My husband is a total slob but flips out if I’m so much as half-a-minute late to meet him. Isn’t this hypocritical? I get that our space is “shared” while lateness only takes away from “his” time, and that if cleaning up takes away from my time, it’s my choice because he doesn’t care. Obviously, he’s much better at arguing than me, but I still feel like we’re talking about similar forms of inconsideration, so if you have anything to back me up, please share. And, if you have any advice for learning to live with a slob, I could use some. I don’t regret marrying him. He’s smart, successful, funny and loves me as much as I love him. I’ve been trying to get my neat-freakiness under control since before we met.
Thank you in advance,
Neat Freak No More
Dear Neat Freak,
Before I answer your questions, please forgive me for holding you up as a warning to anybody enamored of the notion that opposites attract. While it’s absolutely true and not necessarily a harbinger of doom, the attraction is often based on a trait we don’t like about ourselves that we imagine the other person will help us improve. Penny-pinchers go for spenders in hopes of loosening up. Spenders go for penny-pinchers as though a retirement account will magically appear. Introverts pair with extroverts, respectively, for social support and I’m not sure what. But rarely do people change–they simply get worn down by the relentless friction.
To live with a slob, Neat Freak, I recommend yoga, meditation, swimming, running and Zumba. Exercise will take the edge off, and a basket in every room into which you dump your husband’s trail should bring the stress down to manageable. Food and dirty dishes you’re entitled to nag him about; everything else goes in the basket, where it stays. Until the basket overflows. No marriage is perfect.
Now for the good news: there’s this concept in physics of spacetime that I can’t really wrap my head around, but apparently space and time are the same thing, which makes lateness and messiness similar, too. Lateness, however, isn’t theft. In an earlier era perhaps it was, but nowadays we have email and Temple Run to entertain us during a wait–many of us are even grateful for the break. Whereas your partner’s unwillingness to differentiate between hamper, trash can and junk drawer robs you of hours you can never reclaim. That it’s a shared space halves the amount of time considered stolen…. and bars your husband from bringing his lack of care for cleanliness into the debate. Until he meets you halfway, he shouldn’t complain about you meeting him late.
Good luck explaining that,
I was incredibly offended by your response to Android Widow and by your judgmental remarks about men who prefer not to remain plugged into mobile devicing. I think I am a reasonably reliable partner and almost always easy enough to find. There are all kinds of jerks out there, both without and with some form of mobile tether. You won’t find me taking calls in the middle of a conversation, fiddling with a text, staring off into oblivion–not like some of you.
Civilization and Its Discontents
Well, I apologize, and you may very well rise to the top of the un-tethered heap. But tell me why you can’t own a phone for emergencies and limit who has the number, and I bet your answer also expresses your view of relationships and employment. I was advising Android Widow about dating, not telling cell phone-resisters what to do. Now that you mention it, though, I’ll offer a suggestion. Phoneless people, if they’re serious, should only pair up with their own. Otherwise they wind up phoned–without confronting their communication issues; they just borrowed their partner’s iBlackDroid (give it a few years) too many times. Communication issues are best confronted, is all. I’m speaking generally, Civ. It’s your life.