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Thread: How To Deal With An Extremely Disorganized Significant Other

  1. #1
    Senior Member SiouzQ.'s Avatar
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    How To Deal With An Extremely Disorganized Significant Other

    They say opposites attract, and me and my boyfriend couldn't be more opposite in so many ways. Just to give a little background, we still live on opposite ends of our tiny town and sleep at our own places. We do a lot of shared cooking at each other's houses. I am somewhat of a neat-nik and despise unnecessary clutter; he is sloppy, never cleans his place, the refrigerator is atrocious, and I have watched the bathroom garbage can fill up for the last three months and he still piles trash into it (I go over to his house to use the bathtub. I end up cleaning the tub myself before I take a bath). It just never occurs to him to do many of these basic things that would make his life run smoother.

    He is also pretty bad with money - he earns a lot but doesn't have much to show for it at age 59. The ways in which he wastes money is a bit appalling to me, as I am coming from the Simple Living frugal way of life. He wastes a lot food and money by not planning ahead, he misses appointments because he doesn't use a calendar, is late paying bills and rent, on and on and on. It's hard for me to watch someone be that way but he has been that way his whole life.

    Our backgrounds couldn't be more different either: I come from an educated middle-to-upper-middle class family, he comes from a family of poverty, abuse, chaos and and dysfunction that was pretty bad. He was essentially on his own after his father kicked him out as a older teenager. Yet, over the decades he has done very well for himself working in IT and computers for over 30 years.

    So on the flip-side: he is one of the most generous, caring individuals I have ever met and been in a relationship with. He takes care of me, all the way through the crap I have been through the past two years - the surgeries, the death of my daughter, EVERYTHING! I do and would do the same for him too.

    So our individual styles really come to a head regarding travel and that can make it a bit stressful - we just flew to Oklahoma City to be with his sister's family (my first time meeting his side of the family, other than his son and daughter). He is so disorganized with the flights, forgot to check the night before, forgot who he made the rental car reservation with (we had to go from counter to counter until they found us). Going crazy making sure he had his diabetic survival bag all set and all his other medications, trying not to lose his glasses at every turn (he did end up losing a pair of sunglasses and had to buy new ones in Oklahoma). He would lose his head if it wasn't attached to his body; he is so very absent-minded. Maybe it is because he is so detail-oriented at work with the computer coding stuff that he simply can't notice details in his outside life?

    Consequently for me, being a "doer" and "de-clutterer" and an organized sort of person, it is hard to know when to step in and when not to. He is an adult and if he loses the key to his truck for the second time in two months that it is his responsibility (it already cost him $300 a few weeks ago to have someone come out here and make a new one). He has loose keys all over the place instead of on a specified key ring, so yesterday I made sure he got them all in one place. Luckily someone in town found his truck key ring somewhere and hung it on the fence by his front door.

    I don't want to be a "mother" to him and scold him for things, but it is hard to watch someone fumble around so hard with the basics when I know things could be so much easier (and cheaper) for him if he paid more attention and planned things better. I know *some* of what I do to run my life easier has rubbed off a little here and there on him but there is SO much room for improvement.

    One of the things I did for him over the summer (I needed a distraction from my grief) was to help him get his apartment set up better and make it more homey - and that was fun. We rehung a lot of his art work he had collected over the years, moved furniture around, and got a table lamp. I helped fix up the bathroom with a new shower curtain and artwork on the wall. There is still so much more work to do - he needs a major de-clutter of the piles of crap lying around. And the whole place needs a DEEP CLEAN. I told him I would clean it for him in appreciation for all the meals he cooked for me after surgery, but I probably can't do it for another week or so because I am still healing. I'm hoping he will let me help him de-clutter before I clean because that makes sense, right?

    How does one negotiate this stuff with a significant other? I think if we were ever to move in together this kind of stuff will end up being a sticking point - I like things clean and organized, and he doesn't seem to care, though I'm sure he would really enjoy all the benefits of living in a nice clean place. I sure don't want to do all the work for it and also would never want to become a "nag" about things. We would have to have a SERIOUS discussion on expectations of each other.

  2. #2
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    This is going to sound harsh. But I break up with them, that is how I deal with it.

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    My husband and I are opposite in house standards. So his areas ( his office, garage and shed are his spaces to do as he wants. The rest of the house must be neat. It has worked for us for 20 years. We have so much fun together. He makes me laugh everyday. We travel well together. My ex was very neat but life was painful with him. My husband can be absent minded and lose stuff but not to the level you describe. No relationship is perfect.

  4. #4
    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    I would maintain two households and just worry about my own issues, personally.

    I'm not a housekeeper. I told my SO that when I met him. If he had tried to browbeat me into being what I had no intention of being, we wouldn't have lasted long.

    Focus on his goodness; life is short. He sounds like a wonderful, caring companion.

  5. #5
    Senior Member SiouzQ.'s Avatar
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    Ultralight: and maybe that is why you are perpetually alone.

    I think the solution for us, and we have made some conversation about it, is to negotiate what each person is good at naturally. I am naturally more organized and on top of things, so I should probably be the one who makes and keeps track of travel plans. He of course is responsible for all his medications, but I have helped him get better deals on things by getting him to do the research. He is a good cook when he makes the effort, is always on time for work, washes and irons his clothes religiously, and is a very hard worker.

    I know it is a give and take thing; I can't expect him to be just like me (admittedly I am slightly OCD and anal-rententive about certain things) and he can't expect me to go over to the "dark side" of slobbiness in the home. Since we don't live together and probably won't until my gallery stint is over, it's all a moot point anyway. Sometimes I just have to tell myself to relax and back off. I can take control of the travel things when needed just so things run smoother.

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    I think by your age(s) neither one of you is going to change so you just have to maintain separate spaces to keep your sanity - either with your own houses or within one domicile. I am watching that dynamic play out with DD and her husband and she always tells me that you have to pick your battles. His positives outweigh his disorganization but unfortunately she has to act like mommy on occasion and pick up after him.

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    "Zoning" is a good option if you don't want to go nuclear.

    Those zones might be separate residences. Or they might be separate bedrooms. Or as described above, it could just be dividing the rooms and saying: "Trash these ones all you want. But these ones must be tidy!"

  8. #8
    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    Does he own his property? Maybe you could build a small MIL unit on it?

    I bet you can work it out to everyone's advantage. There's no shame in needing a secretary, and he can always hire stuff done.

  9. #9
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JaneV2.0 View Post
    I bet you can work it out to everyone's advantage. There's no shame in needing a secretary, and he can always hire stuff done.
    Or a weekly housekeeper
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

  10. #10
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    I also make our travel plans because I am much more organized. I met my husband at44 and we were able to compromise because we wanted to live together. On one forum I belong to they bought houses next door to each other. He sounds like a good person.

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