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To ask for advice on me and DP's hoarding and messy tendencies

(54 Posts)
OhTannenbomb Sat 19-Dec-15 17:22:17

I live with DP, we both have lives we are reasonably content with.

No children and we don't work/commute excessive hours.

The flat is always a right tip.

It's a one bedroom flat so shouldn't be hard at all, but just seems to never get done consistently.

It's basically "can't invite anyone round spontaneously" messy most of the time.

DP pulls his weight and is the least sexist person I know.

But I think he has differences with me in that I tend to want things completely clear if we're cleaning, whereas he will do things like leave a pile of stuff after he's swept up and things on surfaces and not leave surfaces "clear". So it always seems to be in this weird half-messy state.

Also, he's very frugal and a "fixer and finder of things" (which is great financially - he makes or re-uses rather than buys, whilst happily putting the spare money towards extra's or a night out for me or towards savings/ deposit on a 1st home for both of us).

He cooks really good food but I'm beginning to dread it as it always seems to mean a pile of dishes and things all over the kitchen for days afterwards (unless I do it myself).

(He isn't as bothered by the mess as me. But also I don't want to always be cleaning up after him or be the "nag"?).

His happiness and freedom and peace of mind is most important to me. But we seem to have heaps of junk around all the time from him changing bike wheels or things he found on the street which he "might" use or sell on.

We have good working conditions, lots of hobbies, friends, and are very emotionally and intellectually close - I just think we owe it to ourselves not to live like Stig of the Dump!

My parents had issues, and lived in a giant old house, and hoarded shit whilst simultaneously having financial issues and being stuck in other areas of their lives

(they were also abusive so I'm NC with them, but one of the many things that made my childhood unhappy was that people were never invited round as the place was a tip with piles of stuff in it)

Hopefully I seem to have just about avoided their emotional difficulties, but the flat is depressing me and I worry I'm just repeating history with my parents.

We're thinking of buying (which wouldn't be possible without DP's savings - he will put the majority of money towards it but insists on equal shares/ joint names) but it would just be horrid if it was always the same way as it is now.

I've tried Flylady but it just seems to be daily advertising e-mails for overpriced wipes!

IrenetheQuaint Sat 19-Dec-15 17:26:54

So are you saying that, actually, this situation is almost entirely of your DP's making?

Iggi999 Sat 19-Dec-15 17:30:17

Reading the Marie Kondo book might help - I've found it great for changing how much I can throw away. It doesn't sound so much like it's you who has the problem though.

OhTannenbomb Sat 19-Dec-15 17:32:53

It's both of ours really?

I kind of get miserable because I come in and there is half a bike or a half made-bench over the kitchen floor or about a third of the kitchen is full of dishes and multiple ingredients from the cupboards

(and then I don't really want to be doing anything domestic round it and I tend to value my peace of mind more than playing the nagging martyr. DP doesn't "expect" me to do anything).

So then I just ignore it and go out or something else or we just decamp into the bedroom and watch an arty film or something. So the mess then becomes both of our responsibility. And it's a vicious cycle.

Iggi999 Sat 19-Dec-15 17:35:06

If he was as non-sexist as you say he would clean the fuck up after himself.

Interrobanger Sat 19-Dec-15 17:38:16

Him creating loads of mess and then essentially saying 'I don't give a shit but if you do, it's your problem to sort', isn't really the same thing as it being both of your mess.

All I'm reading here is that he makes your living conditions unbearable but you don't want to 'nag'. Which basically means you're scared to say anything in case it makes him not like you.

firesidechat Sat 19-Dec-15 17:39:11

His happiness and freedom and peace of mind is most important to me.

Is your happiness, freedom and peace of mind important to him? If it is, tell him all of this and he will get his act together, won't he. Let's hope so because I couldn't live like you do.

firesidechat Sat 19-Dec-15 17:40:22

Are all these things he creates piles out of his?

OhTannenbomb Sat 19-Dec-15 17:40:30

I don't think he sees it as women's work, he sees it as no-one's work.

Or he'll do it but in a very odd way so there's still piles of stuff over the place. It's like the little piles of stuff on the kitchen floor AFTER he's swept - he doesn't pick it up and put in the bin, but it doesn't bother him so much?

(incidentally he worked for some time whilst I studied and wasn't bringing any money in, and didn't expect me to do anything at home then either and was keener for me to use any money to have a life and go and visit friends or do cultural things in my spare time. So it's not he's expecting me to do anything, just that he's messy himself).

Iggi999 Sat 19-Dec-15 17:44:32

But ultimately this attitude translates into a man happily living in a home that is kept sanitary and reasonably tidy by the labour of a woman. Are you both young I don't think you've said - as people in their 20s can have a certain degree of not giving a shit about their surroundings that generally changes as they get older.

OhTannenbomb Sat 19-Dec-15 17:45:31

Interrobanger he's happy to go along with what I say, but won't instigate anything?

Like I was trying that Flylady 15 minutes thing over the summer and without fail he'd spend 15 minutes with me cleaning "something". But it didn't seem to work as a system for some reason.

Interrobanger Sat 19-Dec-15 17:49:32

Presumably because he was making a token effort because he doesn't actually give a shit.

Littlef00t Sat 19-Dec-15 17:50:29

Is he happy clearing up after himself if you ask him to, or point out where he's missed something?

If you get along well, I'd point out how the standard of clean is making you feel, and 'nag'. My DH was much worse when we got together and was happy to be 'nagged' as he genuinely wouldn't notice the mess that frustrated me.

OhTannenbomb Sat 19-Dec-15 17:51:53

I do appreciate all the calls that he is potentially putting all the wifework onto me - I'm not a "what about the poor menz" personality.

but I don't think that is the case here?

It's not that he lacks willpower to do stuff, it's just that there isn't a system that seems to work to get both of us organised!

(eg he does things like he built a standing table from scratch to suit my height when I was having back issues with study - but then there are a couple of shelves full of tools and bits of scrap in the kitchen! Or he'll get books, records which he thinks I like - I do enjoy and benefit from, but there's loads of them just cluttering up surfaces!)

Iggi999 Sat 19-Dec-15 18:00:45

Kondo. You need to clear out, not just clean.

FannyTheChampionOfTheWorld Sat 19-Dec-15 18:21:21

I get where you're coming from OP. I've a relative with similar tendencies, and similar ability to make amazing stuff with his hands from bits of old crap. It's tough because obviously it saves money and you benefit from it too. But OTOH, there's also a 'cost' to not being able to enjoy your living space properly due to it being filled with junk, even if that junk is going to make a killer standing table in 3 years time. It's like you're describing the person I know, although he does wash up the sea of pots he creates when cooking.

That said, you could address the books and music for a start. If space is tight and he likes filling what there is with bike wheels and the like, media can be all electronic. You simply don't have room for both in a one bed flat. That's not to say more space will solve things either. A shed might be the answer to the problem of crap cluttering up the flat if he can keep it contained. OTOH he might be exactly the same in a five bed house just increasing the amount of shit and projects to fill the space. I will say that my relative is getting worse as he gets older. I don't think this is simply a cleaning and tidying issue.

IrenetheQuaint Sat 19-Dec-15 18:26:57

Are you basically organised, OP, or do you leave piles of shit around too? So far it's sounding like he's quite lazy with no interest in how you feel about your mutual living space. If so, have you tried losing it with him and explaining exactly how you feel?

OhTannenbomb Sat 19-Dec-15 18:59:53

I'm fine solo, not Aggie and Kim but tidy - although I find it hard to get motivated to clean when too much stuff round? It's like he doesn't put things away in places?

So I need to get through his stuff to get to basic level cleaning. Then it feels like I'm just cleaning up his stuff which I don't feel is my responsibility?

So it doesn't get done. I suppose I could stiff upper lip and blitz through but I don't want to fall into a routine of being the one who has to do everything.

(on the other hand, everything he has saved through his little projects and useful stuff piles of crap means big deposit = tiny mortgage for me through no scrimping and saving on my part, and I could easily cut my hours and have more leisure time if I wanted whilst half-owning a flat I liked).

We aren't planning to have children, which may make a difference (and simultaneously I'm embarrassed that two people like us are living like swamp dwellers when I'm sure busy parents of three kids can keep a tidier place than us!)

BatsUpMyNightie Sat 19-Dec-15 19:05:51

I could BE your DH! I'm a great piler-up-of-things, my desk is, as I look at it, a war zone and I've got things around me that should be chucked, taken to dump or Freecycled and just aren't! I'm looking at a half full folder of sweetmaking partwork magazines that I can't even give away on Freecycle - you'd think that would tell me to take them to the fucking dump but no. I am so bad at actually throwing things out - even things that are way way beyond my capabilities to fix. So do let me know if you find the answer grin - perhaps I can apply it to myself!

goodnightdarthvader1 Sat 19-Dec-15 19:08:07

I know 2 couples like this. Whenever we go round you can barely move for the crap everywhere. Personally, for 2 young couples without kids, I think it's pretty gross.

These messes are usually of the men's making, as they are both disorganised "make do and mend" types who are content to live in squalor.

Allthatnonsense Sat 19-Dec-15 20:22:12

Living with people and negotiating their idiosyncrasies is hard, only love makes it possible.

It will be hard for him too. You just have to let it go or let him go.

metimeisforwimps Sat 19-Dec-15 20:34:44

Its perfectly feasible that your dp is nice and non-sexist but has a different idea about living standards. I don't know if it would help but can you think.of a way you cwn both work to your strengths so that overall its equal. In our house I do all the cleaning, dh does all garden, maintenance and car stuff, plus school runs and cooks twice a week. We're both happy not to have to feel with stuff we don't enjoy.

ToffeeForEveryone Sat 19-Dec-15 20:50:45

Sounds like you just have too much stuff. It's a lot harder to keep things tidy when it's cluttered. Have a big clear out - charity shop or tip anything you don't love or regularly use. You won't miss anything! Don't keep anything that you don't easily have space for.

silvermantela Sat 19-Dec-15 20:58:19

Okay I'm going to play devil's advocate here, because technically I'm in 'your' camp, e.g it seems normal and entirely reasonably to me that grown adults should want to live in a nice clean home. However when two people have different views on issues, I don't automatically see why one partner should have to change their behaviour to fit the other's.

e.g. you could say that, from your DP's perspective 'the right/sensible thing to do' is to save money for a deposit rather than fritter it away, but the difference is he recognises that you don't agree with what his opinions on this, and he doesn't expect you to change your behaviours to fit in with his. Whereas you do expect him to change to fit with your ideas of what is right.

Therefore, if the mess is an issue that bothers you more, than I don't think it unreasonable for you to do more of the cleaning, or, at least put the effort in to plan who is going to do what. Definitely not because you're female but because a) it bothers you more and b) you are a partnership, which means you both contribute in different ways.

e.g. you seem quite resentful about dishes being left for days after he's cooked a 'really good' meal unless you clear them up - but in most relationships (or even non-romantic houseshares), then surely it's quite normal for one person to cook and the other clear up?

In a purely practical way, perhaps you shouldn't be so hard on yourselves. It seems that you are both willing to try to keep the place a bit tidier (even though DP wants you to take the lead on it), but, with the best will in the world, if you have a lot of stuff there's a limit to how tidy you can keep a 1 bed flat .... at some point you are just going to be moving stuff from surface to surface, so it's never going to look pristine. I would buy as much hidden storage stuff for now, ask him to limit the bits and bobs he brings home until you've moved to somewhere you can store them, and focus on making a new start when you get your new place, whether that's planning a cleaning routine to put into place from the very beginning, so it becomes routine, or making it a priority to get somewhere with a shed or garage you can dump all extra stuff, or having a huge clear out before you go.

gleam Sat 19-Dec-15 21:23:12

Just on the cooking and washing up thing - dh and I agreed that whoever cooked, didn't wash up. We felt that was fair. I also bought a dishwasher!

However, if you're living with a messy cook, could you agree that when each of you cooks, you also wash up? Then the messy cook doesn't impose on the tidy cook.

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