What came first–the naggy wife or the lazy husband?

by Erika Torres
79 comments

Our house is a mess. Hangars are everywhere. I have no storage for anything. All our bathroom supplies are still in boxes. And those green vomit-inducing curtains are driving me INSANE. I know we just moved a week ago, but still!

If you think I’m kidding, this is what our house looked like Sunday night.

It’s like an episode of Hoarders.

These things would have never bothered me when I lived at my parents’ house. I would have just shoved the hangars to the side and created a little walkway so I get to my bed and the bathroom and I’d be fine.

But now I have my own home and I hate, hate, hate, having it dirty.

So who do I naturally take it out on? Eric, of course.

I’m frustrated and angry because I can’t sit on our couch because it’s covered in clothes. Somehow I translate this into words with–“why can’t you put water on the dishes when you put them in the sink??” And that’s if they even make it into the sink. And then I think of the past two weeks and count the number of times Eric has washed dishes (TWICE!) and all the number of times I have washed dishes (way more than TWICE!) and I start keeping score. And of course, his score is always way lower than mine.

It’s like nothing bothers me more in this world than watching Eric have some free time and him choosing to do nothing. Because if I have “free” time, I’m always cleaning. And I hated that about my mom–I hated that if we were all sitting down watching a movie, she couldn’t do it, she had to be cleaning something, or managing the bills, or watering the plants.

Why can’t I just enjoy “free” time and choose to do nothing as well and not feel guilty about it?? How come guys seem to do it so easily? And yet, I always find something that needs to be done?

And worse–how do I stop being resentful? How do I stop feeling like he’s my child whom I must constantly remind to “put your things away”?

Things I may have said recently:

  • “Your dirty clothes go in the hamper not on the floor”
  • “Your shaving stuff goes back in the cabinet, not on the counter.”
  • “The dishes go in the sink”
  • “If you use the last of the toilet paper, replace the roll”
  • “Don’t leave your empty mug on the coffee table, it goes in the sink.”
  • “You were home all morning, there is no reason why I need to come home to a sink load of your dirty dishes.”

So what came first–the chicken or the egg? My nagging or Eric’s refusal to put his things away? Does Eric need to try harder? Or do I need to learn to let some stuff go?

There must be a balance somewhere.

Where do you find your balance?

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Marie August 28, 2011 - 10:06 pm

Hi!
I just wanted to say thank you for posting this because it really helps to see I am not the only one. My fiancee uses all his free time playing playstation or sleeping and its really frustrating to me because there are so many things that need to be done. He wont even study for his classes and then if I say something he says I am being controlling and I need to chill and that its his time. But I guess men don;t understand that some things cannot be left for later (i.e. not washing clothes until you have no underwear left an hour before you need to go somewhere).
Anyhow thanks for the empathy.

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Kim2 October 18, 2010 - 12:21 pm

Kim you’re so right – it is like having a toddler! Sit hubby down and discuss your frustrations. Come up with a small list of things he could do to help you out. You can always add once he gets good at the small list, but if it’s long he’ll immediatley not like it. And phrase it in “we” statements, not “I”, like “I do everything!” because any reasonable person will simply push back against that statement. Say “we need to be a little better about cleaning up after ourselves because ___ [people might randomly visit/it’s easier to do it as we go/etc]. I’d start with clothes & dishes. Once he conquers those, move on to bathroom counter & dropping bags by the door. Good luck with that!

I’m having the same issue with cooking – I seem to always cook. He wants to grocery shop but never gets anything I need, he just buys meat. Half of our meals are vegetarian! (Shhh don’t tell him, he usually doesn’t even notice)

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Shannon October 17, 2010 - 5:13 pm

Oh isn’t it amazing how quickly we become the wives we swore we would never be. Moving and unpacking is so stressful sometimes. It can never get done fast enough. You’ll get there.

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Jocelyn @ The Unaccomplished Lady October 17, 2010 - 2:33 pm

It’s funny because I just wrote a post about balance myself! My BF and I pretty much dealt with keeping the house clean by hiring a maid to come in once a month to do the stuff neither of us want to do. I know we’re completely lucky to be able to afford this. But I still feel you on the dishes, I’m always doing them, and I know it’s not because my BF doesn’t want to do them, it just bothers me more that they’re not done, so I end up doing them all the time, even when I probably should just enjoy my free time doing nothing.

I’m not sure why girls seem to spend their free time cleaning, perhaps it is because we saw our own moms doing this and we’ve just ingrained it into ourselves. I also feel for some reason that I need to tell my BF to do things as if he was a child, and this is totally crappy of me because he isn’t my child, and he doesn’t appreciate the nagging girlfriend routine. PLUS, it never works, so why do I keep doing it over and over?? For whatever reason, this seems to be a running trend amongst women, and I wish I knew why!

At any rate, I’m practicing not being this way by setting up “free time” goals for myself. Not sure if it’ll work, but I’m hoping. Thanks for sharing and showing me that I’m not the only one being a crazy nagging woman.

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FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com October 16, 2010 - 6:07 pm

I almost feel like what you are asking sounds like a reasonable set of demands.

Plates in the sink, clothes in the hamper… they sound like normal requests!!!

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City Girl October 16, 2010 - 4:35 pm

I think it’s about picking and choosing your battles. For me, I’d rather do certain things myself — and right ;). I’d much rather do something myself so that I’m content with it than let a guy do it in an often half-assed way.

It also sounds like you emulate how you were raised and how your Mom was always doing stuff around the house. What was Eric used to? Is there a happy medium in which you could take 15 minutes out of his free time to tackle one thing together? Or, are you at the point where it’s just better to do it yourself and save yourself the energy and nagging? There’s no right or wrong. xoxo

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jackie October 16, 2010 - 4:37 am

This is my life. So it seems fro the rest of these comments that it may be a never ending battle. So do we just give up and not stress over it anymore? I don’t want to be his mom cleaning up after everything, but what is the alternative?

I love your blog because it is real! I get so down on myself reading other blogs about their pottery barn furniture or new $300 shoes. It’s fun to read, but I start comparing myself to other women too quickly. I can’t afford any of that and I’m glad you’re up front about your situation!

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Erin B. Inspired October 15, 2010 - 12:10 pm

Wait, did I write this or did you write this?

Because I could have SWORN that I said all of those things this week.

J doesn’t work most Fridays. So what does that mean for him? A whole day of doing absolutely nothing. Maybe a little TV, maybe a little video games. Very rarely does the day include doing a chore of any type. And when it does, it’s like pick up your shoes or wash the two pots in the sink.

You know what I do on a day off? Clean the floors, organize, arrange, dust, wipe down counters, clean bathrooms — basically ANYTHING but sit around and watch TV.

How is this fair? But in J’s defense, if he did some of those things, he wouldn’t do them “right” or the way I wanted them done so it’s just easier if I do them. The boy can’t wash dishes or make a bed to save his life.

Let me know when you find that balance. Is it because we have ovaries? Sigh.

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eemusings October 14, 2010 - 3:15 pm

Oh. My. God. You just perfectly summed up my relationship. We split cooking pretty evenly but I do the majority of cleaning. He puts his clothes all over the floor and it drives me INSANE. And like you, I get so annoyed – because I take the time on my days off to get the house in order, while on his days off he goes out and by the time he gets home, I’m home, the house is still a tip, etc.

My current method for trying to deal with balancing everything…get up an hour earlier three times a week to get ahead with cooking, cleaning, exercise, freelance work, guitar, whatevs.

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jay October 14, 2010 - 11:31 am

Men are just made different – I swear. He pitches in a lot, but I usually have to ask. The one thing he’ll do without being asked is take out the trash and usually the dishes. Sometimes I’ll clean the dishes a few times and then I expect it to be his turn, and I’ll let him know that. We’ve had some discussions lately, long ones, about what I expect from him and he has gotten better. Maybe a sit down conversation about how you feel and what you expect of him might help? Mine including some crying and yelling… I think it helped. (;

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prettylittlereckless October 14, 2010 - 8:49 am

I’ve never lived with anyone other than college roommates or family, but this reminds me of when I used to be the Cleaning Nazi. I used to leave post-its all over the apt telling certain roommates to clean up after themselves etc That was a battle lost. However, another time I used to clean everyday and one day just stopped. I’d clean up after myself but no one else. Eventually it got so messy that they realized it was a group effort, not just one person. So even though it bothered me to leave it messy all the time, eventually problem got solved and I didn’t have to nag anyone 🙂 You might just have to pick your battles. Explain what bothers you most, but let some of the trivial messes go :-/

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Jen October 14, 2010 - 8:32 am

It’s a tough balance to find and it’s one that I think will get easier with time, it was definitely tough for us to figure out when we got married. Clutter really bothers me and stresses me out, and I have a hard time relaxing so I would always be working on it, Hubs has gotten pretty good about pitching in and I’ve gotten better about setting aside set amounts of time to work on it and then when the time is up, I go relax with him. You’ll get there!

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Lorena October 14, 2010 - 8:24 am

Ay ya yay! Where do i begin. My mom, to this day, is exactly as you described your mom! We’ll be eating breakfast on sunday mornings with her and she’ll get up to put the tortillas away, or clear the empty/unused dishes, or clean the stove.

My husband and I try to share the cleaning duties, but somehow i end up doing the larger part of e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. Dont get me wrong, he helps, but its far and few in between and its random things like…. clean the windows, not the dishes, not the bathroom, not the laundry… you know the everyday stuff. We often talk about “gender” roles, and how a woman is expected to clean, cook, bare children, stay fit/good lookin (or else its the womans fault if he strays) and while having a career. And a man? oh he’s supposed to be the “Man of the House”. Its definately hard because men tend to have a misconception of what a wife’s role is. Pfft to that!

He recently went back to school FT and works PT. I go to school FT and work FT. We discussed and agreed that if he doesn’t help clean the house while he’s home, for him to at least not contribute to the mess either. Tuesday night he went as far as having dinner ready for us when i came home from work. Its a work in progress. Good luck!!

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Red October 14, 2010 - 6:38 am

My husband is actually a lot neater than I am, BUT I do have a problem with both of us doing our chores. We split up the household chores evenly, so neither of us feels overwhelmed. (Before he was let go from his last job, he was going to school like me while working full-time.) So I do the dusting and scrub the bathroom. He cleans the kitchen (not to be confused with doing the dishes) and vacuums. (We have a Roomba, so his half of the chores are way easier than mine!)

Anyway, he feels like he can invite people over any time of the day, even if neither one of us has done chores for two weeks. And I already know why it’s easier for him to leave the house dirty than it is for me… Because men are not responsible for keeping the house clean. Obviously, times are changing, but at least here in Tennessee, it is considered a woman’s responsibility to keep a clean home. So it drive me absolutely bonkers because I think, “What’s going to happen if they come over, and the kitchen isn’t clean? They won’t think, ‘Man, these two need to get their chores done!’ They’ll think, ‘What kind of wife does this guy have?'” I hate that about society, but I think it explains why men have an easier time than we do letting an apartment go without cleaning.

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Kim October 14, 2010 - 6:33 am

This is a never ending battle in my house. I have finally realized that HE is not going to change. I have to just figure out how to deal with it. My husband only works Tues – Friday. When he started this schedule I thought “I’ll come home to a spotless house every Monday because what does he have to do besides clean?!?!” Reality? He watches the TV shows that he DVRs that I hate. And there are so many of them it takes him the whole day. I can usually get one or two chores out of him, but I can’t hope for much more.

When he DOES do something to help out around the house, I praise the heck out of him and he gets so happy and proud of himself. It really is like having a toddler, but he’ll repeat the behavior to get the praise again in the future.

Best of luck with the situation, it is a tough one.

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