He leaves his clothes all around the house. You find empty beer cans everywhere. He tracks mud into the house, he farts all the time, he doesn’t brush his teeth every day… in short, he’s a gross man. But you love him. You might not even be able to explain why. Your friends might think you’ve gone insane when you start talking about marriage and having children with a man who acts like a child half the time, but he makes you so happy you feel like you’ll explode.
Then you walk into the bedroom and see his stained underwear on the floor, last night’s nachos on the end table, and an empty bag of chips on the bed. You… love him, right? Really? Loving him doesn’t mean you have to love his mess. Here are a few ways of dealing with it so that you don’t lose your mind.
Accept the Fact That It Won’t Change Overnight
No one wants to live in a garbage dump, but you may have to accept living in squalor if you’re moving in together or already share a home. It’s not that you can’t change him, it’s just that he’s going to need a lot of training. You can’t simply tell him to pick up his dirty clothes off the floor once. Oh no, that would be too easy. It’s going to take weeks or, more likely, months of reminding him.
Take a deep breath and accept this. It’s not what you want, and it’s going to drive you crazy at times, but it’s where you have to start.
Give Him His Own Space
You want your home to look great, especially the parts of your home guests will see. But how can you do that if he’s always in the living room, leaving behind empty cans and snack food wrappers? Instead of fighting with him to keep these areas clean, give him his own space where he can be as messy as he wants to be. Turn a spare room, finished basement, or sunroom into a man cave. He can make as big of a mess as he wants to in there, and you never have to see it. When your friends and family are over, just shut the door and hide it away.
He will think you’re being incredibly selfless, letting him have a man cave in what could have been your crafting room. But really, you just want his jerseys and other crap out of the way. Just don’t tell him that—let him treat you like the queen you are while you enjoy your spotless living room!
Sex is the best motivator there is. Next time he wants to get frisky in the bedroom, tell him you’d love to, but you’re just so distracted by all the dirty clothes on the floor that you can’t really focus on him. He might get up immediately and start cleaning! Don’t make it all about his mess—that only makes men dig in and refuse to do anything. They’re stubborn creatures, but you know that by now. Make it about you: it’s your weird cleaning neurosis that makes it hard for you to get freaky when the room is dirty.
Since you’re not nagging him, he won’t get defensive. Instead, he might actually start cleaning and picking up after himself just so he can get what he wants at night. Is it a little underhanded? Maybe, but they say all is fair in love, war, and cleaning.
Don’t Do It Yourself
You might be at the breaking point with the mess, but stand strong. If you start picking up after him all the time, you’re going from girlfriend/fiancée/wife to maid. Once you do that, there’s no going back. He will expect you to clean up after him until his death. Not your death—he will expect you to come back as a ghost and keep picking up his pizza boxes and dirty socks.
Don’t give up. You can slowly train him to pick up after himself, but it’s going to take finding the right motivation. Maybe you love sex too much to withhold it. Try a different technique such as making him a steak dinner after he has picked up his mess. Food can be a great motivator. It works for dogs, and are men really that much different?
Whatever you try, remember that you do love him. He makes a horrible mess, and it’s going to drive you nuts sometimes, but you can train him to pick up after himself. Have patience, and you will be rewarded.