Post # 1
I’m looking for some helpful advice here, because living with my husband has started to really wear me down. He is a really good man in that he’s a loyal hard working family man – but it’s his Anxiety and OCD about our house that I’m really losing energy for.
I like a clean house too, but I can handle better the day to day build up of disorganization. He can’t. It builds and builds for him and then he blows up with anger over the littlest thing becase his anxiety has risen to a boiling point. He will help clean daily like dishes and stuff, but he will get annoyed that the kitchen hasn’t been mopped for days, but won’t mop it because the ‘proper’ way to mop is to remove all the furniture and vaccuum it first and then mop. He will literally make lists of things to get done on his days off and then get mad again when his hard work is ruined by us needing to go back to using a space he just cleaned. It’s very all or nothing – as soon as he’s cleaned it all perfectly he will get agitated when I have to back in the kitchen to make lunch/dinner whatever……
I bought our toddler son a playdough set (the mop top hair shop for those that are old enough to know what I mean) and my husband couldn’t handle the bits of playdough ‘hair’ that were falling on the floor – even though we could easily sweep it up after. My son loved it but my husband wanted to get rid of the toy. It makes me sad .
Can anyone relate to living with a spouse that is a perfectionist about cleaning and organization? I don’t know what to do or how to help. I’m very unhappy with how tense our house gets with little things (to me) like a sweater hanging on the back of a chair that is ‘out of place’ and supposed to be ‘processed’. He says things like:
We have to put the house back to rights
We have to ‘move the needle’
What’s going on with this? (random item that is ‘out of place”)
Try to work neater/cleaner
You know the kind of person that is so focused on organization that he starts cleaning up even while you are still in the middle of eating? And you go to have seconds and the leftovers have already been put away? That’s my husband. It’s really getting that I feel like his anxiety is giving me anxiety.
Btw -he has been to counselling for his perfectionism and does recognize it and aknowledges it and always says he will try to work on it – but , this is really who he is so what do I do ?
Thanks for any suggestions
Post # 2
If he legitimately has diagnosed OCD and anxiety that are this bad, is medication something he’d be willing to try?
Post # 3
greaselightning: Is he actually diagnosed with OCD or are you using it as a slang term to describe his behavior? I think more intensive treatment is needed if he can’t function in a shared living space with his wife and young child. If he expects you to be his personal live-in maid, remind him that the going rate for most housekeeprs is $35/hour and you’ll be happy to accept that starting rate.
Post # 4
He hasn’t been diagnosed with OCD. We are looking into having a cleaning lady come, what’s funny about that is, my husband has been avoiding setting that up because he says then he will be paying someone to clean the house only for it to get messy again and that will make him mad. He definitely doesn’t think I should be his personal maid, he doesn’t put it on me per se, it’s his general cycle of feelings about the state of the house. Clean and organized = relaxed and happy..dis organized and messy = anxious and very agitated and unable to go with the flow.
Post # 5
greaselightning: I’m responding from your hubby’s point of view. For me, I always wanted my house to be put together because, well, my day feels complete when things are clean and neat. I’m not going to lie, I was always going at my fiance with things like he doesn’t do anything for our home, he doesn’t care, etc. I was attacking HIM for things that were bothering ME. It took a few months for him to “calm” me down, but the message that he really made clear to me was this:
I understand that the cleanliness of the house is important to you, but when does a clean home come before a happy relationship? Who are we expecting to come over anytime soon to see our messy house? It’s just you and I in here, and I’d rather spend my free time WITH you rather than spending it cleaning.
If you really communicate with your partner how it is affecting your relationship, and that he can be more relaxed about a tidy home, I think he’ll calm down on his OCD. I have! I’m way more laid back and not so…omg gotta make time to mop properly blah blah blah. Now, I’d rather bake a messy pie and leave the mess rather than clean it up 100%.
Post # 6
I’m a diagnosed OCD sufferer so I can relate all to well to your husband! I do, however, acknowledge I’m not easy to live with and as a result I do do most of the work myself. When my Fiance offers to do something I tell him – straight up – I have a way I like it done and if he doesn’t do it that way I’d rather him not do it. I’ll get very anxious and upset and will even cancel plans to clean if it hasn’t been done to my satisfaction.
What’s really worked for us is a specific routine and list. For example, on THursdays I don’t cook. Don’t even talk to me, really, because I will clean form 4 PM until 11 PM and dont’ want to be bothered. I get in a nice little zone and if it doesn’t get done my entire weekend will be off. My Fiance will make himself something and use that time I need to go visit family/friends. He has his list of things he does and I admit I “oversee” him (moving the furniture while vaccuming is a huge thing for me too), but he works wit hme because he knows I struggle. Also, he knows that 99% of the time I’ll do everything so all he has to do are those few things right it all worked out
Post # 7
greaselightning: Does he take medicine to help his anxiety or OCD? You may want to look into that to help lessen the effects of both on everyday life. It’s hard for both of you for different reasons, and there is no reason you need to both be unhappy. Sometimes medicine or therapy can help with that.
I have anxiety and no longer take medicine for it, but feel that I control it very well now. I sat down with my family and husband (boyfriend at the time) and made a “gameplan” so they would know that I plan to tell them how I’m feeling and when I feel like I may have an attack so they can be prepared. It really helped everyone understand better and helped me know what triggers it and what I can do.
Maybe your husband and you can sit down and make a gameplan too. Like the previous poster mentioned, make a “cleaning time” and a schedule so that you can work together while still being happy.
Post # 8
He needs help if it is still affecting your life. Professional help.
OCD is a serious condition where people have difficulty controlling their thoughts. They clean because they have unwanted thoughts about germs and diseases or because they are frightened of leaving things out in case loved ones trip over items and injure themselves or die.
Other people have anxiety. Perhaps they have been severely mistreated for being untidy as a child. Perhaps they are afraid of chaos and this is the only way to keep everything together.
Whatever the underlying reasons it severely affects your happiness and contentment. You have a right to live in your own house without being harried and harangued the moment you leave a sweater out. In fact you have just as much right to say what goes on in your house as your husband.
What is worse is that it will soon (if it doesn’t do so already) affect your son too. He will grow up at best terrified of making a mess and at worst with anxiety disorders himself. You can’t let this happen.
Your husband needs to see a psychologist where he has to gradually introduce himself to untidiness. One week one jumper left out and one piece of play dough on the floor, the next week two jumpers and two pieces of playdough, the following week three jumpers, three pieces of playdough, a muddy footprint and a jar left with its top open. And so on. At each stage your husband will get very anxious but he will become acclimatised and the anxiety will lessen. These kinds of programmes are very successful for OCD, phobias and anxieties. See what you can find in your area.
I wish you luck. And keep hold of the playdough toy.
Post # 9
greaselightning: If he is truly OCD he will probably need medication, therapy or both to control it.
I say this because I grew up with a dad like this. No sidewalk chalk, no stepping on the front lawn, he would freak out if our rooms were a mess, if you spilled a drink he would freak out, etc. It was an interesting way to live, I’ll say that much. IMHO he desperately needs medication or something, because he only gets worse with age. I think he must steam clean his floors twice a day.
It is a great thing to be tidy. It is not a great thing to be unable to function if things aren’t perfect. He will need to understand that, accept it and then compromise moving forward.
Post # 10
I have no answers, just wanted to say my heart hurts for your and your son. That’s no way to live. Childhood is messy! Life is messy. Please encourage him to get help, if not for his own health, for your son’s! Best of luck, OP, I’m sending you light and love.
Post # 11
Your husband needs professional help. It’s not about a sweater or a floor, it’s about his intrusive anxious thoughts. He’s trying to unclutter the house in order to unclutter his mind. This is HIS problem, not yours, and not your sons. Please don’t get rid of the toy. I have a friend who grew up with parents like your Darling Husband and he’s an anxious mess. Don’t let that be your son. He needs to see a therapist who can help him.
Post # 12
So I’m glad PPs have covered the basics so I can tell you what I’d honestly do in your shoes.
I’d look for an OCD specialist in your area. You can begin with anxiety disorder specialists and then narrow down the list for those that practice Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Then I’d print out some literature about how effective meds are, how effective meds + CBT are and CBT by itself.
Then I’d sit him down and explain that I will be a loving and supportive wife in his quest for managing his anxiety, but neither me nor our son have OCD and so we will stop acting as though we do. In essence, you are now also a prisoner of his OCD and act as though you have it too. ”Shit! I gotta throw out the play doh set or he’ll be upset!” and the next time you but your son a toy it’ll be in the back of your mind. And probably when you take a shower, or arrange clothes in the closet you do things JUST SO to not have problems with your husband. Know what I mean?
So I’d explain to my Darling Husband that I love him and want him to get better, that those are the options to do so and that I would be supportive of doing whatever he needed me to do so he can manage his illness. However, the family OCD style of thinking stops now. If he wants to clean the house top to bottom and move furniture around? Cool, go for it. But don’t do it when our son is playing, don’t get mad if we don’t do it the way you do and above all, do not give our so the message that if the cleaning is not done JUST SO then horrible things could happen (or whatever the obsession is).
Post # 13
Does he legitimately have anxiety and OCD, or are you just using those terms casually?
If he actually has anxiety and OCD, he should consider therapy to learn some coping mechanisms. You say “he is who he is” and to a point, yes, but his issues should not be making your life this hard. Maybe you could both go to counselling to figure out how to work and live together more peacefully?
Post # 14
Post # 15
- Wedding: April 2015 - City Hall NYC
Your husband sounds like my mother. My dad says you are unable to live in his house because you cannot do anything without my mother freaking out. While you are eating she is cleaning up around you, can’t have certain things that are too messy. I’m sorry but i dont have any advice. Hope it gets better.