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The 'messy' debate

(15 Posts)
biccytinage Wed 08-Nov-17 11:05:32

I grew up in a miserable, untidy, dirty home. My friends would visit and be shocked at the state of my messy, dirty bedroom, along with the rest of the house.
I always wanted a nice home and a nice bedroom but felt it was beyond my reach. That was until I got a part-time job at 16 and my friend suggested we give my bedroom a make-over. I saved up for months and when I had enough money, we stripped the horrible wallpaper, I paid someone to re wallpaper, we painted, I bought some cheap new furnishings, cushions, a throw for the bed and we cleaned.
I was so proud of my room that I kept it spotless from then onwards, setting time aside each week to clean and tidy it. My parents did not help at all.
The rest of the house was still disgusting and I longed for it to be nice too, but it always felt like an overwhelming, mammoth job as it would just end up being dirty and untidy again.
Fast forward almost 20 years! I have, since then, always kept a nice home. Not perfect by a long shot, I did inherit some of my parents messy tendencies at times, but overall I like a nice home.
For some reason, I married someone messy 😦 and not particulalry clean conscious either.
It really bothers me and similarly to how I felt at home all those years ago, I feel overwhelmed with keeping a whole house clean and tidy only for it to be messed up again.
As I say, I am not perfect myself and you will find a pile of books stacked on my bedside table, a couple of pens, watch, picture frame, the odd empty mug now and then. However, DH's bedside table is like someone emptied a bin bag out on it... littered with rubbish. It looks awful. This for me is what I call a lazy mess. It takes no extra effort to just put things on the table in a neater fashion without making it look like a table full of litter.
Anyway, I've been reading up on how to cope with a messy spouse and I'm shocked to discover that messy people are considered to be messy as part of their personality. As if you can't change them. I consider this to be nonsense. I completely changed at 16 and learned how good it can feel to be proud of a clean, tidy space. I am not convinced that anyone is inherently messy, but are Infact choosing to be this way.
More importantly, have you got a spouse/sibling who has changed from being a messy/unclean person to being tidy? What changed? Or how did you get them to change?

Cricrichan Wed 08-Nov-17 11:08:46

I grew up in a spotless home but was messy myself until I had children. It's still an effort to be tidy but because it's not just about me and because it'd be doubly hard cleaning and finding stuff for the kids, I just get on with it.

hellsbellsmelons Wed 08-Nov-17 11:09:46

You can't change someone.
Why did you marry someone who is a lazy slob?
Does he do anything around the house?
Have you told him how you feel?
Have you told him that mess like that is not OK and he needs to clean it up?
Well done on changing yourself in this way.
My recent ExP was a filthy git.
I'm so glad he's gone.
My house is so tidy and clean now (although I have a cleaner!)
It's just so nice to come home to a nice house.
He needs to understand if this a deal-breaker for you.
For any future partners, it certainly will be for me.
I think it shows disrespect!!!

biccytinage Wed 08-Nov-17 11:15:04

Hellsbells: he does do things around the house because I'm not prepared to tolerate him not. It took a while for him to see that. But it's the thoughtless, messing things up as he goes that drives me mad... a lot of things wouldn't need to be tidied up in the first place if he was a little more thoughtful about where he puts things and how he puts them down.
For me, this is something he is choosing not to do and is as capable as anyone else of doing. I need something to click with him as it did with me when I was younger.

SleveMcDichael Wed 08-Nov-17 11:28:05

Hmm. It doesn't sound like you changed. It sounds like you were a tidy person having to put up with your parents' messy home. You took control of your own space when you were old enough. That's how your OP reads. I'm not sure how much you can get someone to change. You can't make a neat freak out of a natural slob.

I sympathise because I'm a lot tidier than DH - but while I'm searching for a happy compromise I don't think I'll ever make him a tidy person!

writergirl747474 Wed 08-Nov-17 12:39:04

You have my sympathy. Same situation here - I'm tidy and DP is not. He just leaves things when he puts them down and doesn't put things in the bin. For example if he finished a can of shaving foam he'd buy a new can and put it next to the empty can rather than putting the empty one in the bin. It drives me mental - it literally takes no time at all to clear up after yourself as you go along. And doesn't "see" chores that need doing (i.e. he doesn't see it as his job).

I have gradually changed him over the past 18 months but it's hard work and left to his own devices he reverts to old ways.

I'm not sure what the solution is except tell him how it makes you feel rather than concentrating on the mess. I.e if you have to clear up after him you feel like his mum/the maid not an equal partner whose time is valuable.

Zaphodsotherhead Wed 08-Nov-17 12:51:23

Is his messiness over the whole house, OP? Or is it mostly confined to small areas that are 'his'? Because sometimes you just have to let it go. I'm not particularly tidy, but I keep my house reasonable, and sometimes apologise for mess that visitors genuinely haven't noticed (no, they aren't just being polite,, my 'mess' is just their 'things put down'). So are you seeing 'mess' that you are sensitive to because of your upbringing but others might only see as 'stuff'?
And if it's fairly confined, then life is too short to stress over small things. Only get worked up if it's absolutely EVERYWHERE.

Zaphodsotherhead Wed 08-Nov-17 12:52:41

I have to add to my post that my mother was obsessive over 'tidiness' and things being put away and it was very stressful to live with. I have evolved my attitude as a result of never being allowed to put anything down anywhere other than in a cupboard, and some fairly batshit ideas about when tidy was tidy enough!

sunnyrainyday Wed 08-Nov-17 13:01:09

I feel your pain Op. my daughter lives in a reasonably clean but untidy, very untidy and disorganised home.

My daughter is raising two great kids and is a respected nurse. However, being a busy working mum has nothing to do with her habits. She's always been like it. Both me and my other daughter have been over and tried to get her organised by she reverts. I'm not house proud but like reasonable order. My other daughter has OCD and order and tidiness and control are a necessity for a level of peace for her. She really struggles with her sister. Suffice to say as I have two children at opposite ends of the tidiness spectrum, they blame me smile

I've no words of wisdom for you and I don't have to live with my daughter but given what you've said about your background, I can see your struggle.

Nazdarovye Wed 08-Nov-17 13:15:49

I think you are either inherently messy or tidy. You've always been a tidy neat person but you grew up with a messy slob family and the neatfreak in you was bothered by it.
Your husband is an inherent slob who is messy by nature and will only change his ways if someone keeps nagging him to tidy up. So the bad news is that he will always drive you up the wall. If these people live alone there place is typically a tip, they never throw any shit away and don't clean properly. I know people like this and whenever I am at their place I feel an irresistible urge to do a massive clearance and deep clean. But hey, if they choose to live like slobs it is their problem. Some of them cannot find a partner because of their messy habitat but they don't realise this.

biccytinage Wed 08-Nov-17 14:14:16

Zaphod: I think both you, I and everyone else would class mounds of screwed up receipts, bits of chewing gum, random tools, empty glasses and mugs as actual "mess" and not me being too sensitive. I would even class it as a dirty mess in my book.

biccytinage Wed 08-Nov-17 14:16:04

I don't know Naz, if I had always been a "neat freak" which I'm pretty sure I'm not by most standards, surely I would still have kept my bedroom neat and tidy?
My bedroom was as bad as the rest of the house until I made it nice and gained a bit of pride.

woolythoughts Wed 08-Nov-17 14:23:08

I don’t know.

I am the messy one. My husband is borderline OCD. It causes the main arguments in our relationship and I don’t have a solution.

I genuinely don’t see mess at his level of messiness. If I were on my own I would clean and tidy myself but it would get a lot messier before I did. Note I do mean messiness rather than dirtiness.

I do know one thing. Be careful how much you push. When we first got together I was very messy. And I’ve made a large effort to improve. Almost everyone will say I’m a world different than I was. But in his eyes, I’m still too messy. Because I’m not at his standard, it doesn’t matter how much I make the effort it’s not good enough. I think he’s forgotten how messy I was when we got together.

And then other surf just pisses me off. I knit. If I’m going to bed tonight and know there is almost certainty I’ll be knitting tomorrow, I don’t see the point in clearing all the knitting stuff away and putting it back in the cupboard overnight just to get it out again. I will put it away on a Sunday night if I know I’m going away on business for a few days. But he gets grumpy if everything doesn’t get put back in the cupboard as soon as I’ve finished.

I’ve just accepted well always argue over it.

biccytinage Thu 09-Nov-17 15:07:27

Wooly: I'll bet if you weren't messy, the knitting left out wouldn't bother him as much. I find I am more bothered about a mess that DH makes that wouldn't usually bother me in general, mainly because of the fear that it will just be left like that and never cleared up. Interesting.

Mwnci123 Thu 09-Nov-17 21:50:37

Both my husband and I are very messy (both had reputations for it before getting together). Over the years we've been together we've gotten better at running an ok house together, with the most significant improvement since having a child. Mess can be stressful and miserable, I agree. Having said that, I take exception to some of the moralising tones on this thread ('slob', 'lazy', 'filthy') and suspect that some of the tidy spouses here are bringing more significant challenges to harmonious partnership than mess. I think Dan Savage's idea of the 'price of admission' is salient here.

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