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Living in harmony with opposite traits


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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?

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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.

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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! :D 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. :upset: 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! :smug:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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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I'm assuming it's something we both want, because he also says he will not give up and that he loves me and wants to be with me forever. I know it's probably hurtful for him when I say "do you??" but that is just how I feel right now. :(

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I agree with the others, sometimes you reach a point where fighting about the laundry, its not about the laundry.

 

Its pent up frustration and resentment from accepting behavior, that is frankly unacceptable to you, over time.

 

Which can come from not being able to express oneself fully. Which speaks to the foundation of the relationship. The best telationships are based on shared values, goals and effort.

 

When these don't match the effort becomes too much and because we don't value the same, we can't understand the other person. Our core values & life goals are so intuitive to us, its hard to see another perspective.... And that lust and physical attraction that made is over look them before, its not enough.

 

These issues were probably always there.... maybe your just not compatible for the long term?

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I'm assuming it's something we both want, because he also says he will not give up and that he loves me and wants to be with me forever. I know it's probably hurtful for him when I say "do you??" but that is just how I feel right now. :(

 

It doesn't matter what a man says, it matters how he treats you. He is treating you badly. You can either address that and resolve it or you need to be willing to move on from that. Do not ever tolerate abusive behavior from anyone.

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The place is in your name? Start the separation process. Quietly. Start looking for jobs, get to a doctor for the mental health. Talk to friends and family rather than him about things. Do Not look for counselling for him or try to fix or change him. An abuser Does Not Change. Focus on getting him OUT of your home and life.

No one should be called a cont and berated all day in their own home. Start separating finances, talk to your banks. Change all your passwords and account info. Get your ducks in a row financially and mentally.When you feel better ask him to move out.

I feel myself starting to detach. I guess I can only take 2 months of what feels like constantly being judged and berated.
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Ugh!! I feel like just banging my head against a wall. This is why I want to seek therapy so someone can guide us in conversation and understanding. It's like a sensitivity merry go round!

We chatted over dinner about the chores thing. We talked about dishes and sometimes I don't get to them until late afternoon the next day.. so I said how about we make sure they are all done the night of? He put some stuff away in the dishwasher, and I continued on to wash the crock pot. It's about 7:10, he says don't you need to feed the dog? Now, feeling attacked (wrongly) like I don't know how to take care of my dog who i personally feed, walk and shoot with insulin twice a day...I say "it's not 7:30 yet". When.. really i should have just said, I'm washing up the pots. So, he in turn feels attacked like I'm calling him stupid. Then he says that he just wanted to relax and hang out with me. So I say, which is it? You want me to relax, or you want me to pitch in with chores more? Or is it just what you want when you want??

We continue to have a conversation on the couch

**i feel like it's really important to mention that the friend i posted about previously made a reappearance and i stupidly went out with her, we came back to the house (drunk) and she berated my boyfriend, shouting for like 45 minutes like a psycho drunk. I have since had an epiphany and cut her out of my life for good, but he is still angry with me for repeating mistakes and not standing up for him more**

So, I try to explain my headspace for the past few months.. how depression and anxiety have got a hold of me and I didn't even know what to do. How i felt he was not understanding or supportive of that at all. And he says he doesn't want to marry someone who can't "handle it".

 

Wow.

 

Okay.. that's all i needed to hear, and I told him that before researching nearby pet friendly hotels and then coming upstairs to the bedroom.

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My ex husband complained when I wasn't working. He complained about how I wasn't bringing in money. He also said I had no rights because I didn't "contribute". (I guess raising our two kids didn't count as a "contribution").

 

So I got a full time job. And he pressured me to quit! Said I was "stressed out" all the time and that things weren't getting done around the house.

 

See, he didn't want me to work or NOT work. What he wanted was to have something to to me about. It didn't matter what I did, it was going to be wrong.

 

Noticed I wrote EX husband...

 

Any chance you can move in with family?

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Urgg!! The more I think about it the more angry I get. WHY say you don't want to marry someone who "can't handle it" instead of literally anything else.

 

I'm sorry you felt/feel this way, how can we turn it around?

Don't worry, we are all going through stuff, we will figure it out.

I know how you feel, it's okay, i love you.

 

 

Literallyyyy anything but what he said. It's like he gave up. I have been SO supportive of his rants about his job without pointing the finger at him and telling him what he should be doing.

 

Im so upset right now. If i "move out" it will be extremely temporary as this place is mine.

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Why can't you get a job? I feel he's picking at you for everything except the one giant glaring issue. He doesn't respect you at all and I don't think it's because of the apartment. It sounds like he thinks he's doing more than you are and you're not doing enough, period.

 

You can either take it constructively (how he's going about it is not constructive, by the way) and self-evaluate or you can keep going back and forth in this terrible, negative merry-go-round.

 

The problem is he doesn't respect you. Yes, it's emotionally abusive. Try and figure out what helps you lower or eliminate those feelings of despair and depression, find your independence and self-empower. Talk to someone if you have to. I think your mental health is suffering horribly and this is hurting you. It hurts reading what's going on. Start making plans NOW.

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We chatted over dinner about the chores thing. We talked about dishes and sometimes I don't get to them until late afternoon the next day.. so I said how about we make sure they are all done the night of? He put some stuff away in the dishwasher, and I continued on to wash the crock pot. It's about 7:10, he says don't you need to feed the dog? Now, feeling attacked (wrongly) like I don't know how to take care of my dog who i personally feed, walk and shoot with insulin twice a day...I say "it's not 7:30 yet". When.. really i should have just said, I'm washing up the pots. So, he in turn feels attacked like I'm calling him stupid. Then he says that he just wanted to relax and hang out with me. So I say, which is it? You want me to relax, or you want me to pitch in with chores more? Or is it just what you want when you want??

We continue to have a conversation on the couch

 

So sorry about all you've been through. Hugs.

 

It might be the tones but if you both heard attack from seemingly innocuous questions/comments such as "don't you need to feed the dog?" "It's not time yet" etc there's been a great deal of resentment built up. The steam was looking for a way out and basically anything could trigger a nuclear reaction. It could be that you two are just too incompatible and it has reached the point where anything you do simply irritates each other. No one should live in a state of constantly being berated and criticized, not by their partners, be it two days or two months.

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So he's a neat freak, but won't clean?

NNNNNNOOOOOPPPEEEEE. That's a nope for choosing him as a lifelong partner. What a horrible horrible entitled view he has. You are not the maid. I don't care if he's the sole provider. I have been the sole provider about half of our marriage, and I still do my 50% of cleaning and childcare.

 

A true testament of a good partnership is how your are in best of times and worst of times. He should be supporting you having time with friends. And in the worst of times, he needs to pitch in and keep filling the pot where and when he can. I don't see him as a good guy for you. I'm sure you've put in time and dedication together, but when the going gets tough, the tough get going - not verbally bash you and put you down every minute they can.

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I made a list of daily chores for covid home time because I was going crazy. I have been going by them for over 3 months and it has been helpful keeping me on track. I have never been one to go off a list, but my other half is a neat freak (and I’m not a messy person - but I’m not a “neat freak”) and we haven’t had any differences when it comes to cleaning very much in the last few months. So, maybe you could try something like that?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just wanted to come back and update. Things have been better between us, we are "talking it out" all the time. He is still frustrating me because he just doesn't seem to "get it" with certain aspects, but our day to day interactions are much improved. We are going to go through a book called "couple skills" to improve our communication and reactions.

 

Maybe you all will be right (like you were with my ex!), but I am just not one to jump ship so quickly. I am realizing that coronavirus craziness has a lot to do with all this, and we are both hurting right now. That hurt isn't getting addressed or resolved, so it's just snowballing and materializing into petty arguments. I will say, after going through a 7 year relationship that should have ended after the first year, I am much more cautious and I think it will be easier for me to call a spade a spade instead of wasting years trying to make it work.

 

I want to thank everyone for their feedback, it is really helpful in the moment when I feel like I'm going crazy. I am on the job hunt and I have a few interviews coming up, so I'm coming out of my dark hole on that one.

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I will say, after going through a 7 year relationship that should have ended after the first year, I am much more cautious and I think it will be easier for me to call a spade a spade instead of wasting years trying to make it work.

.

 

Doesn't look like it.

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Just wanted to come back and update. Things have been better between us, we are "talking it out" all the time. He is still frustrating me because he just doesn't seem to "get it" with certain aspects, but our day to day interactions are much improved. We are going to go through a book called "couple skills" to improve our communication and reactions.

 

Maybe you all will be right (like you were with my ex!), but I am just not one to jump ship so quickly. I am realizing that coronavirus craziness has a lot to do with all this, and we are both hurting right now. That hurt isn't getting addressed or resolved, so it's just snowballing and materializing into petty arguments. I will say, after going through a 7 year relationship that should have ended after the first year, I am much more cautious and I think it will be easier for me to call a spade a spade instead of wasting years trying to make it work.

 

I want to thank everyone for their feedback, it is really helpful in the moment when I feel like I'm going crazy. I am on the job hunt and I have a few interviews coming up, so I'm coming out of my dark hole on that one.

 

Good for you for reading a bit more and being open to learn. I hope he is too. I also hope the mutual respect is restored. Couples do go through rough patches but it shouldn't be protracted or abusive.

 

Good work too on those interviews! Stay positive. If you need tips and suggestions for job interviews post them on the forum too. I'm sure there are members who will have feedback on tricky questions or tips on how to answer through some situations.

 

Very happy for you.

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