When I was dating online after my divorce, I was surprised by one of the questions I was asked to answer when I was setting up my new profile. Was it important that a potential mate made his bed every morning?
Really? Did people actually base whether they’d date a person on such a thing? I found this ridiculous. Then I remembered what life was like with my ex-husband.
My ex is a slob. He never cleaned up after himself when we were married. He definitely never made his bed. Whereas I wouldn’t say this was the sole factor that led to our divorce, it definitely helped kick that can down the road.
If your mate doesn’t clean up after themselves, you have to live in their mess. That, or you have to clean it up.
And that’s disrespectful.
So yes, this did create a lot of conflict between my ex and me when we were married. In that regard, this wasn’t such a weird compatibility question to have to answer on a dating website.
One man’s straightened house is another man’s filthy pigsty. You might as well be on the same page about it if you have any hope of staying together.
I married a slob.
Now I know it sounds mean to call my now ex-husband a slob. Unfortunately, it’s the truth. I didn’t go into this arrangement with my eyes shut though. I was well-aware of his predilection for slovenliness when I married him.
I remember one of my first visits to his apartment early on in our relationship. Dirty clothes piled the floors. Garbage spilled over in the trash. Dried sauce coated the countertops in the kitchen.
This wasn’t just a question of not having straightened up before inviting me over. This was a window into just how incapable he was of cleaning up after himself.
But I asked myself what kind of girlfriend I was if I didn’t generously help him to put his place back in order? What I didn’t understand was how his inability to keep house would help pave the way to our divorce.
Hello maid — and good-bye.
We married for love. I pushed the fact that my new husband was so untidy to the back of my mind. I became pregnant soon after our wedding. After we had our first baby, I was too exhausted, dealing with spit-up, dirty diapers, and constantly soothing an infant to clean up after an adult baby, too.
I couldn’t keep my husband’s grit and grime at bay, so we hired a maid.
She came once a week and made our house spotless. It was glorious! Soon enough, I was pregnant again and then had yet another baby on my hands to care for. Having a cleaning lady during that era felt like a necessity. Still, I always knew it was a luxury.
We could afford the maid because we were doing well financially. But then the Great Recession hit, and we both had to claim bankruptcy. We could no longer afford to pay our maid.
Now, I’ve had money in life, and I’ve also lost a lot of it. I could deal with not having a maid. I have no problem cleaning up after myself. I was brought up that way.
You make a mess; you clean it up.
The problem is my ex wasn’t brought up like that. He was brought up with a housekeeper. When she wasn’t cleaning up after him, his mother was.
Now that became my role.
I washed all his dishes and picked up all his clothes off the floor, and laundered them. I cleaned his whiskers out of the bathroom sink and his pubic hairs out of the shower. I also straightened up any clutter the children left around, which he never helped me with.
And this soon became an issue.
I once privately joked that if we ever lost our maid, we’d get a divorce. So what happened once we could no longer afford to keep her?
Yeah, we divorced.
Even divorced, my ex-partner’s slobbishness still affects me.
Okay — so our divorce was the result of far bigger problems than my husband’s propensity not to clean up after himself. Our relationship was also a mess. But the fact that he helped make our living environment a chaotic, filthy tangle definitely factored in.
Not helping me to clean up around the house was disrespectful not just to me, but to our kids as well. They also had to live amongst his dirt and clutter.
We divorced, so my ex's slovenliness doesn’t affect me anymore, right?
When we were married I could keep the jungle of his disarray trimmed back. Now that we were no longer living together, I couldn’t. He set up his own household, which soon became squalid.
The kids complained when they went over to visit him in his place. They didn’t like dealing with the obstacle course of crumpled, unlaundered clothes and crumpled, laundered clothes all over the floor at their father’s apartment.
They didn’t like having to eat in a kitchen where no cups or bowls were ever clean, where food-caked plates piled high in the sink, and where often there were three reeking bags full of garbage.
They didn’t like using a bathroom where mold flourished in the shower and the toilet was dirty. So what’s been the solution?
My ex-husband now stays at my place on his days with the kids.
I’ll never become involved with a slob again.
What? Huh? Come again? Why do I permit my ex to stay in my place on his days with our children? Simple — I don’t want my kids to have to suffer in a filthy environment when they’re with their father.
When he’s at my house, I stay at my boyfriend’s place. But as you can imagine, even after a short stay at my apartment, my ex still creates a mess.
He effectively converts my home into a rubbish heap, even if he only stays there for twenty-four hours. I walk in after just a day away to find food crumbs confetti-ing the carpet, the countertops soiled with grease, the floors gummy with spills, and takeout containers littering the bedrooms and hours-old, half-eaten hamburgers resting on plates on the dressers.
After many heated arguments, my ex-husband has become better about cleaning up his mess at my place. I’m grateful for this. But still, the fact we have to have these arguments has taught me never to make this mistake again.
Never again will I become involved with a slob.
Whether you make your bed each morning IS a compatibility issue.
Cleaning up after oneself is a symbol of maturity and a sign of respect to your mate. Having different cleanliness standards can actually pave the way to a divorce. I should know — it definitely contributed to my split from my husband.
Whether someone makes their bed every morning should be a question used to measure compatibility in dating. I now applaud the dating website that requires you to answer this question when you're setting up a profile.
Along with all the other non-negotiables that now factor into who I’ll date, if a man doesn’t make his bed each morning, it is a deal-breaker. I learned the hard way that what seems like a stupid question is actually a very important one.