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A recent UK study discovered that the vast majority of couples see cleanliness as a deal breaker. It’s true, as I learned this through bitter experience.
According to a recent UK study, a whopping 71% of partners disclosed that they’d classify someone with a more lax attitude toward cleanliness as a deal breaker. To find out if there is any truth to the findings, we spoke to someone whose relationship was forever cut by the edge of an unwashed spork.
There are many things they don’t tell you about living with someone. That also goes for the new things that you discover about that person when you share a name on a lease, a mortgage or doggie insurance. However, with alongside great responsibility comes great magnification of previously irrelevant.
Beware the tale I weave, because is not only true, it happened to me.
The thing that ended my relationship was not a difference in love, or feeling, or emotion. We were eventually crushed by a landslide of dirty clothes and unwashed crockery. Full disclosure, I was a messy dude. My standards of cleanliness wasn’t quite hobo-level, but it was certainly on the scale. I came from a house of extreme cleanliness, so I’d imagine my filth stemmed from a resistance of that.
My partner was very much the same, but I was worse.
Our first real fight was the amount of cheese left on a cheese grater. It seemed minor, I had relocated across the country to be with this person, a 3,974-kilometre expanse was reduced to the matter of fifteen square centimetres of aluminium. It seemed petty, below us, moronic.
So, I waited until the morning to clean it up. No biggie.
However, thanks to the advice of our housemate, a wizened fifty-five-year-old gay man with no bed, but keys to a villa in Jaipur; and the extremely barbed promise that she couldn’t be with someone who was this unclean, I endeavoured to change my ways. And, I certainly did.
Soon after Gratergate, the division of labour was evenly split. I’d handle inside, she’d take outside and whoever cooked, the other person would clean up. The washing of clothes would be split by alternate. However, like any human construct built on idealism, it soon fell to shit. And shit, as in, the house looks like shit.
Soon, the cracks began to show. Due to a busy life, the strains of socialising and indeed career, I found myself as the defacto maid. At the time, I worked from home. I still had ridiculous hours, but I just did so at home. Soon, her pithy threat became mine, as I internalised my disappointment, as her fatigue from her taxing role became taxing. I found myself taking over the split duties, primarily to prove that I shouldn’t be doing it.
Jokes were made. The kinds that people aim to register their displeasure. The teetering pile of crockery in the sink was starting to attract tourists, last night’s fish is swimming in dishwater, et cetera.
The binary of conversation followed a simple equation: Just leave it was followed by I’ll just do it.
It became a vicious cycle. She’d go to work, I’d work, she’d come home, and it became expected that the chores would be complete. I’m not blaming her totally, I enabled the behaviour. I’d do it in the depths of our fights, and I’d do it not to talk to her. To win a fight I lost verbally, as I couldn’t find the words. It was truly love, and that seemed more important than the pile of washing at the back door. It was toxic, or it was becoming toxic. I had coloured over the lines of my responsibilities, and in turn, they became my generally accepted responsibilities. Therefore, there was an endless clash of me not meeting my responsibilities versus me not feeling that I should be doing them.
It seems odd now. Childish, even. I remember shaking my head at my friends who had to stop whatever it is they were doing to complete their chores. However, I did much worse. I became the help.
In retrospect, I should have said something, or not let it go that far, but in the volcanic trenches of love, you do things you wouldn’t normally do, especially to fix something broken. Anything to avoid a fight, anything to make things fine.
However, I was certainly wrong. My advice to you, whoever you are, is pop the above story, flip it and reverse it.
Otherwise, you both will be living in splitsville.