What do you do if you wish your home is clean and organized, but your husband just doesn’t corporate with you? While it is difficult to change someone else, there are certain ways to handle a messy husband that might save you from losing your mind.

You both may have a similar sense of humor and taste in music, but, you probably have your little differences, too, especially regarding keeping your humble home, clean and organized.

While it is common for any two roommates to have differences in organization habits and cleanliness, it seems to be a major topic of conflict, especially among couples.

According to a nationwide survey of 300,000 couples performed by Lasting, the country’s top couples counseling app, the two most popular sources of dispute expressed were “how is cleaning done” and “how does ‘clean’ look like”.

Living with a messy significant other can be one of the most frustrating things about your partner. It can sometimes seem like it is impossible to get through to them. Since this issue cannot be swept under carpet (it is one of those problems you see all the time), how do you live with a messy spouse?

These tips will clear your mind and give you headway.

Ways to Handle a Messy Husband and have your Peace?

Below are ten (10) things to do to live with a messy spouse:

  • Watch your Attitude

For starters, know that you will make more progress when you are being kind to your husband. Do not underestimate the effectiveness of kindness. It works a lot in resolving disputes and proceeds in negotiations. More often, we get into attack mode when we don’t see things go our way. Avoid attacking as it will usually backfire. No one (even you) likes to be confronted harshly.

It is normal and possible, to be honest and real without getting angry, resentful, and bitter. Attitude is important when handling sensitive situations. So, wear a happy face when addressing this issue. It will move you closer to your goal and ensure things remain positive.

  • Don’t get Irritated

As long as your spouse is trying to help out, things will become complicated when you get irritated. Rather than getting irritated when a mess is made or a chore undone, handle it as a mistake and ask that they fix it. Usually, couples start to handle the mistake of their partners as an intentional act of aggression; with a messy spouse, it is very possible it is not intentional at all.

Instead, they just cannot notice the same mess that you do. That doesn’t imply that you have to live with it, but finding a more positive approach can improve your mood, too.

  • Try to see Things from their Perspective

One can easily get wrapped up in how one’s daily activities are affected by a messy spouse without stop thinking about the possible reasons why they may be living below your expectations. For instance, maybe they work night shifts and need to spend most of their days off resting or on social obligations.

I often encourage the couples I work with to see things from others’ perspectives and consider their way as not wrong, but different, says Julienne Derichs, a certified and licensed clinical professional counselor in Chicago. Her best advice is to reduce the judgment. It might be possible that your partner doesn’t see the mess that you see, so endeavor to not take it personally.

  • Be Much Specific about what you Find Bothering

One can easily fall into the habit of generalizing issues. We often use statements like: ‘you always leave your clothes on the door’, ‘you don’t clean the toilet’, ‘I’m always picking up your socks’, ‘you always leave unwashed dishes on the dining table for me to pack’.

Avoid the use of words like never, always, constantly, and so on. In general, we no longer listen after those words. Consider doing these instead:

  • Create a list of the actual things that you want to fix.    
  • Find out the negotiable and non-negotiable things. Inform your partner of the things you would like to see change, and what definitely must change.
  • Avoid making negotiable ones non-negotiable. Don’t let everything turn into an issue. Focus on the big things.
  • Lastly, talk about ways to achieve your goal.

This should be a discussion where you both give input and not a monologue where only you say what should happen. Immediately it looks like a judgmental monologue, you lose. Don’t forget that empathy will keep you hooked with your spouse. So, respect your partner input.

  • Have Neat and Messy Zones

Mark some parts of the house that are to remain cleaned and organized. These should include popular areas like kitchen counters and the entryway. Then, also implement messy zones where your spouse won’t touch your items or disturb you to clean them up. This can include parts of the house that get less traffic like nightstands or desks. If one partner leaves items in the neat area, then the other partner can just return them to their messy zone and can always avoid seeing them.

For instance, if you’ve assigned a desk as a messy zone, and your spouse continues to leave papers all over the kitchen table, instead of checking and sorting them, just put them on his desk so he can deal with it at his own time. This supports the idea that his items are his and that his items are his responsibility to clean.  

  • Try to Make Some Concessions

Acceptance can be a great step if you can only agree: my partner is messy, and I will have to live with it. There may be some little concessions you have to make, like allowing them to keep their office in a total mess, or letting them leave their clothes unfolded in their wardrobe. There are certain things that indeed just don’t bother disorganized people, and where it doesn’t impact you directly, you may just have to leave it so.

  • Arrange a Weekly or Monthly Couples Meeting

This may sound unnecessary at first since you are already living together and spend most of your time with each other. However, professionals reveal that arranging a time every week or month to talk about how things are working for the two of you, and express, in a cool way, what changes you would like to see can be much more beneficial than allowing your feelings to take over when he leaves the clothes on the floor again.

Liz Colizza, Lasting’s head of Therapy suggests that you ask your partner how you two can make cleaning a smooth experience in your lives. Sometimes, there are miscommunication and expectations unmet with no creation of a little structure around cleaning, according to a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist Kat Van Kirk Psy.D.

Concentrate on the areas you are both good at and work with varying schedules instead of allowing assumptions to create resentments on both sides.

  • Endeavor not to be Parenting your Husband

When you are tired of cleaning up after your husband, you may find yourself parenting them instead of giving them the partner treatment. Parenting starts when you begin to feel that your partner is so irresponsible that they need to be guided through things step by step, and when you make assumptions that they are wrongly doing things on purpose due to laziness. Don’t forget, for the most part, being disorganized is not some inadequacy, it is a small incompatibility. People live in various ways and grow up with different tolerances for mess. By tackling it with them rather than against them, you can convert it into an exercise in bonding and not a continuous fight.

This is one of the best tips found to be practical and result-oriented.

  • Remember to Praise Each Other

Understand that this is a work-in-progress. The fact that your messy husband is trying to turn a new leaf on any level is a step in the right direction and you need to praise them. If there are too high in expectations, the partner may fail to praise their other enough and therefore there is positive encouragement for making a new behavior a pattern, says Dr. Van Kirk. Praise and acknowledgment are goodwill and reveals that you value each other’s needs. This means, a little ‘thank you dear for folding those clothes’, goes a long way.

  • Hire a Housekeeper

If everything fails, you can always hire a professional to come in and clean. Many couples first don’t like the idea of a housekeeper, but, if you have the money to cover for it, it might be the best thing you can do for your husband. New couples tend to always want to prove that they can handle everything in their home, says Dr. Van Kirk. 

She suggests a housekeeper, even if it is every month, to assist with the areas with bigger tasks, such as cleaning the shower and dusting. You don’t have to make it weekly, you can schedule once a month or just for thorough cleaning jobs, she mentioned. Find out what works best for you and your partner and consider the available resources.

Final Words

Change takes time! Understand that this issue won’t just go away suddenly. Any new habit takes some time to implement. Just don’t forget, focus on the main thing. Your marriage is much more important than the mess in your house. This is coming as an advice to homes. We have come to understand that peace comes from greatly accepting our partners as they are, and loving them without condition.

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