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First, let me say how much I enjoy and gravitate to your writing, Alison. Thanks again for your many insightful, funny, and universal truths and advice.

After reading this article and another one by you, I realized that I have been struggling over the same ridiculous issue for over thirty five years now. They seem to concur with the exact time I moved in under the same roof with a male, who I later married and produced children with. We are still married…35 years more or less. Yee gads, who does that anymore?

We were young, bookish, hippie-ish…I hadn't given any thought whatsoever to his very conventional upbringing(Sottish born) and our differences in early childhood development as expressed within a home.
He had one brother, I had three.
And an older sister. And a twin sister.
Add 2 parents and thats 8 people.
I was a cleaner when I was a child…and then I "loosened up" a bit as I was older, an artist, a cook, a mother, an adult
My husband and I fight about the same things we did thirty five years ago, from apartment to house: CLEANING. NEATNESS. Who does what and how often, etc.

It was more than obvious that he had quite a different view of himself than he did , say, ofthe living room. Because he worked hard, because his mother "worked in the home" and had made her house look like a hotel lobby, he thought little of actually tending to his habitat. I kept thinking it would change. It never did, or has. He still thinks he does far more than his share,even during the years and years that I too worked full time. I cleaned, and I had gourmet meals on the table every night since I was 21.

All of this came to a halt due to serious injuries in my neck. I gave up making art, but somehow giving up cooking and cleaning seemed very horrifying to him…..and he continued to notice my lacking. Why would I cook and clean if I couldn't do my real work? Well, this was my real work, to him…

I don't have the energy to keep trying to change someone…I believe a person is a cleaner or not a cleaner, tidier, or not, but I do feel in most cases it is the man who picks and chooses according to what feels right to him, and a woman does everything else, whether or not it "feels right". On going laundry, dust and dishes cannot "feel right" to anyone who has more interesting things on their mind. But they must be attended to. Or else.

I took two years to de clutter my house, brought most of my work upstairs and did as much as I could from my bed, where I needed to be.(I write, I read , design and took up the classical guitar) The rest of the house remained clean…I never used those rooms anymore. That was one good magic trick. Not cooking remains a problem….for him. And I miss my cooking.

What is it about "Man and Food"that prevents them from truly understanding the effects a crushed nerve root on one side of the body, coupled with a torn rotator cuff on the other side, has on the ability to produce a meal? Hunger and denial….what a combo.

Now that I have condensed most of the crap/clutter to one or two rooms, when I can, I get a bag and take away 15 things from each room every few weeks. One bag is the goner bag, and another for "could be a keeper, lets see how much it's missed. Things are rarely missed. People are. Smiles and hugs are. Health is. And so forth.

I am, like you, a person in constant search of the optimal organizing a room, or elsewhere. I have designed the most amazing handbag organizer, in which nothing can be lost or stolen and every item has its own pocket. It's perfect. Nothing like it exists. I can't go without it, I NEVER lose my keys!! I can't find the people and the funds to mass produce it yet..but this is my aim.

I do believe that your points are very important.
And, I also feel strongly that the old styled closet systems our homes have are partially to blame for our lack of organization….closets do not work, they make matters worse. But that's another story….and invention.
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I work 4 days teaching and 2 nights gigging (musician) and have always done pretty much all chores inside and out, incl. shopping, finances, moving house (alone), mowing, gardening, you name it!! In previous houses DH would help out on occasion and even cleaned the bathroom when we first moved in together (aah, the good old days).

Recently Hubby and I moved into a small flat which makes my life so much easier.

When I asked DH which chores he would like to do as were now both working pretty much full-time (and I am studying post-grad) he said "sleeping."

Upon observation hubby will only help if specifically asked, except he does put a load of washing on (but forgets to hang it out and bring it in) and will only volunteer to cook if using the new BBQ! Resentment is my middle name!!

So, I've stopped trying to change him, stopped picking up after him and will shortly be hiring a cleaner once a week.

If I don't like the situation then I'm the one who needs to fix it. His empty beer bottles and ironing pile are piling up but now I leave them.

I can't change him, his attitude or his work ethic. I'm just starting to look after myself and create situations that no longer cause anger and resentment (hopefully). Problem solved? We'll see!
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My partner and I have lived together for 16 years. For years, we both worked outside of the home and I did all of the cleaning, cooking, etc. Not only would he never lend a hand, he would very often instruct me in the best way to do things - and then be quite angry when I was failing to do it the way he wanted it done (read that: the way his mother did it). This caused me so much emotional suffering for years, being bullied in this way.

On the way to working thru this, I would simply do the housecleaning when he was not at home.

He also leaves things wherever, tools, flashlights, garden things - so often tools would be left out in the weather, lost etc. Also, clothes and shoes everywhere in the house. a big mess.

I finally realized after many years, he actually does not see the clutter, he is not really waiting for me to do it - it just had nothing to do with him.

The way I've made peace with this is that if something is bothering me in the house, I do something about it - no matter who caused it. Why should I expect him to keep the house the way that suits me?

I will add that he does lots of other things around the house (even though he is a profession and often doesn't really know how).

Its been a long journey and now that we are both retired, he does do a bit more (perhaps 10% of the time, he empties the dryer and folds the clothes). He has very slowly been showing more interest in house chores - so who knows?

I am very appreciative that he has been such a wonderful provider (earned a great living) and continues to show a willingness to change - although a great deal slower that would suit me.


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