It can be quite tiresome to deal with a partner who always leaves the house a mess. You can enter your home to see it in a chaotic state only so many times. At one point you will reach your boiling point; at that point somebody will have a problem, and your relationship will suffer. That means that keeping quiet about it will not do the trick. Think of putting up with someone’s messy habits as a soda bottle. Every time you enter a room to see all dirty clothes piled up in a neat pile on the floor, you shake that bottle. At some point, that cap will not be able to hold the rising soda and it will pop, along with your temper.
Professionals have dealt with such problems many times – it is one of the most frequent problems discussed in couple’s therapy, and the most common problem in a standard marriage. The only conclusion they have arrived at is that you should not keep “nagging” about it. Nagging and complaining do not change anything. Just because the partner is aware of your dislike towards his messy habits it does not mean change. People rarely change, and will do nothing to rectify their behaviour. Nagging and complaining might buy you a home cleaning for a day or two, and maybe a week of effort to maintain the cleanliness, but all that effort is so that you do not continue nagging. Change comes with desire to change, and that desire will come only if they see the habits you find so disturbing as problematic. Making one see that, however, is a whole new type of ordeal.
One way to deal with the issue actually is to make your partner’s habits a problem for him or her, and not for you. This is kind of a sneaky way and it may require more effort to pull it out than to clean after your partner, but if it pays out, it is worth it in the long run. You see a pile of clothes on the floor? Dump it on a spot where they will be a problem to your partner – say, a favourite spot to sit, or his or her side of the bed, or on top of his or her laptop. Sounds like a vengeful way to do it, but it is one way to deal with the problem other than being constantly hot and bothered about it. It will definitely telegraph your partner the message that his or her actions are bothersome and it might lead to at least some effort to do better.
Another way is to sit down and talk, but again, this implies that you want a change, and if there is going to be a change, it has to be for his or her sake, and not for somebody else’s. This might be hurtful for yourself, as you will find out that a person cannot and will not change because of your needs, and that the statement “if you love me then you will do this and that” is mostly humbug. Yes, love will make people do this and that – for a while, and after you have been satisfied for long enough, the needs of the self will return. As we are well aware, old habits die hard.
The best you can do in this situation is to exercise patience and when you want your partner to clean something, simply ask him or her to. Or ask for help and make cleaning up into a new habit. Therapy and nagging will not do the trick, nor will fights and having him or her make empty promises. It is a simple deal – when you want house cleaning, ask for help and you shall receive it. And if you don’t – well then, what is the point?