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Thread: Living in harmony with opposite traits

  1. #1
    Bronze Member quark's Avatar
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    Living in harmony with opposite traits

    Things have been more tense than ever lately. It was never really a problem before a few months ago, but with the arrival of covid-19, me losing my job, changes at his that make him hate it, and me having a lot more free time.. is causing a lot of friction in our relationship.

    My question is for those of you who have a significant other that is a neat or clean freak. Or maybe you are the one. How do you deal? He is really going through it mentally lately, and the smallest things will get on his nerves. Me not breaking down the cardboard boxes for recycling. Me stepping over dirty clothes at the bottom of the basement stairs. Me not putting away the dishes after I've cleaned them. I wish I could change these traits. When we talk about it and it's on my mind, I'm really good at being mindful of those small things, but when I'm not thinking.. I can't seem to change my ways. Any advice on how to change habits? Is it possible for us to be happy together or is tidyness going to be our demise?

  2. #2
    Platinum Member melancholy123's Avatar
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    Do you have a division of chores? If not, do you think that would help if you each had your own things to take care of? I don't have your problem so I don't know how to fix it.

  3. #3
    Platinum Member Rose Mosse's Avatar
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    I think a lot of members shared some good ideas with you in your last thread which was also about a lot of arguing and fighting during lockdown and quarantine. There were suggestions for division of chores and learning to set up routines for yourself. I suggested you get out of the house even if it's for a walk or a drive with your dog for a few hours.

    In my mind it's about respecting each other and the shared space. It's having a real authentic serious respect for each other and what that space means to the both of you. If this is just a living situation out of convenience or if you're battling depression and feeling low in other areas, speak to someone about it. You need to see a counselor or someone who can help you look at yourself differently as a whole. You mentioned being depressed before being out of work and not being happy with your work.

    It may be that you're both not on the same wavelength about life, work, living spaces, chores, routines or the way things flow.

    If you really don't see anything wrong with what you're doing and you're happy with yourself and annoyed with his pessimism and small-mindedness in his complaints, it's one thing. If you're saying you're at a loss and sad, depressed and feeling terrible or wanting to change but feeling helpless, this is something else altogether.

  4. #4
    Platinum Member Cherylyn's Avatar
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    I'm a neat and clean freak. With my husband and sons, I started them out early so it's a habit for them to clean up after themselves and help me keep a decluttered, clean and organized house.

    It starts out as a habit and then it becomes an everyday habit just like brushing your teeth. Personally, I've found that my mental state is more clear when the house is clean, everything in its place or a place for everything or get rid of it. I'll either discard or donate it if I have no use for items which stack and pile up.

    Just do it. The more you contemplate and waste time, the less inclination you'll ever get around to it. Get it over and done with. Relax later when you sleep.

    I recently donated a ton of stuff to local charity and thrift stores. Some thrift stores are accepting stuff. I even donated 500 books several weeks ago! It's very refreshing to keep a decluttered, clean and organized home. I can finally think straight and organize my thoughts better.

    I also left a "FREE" sign on items in front of my house and it was gone within minutes! One man's junk is another man's treasure!

    I wasn't always this way though. My mother was disorganized and didn't keep a 'n span house. As a child, I grew up in a constant state of chaos. I didn't become organized and decluttered until I married, had a family and a house of my own. Also, what helps me is shutting everything OFF. Turn OFF cell phones, computers, TVs and all electronic distractions. Then get busy, become industrious and relax later. Changed habits become a way of life. My former slob days are gone forever!

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  6. #5
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    What is the agreement? Is it his house? Who pays the bills and who does what household stuff?

    Whatever it is, the chronic arguing and verbal hostility is no good. Can you move out either back to your place or with family or friends?

  7. #6
    Bronze Member quark's Avatar
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    Thank you again everyone for the insight. I think a division of chores is maybe the solution.. though, I think he may just be wanting me to do everything since he is still working (albeit 80% from home).

    Everything about this current situation really sucks for both of us, we are both battling our own depression, anxiety and insecurities. Counseling is definitely something to be looked into.

    I want to change my ways to make him happy. It kills me that he describes a feeling of a giant rock on his chest and instead of trying to help roll it off, I am standing on top of it by not helping with things that are important to him. (Though yes, part of me feels like it's not a big deal and to chill out..our house is not messy by any means. We have to keep it decluttered for my senior, diabetic, blind dog)

    As for the housing situation..it is technically in my name. We do a good job of splitting bills, so we should apply the same method to chores.

  8. #7
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    Originally Posted by quark
    Things have been more tense than ever lately. It was never really a problem before a few months ago, but with the arrival of covid-19, me losing my job, changes at his that make him hate it, and me having a lot more free time.. is causing a lot of friction in our relationship.

    My question is for those of you who have a significant other that is a neat or clean freak. Or maybe you are the one. How do you deal? He is really going through it mentally lately, and the smallest things will get on his nerves. Me not breaking down the cardboard boxes for recycling. Me stepping over dirty clothes at the bottom of the basement stairs. Me not putting away the dishes after I've cleaned them. I wish I could change these traits. When we talk about it and it's on my mind, I'm really good at being mindful of those small things, but when I'm not thinking.. I can't seem to change my ways. Any advice on how to change habits? Is it possible for us to be happy together or is tidyness going to be our demise?
    So I don't think this is about opposite traits - this is about him acting out his neatness stuff by being disrespectful to you and overly critical. I am much much neater than my husband which isn't saying much. I do 99% of the hygiene/sanitizing cleaning (no cleaning person now because of covid!!) and he will not declutter and he is a real pack rat. It really bothers me a lot. But I choose my battles. It's not worth it. Your SO can be a neat freak without being a jerk about it. I'm not a jerk about it. Once in awhile I complain but once in awhile. And not to the extent your SO does. This morning I again put his dirty glass in the sink. Annoying but you know what -I was on my way to the kitchen anyway. So big deal. If I complain it just will spread negative energy in our small lockdown apartment lol. I try to be positive over what he does do and he does a lot whether related to cleaning or otherwise. And honestly I like how I do certain things better than he would. If he even did them.

    So please don't tell yourself that people who are neater than you act like jerks to those who are not. The difference in neatness levels is just not the issue here.

  9. #8
    Bronze Member quark's Avatar
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    So, we just spoke a little and he shot down the idea of delegating chores. I guess he just wants me to change. And I'm not sure if I can. I'm not sure if I want to. I hate to say it, but I feel myself starting to detach. I guess I can only take 2 months of what feels like constantly being judged and berated. He says I used to do so much more when I was working 50 hours a week. Well, I don't know what to say. He seems incapable of understanding my feelings of depression, anxiety and hopelessness not only losing my job but prob ably not getting it back. Probably having to change industries entirely is weighing on me heavily.

    He said "I just miss when we both used to love each other and do anything for one another".. translation I miss when you used to love me and do anything for me. Because, I'm sorry.. I feel like he offers no support or understanding to my situation. Maybe he thinks I'm on a vacation since my days are filled with nothing, but it's just that .. my days are filled with NOTHING. And when I do go out for a walk or a hike with a friend, he gets all weird about it. He is admittedly jealous. It's like damned if I do and damned if I don't. I said before that I would not give up on him or us, but it's really hard to shake the feeling of "this won't work". Again, we never had these type of problems before Covid. I need to look into counseling for both of us.

  10. #9
    Platinum Member DancingFool's Avatar
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    Going to echo Batya that this isn't about being a neat freak, but rather using that as a weapon to put you down, attack you mentally and emotionally, and so on. A lot of what you are describing sounds bordering on emotionally abusive behavior on his part. When you add in jealousy and say things like "damned if you do and damned if you don't" that's a red flag the size of China.

    On that note, please stop telling yourself that you will never give up on this relationship or any relationship. That will make your partner take you for granted and also lose respect for you. If no matter what they do, how they speak to you, how they treat you, you will tolerate everything and cling on.....why treat you well? After all, you'll be there no matter what. Once respect is gone, the relationship is over, OP.

    To answer your question, my grandmother was an OCD level neat freak while the rest of the fam are just normal people. Never ever have we ever had an argument over cleanliness, neatness, etc. Why? Respect both ways. We'd try to tidy up, she respected the fact that others will never live up to her standards and never ever held people to them. She cleaned because it made her feel good, but never with anger or resentment and never ever made anyone feel bad for "failing" to clean something to her standards. In fact she appreciated any attempt at cleaning at all. Also had a bf who was the same - bordering on OCD neat freak. Like if a picture frame was moved an inch, he'd notice and move it back. I'm organized chaos. We were together for many years and never, not even once had an argument about cleanliness or neatness. Not one time, OP. Why? Because we respected each other and our differences. Never used neatness as a weapon or an excuse to attack the other person.

    I know you don't want to hear this, but what is happening is that you are seeing who your bf really is. Don't look back at when times were easy and you didn't spend that much time in close quarters together, look at what he is like when times are difficult. This is who he really is and what he is really like. I'll also add in this - if you have to resort to counseling to force your relationship to work, it's your clue that you are in a wrong relationship with the wrong person. Time to change your thinking from never give up to a much healthier version "if a man treats me badly I'll leave him and never look back."

  11. #10
    Platinum Member bluecastle's Avatar
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    While you're chalking all this up to Covid—which, yeah, is a straining time for all of us—I can't help but wonder if that's the full picture. The fight you chronicled back in September, for instance, had some similar themes: festering tensions coming to a head, lots of nerves, and so on.

    Like Batya, I don't really see this as being about tidiness, something that gets solved through a chore chart. Not sure what it's about, exactly, but it seems to be a case that he, at least, is finding more comfort in being upset with you than trying to connect. Not great, and what often happens when a relationship has started to unravel: people find surface proxies (dirty laundry, say) to express deeper concerns. Seems you both are drifting, or have drifted, toward the "this won't work" headspace: that feelings of scorn are greater than those of compassion.

    Counseling could be helpful, assuming it's something you both want, that you both can get on board with the shared goal of reconnecting and striking harmony—or, if that proves elusive, gracefully accepting that and ending things without too much anger, bitterness, or resentment.

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