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Living with Someone Untidy

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I grew up in a house of very tidy people. My grandma would freak if a guest came over to even one dirty dish in the sink. This has led me to be an over-the-top tidy person myself. My husband is very much my opposite. He is by no means a total slob, but I swear sometimes he cannot physically see the trash can. This has led to many arguments in the past that we have both learned how to overcome. Here are some tips on living with someone untidy.

You will never see eye to eye

The first thing I had to come to terms with was that we would never see eye to eye on anything related to cleaning. He was never going to want to do as much as me when it came to cleaning our house. Trying to make him was causing unnecessary stress on our relationship. I just figured he was being lazy. We don’t have kids so in my mind everything should be clean at all times. Truth is where he might sometimes do too little, I always make up for it by doing too much. He is never going to see the need to wipe all the counters down after doing dishes and I will never understand. I now see that I simply live with someone who is untidy, and I cannot change him any more than he can change me.

Compromise is key

It is ok to have different standards of cleanliness so long as you are both able to compromise. I used to work 40 plus hours a week, do full time school, and then spend whatever day off I had cleaning our whole house. My husband worked full time as well and would maybe find the dishwasher if he was feeling confident that day. We talked it over and I basically expressed my frustrations that I just could not keep up with all the housework like I was. He is now willing to do more than before but chores are not split 50/50. I know I have more of a desire to clean and keep things cleaned therefore I do more of the work. He does what I need to the best of his ability, and I remind myself that he is trying his hardest. Another compromise is to have designated areas that your untidy person can have to keep clutter in a smaller area. My husband has free range over the top of our fridge for drinks, lunch boxes, whatever kitchen item he wants.

Lower your standards

It gets frustrating sometimes when you look at a cup sitting on the counter and think ‘really when the sink is right there!?’. I had to lower my standards for what I want our house to look like because he cannot keep up. He is not a naturally tidy person, so I had to come to terms with that or spend my time following him around straightening after him. I chose my sanity and opted for a nightly house straightening instead. Does this mean you live in complete disaster every day? No, but not expecting an untidy person to live up to your tidy standards constantly will relieve more stress than the perfectly tidy house is worth.


Communication is important for any aspect of a relationship and this situation is no different. If you are a tidy person then keeping things clean and organized tend to come naturally. The untidy person you live with does not have that same thought process and they are not a mind reader. If you need them to push their chair in after dinner, tell them. When they leave multiple cups laying around in the living room, ask them not to. Do not expect them to change instantly but let them know small things they can do that will help you keep the house tidier. An untidy person tends to not see the mess they are creating with small choices.

It was an adjustment for both of us when we first moved in together. We had many arguments over ridiculous things, such as how often we should sweep the floor. A lot improved when I took a step back and realized that my need for a clean environment was causing one hundred percent of these arguments. Once I came to terms with the fact that our house could not be constantly perfectly clean, and we started communicating with one another we argue way less. I am now used to having certain areas cluttered and my husband is now better at picking up after himself.



December 14, 2021 at 9:24 pm

This is something that I can relate to. I’m tidy and my husband is not (nor are our kids). This means that I’ve been fighting a losing battle for decades. Communication is great, and definitely should be done before someone gets angry (yep, I’ve been there, done that). Earlier this year I got to a point where I quit. As in, I wrote up a letter of resignation stating that I was no longer cleaning up after everyone else, that each person is expected to clean up his or her messes, nothing more, nothing less (although more is always appreciated). I asked that every family member sign my letter so that we all knew what I expected from them. They did, and I’m happy to say that this has worked better than anything else at keeping things clean. Our house is still much messier than I would like but I can live with how it is now.

    December 15, 2021 at 9:20 am

    I think a contract of sorts counts towards communication. What a great way to communicate the expectations to the kids as well by having something written for them to look at. I mostly deal with an untidy husband now, but my brother was always especially rough. He would leave food in his room for weeks if we did not keep an eye on him. We had a bit of an age difference, so I felt like I was cleaning up after him a lot as well. Maybe I should have had him sign a contract!

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