A Reflection on Cleanliness and Relationships

June 21, 2011  |  


Following several years of barely-restrained, insouciant bachelorhood, I’m finally preparing my first move-in with a girlfriend.

I’ve lived alone for years, roommate- and drama-free just as I like it. I haven’t had a roommate since my sophomore year of college over 10 years ago, and the only beef either of us ever had with one another was when he woke up from a nap to find I killed his bag of Better Made Red Hot potato chips.

Because I’m a straight guy strongly accustomed to being untethered, it should come as no surprise that I have a few bad habits.

My garden apartment would, by design, be a musty dungeon even if I were Martha Stewart clean. But I’m not, so the place often looks like the Sixth Circle of Hell. Sure I’d clean and scrub if I knew a woman was coming over, (Especially if that woman is my mother) but days and sometimes weeks stretched out without me lifting so much as a broom. I don’t need to mop the floor today, do I? That sink full of dishes that’s been there for eight days isn’t bothering me.

Now I’ll be living with a missus who gets apoplectic every time I left even a drop of liquid anything on her oak kitchen table – “The Fawking placemat is there for a reason. USE IT!” – so change on my behalf is imperative.

In the grand scheme of relationships, being a bit messy should be considered a triviality in theory, and even an expectation of sorts from men like me who were raised by dads who weren’t the tidiest. Like my mother says when talking about her husband’s bad habits: “It’s not like they are gonna make the world come crashing down.”

 

But then, this is the same mother with whom I lived between college summers, and her cleanliness habits rival my lady’s. So her bugging the hell out when I didn’t make my futon or put my dishes in the dishwasher straightened me to the point where I had to change my habits or risk instant and unceremonious death.

Admittedly I didn’t catch on with the lady for a bit; it took a few oak table beer bottle rings for me to realize, “Hey, we could get into legitimate arguments over this. I’d better get my Isht together.”

I implore my male readers to consider the latent relationship tension behind being a messy bastard. Dirty draws on the bathroom floor or unscraped plates aren’t a big deal to us fellas, but that’s one of those Mars/Venus issues that can be handled with just a bit of attention to the task at hand.

I have confidence the adjustments will work for me. But if I start writing columns in the not-so-distant future from the back alley of a Panda Express, you’ll know why.

How do you handle chores and cleaning in your household?

 

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