My partner says he simply doesn’t see some things that need to be done around the house. I believe him. He is unhappy about this; we would both like to see it change if possible. How can he learn to see what needs to be done?
posted by Someone Else's Story to Home & Garden (34 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
SomePartner is being frustrated by his inability to see things that need to be done around the house; I am both sympathetic and frustrated myself by this. On multiple occasions recently, he simply didn’t notice the dishes in the sink, so he didn’t put them in the dishwasher; he worked around them to wash his dishes but left the others just sitting there. He’ll pull shirts/socks off the drying rack to wear for several days in a row if I don’t get the chance to fold and put away the laundry, but it just doesn’t occur to him that if they’re dry enough to wear, he can fold them and put them away himself.
I know that sometimes he literally can’t see what I can; my colour vision is better than his. I can point out where yellow/pink gunk is starting to grow in the shower, but he can’t see it even when I’m tracing the outline of a patch with my finger. So I know to ask him to clean the shower when it needs doing if I want it done before he'll see it. But most of these things aren't that clear-cut.
It gets tiring constantly having to triage, delegate, and supervise every part of the housework, to the point of “There are dishes soaking in the sink; you moved them out of the way when you were using the sink. Next time, could you put them in the dishwasher instead?”
This is all complicated by the fact that I’m disabled; I pick up small pieces of work here and there, but haven’t been able to work reliably in years. I never wanted the role of the domestic partner, and I chafe at it.
I only get a few functional hours in the day, and my capability varies with my health. Sometimes I can't manage more than self-care and a couple of light tasks (folding the laundry, emptying the dishwasher) in a day - sometimes, I can’t even do that.
I do get that SomePartner is working to support us both; he comes home tired and decision-fatigued from a demanding job, albeit one he loves. While he’s supporting me, it seems reasonable for me to end up with the greater share of the housework. But the differences in how much we can do make it difficult to try and find an equitable division. He doesn't want me spending all my functional time on housework, and neither do I! But at the end of the day the stuff still needs to be done.
Since I’m at home more, the environment here affects my moods more. However, I’m not asking for a magazine-perfect home or trying to drag him into the realms of Martha Stewart. I have compromised a great deal since I got sick; I was always the “clean but cluttered” type, but I’ve relaxed further in the name of accessibility and not exhausting us both.
I still think there are limits, though - tumbleweeds of cat fluff rolling across the floor say it’s time to vacuum, the sink and stove should be usably clean/clear, tea drips and food spills should be cleaned up, bedsheets and towels should get changed, we need to do laundry to have clean clothes, and since we’re not ironing anything laundry should be hung to dry in ways that minimize creasing, and then put away. We agree these are not too much to ask, but he can’t see them, and they often go unattended unless I take on the task (either by doing it or demanding it gets done that night and making sure we don’t go to bed without it happening).
We have had a cleaner come in fortnightly in the past and probably will again, but it's mostly the day-to-day stuff that we're having trouble with, and we can’t afford a live-in housekeeper!
Again, this frustrates him as well, and he’d like to change it. But the question is, how?
TL;DR Ideally, I don’t want to add “teaching him to see housework” to the list of things I have to do. I’d love it if he approached this like he would a work problem, by Googling about it, finding books, reading up and then putting it into practice. But do such books exist? Is this a skill you can teach yourself? If you can learn to see artistically from a book like Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, can you learn to see housework?
So, if you have recovered from a case of domestic myopia, or you helped someone who wanted to do so, how did you do it? What works and what doesn’t when tackling this meta-chore?
I would like this question to not get sidetracked into debates about who “should” be doing what, whether we need to hire a cleaner, or a referendum on the relationship. As an example of what I am looking for, I’m considering Google Calendar reminders for changing bedsheets & towels, but suspect they’re too rigid and therefore easily dismissed or forgotten if we’re busy when the reminder goes off. I’d love to hear whether they worked from people who’ve tried them.