7 Ways to Deal With a Messy Partner

tidy guy

If you're prone to neatness and abide by the mantra of picking up after yourself, then living with someone on the other end of that spectrum can be maddening. There are several actions you can take to work with your, albeit sometimes gross, partner in crime.

1. Pavlov's Cleaner

Maybe treating your significant other like a puppy isn't something you want to brag about, but there's a reason dog trainers use treats to reward their charges for a job well done -- because it works! If your partner does the dishes, folds the laundry, or cleans up the living room, give him (or her) a little reward. Something as simple as a genuine smile and a hug, or as spontaneous as a dinner out works. Positive reinforcement encourages repeat performances, which is really your goal here. Of course, it can get old to being enthusiastic with someone for completing basic tasks, but as with pups, start weaning your partner off the rewards slowly once things start to become habit.

2. Teach Yourself to Step Away

Woman who's sick of cleaning

Ever have dreams about riding on your loved one's shoulder while dusting the ceiling fan and shouting "giddyup?" Well, we wouldn't suggest you do that in real life -- and you can bet your partner isn't having the same fantasies. Everyone works at his or her own pace, and it's possible your partner really does plan to get that dusting done today even if it's not right this second. Sometimes the problem isn't the mess as much as it is you needing to relax for a while. Teach yourself to let your partner finish on his own by literally walking away from the clutter that's bothering you. Then, go check off your own list, whether it be another chore or something fun!

3. Get Hyp(notizing)

It's no secret that you can harness the power of hypnotism to help you lose weight or quit smoking or do weird things in front of your peers at a live show, but did you know that you can also hypnotize yourself or your loved one to declutter? If subtlety isn't your thing enroll your partner in a program, or opt instead for downloading a recording and listening together. (Or play it while your partner sleeps -- decluttering by osmosis!)

4. Gamify

chore board

For most of us, cleaning is boring. It's the same thing every time -- pick things up, dust, vacuum, scrub, rinse, repeat. Sure there's the pride in a tidy home when it's all done, but getting to that point is a slog. So, make it more fun by creating games. Tired of doing the same chores over and over again? Set up a dart board with various chores on it and play darts to see who has to do which tasks that week to mix it up a little. Download a game that's new to you both on your phones and see who does best on the first level -- that person gets to choose who cleans the toilet that week. If you're both into gaming, this can be really fun -- imagine turning your home into a world from Zelda or an Overwatch map...

5. Hack Your Home

Imagine walking through the door after a long day. Did you set your keys down? Do you remember where? You and your partner should ask yourselves that for all of your at-home habits. It's easier to recall where simple items are if you have a home for them, so why not make those spots memorable? If you don't have dedicated spaces, build them together using fun and affordable IKEA hacks. Then, make sure you both use them. There's nothing sadder than a bunch of storage spaces and cute little hideaways that end up being catchalls for dead batteries and outdated takeout menus.

6. Double Team

Sure, it's faster for you to tidy up by yourself, and date night with the washer and dryer doesn't sound like the hottest ticket in town. But spending some quality time together sorting through clutter and tidying up isn't the worst way to spend an evening (or a weekend, depending on the state of things) either. Put on some favorite tunes, slip into something comfortable (in the literal sense), and work together to get things done. Make it a weekly ritual with a reward -- maybe popcorn and a Netflix binge -- and your partner might even start looking forward to this together time.

7. Crime and Punishment

Duster and scales

Okay, so maybe being messy isn't a crime but by now you might be thinking that it should be. You've already discussed how important it is to you that the house not be in a constant disaster state, but it's just not sinking in with your partner. It's time to set the ground rules. Decide together not only on a plan for keeping things clean, but also on consequences when chores aren't getting done. Consequences can be simple, like the offender has to pay for cleaning supplies next time you run out; or a little more drastic, like you get to put all the clutter in garbage bags and leave them on his desk. The important thing here is that you both agree on the crimes and punishments so that no one gets surprised or offended.

Get Smart and Creative

No matter what method you use to encourage your partner to pitch in, it's important to remember that there are two personalities involved, and both need to compromise a little. Play up to your other half's personality traits and passions to come up solutions that work for you both.

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7 Ways to Deal With a Messy Partner