How to Deal with a Messy Partner During a Pandemic

Living with the one you love can be delightful, and people look forward to doing everything together and making decisions as a couple. On the flip side, being around someone 24x7 can result in a lot of conflict, especially now amid the lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced us indoors since the past many months. 

If you are someone who has trouble with cluttered living spaces, or dirty laundry strewn over the floor, dishes left in the sink or wet towels dropped on the floor without a care, having someone in your life that does these things can be very challenging to deal with. But you don’t have to compromise your relationship or your standards, all you have to do is be polite and assertive, and you can get the job done.

Here are some tips that can help you deal and discuss this with your partner in a civilized fashion:

Converse and compromise

While bringing up the topic of cleaning around the house with your partner, it is important to explain what exactly bothers you. Most messy people do not usually realize that they are leaving behind a mess. You must keep their perspective also in mind rather than just nit-picking all their habits. Set clear boundaries about what is acceptable and what is not. But remember to make compromises with them such as letting them keep their personal space cluttered. There are some people are not bothered by messes and you should allow them that.

Divide Chores

Divide the work around the house with your partner such as cleaning the bathroom, washing dishes, gardening, etc. But instead of dividing the chores equally try to divide them fairly. For example, equally sharing chores would be taking turns to do the laundry or clean. If your divide them according to you and your partners strengths, the arrangement can work better. There are somethings that people just hate, like dishes, so instead have them take care of the garden or laundry. The key is to keep in mind that no one is doing excessive work that they don’t like to do.


It may take a while for your partner to change a behavior they have cultivated through the course of many years. Instead of losing your cool with them each time you see a mess or an incomplete chore, ask that they fix it politely. This does not mean that you have to clean up after them or excuse their mess, just to give them time to change with only slight nudges in the right direction. Trying to forcibly change someone can cause resentment in relationships.

Positive reinforcement

A few kind words of appreciation can go a long way in creating a new habit. The fact that your partner is attempting to change is worthy of appreciation in itself. Positive reinforcement can show that you acknowledge their change and that even small actions are noted with gratitude. It can also help in maintaining good will between the two of you.

Boundaries: Establish messy and clean zones

A simple compromise can go a long in keeping the peace in the house and also helping you let go of some of your own tension. Negotiate which places need to remain free of clutter and messes and which space can be used freely. For example, places like the kitchen and living room that are frequent habitats in the house should remain clean and organized, whereas personal offices or bedside tables can be private zones, can be treated as one wants. This can also help you create boundaries with your partner as they might not always appreciate you getting rid of that one important receipt.

Considering how people have been quarantined in their house for close to 4 months now, tensions regarding these situations can reach the boiling point. Take the time to talk to your partner in order to create a peaceful living environment for the both of you.

Photo: Getty Images

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