he was a stranger to cleanliness. It seemed that he just needed some extra help.

But when we started cohabitating, I found myself regularly frustrated with the lack of help. I have no problem taking blame when I do something wrong. I admit, I would have lazy days when I didn’t feel like folding laundry, or dishes went dirty overnight. However, I would find my efforts of cleaning the house would go unnoticed AND reversed in a matter of hours. WTF?! Dishes, piled up high. Trash overflowing with no anticipation of taking it out. Lint and God knows what else on the carpet. Hello? Do you not see these things?

It was one thing when we lived in our 700 square feet 1 bedroom 1 bathroom apartment, but the pressure and stress has doubled since we moved to our 3 bedroom 3 bathroom, 1,400 square feet townhouse. There’s more rooms, more ground to cover, 2 floors to take care of. We have more company, and there’s nothing more mortifying to me than having company with a dirty house. I will go into a cleaning frenzy, wondering how my house got hit by the dirt tornado that is known as my husband. It just baffles me!

I can count how many times my husband has taken out the trash. When I do the dishes, he complains about how I do them, but if it were up to him, dishes would remain dirty until there were no more dishes to use. Vacuum? What’s that (even with my allergies and his)? As I mentioned, one of the things I learned since moving in with him is that he refuses to do my laundry. The stress has only increased since we now have a dog that poops, pees, and sheds. I can ask for help, and most of the time, it’s just not taken seriously.

Yesterday, I came up with an idea. Since he constantly complains about how I do the dishes and he won’t touch my laundry, I offered him a deal. If he took care of the dishes and vacuuming, I would take out the trash and do the laundry. He agreed. It didn’t get done. So this morning, I woke up, and started a vigorous cleaning. I washed the dishes (he still complained). I vacuumed and steam cleaned the carpet (more complaining). I took out the trash, and washed our kitchen rugs and our bedroom sheets. He may have thought I had an attitude, and I very well could have, but if you’re going to complain about how I do things DO THEM YOURSELF.

This is something I refuse to compromise further about. I compromised by allowing him to keep his room (yes, he has his own room) however he wants, and he even has his own bathroom that I don’t use. Keep them however you want! If you want them to look like the Tasmanian Devil ripped through it, be my guest. But don’t leave your clothes in the living room on our computer chair. Don’t leave your shoes on the floor in the entry way (then complain when Frankie gets ahold to them). Don’t talk about how I do the dishes when you don’t do them. Don’t complain if you’re not doing anything!

This post was much longer than I anticipated, but I really needed to rant. I’m not going to ask him to do any more chores, because I end up disappointed regularly. So I took matters into my own hands. But he can’t have it both ways. What do you think? Anyone else feel my pain? I hate working so hard on something, and either not getting recognition, or having my results reversed. Argh!

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10 Responses to Marriage Speed Bumps: Cleaning the House

  1. Oh, I feel your pain, I hear you!

    I don’t consider myself a neatfreak but my standards are much higher than his. And there are some chores he absolutely hates (and doesn’t do properly) that I just find it easier to do myself (sadly, they’re also the most frequent and time consuming, ie, dishes, and other kitchen duties). I’ve come to accept that there’a always going to be a housework imbalanc, and generally his jobs involve mopping, vacuuming, taking out the rubbish etc. We live in a tiny studio and when we eventually buy a house, I definitely want to get a cleaner in occasionally to do a deep clean every so often.

    • Right, I’m not a neatfreak, but I just like some order to the house. I wish hubby would even do one chore, but he just doesn’t get it. Definitely try to fix the problem before you guys get a bigger house, and there’s more ground to cover haha.

  2. Yep. this reminds me of how I tripped over my husband shoes in the middle of the floor the other day and dang near cracked my ankle. He also leaves a trail of work clothes starting in the dining room, all the way up to the bedroom. AND he leaves his wet bath towel on the bed. Grrrr! It’s  been more than 7 years and he’s gotten much better, but some things I just stopped complaining about knowing that he’ll never do things to my standard. I compromise with these “flaws” of his (hehe) by reminding myself that he also does the harder things that I can’t or just won’t do. You know, the manly-man stuff that might not required daily attention, but I’ll be damned if I’m crushing spiders and mowing lawns and shoveling snow and getting up in the middle of the night  to investigate a noise. Stuff like that. I compromise wherever I see that it’s possible. =)

    • That’s my husband: trail of work clothes all over the house. Ahh wet bath towel? *cringes* I would possibly compromise if he did the manly stuff but there hasn’t been an instance where we needed it yet. He tells me to kill spiders, and we don’t have a lawn or snow lol I’m trying to find a middle ground, but it’s hard to compromise on cleanliness.

  3. Communication is definitely key.  hubby and i spoke about what we both wanted in terms of chores. there are things i like doing, other stuff he likes doing so we divide and conquer. share with him your frustration without blaming and or pointing fingers and hopefully he will help out more. good luck. love your website  title too!

    • He doesn’t like to do…anything lol which is the biggest problem. I’ve communicated / shared how I feel about it, without trying to blame him. Maybe I need to find another way to communicate. Thank you!

  4. The problem is that your giving in and just doing everything so he’s not realizing actions have consequences. I have a deal with my husband, I cook and clear the table and everything if he cleans the pots and stuff that don’t fit in the dishwasher. 

    If he asks for dinner my only reply is “is my kitchen clean yet?” if its not I tell him i’m unable to function and cook. I’ll just eat cereal for dinner and he has to fend for himself if he doesn’t clean it….

    As for the trash, if I ask and hours have gone by and its still not done I walk over and hand him the bag and he gets the hint…. 

    its about compromise and “I” statements. “I can’t cook yet…” 

  5. Okay…I’m not saying this is a cure all, but I think you should read Spousonomics. This book focuses on using economics to solve problems such as the one you are having. The book does it in a way that is light and funny, but makes total sense to dealing with marriage matters. Check out their blog here

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