BF Looks To Redistribute Cleaning Duties In Apartment, But She's Not Having It


"How do I tell her?

Communication is the key to any good relationship. Keeping things in for too long without sharing them with your partner can lead to a build up of resentment and anger, without ever giving the thing that's making you mad a chance to heal.

Reddit user, u/LinkMeSurprises, was having a bit of a communication issue with his girlfriend and was looking for advice when they posted:

I’m [23M] having issues on how to approach my fiancé [22F] on household cleaning and duties.

I wake up at 6-7am every day, and start work at 9am, I spend half of my morning time before work doing some cleaning, like dishes from the previous night, vacuum or something along those lines while making food and watching something on TV,I work 8-9+ hours and get home roughly around 6pm, make dinner rough pick up then head off to bed.

However my partner gets up at 5:45am, starts work at 6am, usually is home at 9am, plays games (I think? I really don't know what she does) until 6pm, picks me up, had dinner followed by games/drawing.

She doesn't like cleaning and I get it, she's a cleaner for work, and no body likes to bring work home with them, but I don't know what to do about this.

In my mind I get so so so frustrated about the lack of anything that gets done when she's home alone.

I've confronted her many times on this and she apologies and that's sort of the end of that, or she'll get annoyed at me and clean loudly out of spite.

Or at best, she'll pick me up from work and as I want to make dinner and spend time with her, THEN she'll start to clean, just like we did as kids, you know cleaning like 10 minute before mum gets home so she doesn't get angry.

I've told her that she shouldn't be cleaning to stop me getting annoyed, but cleaning so we can have a nice fresh clean house always, that we can relax without things laying around, having clean dishes when we make dinner, it's just a nice environment for OUR house to be in, but she doesn't seem to understand that.

If nothings done (which usually isn't) for the week I'll spend time on Sunday morning, making its way into the afternoon cleaning the house, car, bed and what not, and she does help kinda then, but if I don't do it she won't at all, which makes it hard for me to relax, because the second I relax it makes me seem hypocritical, but I'm relaxing after a very very stressful and manual job of 40+ hours a week.

I don't know what to do, am I being unrealistic? I'm not trying to be sexist, I'm not saying she should clean because she's female, just when she works 5-6 hours less a day than me, 30mins to 1 hour of cleaning would be nice.

And not like crazy cleaning, but just, wipe the benches, clean after the bird if it poops on the ground (yeah that's been fun lately with the newest edition of the household), give the cage a wipe down, pick up the lounge room, fold the washing if it was done that day, just freshen the house up a bit.

I don't know what to do about this, but's it's just come down to me completely and utterly wear myself out, or be uncomfortable in a messy house.

Any advice on how to approach this situation would be life saving.


TLDR; partner works significantly less than me, however I'm still expected to do the cleaning, looking for advice to approach the situation beyond what I've done already

Send Her Some Select Reading

Read "She Divorced Me Because I Left the Dishes by the Sink" and "She Feels Like Your Mom and Doesn't Want to Bang You". The issues are the same with reversed genders: Your girlfriend isn't stepping up to being an adult partner when it comes to maintaining the household and is being disrespectful to you.

Have her read the articles then be honest in your discussion with you. If she doesn't step up, there's really no point in talking about a future marriage because your resentment will erode the relationship.

Start by jointly developing a chore chart. For each task, clearly describe what "meets requirements" mean then assign the chores. Discuss and revise the chart weekly.


Understand She's A Different Person Than you

You can't make her want to clean for the same reasons you do. Have you tried talking to her about expectations and fairness? What negotiations have you two gone through? Tell her you don't feel the current arrangement is fair. Talk to her about what she feels is fair.

Come up with an agreed upon division, try it for a few weeks. Renegotiate. I feel your pain but it seems like you want her to want to clean because it makes her happy to have a house at your standard of cleaniness, and that's just not going to happen.


Make Sure You're On The Same Page Of What "Clean" Means

Maybe you're not seeing eye-to-eye on what cleanliness means? I was in your GFs position a while ago - I wasn't doing my share of the chores. A good reason why I didn't do them was because I didn't find it necessary to wash the bathroom more than once a month or sweep/vaccum the floor everyday. Maybe, what you think isn't crazy cleaning might be to her. If this is the case, see if you guys can compromise on what cleanliness is.

One way I did compromise was splitting the chores by kind of chore. I much preferred keeping the balcony and floors clean than, say, washing dishes.

Best of luck.


Gender Isn't A Part Of It

It's not unrealistic or sexist you are doing the majority of shared chores but also work quite a bit more. She sounds like she's just not as cleanliness minded as you and doesn't mind the mess unfortunately that's so much harder to remedy.


Perhaps There's A Middle Ground You Don't Have

I've told her that she shouldn't be cleaning to stop me getting annoyed, but cleaning so we can have a nice fresh clean house always, that we can relax without things laying around, having clean dishes when we make dinner, it's just a nice environment for OUR house to be in, but she doesn't seem to understand that.

You want a nice clean house, you need that to relax, she doesn't. You need to understand that, rather than trying to convince her your POV is correct.

Now she may love you enough to do it to make you happy, but it won't be because she wants it


Get This Settled Before You Get Married

Why on earth are you engaged to be married with all this going on? You guys can't even settle how to clean the house for crying out loud? How are you going to handle the really difficult issues?


What's More Important? The Chores Or The Relationship?

My boyfriend was like this. Hated doing any housework, was terrible at it, rolled his eyes and acted as though I was his nagging mother whenever I pushed him to do more housework.

Eventually I was completely fed up. I hadn't had a day off in a month and couldn't believe the excuse of "I'm tired" when I was cleaning EVERY DAY.

We got to the point that we were fighting a lot, and miserable. One day I gave him a list of things he could do while I was at work and he called me while he was very angrily cleaning the bathroom. I blew my top. I asked him, "Is cleaning the toilet or washing the dishes really so bad that you're going to risk throwing out relationship away over it?"

I think he ended up talking to his friends, or family for perspective. He stepped up. He stopped complaining when I asked for help, started asking me if there was anything he could do to help while I was at work. We threw a party and he helped me clean the house the next day. I think both of us knew it wasn't worth breaking up over, and while I've learned to be more patient, he's taken on responsibility in the home.

Sometimes it's got to get bad before it can get good.


Factor Her Work Time Into The Discussion. Don't Be Shy.

Who cares if she cleans for work, she works 3 hours per day!

God I'd shovel sh-t if it meant a 3 hour workday.


No, Really, 3 Hours Is Not Enough

I feel like most of the responses in here are very harsh.

It sounds like you and your fiancé have very different expectations of what "clean" is. The problem with someone who is not as clean is that they literally don't see the mess. Where as you get bothered by anything out of place. As you said, you cannot "relax".

I do agree that because she is not working as many hours she should be doing some cleaning to help lighten the load. However, it sounds like unless there is a catastrophe in the house she doesn't see a mess that needs to be cleaned up.

You should explain to her that you understand you have very different expectations of what clean is, and it is very difficult for you to relax and spend time with her because you are easily bothered by something that is not clean or out of place. You would appreciate if she could help you with some chores while you are working so that when you get home from work you are able to unwind. Such as....(making sure the sink is empty, fold any clean laundry and put away, wipe down the bird cage daily ect)

That way you aren't blaming her or calling her a slob, but instead asking for her help and laying out specific duties that you would like help with.


Start Small. Build Tall. All Relationships Are In For The Long Haul.

In addition to the readings suggested in another comment, I would recommend introducing some kind of structure. Start small. Maybe one chore every weekday (dishes Monday, Wednesday, Friday; sweeping/vacuuming on Tuesday; and laundry on Thursday or something like that). If it's helpful, write it down so she can check it off or put stickers when she does it. I know it's childish, but the visual reinforcement is actually pretty gratifying. Plus having it written down means you should have to verbally remind her less frequently, which should reduce confrontation. If it makes her feel silly to be the only one with a chart, make one for each of you or a joint chart.

I hate cleaning. My bf and I developed a sliding scale chore chart - if he does a chore, the slider moves to his side, and if I do one, it moves to mine. The goal is to keep it in the middle. My bf also had to give up on things like my desk or my closet being organized. They're spaces only I use (he has his own desk and closet), and even though he personally would prefer them to be neater, he had to learn to accept that I just don't care to be as organized as he is. I close my closet door and keep desk mess to a minimum, and all common spaces/objects are clean. So a happy medium is important to find.

Then on Sundays we put on podcasts or music or a funny TV show and clean for about an hour together. It's really amazing how fast it can go if you're both doing something - if you can make weekend cleaning sessions fun and quick, she will hopefully be more willing to just bust through it. It helps if there's something to look forward to at the end, like a fun activity or going out to brunch.

This probably sounds like I'm telling you treat your gf like a child, and honestly, I kind of am. She didn't learn this skill in childhood like she should have. Definitely don't talk to her like a child, just motivate her like one. It worked for me!

That said, she needs to be willing to work with you. If she just expects to never have to do chores, that needs to be a more serious conversation.

Edit: Sorry, I mean your fiancée, not your gf. It's not my place to evaluate your relationship, but personally, I would wait to get married until this gets sorted out. It'll only get bigger until it's solved.


H/T: Reddit

What else she got going on?

Considering how little she works, and there are no kids or education, she should be doing all of the housework except for repairs etc. Otherwise expect her to start working more so you can work less to compensate for all the time you're cleaning etc on top of your full time job. monster_peanut

Baby Steps....

Some people have literally never learned to clean properly and don't even know what you want them to do. This seems crazy to someone who has this down, but there are ways to turn a messy person into a tidy person.

The first thing to do is to have The Talk, in which you explain that you appreciate that they've not really gotten to grips with the cleaning yet, so you're going to help them figure it out. Ask them what chores they really hate, and which ones they like doing, or at least don't mind. Have an open Q and A on cleaning and see if you can figure out where their cleaning learning gaps are.

Once you've figured that out, it's time to divide up chores. Your partner is just a baby cleaner, so to start off, pick two ridiculously simple chores and assign them to them in a cheerful and positive way, encouraging them that you have every faith in their ability to learn a new habit. When the chore needs doing, ask them pleasantly to get on with it. When they complete it, praise them.

Over time, add new chores, explaining each as you go. Give little positive tips when you notice them about to make or leave a mess and keep everything light hearted and non-confrontational. Praise and thank them often for helping with the work.

I know this sounds horribly patronizing but it's working on my wonderful but messy husband and he really is becoming so much tidier. He seems to feel better about it since I've started taking this approach. Amonette2012

Deeper Issues... 

Is it possible she's depressed? Lack of internal motivation and disinterest in her hobbies (the craft room you have now that she's never used) are pretty classic signs.

And honestly if she has issues from her childhood around cleaning and now has a cleaning job, it might be taxing for her mentally, making it feel like it's too hard to keep going after she gets home.

I don't know, it's just an idea.

Now, don't get me wrong. That doesn't mean she shouldn't pull her weight. It does mean she might look into getting help from a therapist and/or medication if needed. And really, knowing that it's possible for her to feel better can sometimes give people motivation to try a little bit harder. Bibliospork

Lists are LIFE!!! 

Is she open to you leaving her a to-do list? I live with my boyfriend, who will openly admit that he's the messy partner in the relationship. He has improved a lot since we moved in together, but he's not perfect. And there are a lot of things that bug me in terms of cleanliness long before they bother him.

We work opposite shifts—I have an office job and he works night shift, and there are a few days during the week that I do leave a list of chores for him. It's an agreement we came to early on, that anything I leave for him, he will have finished by the time I get home from work at 5pm. An example for a given day might be "do laundry, load the dishwasher, take out the trash." It has saved us a lot of disagreements, it only takes me about a minute to write it out in the mornings, and the cleanliness of the apartment is at a level that we can both live with. I know some people on this sub don't agree with this method because of the imbalance of emotional labor... I'm just telling you what has worked in my relationship. haylzx

We ALL need motivation! 

I may be able to help you understand the "cleaning quickly before you get home" aspect. I am the messier one in my relationship. Day to day maintenance cleaning offers zero appeal to me and is really hard to even get on my radar with all the rest of things I have to do. The main reason I do it is for my bf because I know he is tidier. Because of that, its way more motivating and interesting to clean when I have a deadline. It makes it more of a game. Like he gets off at 5, let's see how much I can do to surprise him! If that's what your GF needs to do for motivation, or it helps her find more satisfaction from it, just let her do her. rabdacasaurus

A Chore Chart!! YAS!! 

I'm sure it's been suggested already, but here it is. I'm (27m) terrible at doing chores. There are a few that I enjoy (sweeping and vacuuming) that I do everyday. My wife (28f) would nag and nag until she felt like my mom. Then we moved in with my sister in law (and her 2yr old) and we kinda lost it on her for not doing chores, leaving diapers around, food splattered on the walls, etc. So we made a chore chart, hung it on the fridge, and laminated it so that we can cross them off with an expo marker. We never did get my sister in law to keep up with her chores... 4 years later, we're in our own house and the chore chart is going strong. Now we're splitting our bank account so that I can learn to handle my own money and help her keep up with bills. anotherGuldove

Just get to it honey! 

She sounds lazy. I have a toddler to watch and keep our house clean which only takes about 2-3 hours or 3-4 hours depending on what I have to clean. Other than that I wish I had a job to fill the rest of my day. foxymama420

It's her not you! 

I feel for you I [27m] met my partner [25] female 7 years ago. When we met I was the unorganized messy one. I think I brought her to my level, didn't care how things were just happy to be our having fun. I grew up and now just want to do basic things like clean up after meals. But she's too stressed from work to pitch in. Same if she gets home from work an hour before me she'll just sit around rather then get started on household duties. Your not being sexist, I feel for you. Chazman199

Are dirty or just messy?

Engaged for a year and been together for 5 years. And yeah it has been, a lot of people seem to of got the history backwards.

When she was growing up she has extremely strict parents, would give her a list of what to clean and had to send her a picture of the cleaned things by certain times, to prove she did it.

For me, my mum was hella relaxed, cleaning wasn't enforced or done, a lot of house clutter in a small house, a lot of different animals, everything was always dirty and messy and that was just it, so I just confined to my room. So now we're on our own our minds have completely flipped, that's why I've got a extended patience for this situation.

I'm fine with a bit of a mess, you can have a crap day sometimes, and just want to chill, that's completely okay, just every day is hard. I've read all the replies and going to see if we can negotiate some kind of board, things that both she any myself have to clean, I'm not going to offload it all on her, I'll still expect myself to clean too, but see if we can come to a agreement for a in the middle upkeep.

I've come to realize that it won't be how I want, everything always clean, I suppose it's not realistic, so I'm going to go for a, as long as the place isn't actually dirty, and just a bit messy, that's ok, so there's absolutely parts I need to work on too in this.


H/T: Reddit

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