Picking Your Battles

I haven’t been well for the last couple of days, and have spent most of my time under a blanket on the sofa or in bed.  Have now got antibiotics and am on the mend, and woke up this morning feeling better than I have for days.  I went downstairs to make a cup of tea, whereupon I realized that sometime over the past 48 hours, either we’d been burgled, or I’d moved to downtown Beirut.

On further inspection, however, it became clear that neither of these things had happened, and it was simply two days’ worth of Ashley and William’s normal living behaviour – never putting anything away and leaving a trail of devastation behind them wherever they go.  Obviously, because I’d been ill, I hadn’t been doing all my usual picking up after them and tidying things away.

And it brought home to me just how much picking up after other people I do, on a regular basis, without even thinking about it.

When I first moved in with Ashley, about 18 years ago now, I realized very quickly that he was one of the most untidy people I’d ever come across.  Not only would he never put anything away EVER, he would leave dirty laundry all over the bedroom and bathroom floor, he’d dump wet towels on the bed/floor, leave dirty glasses and crockery where he’d used them etc etc.  Add to this that he was a big hoarder, and you can imagine the state of his house when I moved in.  Not good.

Frankly, I blame his mother, as it appears he was never taught to (or expected to) tidy up after himself as a child, but that’s another story.

For a couple of years after I moved in, the whole untidiness thing caused some EPIC rows between us.  I would get furious that he wouldn’t put his dirty laundry in the basket, or take his chocolate wrappers and dirty wine glass out of the lounge before he went to bed; he’d accuse me of nagging; we’d then have a big fight.  At one point, I completely refused to do any more laundry unless he put it in the basket, which had the net result of making me even more stressed about the amount of dirty clothing on the floor, and eventually, he took all his laundry round to his mother’s and she did it for him, the cow.

Fast forward 18 years, and I will admit that he has improved.  Very slightly.  I still regularly find dirty socks under the sofa, and used mugs and glasses everywhere.  Only this week I’ve had to move wet towels from the bed and the floor.

But arguments on this subject are few and far between these days –I guess I have resigned myself to having to spend the rest of my life picking up after Ashley (and William – though he’s already far tidier than his father!).  Nothing I have ever said on the subject has a made a blind bit of difference for any length of time, so I have chosen to put up with it.  It’s mildly irritating these days, rather than a huge source of conflict, and the majority of the time I swallow my irritation, and deal with the wet towel/dirty glass/manky socks myself.

The other difference is that when we first lived together, we were both working full-time, and nowadays I’m mostly at home while Ashley goes out to work, so naturally I do the majority of the housework.  However, I’m toying with the idea of going back to work at the moment, and if that happens, I wonder whether the whole issue will rear its ugly head once again.

Watch this space.





5 thoughts on “Picking Your Battles

  1. Glad you are on the mend. I TOTALLY get this blog post. TOTALLY. I too blame the mother in law. But now we’re getting to the stage, especially with the 12 and 14 yr old, that my ‘nagging’ them to pick up after themselves causes such huge rows I am not sure I care as much. My friend (with older kids) says it’s not that our standards should slip, but our expectations should just change for their ages……
    Not sure yet.

  2. That post made me smile! I am not the world’s most naturally tidy person – I have to work at it, but I used to get irritated about the same sorts of things as you when we were first married. Laundry and wet towels on the floor doesn’t happen any more – result! Not having a mother-in-law near enough for him to take his washing to, meant that that situation sorted itself out a lot quicker than yours.
    If you go back to work, will your mother-in-law move in to pick up after her son? :O

  3. Sorry to hear you have been feeling so rotten, not a nice sight to have been greeted with when you ventured downstairs though.
    Good luck with the job hunt if that#s what you decide you fancy.
    Lisa x

  4. Yes, I spend a lot of time picking up after my family too, my friend with the perfect family says I should expect more from them but to be honest I just can’t be bothered with the constant nagging that would take, so I let it go most of the time and occasionally have a rant at everyone.My husband is reasonably house-trained now but it’s taken 25 years! My Son and Daughter will move out sometime and they’ll have to work out for themselves how to run a home, ‘cos I won’t be doing it for them!

  5. Sorry you are not feeling well. Hope by now that you are on the mend. Now that you’ve got your meds, you should be feeling alot better soon. I have to tell you that your story about your husband’s untidiness (sp?) is my exact story! I also blame my mother in law and also my husband is the baby of six and his 3 sisters were alot older than him and picked up after him like he was the prince. I was raised to pick up after myself and never leave any mess in the kitchen or anywhere else. I got into the habit of cleaning up after myself very young and couldn’t believe the mess my husband made of the kitchen especially when we were both working and newly married. I had no idea how messy he was. It’s funny but he just doesn’t get it. He somehow doesn’t see what I see. Ha!
    Things are alot better now somehow. I don’t know how he changed his habits but he doesn’t make these big messes any more. The only thing he makes a mess with is if he cooks. He doesn’t clean up while he’s cooking and it’s a mess afterwards. My older daughter had a very messy bedroom and when she got older (teen years), I just shut the door on it. I used to nag her to clean up but after awhile, I just gave up and decided she was old enough to clean it up herself. My younger daughter, on the other hand, was and is the tidiest person. She started cleaning up her room at the young age of 8 and did a better job than I did. I don’t know why they were so different but they were. So I sympathize with you totally.

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