Chores

Discussion in 'Advice (Dear AE...)' started by The_Bookworm, Dec 14, 2013.

  1. The_Bookworm

    The_Bookworm Member

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    My girlfriend and I live together as of six months, dating about a year and three months. Generally, it's really great, but I can't get her to do her share of the chores. When she works a day and I'm at home, I'll do dishes, shop, cook, clean, etc. Because she's working, I figure she'll be tired and will deserve a break when she gets home. But the inverse isn't true unless I ask her to do specific things, and then she'll often forget or complain about it, or even get mad. She's gotten somewhat better about dishes, but today I came home to find she'd ignored them again. Then I made dinner and suggested that she do some dishes. She filled the sink and just left it to "soak." From there my temper just simmered. She points out that if I ask her directly to do something, she always does it. That's true, but sometimes I get so much blowback it's almost not worth it. And why do I need to ask her to do every individual thing while I just do whatever needs to be done automatically? She suggested a list system, and I appreciate that she's engaged with finding a solution, but I'm not confident. We've discussed this many times before and nothing's come of it.

    Thoughts?
     
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  2. MakeMeLaugh

    MakeMeLaugh Well-Known Member

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    If she suggested a list system, whether you are doubtful about it or not, you should try that. Sharing space with someone means understanding that your way is not the right way for everyone, so yes you are the type to do things without being told but maybe she is not. If you make a list or schedule I am sure you guys can work things out pretty easily. Designate a "cleaning day". My gf and I don't live together but we spend the majority of our time at my place, we discussed the things we hate to do, turns out what she hates to do I don't mind doing and the things I hate to do she doesn't mind doing. So cleaning ended up working out well simply by talking about it. We clean on Fridays. Sometimes she gets home way too late, so she will do them the following day. When we do spend time at her place, I make sure to volunteer to do whatever needs to get done since not much time is spent there it doesn't get messy and make sure to clean up after myself immediately. Good luck!
     
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  3. lorienczhiu

    lorienczhiu Well-Known Member

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    Living with your lady isn't all love and roses, huh.

    My first reaction to your post is that you need to step back. The first rule in our house is "If it stresses you out, it's your job to deal*" (*within reason). If there's a particular neatness expectation or need that your partner doesn't share, well, tough cookies. You don't get to tell other people what to prioritize or value, and the only behavior that your control is your own. So rather than trying to split down the middle and then getting mad when the effort isn't shared, identify what your highest needs are, take responsibility for it, and let the resentment go. I promise, the time and effort you spend being mad about her not doing the dishes is way, way less than just doing the dishes. (Note: this is different than doing the dishes while harboring crankiness that "she should have, I'm always doing her share, grumble grumble." Make it so that when you do something, you are doing it freely and without anger. If you can't do that, don't do the dishes; things will be a little messier, but your heart will be happier.)

    So when I see that she left her damn shoes in the middle of the floor again, I just put them away. She can see that I hate folding laundry and am putting it off, and put on a movie and offer to help. She offers me the choice between dishes and dinner, so I can choose how to build our home. When she asks for help, I know that I can say, "Babe, I'm totally wiped. Can you leave some dishes for me to do later? I just can't right now" and that she won't roll her eyes or think any worse of me. When I know that she's not mad, I feel able to be honest and giving; when I'm afraid that I've already fucked up by not volunteering, I'm more likely to refuse and shut down. I bet your girlfriend is feeling some of that - she doesn't have the same priorities as you, so she forgets, and then she feels attacked and devalued because of it. I would bet that left on her own, she would simply have a different standard than you do for how and how often she manages chores, and you imposing your expectations on her is leading to a deep misunderstanding and a lot of stress. So step back and figure out what she thinks is acceptable, what she likes to do and when, how you can ask for help without her feeling attacked. If her needs are different than yours, accept them and try to work with them, so you can reach a real shared agreement. And make that list - the first step is showing that you trust and value her effort and believe that she can offer solutions.

    In my experience, we could get all mad. We could simmer. We could have regular stressful conversations that morph into fights because one of us is feeling attacked or the other is feeling taken for granted. We used to do all those things. But we both have a say in how we want to spend our time and keep our home, and we both have the power to make the decisions that feel loving and honest and supportive - and to recognize when our needs and expectations aren't shared.
     
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  4. Moses

    Moses Well-Known Member

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    Seems to me that you feel your way is right. People who are tidy get proper annoyed at people who aren't and think they are slobs or pigs or lazy etc.

    Probably, her leaving the dishes to soak is hurting you and you can't understand why she would do that. At least that's how you experience it. To have unwashed dishes sitting in the sink unwashed and messy is so frustrating and horrible to you, that her decision not to wash them is her hurting you. That's not actually true. She probably couldn't give a flying f**k about the dishes. They are only dishes in her mind. It's what you feel about the unwashed dishes that is hurting you. And you are responsible for how you feel. So you are hurting you. Fact. Also fact is the fact that you like things clean.

    So, you have two choices about what to change to improve the situation. Change the situation or change how you feel about the situation.

    Now, option one involves more work realistically and may not even be possible as you are trying to make another person change too. Changing how you feel about the situation is prob easier in the long run, but is the harder of the two to decide to do, cause you have to abandon your stubbornness about the situation and your sense of 'right' and entitlement. And that's hard to do.

    Either way, unless you change how you feel, you'll give yourself an ulcer. A constant seethe of resentment is no way to live. Ideally, if you changed how you feel and your gf changed how she feels...ye could meet in the middle sorta. Remember, the situation is equally challenging for her as it is for you, even if you can't see that right now.

    She is constantly being berated and nagged about something you feel she should care about, but she doesn't. Now, funnily...it has been known to happen that her 'laziness' as you see it is in direct response to your haranguing of her that she should care. Perhaps, if she was left to do it when she felt like it instead of feeling like she should, then she might do it more often. I know you are unable to put up with it while you wait for her to do it. I totally know and get that.

    By the way, I am speaking to you as a tidy person who has had to adapt to living with less tidy people. The only way to do that was to see things from their perspective as well as mine. And in doing that, I realized that I was equally annoying to them as they were to me, all be it the annoyance was experienced differently. Once I realized that both of us were suffering, it was easier to change.
     
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  5. greylin

    greylin Well-Known Member

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    I am so not going to help your relationship by what I am posting and I will probably get you madder at your girlfriend. You see I am the lazy asshat who does not like dishes. If someone does them for me then it is great. The only reason why I don't want to clean up is purely because I am lazy about it. I don't like a mess either but I don't like doing it myself. I don't think she was just *soaking* the dishes and doing them later, she was just getting out of it. If she'd lived alone then what? She'd let it stink? She'd hire someone? No, she would have to do them eventually. But now she has you doing them.

    I don't think the list thing will change her behavior. It is a teflon tactic.

    If doing dishes is just not her thing. She will really have to compensate for having you do them all the time. It is that simple.

    I don't get mad when my gf tells me to do my share. She sometimes does extra just because she knows I don't like them. When she does that, I thank her profusely. I do other things to compensate.

    Disclaimer: I am totally projecting here btw and thinking that being a lazy person I recognize another. Take her by face value and do the list thing and don't wait for her to fail. Your love is not conditioned on this but you do want to be treated well and you guys can come to an agreement that make living together happy.
     
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  6. Maison Clicquot

    Maison Clicquot Well-Known Member

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    I wash dishes only when I feel like taking on a more uncommon responsibility and this happens 3-5 times a year. I will paint a house, dig holes in the garden, cut grass and wood without any break if I see that my help is needed, but dishes, nope. Too easy and greasy for me. So yeah, there might be something else that she likes doing, that can be entertaining too. Give her something that will mix pleasure with utility.
    If you still want her to wash the dishes and she will not do it, I advice you to buy disposable dinner plates. I don't believe a schedule would work, if you put pressure on her, that might make things worse only.
     
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