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I Couldn't Care Less about a Clean House

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So, what do my wife and I fight about? The big things like sex, money and the kids? Nah -- that would be too easy, too typical.

man asleep on couch

Bruce Sallan: We fight about the dog hair, where the dishes go, the vacuuming, wiping off the counters, folding the laundry and the kids' messy rooms. Oh -- and about making the bed with ALL those pillows!

I was a 24/7 single dad to my two boys (and two dogs) for several years. During those years, I lapsed in the area of cleanliness. There were more pressing things to deal with, in my opinion. Dating again, for one thing. And, more seriously, the emotional fallout my boys endured because their (biological) mom abandoned them.

We had a weekly housekeeper. She vacuumed, dusted, did the toilets, changed our sheets, laundered them and more. We did laundry occasionally, when there was nothing left clean. And we did use the dishwasher. But for the three of us, surviving the emotional fallout put  cleaning chores low on our priority lists. Plus, to be honest, we didn't care all that much.

Enter my future wife. After my divorce, my sons and I had sold our big house -- and we'd never unpacked all the boxes. Our new garage was completely full. My wife has been trying to civilize us ever since. Quite a task and, truly, the only thing we regularly argue about. We're all boys/guys, and we truly don't give a hoot about it -- other than the fact that we care about how my wife feels. So we try. But what do I know? I'm just a guy.

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21 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous March 6, 2010, 5:22 AM

Hey “Just a Guy” I feel you on this one. However, it’s important to some, especially when allergies and germs come in to play. So how about you and the boys compromise and be willing to give her 15 minutes a day of cleaning. Set up a time if you like. Not only is sacrificing for someone you care about a great “mitzvah” but it will limit the arguements and create peace. Come on, how bad can fifteen minutes a day be?

barbe123 March 6, 2010, 6:25 AM

Who cares!!! My boyfriend thinks the same with me. He- is eight years older than me, lol. We met online at- A_ge_m_i_n_g_le @ c-o—m a nice and free place for Younger- Women and Older Men, or Older Women and Younger Men, to- interact with each other. Maybe you wanna check out or- tell your friends.

Shannon March 6, 2010, 6:25 AM

I’m a stay at home full time mommy & wifey. I pride myself on cleaning & love having a routine. WHen my husband is home on the weekends the routine goes out the window for our son & me since Daddy works so hard during the week. He never picks up after himself when he comes home & always goes to the fridge/pantry saying there is nothing to eat even when it’s fully stocked! Drives me bananas! It’s like he doesn’t even appreciate all that I do. So PLEASE do me a favor & at least do simple things like rinsing your dishes off/putting them in dishwasher when done, when done with clothes put them in the hamper, change the baby’s diaper without being asked (okay so thats for my hubby, lol), and make something for yourself to eat instead of going out & buying fast food!!!

editor? March 6, 2010, 7:20 AM

Yeah, give her a few minutes a day. Then when you could NOT care less, let us know. But since you are capable of caring less, as stated by the title, lets see you work to get to that point.

Bruce Sallan March 6, 2010, 11:10 AM

For what it’s worth, “editor,” I didn’t choose this title.

melissa March 6, 2010, 12:02 PM

I am a stay at home mother of three, and my house is never perfectly clean. I could care less too. If I wanted to keep my house clean, then I would have to walk behind my kids with a broom and trash bag. My dishwasher would be on three times a day. Sometimes, it is ok to be a little sloppy, as long as it isn’t extreme.

Monica March 7, 2010, 1:27 PM

Reminds me of what the comedian Sinbad said about if a guy leaves a shirt on the floor. He said that they don’t care about clean. Men leave their shirts there so they can find it because they want to wear it later. He was like, ‘let it go’. Just walk around it. It doesn’t bother him so why should it bother you.

Wendi March 7, 2010, 6:44 PM

We go through the same thing in my house. It has taken me a long time and having a toddler around again to learn that there are more important things than having a spotless house. With that said, I do make sure that it is picked up and does not smell. We vaccuum daily dishes too. I don’t like it messy, but with 3 boys in the house it just does not stay spotless. They always seem to have something more important to do, including my hubby. So we just deal and when we have people over we really do a deep clean. So maybe help her keep it picked up and there won’t be any fights.

michelle March 8, 2010, 10:14 AM

I don’t care much about a clean house either, but my husband does care a lot about cleanliness. He and his 2 brothers were all raised right: they had to help out around the house. It is REALLY IMPORTANT to teach all kids (boys too) the basics of taking care of a home and to pick up after themselves so they don’t treat their future spouses like slaves. We both work FT, so our solution was to hire a cleaning lady who comes every 2 weeks to do the heavy stuff (toilets, baseboards, etc.), while we have our children help us with the everyday chores like laundry, making beds, swiffering the floors, etc.

tennmom March 8, 2010, 1:06 PM

I’m a SAHM of 2 girls. My husband drives for 90 minutes to work and back twice a day.
We aren’t wallowing in filth around here but no, our home is no where near “showcase” standards. We can cook and eat in our kitchen without fear of catching food poisioning, everyone has clean clothes to wear every day.
I spent 2 years practically solo parenting & keeping up the house & yard when my late-husband was dying of cancer. I spent 3 more years parenting solo before meeting my “now” husband.
He’s the picky one. His place was always perfect. He had a cleaning lady.
He didn’t share a home with anyone until we married when he was 46. Of course an unmamrried man with a cleaning lady had a neater house than I did when we met.
We dated for almost 3 years before we married (have been married for almost 3 years) so Mr.Clean knew what he was walking into.
Back then and still now, I’d rather take my kids to the park or ride bikes with them than scrub the tile grout with a toothbrush.

sarah March 9, 2010, 12:44 PM

I don’t think housework is all that unusual a thing to argue about… In fact I remember reading an article once pointing out that a housekeeper is much cheaper than a divorce in the long run.

Jeff March 13, 2010, 8:16 AM

Hey Bruce, where’s your usual Saturday blog? it gives me stuff to discuss and argue with my wife about - lol. We also struggle with the cleanliness issue - I think you’ve hit on one of those universal family dilemmas!

Emma March 17, 2010, 9:09 AM

It sounds like it is more about your wife/step-mother feeling her wants and needs are being ignored against a pack and pact of 3 guys and their dogs.

Any marriage demands some compromise. Heck - living with a roommate demands compromise.

By the way, I came here looking for your latest blog. I know from following you on Twitter that you’re treating your wife to a fabulous vacation at the moment but I can’t imagine you not having delivered your regular blog no matter what.

Danielle March 17, 2010, 10:02 AM

Reminds me a bit of the movie Overboard. But they learned to appreciate Goldie Hawn.

Tyrone March 22, 2010, 7:28 AM

After reading this article, I think you’re setting yourself up for divorce number 2. Didn’t you recently post about having intimacy problems with your latest wife. How do you expect to solve that problem by adding another problem to the list. You can pop all the ED drugs in the world. It won’t matter if you’re flying solo.

The phrase “yes dear” has it’s merits. Use it, clean, and reap the benefits. It’s that simple.

Bruce Sallan March 28, 2010, 5:54 PM

Tyrone - boy, I like the direct way you write. Needless to say, it’s all in the details and while I put out my life/wife for all to scrutinize, it ain’t all that cut and dry! I appreciate your encouragement and advice - really - as a good reminder. I believe the success or failure of most relationships is never much off the 50-50 mark - we’re each 50% responsible. At any given time, it may be 60-40 or 40-60, but it does take two to tango so I don’t abdicate any of my 40-60% responsibility. That said, I don’t want to push the vacuum just as much as she doesn’t want to let the dogs on the bed. This is what makes men and women great together - our differences - and makes our sticking together all the harder. We had a rough one this morning but I say we’re both in it together!

David April 2, 2010, 12:25 PM

Disagreement over one’s physical is environment … and difficult to find a middle ground for.

Francesca T. November 23, 2010, 1:44 PM

“I Couldn’t Care Less about a Clean House”… really?? :)
Spesa Informata

hoolsale45 January 29, 2011, 5:27 AM

Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!

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