Live with a Slob? 7 Laws Every Clean Freak Must Follow

Woman cleaning mirror

When you’re a clean freak and your beau’s a slob, it’s easy to feel less like his girlfriend and more like Cinderella (you know, except you don’t have little mice singing to you or birds dressing you in the morning). Most days you’re in a lose/lose situation: Either you don’t say anything and find yourself picking up his socks for the 6,242nd time, or you say something (a lot) and become known as a nag.

I was watching “The Carrie Diaries” last week, and there was this scene where Carrie’s dad has his new girlfriend over for the first time. She really wants to do the dishes, and he really… well, doesn’t, and she becomes so obsessed about the dishes crusting up in the sink that she can’t sleep with him until the dishes are clean. He considers this cute and quirky… which is how you know the scene is fiction. I can only imagine how charming he’ll find it a few years down the road.

As a fellow clean freak, I’ve learned to accept two things:

1. My home will never be clean enough.

2. No matter the guy, he will always be a slob to me, so there’s no sense in taking it out on the one I happen to be living with.

Otherwise, I’d let the details get to me and constantly breathe fire.

If your loved one is a slob and you feel like nothing is ever in its place (including your mind), here are seven survival strategies every clean freak should arm herself with:

1. Understand each other
You both come from different backgrounds and have different sets of priorities. As much as you want him to understand why you’re a fan of cleanliness, you also have to understand why it’s not such a big deal to him. Believe it or not, there are likely valid reasons masked behind the automatic assumption of laziness. Until you both see both sides, it will always be a point of contention.

2. Get to know each other’s cleaning styles
You both have different ideas of clean – defining what you’re especially nit-picky about (for example, how the dishes are organized or how the laundry’s done) will help you both respect the organizational systems that are important to the other person. Keeping those in place will help you refine the rest of your processes together.

3. Throw him a bone
Negotiate and designate areas of your home where he can freely be a slob and you can unleash your inner clean freak sans criticism.

4. Automate daily chores
Create habits of your daily chores and divvy them up between the two of you. When you automate your habits, you dispense less energy toward them which makes the process of cleaning less frustrating for both of you.

5. Focus on your strengths
If there are certain aspects of cleaning he’s really good at (for example, he’s a master recycler), then divvy up the chores based on what you don’t mind doing. For chores you both despise, throw on some music and do them together. Make an afternoon of it so it doesn’t feel like a chore.

6. Designate time for the details
Every home needs to be thoroughly, spotlessly cleaned periodically. If your inner clean freak is feeling neglected, send him on a guys’ weekend so you can spend it cleaning your home from top to bottom. It’s a great way for you both to have time to yourself and relax (in your own quirky, clean freak way).

7. Focus on why you’re together
When clutter’s clouding your judgement, accentuate the reasons why you do work as a couple. They’ll help lighten the load as you work through your differences.

If none of this works tell him he either has to start helping you clean or shell out the dough to hire a cleaning crew (or, you know, train birds to dress you and mice to sing to you every morning).

How do you keep your inner clean freak satisfied in your relationship?

Related on EcoSalon:

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Image: bella mia2010

Krissy Brady

Krissy Brady is a women’s health + lifestyle writer who’s so out of shape, it’s like she has the innards of an 80-year-old. Instead of learning how to crochet, she decided to turn her emotional baggage into a writing career (genius, no?). You can follow her shenanigans on Twitter (you know, if you want).