Monday, February 09, 2009

In the eye of the beholder

It's been almost six months since Tim moved into my place. While we love being together, adjusting to each other's habits has been a challenge.

The one thing everyone warned me about was his lack of cleanliness. His apartment was a disaster. Literally, no one, not even I, visited the inside of his apartment the last couple years he lived there. No one other than me had seen his place all the eight years he lived there since the first month he moved in. I believed him when he said he'd treat his living space better if he owned rather than rented.

Now here were are. With the wedding, the renovations, and my lack of a job, we have yet to hire a housecleaner. Ideally, they would come in one day each month and eliminate the squabbling that comes about. Perhaps once we have the new kitchen and bathrooms, we will hire someone.

For the time being, it's a struggle between taking initiative to clean and making an observation on the accumulation of dirt. The problem with that is the sense of time tends to get lost. I've also learned that his level of cleanliness is different than mine.

As Tim was washing the dishes the other night, I asked him how he likes living with me. He smiled and hugged me but added that I complain about his lack of interest in helping me clean. He said that what bugs him is different than what bugs me. For example, he doesn't like coming home to find that I leave dirty dishes on the counter. It clutters the kitchen counters when he wants to use them.

In contrast, I notice dirt much faster. Last week, I finally cleaned our bathroom sink. The chrome drain was covered in a layer of slime with spots of mold. The sides of the basin looked like birds had come by with all the white toothpaste streaks. Yet, though I thoroughly cleaned it so the basin was a shiny cream color and the chrome drain sparkled, he failed to notice that anything was different when he came to brush his teeth. The same goes for the stairs where his black sock lint catches along with my hair. I know he said he vacuumed but it still looked dirty to me.

I will give him credit on the toilet. The first couple months the smell drove me nuts. Guys must build up an immunity to the smell that even a few stray drops of pee can produce. I'll come home on a Sunday afternoon and find a strong smell of bleach emanating from our bedroom. That tells me the toilet has been cleaned.

I'm not sure how we can come to a comfortable middle point on some of these things. Clearly, the housecleaner would be best. Still this difference in vision extends beyond things hiring someone can fix. We're both a bit packratty which means there are stacks of papers and random souvenirs collecting on any clean surface. As we prepare for the baby, I've been trying to implant the message into his head that things need to be packed, donated, or thrown away. It's hard, but we need to push each other to get this done.

1 comment:

Anna May Won't said...

MB also has a much higher tolerance for filth than i do. i guess the compromise we've come to is that he cooks and i do the dishes as well as the weekly, less intensive maintenance of bathroom, kitchen, etc., while he does the super intensive, all-day monthly cleanings.

i think it makes a difference that i moved into *his* place. i know what my place looked like clean, and if it was dirtier than that more often, it would have probably driven me crazy too.