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I’ve had it. My partner and I moved in together a couple months ago and I am exhausted by the amount of housework I have to do. It’s way more than when I was living alone. He is neurodivergent and argues that he can’t help his sloppiness, but I feel like there’s something we can do. I love sharing a space with him because we can be close, but the unbalance in housework is already causing so much tension. How do I resolve this?
-Cut the Clutter
Dear Cut the Clutter,
One potential compromise that comes to mind is hiring someone to clean your home — and having your partner pay, since he’s the one who doesn’t want to clean himself. People all have their own limitations on what they’re able to contribute to a relationship, but then it’s up to them to find an alternative way to contribute.
Or, is there something that helps motivate him to do housework? Maybe if you made a night of it, put on music, and danced while you cleaned together? Or rewarded yourself with a dinner out after you both cleaned up your place? Scheduling time to do it together — perhaps even creating a calendar event — might help him be more committed to this task.
Depending how big your home is, another compromise might be designating parts that are yours and parts that are his and asking him to, at the very least, not spill his mess into your areas. If he’s struggling to stay organized due to his neurodivergence, that might also be a reason to seek help from a mental health professional who can teach him strategies to keep the place cleaner that accommodate the way his mind works. Seeking out support groups may also be helpful for him.
If you haven’t already, express to him how it makes you feel when he doesn’t do his share of the housework and that this could actually become a deal breaker for you down the line (if that’s true) so that he understands how important this is to you. If he’s dedicated to making this relationship work, that should incentivize him to find some solution.
If it really gets to the point that you cannot live together anymore but still want to be together, know that there are happy couples who intentionally live separately. Relationships where both people agree to live separately are called Living Apart Together relationships. You can also, of course, give him an ultimatum and say you’re not able to be in a relationship with him if this continues — if it gets to that point and that’s how you feel.
My guess, though, is that once he recognizes how important this is to you, he will get his act together. And if your relationship falls apart over this, there were probably larger incompatibilities reflected in that, and it’s a good thing you put the relationship to the test sooner than later.