Not too long ago, XUP posted about her domestic routine, which reminded me that it was time to get some chores done around the house which, in turn, reminded Janie that she needed to lounge on the couch and watch Xena without taking her shirt off.

Around these parts, I’m known as the anal one, the one who is constantly buzzing about, wiping the counters down and putting things away. I have been called obsessive from time to time but, in all reality, I’m just bothered by the clutter we seem to collect on a near-hourly basis. Janie, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to mind when the sink is piled with dishes or the stack of paid bills to file is six months old and heaping. She’d rather read or take a bath or spend her free time wailing about her sciatica.

This is the single most fought about issue in our house, hands down. A significant number of therapy sessions were centered around this issue with nary a resolution.

What it boils down to is that I grew up in a house where cleanliness was strictly enforced. My father left notes on anything possible as reminders to cleanup after ourselves right down to the very serious “DO NOT TAKE ICE IF YOU DO NOT MAKE ICE” note masking taped to the ice tray in the freezer. And he meant it. While I do not go so far as to leave laminated reminders around the house, I do have a very real expectation that anyone who lives with me should do their best to keep things in order. Janie tries very hard and, in the many years we’ve lived together, she has come quite far. There have only been a handful of times we’ve made one another cry, but there have been significantly more times that we’ve made one another very angry. Like, just right now as Janie is reading this, I bet she’s leaving her dirty teacups on my side of the desk and scribbling me a nasty note on my monogrammed notepad, something to the tune of “You’re a rotten whore.”.

Janie grew up in a more relaxed house, without the benefit of strict instructions on how to properly fold a bath towel after each use and what, exactly, hospital corners can do for one’s sanity. It has been incredibly difficult for us to reach any amount of understanding on the housework front. Just last night we had a discussion about what it means for each of us to do a chore. To me, it’s survival. I cannot sleep with dishes in the sink and cat litter on the floor. God forbid there be an odor coming from the trash can, because what will the world think of us if our trash smells like trash? To Janie, a chore is her way of expressing her love for me. She cleans the house to do something nice because she cares about me and knows I’ll appreciate it. I see this as her job, you know, because we live in a house we both own and who wouldn’t want their home to be clean? She doesn’t see it like that, she sees it as I did this nice thing for you today and I could use some appreciation for all the hard work I put into folding that laundry. Here is where things usually tend to get ugly, so last night we settled on each having the knowledge of the other’s point of view. Since I understand that doing housework is paramount to bring home flowers in Janie’s mind, when I get home today I’m going to vacuum the living room and then insist Janie take off her shirt because I did something nice for her and in return she should do something nice for me.


  1. August 4, 2008

    Janie is a saint. Have you brought home flowers lately? With your shirt off?

  2. August 4, 2008

    Right on, Deb on the Rocks! You tell her.

  3. heathen
    August 4, 2008

    What Janie really meant to say is that we can’t have flowers in the house because our cat eats them and then something terrible happens to his bottom system and that, instead, I bring her ice cream and I always have my shirt off.

  4. August 4, 2008

    Hmmm… Nope, don’t think I meant that.

  5. Robin O
    August 5, 2008

    Good LORD, woman! I had no idea. That you were that anal. I probably even left a couple of (I hope, tiny) messes at your house. I hope you don’t hate me because of it.

    But with this new information, I’d say you have some important things in common with LizzieLou here. You are definitely the LizzieLou and I am the Janie in our respective relationships, with regard to this, anyway.

    However, as I’ve pointed out to LizzieLou in other situations, this observation doesn’t necessarily mean that 2 OCD neatniks moving in together would be a match made in heaven. Nope. First, it’s pretty hard to get an exact match on that sort of thing. In any live-in intimate relationship, one person will be more the Clean Up Captain and another the LackaDaisy. No matter the actual clean up standards, one person will have a more demanding set than the other. Just stands to reason.

    Second, if you get someone that is fairly high on the OCD Clean Up Captain scale . . . they are going to have Very Specific Ideas with regard to everything about How Things Should Be. Those towels and how they should be folded? Those sheets, what should we do with them? That kitchen sponge, where shall it be placed? Those forks in the dishwasher . . . are they in the right place, or the WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG place?

    You might resent Janie for not towing your cleanliness line, but for real, dude. Get 2 serious OCD Clean Up Captains together . . . it’s gonna be a double homicide over towel folds and fork misplacement.

    An example: LizzieLou usually loads the dishwasher. Occasionally I do, when she is very busy, because hey, I’m not horrid, I do try to help out. But what is the result when I do try to help out? A lengthy discourse on how I put everything in the wrong place. I’m all like, “Did it get clean? Did it break? Did anything else break? Is the dishwasher broken now? Are our cats dead? Has the world ended?” Um . . . NO. Yet, the “wrongness” of my dishwasher item placements continues in its terrible, terrible, and totally terribly egregious wrongness.

    She continues to lengthily, at very very long length, and I do mean lengthily, explain how I did it all wrong . . . and I’m just all, “You’re lucky you’re with someone who doesn’t give a shit about this stuff and never will. Otherwise, you’d be divorced. Or, in prison over an unintentional death resulting from a sponge mismatch.”

    And ever so occasionally . . . she agrees.

  6. heathen
    August 5, 2008

    Oh man, you’re right about the similarity…and yes, things can’t just get done, they have to be done right. This is a lesson I have brought home from my father. It’s been passed down from generation to generation.

  7. August 6, 2008

    If I ever get me a wife, I want one just like you. Don’t listen to those hill-folk who think dishes are clean enough if the wild coons have licked most of the grease off ’em. I shake my head in awe and wonder that you love this woman so much that you are willing to put up with such a major, major, major issue. Maybe you could do what I do with my daughter and designate one room in the house for her to be messy in, if she’s extra-super not messy in the rest of the house?

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