27 Jan
A Slob Reformation

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

My husband and I are slobs. We’re not quite starring on Hoarders or anything, but I haven’t changed my cleaning habits much since I had a path to my bed when I was 10. Luckily (or unluckily) my husband has the same tolerance to clutter/mess that I do, so it’s never before been a cause of marital strife. But now I’m trying to change.

This past month I’m on a roll and have started making visible progress, but this has coincided with one of my husband’s worst months at work. All he wants to do when he gets home is sit in his chair and watch TV, all evening, all weekend. You know, the kind of behavior that has been OK for the past dozen years of marriage, but it’s suddenly pissing me off. It’s very frustrating to not get any help and feel like I’m the only one actually fighting in the battle to reform. (Full disclosure: He does notice what I’ve done during the day and is lavish with the compliments.)

How do I balance genuinely needing help and support versus “You can’t change another person, only yourself”?


Nearly Neat


Dear Nearly Neat,

Congratulations on being on the path to cleanliness! They say it is next to godliness, which I guess explains the voices I hear in my head: God is right next to me, talking to me. Or maybe I hear the voices because of all the cleaner fumes I breathe in when I scrub the tub. Either way, who cares! The house is clean and I’m happy because God tells me I deserve a vodka tonic after all my hard work.

It’s true we can’t change another person, only ourselves. The weird thing though, is that by changing ourselves, it also changes others. Mahatma Gandhi also speaks to me, mostly when I use a lot of bleach in the whites, and he told me that directly from heaven! What’s stranger still is Gandhi was a man so I’m wondering if he ever did his own whites. What did he know about extensive housework?

But this is marriage we’re talking about here. Partnership! Helpmate! The reality is things aren’t always exactly 50/50. Right now he’s under a lot of stress. We know husbands have to take care of themselves emotionally just like we do. So maybe, for now, you should let him off the cleaning reform hook. If you have old enough children, make them take his place. What did we have kids for if not to at least wash the dirty dishes?! As a child I was convinced that was the only reason my parents had my sister and me.

As far as the weekend goes, well, I think that’s a wee bit different. For the time being, perhaps you should scale back your expectations. Say, get him to help you on a specific cleaning job for, I don’t know, an hour or two, and then call it quits and do something fun, like go out for ice cream or watch as your kids do the dishes. (I swear my parents’ FAVORITE pastime.) And don’t forget to let yourself off the hook a little right now too.

But once things calm down at work, put the screws to him. Work his @$$ off and make him earn IT. And you know what I mean by “IT”.


Heather, TMH

14 Responses to “A Slob Reformation”


Comment by The Flying Chalupa.

By “IT,” I’m guessing you mean a peck on the cheek and a ‘get off me I’m tired?’ Either that or it’s the rights to the remote control.

And I really need to start using more bleach when I wash the whites.

Plano Mom Reply:

Amen to the remote control rights. Gets ’em in gear every time.


Comment by Bean.

I’m not sure I’d hold my breath on DH joining you in the cleaning frenzy. After a couple years of marriage & resenting/nagging for more help around the house, I finally realized that 1) I am bothered by “dirty” far faster than DH, 2)it actually bothered me less to just clean than to wait for him to help or nag.

Is it ideal? Heck, no. But there are probably plenty of things that I do (or don’t do) that he doesn’t nag me about & just takes care of… so it evens out.

You’re changing the status quo. I’m not sure it’s fair to expect him to join you. But I DO think it’s fair that he not un-do what you’ve worked so hard to accomplish.

Heather, TMH Reply:

I haven’t touched a lawnmower or weed eater in 15 years.


Comment by Wendi.

Last week I had a great conversation with Elvis after inhaling oven cleaner for two hours. Wheeee!


Comment by annie.

Wait, what?? I’m not supposed have visions while cleaning the tub

Must be the medical mary jane.


Comment by dusty earth mother.

Uh oh. You sound like a reformed smoker who makes snide comments about second-hand smoke to strangers on the street. I think you should probably just enjoy your own rebirth and maybe, in time, he’ll think it’s fun to be able to see the bottom of the sink. (By the way, I’m the slob in my own marriage scenario and after ten years of my husband’s neatness, I’ve started to see the light. Hopefully it won’t take your man that long πŸ™‚


Comment by Alexandra.

You know, things are just not going to change. I’m sorry, but that’s who he is.


Comment by amy.

That is weird. God tells me I can drink red wine after housecleaning!


Comment by amy.

And if I were you and feeling frustrated by the lack of help I would hire a housekeeper a few hours a week!


Comment by Diana.

My clean house, my rules…period. He has one messy room to himself and he gets to do all the outdoors work. That’s what we call fair.


Comment by Patty.

When I was a slip of a girl, my dad — who spent an inordinate amount of time on KP when in the Army because of authority issues — taught me how to wash the dishes efficiently and thoroughly. Now, 40+ years later, I am still the goddamned designated dishwasher and kitchen cleaner, and I still resent it, because for some reason the losers I live with cannot grasp the simple fundamentals of dishwashing, much less putting clean dishes away and unloading grocery bags and taking the recycling OUT to the bins . . . wait. Must calm down and drink something. Or do deep breathing. Or take a pill.

He is noticing your efforts and praising you, and his rough patch will be temporary, God willing. So keep up your efforts, strictly for your benefit, and if it spills over to others, that’s okay too. One day the difficulty will be over, and he might actually finish the basement, or paint the bedroom, or — gasp — help you redo the kitchen. My guy does the laundry, my daughter cooks, and in some weird way that offsets the complete hash they make of my kitchen. Who SAYS gin isn’t an attitude adjustment? Hic.


Comment by Jennifer June.

God told me that the rule is that one is supposed to drink Gin Martinis WHILE cleaning so as to disinfect the soul and the house at the same time.

Who am I to argue with God?

Men (boys) don’t do what you want unless you trick them into thinking it was their idea or promise them a blow job upon completion or both.
Pure. And. Simple.


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