Other People's Clutter

How To Live With A Messy Partner & Not Lose Your Mind

Why is the laundry not folded?

Why are the breakfast dishes still in the sink at dinner time?

Why are all of the jars open?

Living with a messy partner can be one of the most frustrating things about your spouse. Sometimes it can seem like you just can’t get through to them. But messy and clean “odd couples” can work out, it just takes some work from both parties.

How To Live With A Messy Partner & Not Lose Your Mind

1. Be Very Specific About What Bothers You

Not only do you need to use “I” language with a messy partner — but you also need to explain things clearly.

Most messy partners truly can’t see the mess that they’re leaving around.

The reason they can be messy is because the clutter simply doesn’t bother them. So when you ask them to do something to fix it, it’s harder for them; they just don’t have the visceral reaction you do.

Try to outline things for them from a functional standpoint: “I prefer it if you wash the dishes immediately, because otherwise it will attract ants or cockroaches.”

2. Distribute the Chores Fairly Rather than Equally

Try not to get too caught up in what’s “equal”,  try to focus on what’s “fair”.

Your partner may want to take turns doing the laundry or turns doing the dishes, because that’s “balanced.” In truth, though, there are some chores that people just hate and other chores that people enjoy. Distribute the chores fairly based on what’s easiest for the individual.

If someone enjoys yard work but hates laundry, it makes more sense to distribute the yard work to them. Likewise, if someone absolutely hates dishes, they may need to take up a couple smaller chores to make up for never doing the dishes. The important thing is that no one is doing significantly more work that they loathe.

3. Try Not to Get Irritated

As long as your partner is genuinely trying to help out, getting irritated is only going to cause animosity.

Rather than getting irritated when a chore isn’t done or a mess is made, treat it as a mistake and request that they fix it. Too often couples begin to treat their partner’s mistakes as intentional acts of aggression; with a messy partner, it very likely isn’t intentional at all. Instead, they simply cannot see the same mess that you do. That doesn’t mean you have to put up with it, but taking it in a more positive direction can help your mood as well.

4. Get Rid of the Excess

You can’t have clutter if you don’t own clutter, right?

One of the best ways to limit the amount of messes that a partner can make is simply to eliminate unnecessary items in your home. Dishes are a great example of this. If you constantly find that dishes aren’t getting done, one way to get into the habit of doing them is to put all dishes away except for a few that you use. This forces you to wash dishes on a regular basis because you simply don’t have enough of them to keep cycling through.

5. Create Positive Reminders

Some tasks, such as taking out the trash at the end of the night, can simply be forgotten.

Setting alarms on smartphones and other devices is a good way to remind yourself and your partner that it has to be done before you to go bed that night. You can even set up a system for alternating chores, so there’s never an argument regarding who is supposed to do something next.

6. Work With Them Rather than Against Them

Try to think from your partner’s point of view. Sometimes with someone who is absent-minded, it isn’t a matter of not wanting to do something; it’s a matter of forgetting altogether.

Often you can eliminate problems simply by altering the environment. For instance, if your partner tends to leave clothes on the bathroom floor, you might be able to resolve the problem by putting a hamper in the bathroom instead of the bedroom. Providing organizational tools can feel like a defeat, but as long as you aren’t “parenting” your partner in other emotionally exhausting ways, it may just be one of those little things done for the health of a relationship. That being said…

7. Try to Avoid Parenting Your Spouse

When you’re sick of tidying up after your spouse, you may end up parenting them instead of treating them as a partner.

Parenting occurs when you start feeling that they’re so irresponsible that they need to be taken through things step by step, and when you assume they are doing things incorrectly intentionally because they are lazy.

Remember: for the most part being messy isn’t some inadequacy; it’s a minor incompatibility. People live in different ways and grow up with different tolerances for mess. By approaching it with them rather than against them you can turn it into an exercise in bonding rather than a constant fight.

8. Teach your Children to Clean Up After Themselves

Dealing with children on top of a messy partner can be a hair-pulling level of frustration, but it can be somewhat mitigated by teaching kids to clean up after themselves.

Agree early on deciding the types of chores that you’ll teach children (such as picking up their toys, or bringing their cups and dishes into the kitchen), and make sure that you teach them these skills consistently. That way, even if you still have a messy partner, you don’t have messy kids.

9. Learn to Make Some Concessions

Acceptance can be a huge step if you can concede: my partner is disorganized, and I’m going to have to live with it. There may be some small concessions you have to make, such as letting them keep their personal office in disarray, or allowing them to leave their own clothes unfolded in their drawers. There are some things that truly just don’t bother messy people, and where it doesn’t directly impact you, you may just have to leave them be.

Are you living with a messy partner and need to vent? Tell us your craziest stories!

(Update: read part 2 of this post here)

219 thoughts on “How To Live With A Messy Partner & Not Lose Your Mind

  1. Kat says:

    My story is the same.
    No change with my partner after 30 + years of marriage.
    In fact it’s worse because I’ve decided not to pick up or clean after them.

    I don’t know if it’s worth it but I’m considering ending the marriage because it does my head in and I’m not so tolerant anymore.

  2. Mike says:

    My situation is a step further than most of you. While my wife is extremely messy and unorganized, she also has OCD and doesn’t trust me (or others) to adequately deal with any of the messes or other things that need to get done, so I am totally helpless. It’s quite a contrast having someone who has massive germ and control anxiety, yet is willing to live in a house that is right out of a horror/reality show. And when she does get around to addressing some of the messes, it takes her a whole day to do what most of us could achieve in 15 minutes – literally. This has been going on for decades and is well past the breaking point. Therapists have told me I have no choice but to leave the relationship, but it’s tough when you’re older.

  3. Eliana says:


    I just need to vent so here goes. My husband and I have been together for 10 years. We have a toddler son. For the last couple of years he decided to go back to school to pursue his MD. In the meantime, I am supporting us financially and also do everything for our family – cook, clean, sons school activities. He has always been messy and unorganized and it drives me nuts. I agreed to hold down the fort and knew he wouldn’t be able to offer much help when he started down this path . The only thing I ask of him is to clean up after himself, yet I find myself cleaning up after him more than my toddler. Today is a prime example, it’s my weekend off so I deep cleaned the house. In the meantime he was in my office, since his is dirty. By the time I got done – 5 hours later he left a mess in my office and got upset because I asked him to take his things out. He just wanted to leave them in there for “a little” but I know how it ends up. He didn’t want to go in his office because he has a mess and is now in mine because I keep mine clean. To top it off he got mad because I asked him to get his stuff out. I am tired of always having to compromise for him. Sorry for the vent, just feeling like I’m at my last straw.

    • Lisa Torello says:

      You’re amazing but stop the madness! Move his stuff out of YOUR office & set it elsewhere. I used to warn “I’m throwing this away tomorrow if it’s still here” and go through with it. It happens zero times again. Promise!

    • Viivess Maree says:

      And what is your advice for living with a partner who is so messy and uncaring of himself that he won’t even shower

    • Lisa Torello says:

      Pick your wars of absolutes ! He knows what makes me crazy. I just step over his underwear… it can lay on floor all day. The next it goes it garbage if I have to pick it up. I t used to drive me crazy but definitely pick your battles of things you will not tolerate!

  4. Rebecca Richardson says:

    I have been married for over 14 years and I have a caveman for a husband. when i first met him, I should have ran! his house look like frat house beer cans in a pyramid on the kitchen counter, trash overflowing in the kitchen, and his adult kids lived with him No job and were the same messy. I moved in and we got married, found out his mother had always done everything for the five boys since they were small to avoid there Hitler father who beat them. I can not excuse his childhood, nor is it my fault. I grew up with one parent my father who had it rough working 2 jobs and raising a girl but he did a wonderful job in making sure I knew how to clean and cook and do my chores. My husband family comes from money and seems he was a teller machine for years with his adult kids who eventually moved in with there mother. I have been managing for over 14 years with 3 dogs and cleaning, washing, and taking care of the dogs. My husband recently retired and he is even worse now then before, my days consist of working coming home cleaning up beer cans were he drank, loading the dishwasher, making sure the dogs have food and water and cooking super. When time comes to go to bed, I am exhausted. He leaves cookes open, not in a container where ever he eats he leaves laying around, clothes, dishes etc..we got into an argument over the cookies being left out, I asked how hard is it to get a container to put them in, he said I don’t want to there is nothing wrong with them out of the container. I am a very clean person and his habits have drove me crazy. I am trying to find some sort of peace in living with this man, since getting older it seems taking care of everything and picking up after him has really grown quiet tiresome, thoughts of divorce but feel I am not up for the challenge of arguing and splitting everything up. He is living on a beach trip this weekend and I am counting down the days, this is sad because I do love him but feel he is set in his ways and will never change.

    • Carolyn says:

      Having a man child husband I too should have ran. I thought he would change….he made promises that he would. And as for me it is too late in my life for a divorce, because I’m 60 yrs old. Find something you enjoy that makes you happy and focus on that. I focus on my grandchildren to find peace. Know that you are not alone and you are loved. And leave the house messy. He will figure it out.

  5. Vancouver counselling says:

    This article provides valuable advice and strategies for individuals dealing with the challenges of living with a messy partner. The writing is clear and well-organized, making it an easy and informative read. It provides readers with actionable steps to address the messiness dilemma while fostering open communication and understanding between partners. The post’s thoughtful content and practical advice contribute to a positive reading experience for those seeking solutions to cohabitating with a messy partner.

    • Viivess Maree says:

      I do agree… For new partners. If you have been living with a Massey partner comma in my case say for 13 years, and I’ve tried all the above but yet still get no charge in a messy person… Why is it the clean persons job to suffer cleaning up as well as the mental impact???

  6. JaneDoe says:

    Very simple article but IMO completely missing the mark and a lot of obsession on dirty dishes. Even ‘decluttering’ still refers to dirty dishes … and to question this further … how do you use less dishes when the partner/spouse who’s home ALL day will continue to use out of the cupboard until there’s nothing left. So should I punish him (and myself) by boxing up the few plates and dishes I have to stop him from doing this. The words ‘could you please take the clean stuff from the dishwasher’ lost into the wind…
    I was looking for advice on how to prevent the contents of the overflowing garden shed been stored in the kitchen indefinitely. I was looking for help on hoarding/living with a hoarder.
    If all I have to worry about was the f’ing dishes, I wouldnt’ be here lol. Based on others responses, I think it highlights there’s so much more going on than keeping a kitchen neat, but I do get how much it centers around the kitchen as a major trigger.
    And while each of those minor things like dishes or soiled underwear or old food lying around really sounds so pathetic and minor (especially if been raised in councelling), what I feel is lost in understanding is that it’s YOUR time spent picking up the pieces. And if you’re the person who is out all day, that time is very little and precious. And to have to clean and clear crap before can even prepare a meal can be draining, frustrating, and it certainly can build up resentment.
    I think the bigger issue comes with when trying to approach the partner regarding it and how they react – if it’s hostile, unhelpful, argumentative, refusing to understand and their belief is that they’re the victim and being picked on, or you’re been accused of been controlling, etc, then I think look for the front door and show it to them! Or reach a level of acceptance, surround yourself with positive friends and activities, and fantastize about how it must be nice to be one of those houses where you can drop in and it’s full of chairs to sit on and the table has enough room to put down a cup.

    • Nicole Wyatt says:

      If you grew up with psychology then you know that hoarding is more then a messy issue and it takes different forms of therapy to help HIM. with our messy dislikes, its laziness and stubborn slobs. Its mental, yes but in a different level that we can work on our own thoughts and lil things to fix. We can show the kids to be cleaner then Daddy so Daddy looks like an emotionally immature dumb ass and gets it together. Mainly, our men need to fight that “i don’t wanna”, lay around all day and act like its their right… They have a wife, afterall..my husband doesn’t work nut because we are on his ssdi claim, he feels we get money because of him, true… So leave everything where it falls,. ALWAYS. When we have a kid too who he doesn’t do anything for either? Not fair. A hoarder is much deeper. Cognitive therapy… U cant read anything to fix him
      .he cant read anything to fix him
      .he needs to seek help because the anxiety of thingd being gone is unbearable. you can toss out lil shit he doesn’t know exists, slowly. U can pick on thing to donate , something small and work hours until he releases and feels the ok-ness of it all. Or find someone in need of something and have him give it to them, see the reward and appreciation in that. The tax break too.

  7. rob says:


    I have been going through what most of you have been going through and i feel like im coming close to my last straw. this will be somewhat of a long story so i apologize for anyone who decided to read this . I have been dating this person for almost a year right and theyre extremely dirty. We’re young so they live with their parents but the entire family is dirty. The bathroom has mold and dirt and dust and hair everywhere. the kitchen has dirt everywhere and old cat poop just sitting in there under a table. their room at first was completely dirty but since ive been coming over ive been trying to make then learn to clean it better . anyways they have two pets both flea infested and dirty and bloody from just being able to wander outside and they (the family and them) lets both of them (the pets) in and come into their room and run around the house etc . dropping fur, fleas, and dirt and mud everywhere. i specifically remember making a chore list and things for them to learn because their parents never taught then anything. their parents washes their clothes, “washes” the dishes and cook etc. my partner does not know how to do anything for themselves. since they wont clean the cat i specifically asked for the cat not to be on the bed . i have so many sores and dark marks from flea bites and it has completely ruined my skin and self esteem. my partner changes for a day then back to being dirty and letting the pets get on their bed and be in their room and stuff. it has completely turned me off from romance because it literally irritates me so much for them to want me to be romantic on a dirty and flea infested bed . Ive spoken up plenty of times and now im scared if we will even have a future together because i do not want any of these habits in my family. i don’t expect things to be perfect but fleas, mud, dirt, dried blood, bugs, mold, fur, food crumbs, old wrappers, etc is just too overwhelming for me. i do not want to be somebody’s mother. especially if their whole family is this way. i constantly tell them to wash their sheets before sleepovers and not to let the animals on their bed but they just wont listen. it feels like disrespect because sometimes i walk into the room and they are just laughing and pointing at the cat scratching and cleaning itself on their bed and pillows!! or just calls and facetimes me to show me the cat on their bf knowing i specifically said i dont like it . im not sure what to do anymore . its this not fixable .?

    • Abbey says:

      It’s sad when a partner doesn’t meet the minimum adult cleanliness that we except. It’s been kind of you to teach them, but it’s not your responsibility, not your place to do so. You’ve been only dating him for a year, so you haven’t invested much, I’d say cut your loses and move on. He hasn’t changed and he won’t change years later. What happens if you keep going and you guys move in together? YOU will have to clean up after him EVERY SINGLE DAY. Let me tell you one thing, it’s going to get old fast! He’ll find someone equally dirty who’ll be fine living in the filth. Count yourself lucky to have found out about this early. I didn’t realize with mine early enough, because he always had flatmates cleaning up after him so I thought he was clean. I was wrong, and many years later, he puts up a fight if I ask him to clean and now he straight up says no and there is no compromise. I wish I knew earlier.

      Your life will be easier with a cleaner partner. Also you don’t want to get diseases. This is not healthy, and if you keep going like this, you’ll definitely get diseases and skin issues. He won’t clean when you’re sick or if you can’t clean for whatever reason. That’s when shit hits the fan, and you’ll get physically sick. Go find a proper adult, not a child who doesn’t know how to look after himself. Some might argue with me, but their parents have failed them. They won’t change until they have enough reason to change and you haven’t been the reason for him.

    • Tamera says:

      Sorry but, sadly, there is no turning back from this. It’s not going to change. You’re lucky, you’re young and have an entire life in front of you. Some of us aren’t and then you are stuck with someone who will not change despite how you’ve tried to be polite, make it about you, not them My boyfriend is a hoarder, slob, but he’s not malicious. He’s just clueless how much his lack of housekeeping hurts me, no matter how I try to get him to help out with the housework by just taking care of just his areas. I feel like what you described is that they, him and others in his family, take pleasure of making you uncomfortable. And it seriously sounds like their cats need a vet visit and some flea meds.

      • rob says:

        (rob) theyve been doing better by keeping the cat out, washing their sheets, and cleaning up their room more but they told me that their parents dont like them to clean. they said that their parents likes things the way they are . plus their dad literally hates the smell of cleaning products. like bleach. and strong scents . the other day i was laying in their bed and their room had been doing good while we were watching it but we had to come back to college and when we came back i saw multiple fleas on their bed . theyre a good person but this aspect about them is just a daily stressor for me . it’s literally the parents atp . even though they (my partner) still needs to learn so much . ive seen you guys say to break up with them but i dont know how to . do i just stop visiting or do i completely let them go?

    • seda woods says:

      He won’t change. This is normal to him and it is an aspect of his life that he sees nothing abnormal about. Break up with him now because if you end up moving out or god forbid have children together, I guarantee you,you will lose your mind completely.

    • Nicole Wyatt says:

      Leave him now because thats not showing a concern for your well-being. Fleas can make you sick or give you an infection. Some of them scars might be forever ans bed bugs, while more aggressive, they dont transmit diseases. Fleas do.. did they start the plague? I know mosquitoes caused yellow fever and still malayra and west nile, zika …. Crazy crap.. fleas bite mice and rats.. thats sooo dirty.. by edible grade diatomaceous earth
      . Super cheap amazon, like 6.bucks. get one w a pump spray looking duster thing and dust it on everything. Its not the best to continue to get the pieces in ur lungs so dont act like its cocaine and have it flying around every room. The room only needs a dusting because it drys up whatever it touched (exoskeleton of bugs) or is sharp, being fossil bones. Dont buy poop grade. That’s actually what filters pools but the kind u buy is edible, if u eat sushi, it’s nice to take a spoon full inside any liquid, just to kill whatever might be alive that isnt supposed to be. Its even safe to dust on animals skin because they can lick it
      .. but the inhaling, again watch for. It works better then anything ive ever seen , including toxic stuff we cant ingest. On ur LAST VISIT BEFORE U GET SEPTIS, spray a lil in their house and use it on urs because u have fleas, bedbugs and Roachs now,. Different species, no doubt! Good luck. Love means care. Don’t forget that. Imagine if u liked to do diy and learned stuff u use he is allergic too and ruining his life? Omg, would u just hate urself and wanna die? Yea, he is like “so-so”.

  8. Jason says:

    I’ve been with my partner for 9 years now, we recently got married and have a great relationship on the whole, however she is so messy and lazy, she leaves clutter absolutely everywhere, she doesn’t do any of the chores until it gets so bad she knows there’s going to be an argument, she’ll then do the absolute bare minimum (run the hoover round) so it looks like she’s made an effort. She works from home and has an hour and half break in the day (which she spends watching tv) when I come home the house is a total mess and she’s made no effort to do anything, if she’s made her self breakfast and lunch everything is left out, food packaging, saucepans, cutlery, dirty plates in the sink, make up thrown everywhere from the morning, bed not made, baby’s room has been made a tip, office where she’s been working is a tip, mugs left in different rooms etc. I’ve got no problem doing a majority of the house work and I’m in no way someone who think women should look after the house, I work long hours in a physical job in the week, I then spend at least two hours cleaning up her mess from the day every evening, then I spend 5/6 hours Saturday and Sunday making the house clean and tidy, However by Tuesday the house is totally destroyed again. It makes me feel so stressed and depressed because as we all know it’s not just the house work that constantly needs doing, the garden/driveway is another major job and once again it’s all left to me, if I spend a weekend sorting the garden rather than the house, the clean up in the house is then a major major job. Her car is an absolute disgrace, clutter and crap from front to back, side to side. I sort it out and make it look brand new every few weeks and within a few days it’s ruined. We made a playroom for our little one which is now so rammed with toys our little girl can’t even get in there (what is the point!!) I feel like I’m wasting my time and it drains me so much. We have a little girl who I refuse to be brought up in a pig sty so I work tirelessly to keep our house spic and span for my self and most importantly our little girl. I ask her politely, I get shouted at, if I ask firmly, I get shouted at, we have a full blown argument, I’m always the one in the wrong. I just don’t know what to do at this point. I’ve tried leaving jobs so the house becomes really bad in hope she’ll all of a sudden see and spring in to action, but she’ll quite happily live in a dump. I’m only 28 at the moment so I’m full of energy and it’s bearable, but doing 10 or 12 hour days at work and spending 2 hours cleaning at home and spending all of your down time cleaning is exhausting! Has anyone got any techniques we can try to get her to just stop making a mess it would be great. Thanks

    • Michelle says:

      Oh Jason, I sympathize. I’m 45, living with my ex husband (50) and our teen boys (out of financial necessity for us both). He used to drive me nuts when we were married with his messiness and laziness, and I know it can be better because I ended up in a relationship with someone else for eight years, and we were totally compatible when it came to living together, just not other stuff. Life doesn’t have to be this way, trust me. Worst part is that he doesn’t teach our teenagers to pick up after themselves, so I’m just this lunatic like woman walking around the house picking up after three people and “nagging” them to help. IT’S AWFUL. Cleaning up after them is like brushing my teeth while eating Oreo cookies, as the old saying goes. They make a mess faster than I can keep it clean. I laughed about the playroom part of your comment. When my ex and I didn’t live together but he was living with them in our old house, he let the boys’ play room get so messy that it looked like a hurricane and gone through, so he shut the door and they didn’t even play with any of those toys for over a year and a half until they had to move. What a waste of money, AND what a terrible example to set for his boys. It’s truly unbelievable how lazy some people are. I know exactly what he’s been doing or what my boys have been doing by following their trail. If they open a package, the scissors will be left out with the leftover packaging. If they eat snacks, the crumbs/wrappers/ water bottles are on the floor or on the couch. If they take a shower, the towels and their underwear will be on the floor. Never mind any maintenance cleaning that needs to be done. That’s all me. No one does dishes, though I’m now paying my son to do them, but it’s a fight every day and he does a lazy job. My ex would allow dishes to all build up until the whole house stinks, then he would MAYBE do it. But I don’t like living like that. The counters are COVERED with everything he doesn’t put away. He used to lose my children’s field trip permission slips and forget about them (if the kids brought them home to him vs me), and twice my children had to stay home from a field trip because of missed deadlines. Eventually, I made certain the school sent everything to me. He says it’s his right to live like that and if I don’t like it, I can clean it. It is so frustrating every single day I am about to explode. It broke our marriage 10 years ago (well, that AND his infidelity), and it’s even worse now that we’re not in a romantic relationship.

      Here’s what happens, although the dynamic could be different since you are the male in your situation. My constant nagging and disappointment with him turned our relationship into a mother/son relationship. He felt emasculated, and went looking for someone else. Why? Because he wasn’t going to change and become who I needed him to be to not lose my mind. He couldn’t.

      I would recommend you figure something out, and fast. I’m not sure if you’re trying to save your relationship or not. If you aren’t, I suggest moving on while you’re still young. whatever happens, if you’re young child grows up around her, she/he WILL become messy and lazy, too, because children tend to choose the path of least resistance. I wish you all the best in this fight we both fight.

      • Michelle says:

        Ohhh, and his car is exactly the same as your gfs car. Constant mess which I clean frequently, and it turns right back to a garbage pile. Also, I was going to mention, when we were living in separate residences, I was so sad to see my boys living in such squalor that I would go over to his house and pick it up for him, and do his dishes and clean the toilets and vacuum and dust. It hurts to see your children living in that.

      • Toni says:

        I could not agree with you more on the leaving while you can! There are underlying issues as to why someone is so comfortable with being lazy and living like a slob, but that doesn’t mean that we have to destroy ourselves by tolerating their behavior. Whenever we tolerate it it’s enabling them to continue with their unwillingness for acknowledging their issues, hence their issues most likely never being dealt with. Without them seeking professional help to change their behavior (if we’re unable to reach them) they won’t see how unhealthy their behavior is, so we must respect and love ourselves by leaving the unhealthy situation. We have to save ourselves no matter how difficult that is because thinking that they’ll eventually change is the definition of insanity. I wish you and anyone else in this situation all the best : )

    • Michelle says:

      Oops, I just reread your comment and see that you just married her. Dude, I don’t know what to tell you. I dated my ex-husband for nine years before we were married, and I never anticipated what it would be like to live with him plus have children. IT SOOOO EXHAUSTED ME. The older your baby becomes, the more toys and thus mess will be around. Your wife won’t be telling the child to pick up because your wife doesn’t pick up. It will be you against them, plus any more children you may have.

      My advice? Learn to live with it and not say anything, continue to set a good example for your kids, and if you can afford it, hire a maid on a regular basis.

    • Abbey says:

      Wow! I think she lets you do it all because you do it all. But then I understand that you have to. I understand you fully, I’m the one that has to do almost all the cleaning. He actually threatened to leave me if I didn’t accept to do all the cleaning… I wish my partner was a bit like yours. For me I did burn out because I was doing everything, cleaning, food, house repairs, car repairs and keeping them running, yard work, grocery shopping and other shoppings and working full time as well. I burnt out and stopped doing things so the house became so bad! But it didn’t make him step up. He just got angrier and more resentful because I wasn’t doing it. I think it happened because he got used to me doing everything and when I didn’t do it or when I asked him to do his part, that wasn’t good enough for him.
      I’m afraid she has gotten used to yours too, thats why she’s like this. If I ask him to clean up after himself there is going to be a fight. One more fight about cleaning, and I think he’ll leave me. But I’m still deciding if I want to go that path or not.

      I think the best thing for you is to book a couple counselling, go there together and solve this problem. Book it and tell her it’s booked and that you’re going. Also go to solo therapy for yourself. You just need to make sure you won’t burn out like me because you have a child.

      I don’t know if this is harsh, but if after couple counselling, she can’t hear you or care about you that you’re suffering, then maybe you can suggest a separation trial and keep the child with you. Then she has to clean her own shit herself

    • Erin says:

      My husband stays at home, won’t get a job, won’t clean…he just works his hobby with his model cars and plays video games. I work 2 jobs and have to come home to tend to all the chores. Atleast your wife is working a job and taking care of your kid…. I can’t get my husband to do SQUAT, smh

    • Lisa Fournier says:

      Oh man! I’m honestly very sorry for you because you are screwed! This may break you’re relationship because there is no way I could deal with this! She sounds like an absolute disaster and needs to understand not only is it completely unhealthy for you and her BUT now you have a child and this is downright unacceptable. I’m kind of at a loss because she works from home so you are doubly screwed. I don’t know man but you may have to threaten divorce! Im not trying to be rude but this simply is unacceptable!

  9. Celine Arokianathan says:

    I am 50 yrs. I lost my husband in 2020. I have a 18 yr old daughter. She is in class 12. I always want my house to be spic and span. Things should be kept in their places. Work should be distributed . This creates alot of chaos between me and my daughter. We argue, we fight. Do you i should expect things to be done by my daughter. Is it fair. We both become stressed. I feel i should not create such unpeaceful atmosphere in the house. Even after repenting of what i do i again make the same mistake by arguing with my daughter. Do you think i should pressurise my studying daughter to do certain chores of the house. Do you think i am wrong. Please help. This is creating alot of problems in our house.

    • Conner says:

      Hey Celine, I’m 26 so I feel like maybe I can offer some perspective. I don’t think you’re wrong for wanting your daughter to do chores, I think framing it in the way of “expectations” can come of belittling to a kid. Just be honest and tell her how hard it’s been for you and that managing the house alone has been difficult, that you feel like you can’t do it alone, and that you’re coming to her for assistance. At the end of the day that’s why you want her to do them, other than the fact it’s a good skill to have.

      I don’t know, I’m stupid. Hopefully this helps.

    • Christine Barker says:

      I wasn’t happy with one of my daughter’s untidy habits, but when she got married she changed drastically! She became very house proud, lived in a permanent state of home decoration and was super clean and tidy. Don’t worry. What you have taught her will come back to haunt her and she will have learned good housekeeping. In fact she may be one of the many girls who go on to say ‘Help, I’m becoming my mother’!!

    • seda woods says:

      I think she should be expected to pick up after herself, to do her own laundry, wipe down counters after making meals, wash her dishes after eating–all of the ones that have been used–and generally keep shared spaces clean. Her room is her zone and the door can be closed. Should she be doing chores while studying? I would say no, but she should definitely at a minimum clean up after herself in all areas.

  10. John says:

    My partner of 30 years has always taken advantage of the fact that I can’t stand living in a chaotic mess, her apparent tolerance to what I semi jokingly call the ” dangerous kitchen” is now accentuated by the fact she’s completely lost her sense of smell, so foul odours etc don’t concern her at all now, including her own. After fully working from home now for the last 3 years, she doesn’t have to commute anywhere, her personal hygiene has all but disappeared, her feet and armpits smell pretty bad, she hardly ever washes her clothes not that she ever did much clothes washing, always just her own, and now she’s even lost all interest in looking after herself, she doesn’t bath or shower or even clean her teeth.

    There’s a feminist aspect to all this, in that she rejects all the stereotypical housewife roles,
    also in the last 8-10 years her career has started to be relatively successful financially, so now she just expects me to fulfil all the housework roles, even though I have a busy working life of my own.

    On Jan 3rd I slipped on the stairs trying to carry 2 large bin bags down and turned my ankle very badly, since then I’ve been slowly recovering but I’m very wobbly, and living on the top floor there are 9 long flights of stairs to carry the rubbish downstairs, which still feels beyond what I should be doing right now.

    The kitchen is now piled up with overflowing rubbish bags, I can’t even see the sink, it smells really bad but she just won’t even take one or two bags down, she keeps saying she will but always flops out after work and “tomorrows” me.

    I’m about to start carrying bags down, one by one, I’m actually terrified I’m going to slip again, but unless I do something myself its just going to get worse and worse, my ankle’s still swollen and sore, but I just can’t stand the state of, well not just the kitchen its now the whole flat thats really badly messy. She’s never ever used a vacuum cleaner, so after a month of neglect the whole flat is now horrible with the carpet getting stickier and crumbier each day, yeuch!

    Every day she’s lost something, usually I find it for her, out of juice phone, laptop, all succumb to the chaos of her casual unmindful messiness. She lost her iPad for almost 2 years in a massive pile of clothes that piled up on her side of the bedroom: I went on strike and refused to keep washing as the clean and dirty clothes got so mixed up, its now this ever expanding 5 foot pile of rags.

    A few years ago she got a year long contract in London, we live in Hove so she rented a small flat there. Never once during her time there did she ever wash-up, take bins out, make a home cooked meal, she’d leave it all to the times I came to stay on weekends.

    Now I’m actually still quite badly injured, I know its really not that safe for me to carry all the bin bags down ,do all the washing up and take away containers, all the gone off stuff in the fridge, I have to do something today, or I’m even thinking about checking into a hotel for a few days, mess really stresses me out and honestly my head is completely done in right now.

    Never once has she ever done the washing up, what she does, when I’m not around, is wash up a single plate and whatever cutlery she needs and nothing else. My first job when I moved to London was as a dishwasher in very busy restaurant, so leaving any dirty plates etc is anathema to me.

    I feel neglected, I feel frustrated, every time we’ve tried making an agreement she breaks it almost instantly, although I love her deeply, when you’ve been laid up incapable of even walking, and she still won’t lift a finger to tidy anything, it actually emotionally hurts and frustrates the hell out of me.

    I wish deliveroo didnt exist, all she’s fed me the last month is take aways, there’s literally a months worth of packaging waiting for me to again take down these tricky steep stairs too.

    I hope I don’t fall again today, if I do and I hurt myself I’m booking into a hotel and getting room service. I’m seriously at my wits end, its almost unbearable she accuses me of being petty and now I can’t even have a conversation with her about it, I have to book a time to talk about it and even then she’ll close me down in a few minutes.

    Good luck to anyone with a messy partner/flat mate etc.

    • Claire says:

      That’s not a messy partner thsts someone with a mental
      Illness like hoarding or something. I think she needs help from a mental health professional. Not to mention the environmental health.

    • Michelle says:

      I disagree with the other comments are. It doesn’t sound like your wife is a hoarder. Sounds like she is flipping lazy. She also does sound depressed, because I can speak from experience, when you’re extremely depressed, you neglect, personal hygiene, even with brushing teeth. I was a girly girl, completely until after a terrible relationship ended, and I spent months neglecting my personal hygiene. I disagree with the other commentor. It doesn’t sound like your wife is a hoarder. Sounds like she is flipping lazy. She also does sound depressed, because I can speak from experience, when you’re extremely depressed, you neglect personal hygiene even with brushing teeth. I was a girly girl, completely until after a terrible relationship ended, and I spent months neglecting my personal hygiene. BUT EVEN THEN, I WASNT A LAZY MESSY PIG. My ex-husband was like this. And as I wrote to a comment or elsewhere on this page, I’m living with him now out of necessity. I also hurt my ankle and I’ve had surgery a couple months ago, and the mess that has built up since that is unimaginable. It’s so hard for me to keep up with it. We have two teenage boys and he doesn’t encourage them to pick up either. I am a built-in maid is what I am. I hate it. My advice to you is to have her hire help. Keep in mind, the cleaning ladies, or cleaning people whatever we call them nowadays will typically only clean, not pick up. That’s a maid. Tell her flat out that resentment is growing and trust me, that is very unromantic/unsexy. You simply WILL NOT keep picking up after her or doing her share of the workload, and that if she doesn’t start doing it or hire someone to do it, it’s going to affect your relationship.

    • seda woods says:

      Leave her Book into that hotel room now if you can afford it and recharge away from someone who has mental health issues. Looking in from the outside, your partner sounds like she is mentally ill and getting worse. You didn’t cause that, you can’t control it nor cure it so make the break and don’t feel guilty. Her illness has reached a point where your health has been compromised and you have been injured. That is serious and you need to get out of that toxic relationship.

    • Bert says:

      100% identify with the feminist comment. My partner refuses to buy into traditional gender stereotypes, which is totally fine, but the problem is she makes no effort to do any other chores either i.e. mow the lawns or any other household maintenance. Seems to me the feminism line is used by some to enable laziness.

  11. Phuong says:

    Hello! I have been with my man for a year and a half and… let’s just say the first time i went to his house… there was mud all over his floor that seems to be there for days and dried up. His closet had mountain of dirty clothes and dirt all over his closet… he told me he didn’t wash his clothes for three months… his guest room was so cluttered and had old dried dog pee and poop in there. He let the dishes pile up for days and never clean the left over food in the bowls and it will start smelling very bad. Worst of all the toilet seat… he does not lift up the toilet seat to pee but pee all over the toilet seat and don’t even clean it up and it’ll be for days and it’ll get sticky. This is the absolute disgusting thing I have encounter. Now, I’m burned out cleaning after his mess he create everyday and when he see me clean he never offer to help and just sit on the couch and watch tv and be on his phone for hours. Once in awhile he would do the dishes and take the trash out.

    • Abbey says:

      LEAVE NOW! He’s not going to change, he’s just using you! He doesn’t care about you, if he did, he wouldn’t be treating you like a maid! You’re cleaning after him, feeding him, giving him sex, of course he’s not going to move his lazy ass. Dump this guy and find one who is a proper adult and who cares about you.

  12. Georgia says:

    Thank God I’m not married or have kids. Seems that’s the only thing I did right in my life. My house co-owner is messy like all of the above and after reading all of this, I’m singing in the sink instead of sinking in the sink. Thank you for all of the support. And the one thing that makes a big difference is that you have a quiet private space of your own. I’m fortunate for that.

  13. James says:

    I feel really burned out by the role my wife’s messiness has put me in. It’s like I’ve a teenager in the house. I’ve even hired a cleaner to come once a week as my wife requested and still the house is a mess. I work full time and she is at home with the children. She is a great mother but just seems blind to mess. My evenings are spent tidying up, cleaning mopping etc… Also if I want the dinner to go to schedule I have to cook it myself otherwise it’s served really late and the kids are up way past their bed time. I don’t want to be nagging but it’s so tiring to always have to be the one who has to take responsibility. Then we fight and she make some look like a villain in front of the kids . I’m just venting as we’ve had another argument today. I’m really sick with COVID but even so I have to tidy/clean/ prepare food or the house will be a disaster for Christmas. I grew up in a chaotic family so mess does perhaps give me disproportionate anxiety. I’ve explained this to her but she doesn’t seem to listen. I just needed to vent!


        My husband is oblivious to spills on the counter and floor, and the bathroom counter and sink are no better. I empathize with you totally. I just tell myself that this was the way they were raised (he is also incapable of closing drawers ll the way, and leaves his jacket and caps wherever he wants. I am still waiting for him to bring down the boxes to store away our Christmas decor. I have Fibromyalgia so my strength is limited. I tell him that was not put on this earth to clean up after HIM. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Abbey says:

      How many kids are there?

      Have you told her all these things you mentioned here? Maybe you can book a couple counselling session and take her with you?

      I wish more men were like you!

    • seda woods says:

      I can relate. If your kids are young (like under 5) and their are a few of them, cut her some slack, she could be genuinely exhausted. But they should definitely have bedtime routines; ie dinner at 5.30 bath at 6pm, story and bedtime at 7pm. Maybe you could help her with that part of the day so everyone gets some sleep and has the energy to organise life including some cleaning.

  14. Jenny Laura Yeager says:

    I can relate with the above stories and feel for you all. My story is similar, my man is a slob. I am not at all to the level of ocd but I like to be organized and neat in appearance and how I keep my home.
    I have been with the slob for 10 years. I love this man too the moon and that’s the only reason I am still with him. I knew he had ADHD when I met him but didn’t know the extent. He remodels home which means he has every tool made to date. It would be great if he used the designated place I bought him for those tools but that never happens. When I try to explain to him that everything has its place, he seems confused. Where he uses it is where it stays. So, I spend most of my time looking for shit that has a place but he never puts back.
    I feel like I am always batching at him and I am not that person. After trying my hardest to explain why I need certain things done for my own sanity, he may do it for a day and then back to being the slob. It is truly one of the most difficult part of being with him.
    I started back to school at age 45 and begged him to just help me keep the house clean and tidy because a messy and disgusting house literally makes me depressed and unable to perform. That didn’t work either. Is this just disrespect towards me or is he not able to control his actions. He acts like he can’t change and tells me that’s just something that he has always done and can’t change now.
    I am about done. Am I in the wrong? Should I allow someone to totally make me lose my mind? What else can I do before I call it quits?

    • Hera says:

      Honestly, you chose the man for his good characteristics and being a slob just tags along. You didn’t choose to be with him to change him. Every relationship has a price to pay. Are you willing to pay the price for the man you love? If you are, then you live with it, suck it up. Otherwise, move on. We can barely change ourselves let alone change others. I’m sure if you asked him, he’s also paying the price for being with you.

    • Lexa says:

      Hi, reading your comment makes me feel like i have written it. Im in exact situation and also have a thing I need to focus on. Im thinking Im not asking too much just simple things like putting his own clothes/sports gear/peanut butter knifes and crumbs. Occasionally help with litter boxes and big things but he also never fixes anything. I cant f* do it. I have told him I need it for my sanity and its not much but he just lives just like he wants as if he hasnt been taught how to respect others space. He is very polite loyal British person and comes across very well mannered but at home he just doesnt give a shit and lives like a child. I dont know is that something that can be solved or is our 10year relationship come to an end? We argue a lot about it and I have had enough I can get very rude and upset about it but all he does is gaslights. Ahh

    • Michelle says:

      I feel for you. I’m in the same situation, except I’m living with my ex-husband out of financial necessity for us both to raise our two boys. He is the messiest laziest slob I’ve ever known, and it is driving me insane. It ruined our marriage, I’ll tell you that.

      If you still care about this man, eventually, your nagging will emasculate him so much that he may do what my ex-husband did … go looking for someone else. Like you, I always knew my ex was messy the many years I dated him before getting married. But you don’t think about that stuff until you’re living together and have children. Do you have children? Because it only gets worse. By the way, I have actual ADHD. It was diagnosed in 1994 and for which I’ve been treated ever since. He can still be organized with proper effort. Having ADHD does not mean that you leave dishes out until cockroaches are having family reunions on your counters, having ADHD does not mean that you leave garbage and wrappers on the floor, or never put away your dirty clothes, or let the kids play room becomes so messy that opening the door is like a windshield wiper over their toys. I can’t even find the floor to put my feet if I ride in his car it’s so messy and no matter how much I clean up after him, it just gets replaced with a new mess. No way to live. I wish you the best..

  15. Whitney says:

    I have been with my guy for 7 years now and I have been depleted of who I once was. His lack of motivation and lack of ambition and his complete disrespect for me had definitely taken its toll on me.
    We live in a fairly big house, but it’s old and needs a ton of work my landlord refused to do and so does my bf. We don’t have kids but we have two dogs, he never helps me with them, I think we have gone for a walk together with the dogs once this year usually it’s just me.
    It’s so bad that I was still doing the majority of the cooking cleaning and walking the dogs only weeks (with one crutch), cleaning the cat litter, and grocery shopping, after I nearly lost my leg in a Motorcycle accident. So of course my open wound got infected giving me sepsis and I ended up almost dead a month later and hospitalized for 15 days. When I got home the house was a mess and I was too week to even try to clean at that point. He says he’s going to do something but “forgets”. He will watch me struggle and not offer to help me. The worst thing thought is the fact that he will go to bed with his dirty work clothes on after I have told him 200 times or more that the bed is the one place I was to be able to feel clean since he has taken over the entire house leaving everything in such a cluttered mess. I tried compromising with him and said if he put an old sheet down on the bed I wouldn’t botch as much. He still can’t do that and then has a fit when I tell him to take his work clothes off! He knows it bothers me so I take his actions or lack there as a personal attack. If he really cared he would adjust his behaviours like I have for him.
    I’m righting this right now because I can’t even set up my Christmas tree because he’s got his stupid cords and wires in a tangled mess and I can’t use the plug in . I’m just so frustrated and have become depressed and I’m starting to lack motivation myself. I used to be knows as the happy go lucky girl who took care of herself and had a clean and organized home. I can’t live like this any longer

    • lila says:

      oh hun, sending love ur way.. u deserve to live comfortably & the support of loved ones, esp a partner. i pray ur able to take some steps in the right direction & further the relationship u have w urself. love urself. respect urself. happy holidays x

    • Michelle says:

      I’m praying for you. Reading all of these comments does help me feel like I’m not alone though. I worried when you said that he goes to bed with dirty work clothes (i’m assuming he has a dirty sweaty job this wouldn’t really be a big deal if it’s just casual clothes). That to me does sound like depression. Depression doesn’t necessarily make someone lazy, messy slob. But depression can affect personal hygiene, and if that is new with him, I would check on his mental health.

  16. Tandi Jewell says:

    I’ve been dating a guy for several years then had our first child, went to college had our second son. I find my self I can’t even believe when I say this 2decades. I remember coming home to disasters then getting so mad, never getting a break never getting any space and over the years this has taken so much out of me, it distinguishes my creativity. Nothing will ever get tackled or organized unless I do it. For years I was working and taking the kids to school and do majority of the cleaning, he works so much and is literaly dead tired when he comes home, to see him in this state becomes so chaotic and messy it continues to rob me. Trails of food left out, cubords never closed in the kitchen. I feel so left out . He wants to finacially support me as his wife, but I feel i have seriously put my life on the back burner. I want to work more outside of the home and build my life up. It builds tension between us and it robs me of who I am. Yes maybe there are worse things, but I want life to be better. He s a hard worker, but I want to work more for my self and my life seems so imbalanced. I’ve let myself lash out and it doesn’t seem to get better.

  17. Ellen says:

    My husband treats our entire house as his workshop. Tools here, crates there, We had a chest freezer which was hard to use because he would stack stuff on it. I have a chest for my sweaters, but he puts his stuff on top of it so I can’t open it without a lot of work. His clothes are left on the floor so that I can’t open my closet door. He does his own laundry (yay!) but will leave it in the dryer for days so that I can’t do my laundry. My complaint is not the mess itself, but that there is some aspect of the mess which directly impacts me. This usually involves leaving items in my way, or claiming all areas for his stuff (like piling his stuff up in chairs) so that they cannot be used for their intended purpose. We used to rent a lake house, and one of the neighbors complained that he left ALL his many water toys on the beach so that she could not walk on it. She was right, but he didn’t see it. I have told him that I need one room for PEACE, and that it is off limits to his messes!

  18. Genevieve says:

    These suggestions are definitely not helpful. None of these things help solve the issue when you have a husband that leaves messes no matter what is agreed upon for cleaning. You are basically saying to not get mad and just live with it. That’s not reasonable.

    • Nicky says:

      I completely agree. This puts a lot of accountability on the “cleaner” of the house and makes a lot of excuses for the slob of the house.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Agreed. Unlike this article that puts the onus to cope on the non-lazy slob, says, sloppy people *are* lazy, it just does not bother them that they are sloppy and lazy. They do not realize that they are sloppy, nor do they see themselves as lazy – though they most certainly are. These suggestions are useful for determining *if* your partner/roomate is open to examining their shortcoming and open to change, but the advice to suck it up and live with someone you have determined is a lazy slob, is not healthy. If your partner is a pig and you’ve pointed it out and you’ve been a good friend and helped them with tools, and they still will not make it a priority (over other discetionary activity) , then they have told you through in action: “I choose to spend my spare time on recreation instead of working at being tolerable to live with.” No one should feel they owe a lazy slob their life, unless there are children involved. If the lazy slob has enough other remdeeeming qualities and you can still be physically or intellectually turned on by that lazy slob – go for it.

      • Michelle says:

        Completely agree with you. Also, I have ADHD, and I work hard to compensate for it. Nothing new comes into my household without it having a place to go. That’s a firm rule. But guess what? My roommate, who is also my ex-husband, doesn’t put anything away. He leaves it where he uses it. And my teenage boys follow his example. It’s impossible to talk to him about it because we’re not even in a romantic relationship so he just tunes me out and tells me I’m being a you know what. I struggle to maintain at least a modicum of order in the household, or I’ll go crazy. When you have a roommate and two children who undo all the work, you’ve done and create more along the way, it’s enough to make you lose your mind, and become a very bitter person. Anyway, you are correct. Messy slobs are lazy people.

  19. Araya says:

    My partner and I are in a constant fight when it comes to cleaning. He will clean a little, like half packing the dishwasher then go sleep or play his game for the rest of the day. Talking about how he’s going to finish cleaning but he never does! He’s said he will take the trash out and do the dishes for three days now. Three days it has smelled disgusting in our house, gnats are coming in, I ask him politely if he’s going to finish his chores and he gets so angry with me. Yells at me, when the whole day he’s been saying he’s going to do it, without me saying a thing. It is so frustrating because I always have to finish his chores or I have to live in a disgusting stench, he lets it get so gross. Gross on ANYONES standards. We follow a turn rotation for ever chore and when it gets to be his turn in reality it’s just a pushed back version of mine because I end up having to do it anyways. It makes my blood boil to hear him snoring by me and smell the dishes, I just want out of it all

    • CW says:

      I just moved (back in) with my gf (our second attempt at relationship) and am already regretting it. We had a serious convo about her clutter and lack of help around the house (was literally doing more chores in her house than she was before I even moved in) and another one since then. 3 months later and she somehow moved more clutter into the common areas in order to tidy up her own space for herself.. oh and I’m still doing 80% of the chores day to day. She keeps her cats food on her bedside table and there is litter paw prints on the table, never cleans his food bowl (I once found the cat threw up in the bowl and the puke was just in/around the bowl for who know how long). I am at my wits end and it’s so hard to approach these conversations with compassion at this point because I’m simply not being heard. She wants unconditional love and constantly asks me to do things for her but is blind to how my needs are being completely unmet. We have not been intimate in months and I am having a hard time seeing how this will ever get on track..

      • Elizabeth says:

        I am sorry for your frustrating experience. I see red flags all over your post. If you don’t mind me giving some advice: run, while she is just a GF, run. I’m a 60 year old female married to a slob for 20 years. I can assure you that girl is not just sloppy; she sounds very selfish. That kind of extreme slovenliness my be a product of clinical depression, or she may just be lazy and gross (unlike this mostly victim-blaming article says, sloppy people *are* lazy, it just does not bother them that they are sloppy and lazy). My husband is not as self centered or personally as filthy as your GF sounds, and even that has been unbearable to live with. Meaning, he would *never* let our pets eat from foul dishes nor would either one of allow food next to the bed like that – that’s nuts.

      • Jen says:

        Wow! Amazing to hear so many women at breaking point with their messy men, as am I ! I was about to say “ta hell with all men! Let’s just leave them all!” Then I read a post complaining about their GF.
        Still I don’t think my husband is capable of changing. I have spent 25
        years of my life cleaning up disgusting mess. Do I really want another 25? I will soon be too old to even tackle his messes.

      • Michelle says:

        I agree with Elizabeth the other commentor. This is a victim, blaming article. I also agree that you should get out of the relationship because unless this is a situational, depression related behavior, she will not change. I wasted 15 years with someone who eventually felt emasculated and went looking for a woman who wouldn’t emasculate him by constantly asking him to pick up after himself. He’s so gross that he coughs up something from his lungs, spits it in the sink and lets it dry there. My teenage boys follow his lead. No relationship will work and be happy unless you can either put up with it or pick up after her without resentment.

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