How to Deal With a Messy Spouse: 13 Ways to Navigate Living With a Messy Partner

WhatToGetMy Instructional Article

A study conducted by the Pew Research Center showed that 69% of married couples shared the opinion that helping around the house does make a marriage work. This means that having a messy spouse has a 31% chance of collapsing the relationship.

Does Sharing Household Chores Make a Marriage Work_

Source: www.pewresearch.org

In this article, we are going to explore the ways in which you can navigate your spouse being messy to ensure a healthy relationship is still maintained between the two of you.


When navigating how to live with a messy spouse, it is important to share the workload equally between you and your spouse. Give you and your spouse chores that have to be accomplished daily and create a checklist to mark at the end of the day to acknowledge the completition of the set chores. For example, you can set chores such as taking out the trash, cleaning the house, washing the dishes, and picking up after the children between you and your spouse and rotate the chores the next day so that no one person is stuck with the same chores every day. Alternatively, you can set standard chores for every day so each one of you knows what chores they are supposed to be doing every day.


When you are living with a messy partner, they are going to do things that bother you – like leave their socks unattended on the floors for days, not flush the toilet after use, not load up the dishwasher, or even never offer to do laundry. It can get quite frustrating having to do all the house chores by yourself without or with very little help from your spouse. It is important, therefore, that you communicate with them and tell them exactly what it is they do that bothers you. For example, if they never help with the laundry, explain to them why this bothers you and how you would like them to address this in the future. Communicating your needs with your partner not only helps them understand why you may seem frustrated with them from time to time, but it also helps you express yourself to your partner in a way that lets go of anger and resentment that might be festering beneath if you leave the issues unaddressed.


When you are living with a messy spouse, you should always aim at finding solutions rather than getting irritated at their clutter. Sure, it is very easy to be irritated with your partner when they leave their laundry by the corner on the floor as opposed to throwing them in the laundry basket. What you can do, instead, is to put a laundry basket in the corner where your partner likes to throw their laundry, and soon enough you have a partner that throws their laundry in the laundry basket by the corner and does not leave a pile of clothes on the floor by the corner.


Sometimes it’s not that your partner is messy but that you have too many things and not enough space in your household. The best thing you can do before you start thinking “my husband is messy and lazy” is to declutter your home; get rid of everything and anything that you do not need in your home – give it away to charity, or have a garage sell and make some money off of your old stuff. You may find that your partner is actually quite clean and organized once you get rid of all the excess clutter in your home. This can be a fun activity for things to do with your spouse at home.


Another great trick on how to live with a messy person is to create reminders – sometimes your spouse is not messy but merely forgetful. The introduction of smartphones has given us the opportunity to have an alarm clock on us at all times. Utilize this tool and set alarms for the times that chores are supposed to start. For example, if the dishwasher has to be loaded by 5 pm. every evening, then set an alarm for your partner to load the dishes at 5 pm. every evening. This way you are not constantly reminding your partner to load up the dishes – which could feel like nagging and therefore prone to creating unpleasantness in the relationship.


Before you go and declare to the world that “my husband is a slob” you should first take a closer look at why your partner forgets to do their designated tasks and if there are ways you can both work around it. We have discussed in point (5) above that scheduling alarms on the phone can be useful when your partner is more forgetful than lazy and neglectful. In the same way, observe and ask your partner why they seem to not remember to do their tasks, and based on their reasoning, work on finding ways to remedy the situation.

However, it is important to note that some partners – more especially men will use what has been coined “weaponized incompetence” where they do a chore so badly in hopes that they are never asked to do it again. For example, if your husband goes to the store and buys all the wrong things by brand and/or size, knowing what you use having used it for a long time – it is most likely weaponized incompetence and not them being forgetful.


Another great piece of advice on how to live with a messy spouse is to never try to parent your spouse. A lot of people think that by (re)parenting their spouse that they will help them become better people who clean up after themselves and others. However, what this does is it infantilize the other person and you will end up doing more for them because your relationship dynamic will be that of a caretaker and a child. Avoid trying to parent your spouse at all costs. Instead, treat them like an equal and


Another thing you are going to have to consider when living with a messy partner is to set house rules for cleaning especially after oneself. Set out a roaster for picking up clothes on the floor, feeding the pets, feeding the children, cleaning the floors, and any other such chores, this will create order in your household as everyone will know what chore they are supposed to do on which day.


The biggest thing you are going to have to do when living with a messy spouse is to make some compromises. What does this mean? Compromise looks different for different people, you may decide to give your messy partner a “mess zone” where they are allowed to be as messy as they can be. It is important to make this space somewhere that belongs to them only such as a home office or the garage. By designating messy zones and clean zones, it gives the messy partner a safe zone where they can be messy without judgment and therefore makes them more mindful of the clean zones.


Another tip on how to live with a messy person successfully is to try and understand things from their perspective. Approach them with empathy when confronting them about the mess they have made. Always make sure to refrain from attacking your partner because the fight is always between you and the problem and never you against your partner.


What is it they say about honey and vinegar? Ah, yes, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar! Before going around complaining and nagging that “my husband is a slob!”  try first with a little encouragement for the little tasks that your husband does for you or around the house. For example, if they pick up their dirty laundry off the floor without them asking, thank them for being a considerate partner. Psychologically, people respond quicker to positive reinforcements rather than negative ones. Therefore, the more you applaud your spouse for doing something- and doing it well, the more they will want to please you and thus keep doing these small things which eventually turn into big things.


Sometimes, it is important to understand that there may be psychological reasons for being a slob. When your partner is unmotivated or appears to be lazy, it can be easy to blame them for lack of trying but what if they are mentally unable to complete those tasks? Mental health issues have other symptoms, so if you notice that your spouse is exhibiting some of those along with laziness and overall unmotivated, then you should consider seeking out professional help because it might be something deeper than your spouse just being a slob especially if the change is sudden and it has been followed by something a big life-changing event. Here are some things to look out for if your spouse is depressed.


Perhaps the winning and only conflict-free way to crack the code for living with a slob is to hire a housekeeper who will do all your house chores for you. That way, neither you nor your partner has to clean up after themselves and your home doesn’t look like a pigsty. However, this is only an option when you have some disposable income so it may not be the problem fix all we think it is.

Related Posts: Things to do to Make Your Relationship Stronger


1. What do you do if your partner is a slob?

If your partner is a slob, it is up to you to let them know how their sloppiness is affecting you and your relationship. The best way how to live with a messy person is to be upfront about how uncomfortable their mess makes you and how you would like for them to move forward with the information just given to them. As stated above, you can set reminders, alarms, and schedules for chores throughout the course of your cohabitation to make sure that everyone does their part.

2. How do you live with someone who is messy?

Living with a slob is not easy especially when you are a clean person or a person who likes to exist in a clean environment. If you are set on living in the same space with a slob, you are going to have to make a lot of adjustments and compromises in your life. The article above has talked about, extensively, how you can successfully make those adjustments and compromises with your partner.


In conclusion, this article has looked at what it could be like living with a slob as a spouse and trying to make that work. One thing that has been made clear throughout is that it is not going to be easy but it can be fruitful if both you and your partner are willing to try and give it your best shot.

It is important to also note that there are sometimes psychological reasons for being a slob and it is not always wise to jump to conclusions on your spouse’s hygiene especially when the change comes suddenly and after a major life-changing event such as employment termination, or the loss of something or someone dear to your spouses (or your) life.

There are many factors that contribute to making living and dealing with a messy spouse work, but above all – treat your spouse as an equal, voice out your concerns, make compromises, and most importantly keep organized.





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