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Help! I’m Married to a Clean Freak!

You can’t take it anymore—the constant criticism, the rampant perfectionism, the persnickety attitude, the OBSESSION.

The problem is, you’re married to this person; and this person is not going to be okay unless things around the house pass muster. No leisurely Saturday mornings lying around in pajamas, reading the paper, (or my blog), sipping coffee, discussing where you are going for breakfast, and what fun things you will be doing that day. Nope, it’s all about what needs to be done around the house, and you’ve been in this marriage long enough to know it’s never going to be enough.

You have tried avoidance, intimidation – you have even tried doing the laundry, but it just isn’t working. If you are ready to try something different, read on.

First, understand that it is possible your clean freak spouse has a brain that just will not function properly if surrounded by disorder. (However, your spouse defines that.) When they complain about the mess in the house, it is because they are actually highly uncomfortable and possibly in pain.

Perhaps your spouse is just not able to filter out the mess. Something that is not an “emergency” to you may very well feel like an emergency to them. If this is the case, looking at them as if they are crazy only makes your spouse feel more alone and misunderstood.

Next, decide that if your spouse cannot stand things the way they are, you will work together to get to a place where they can start to feel calmer. You may have to patiently investigate exactly what they need. There may be certain areas of the house that are very important to keep clean, for example, the kitchen sink, the dining table, the bed. Ask with patience until you can agree on a standard of clean that will work for both of you.

Finally, once you discover what is truly important to them, surprise your loved one by doing that for him/her. BONUS: you have just discovered a meaningful new way to say I love you. Think of how much money you will save by, for example, just putting away the dishes without being asked, instead of buying flowers!

Gifting your spouse with an “act of service” that will help them feel good about their home, will strengthen your connection, and maybe even allow them to loosen up enough to lounge around with you on Saturday mornings – but only if the dishes have been put away.