My partner and I have been together for about two years now. In many ways, he’s everything I’ve ever wanted. He’s respectful, kind, artistic, and has a great sense of humor. About six months ago, we moved in together, and I’ve realized he’s lazy and irresponsible when it comes to household management. For the first few months, I did 90 percent of the housework. He had recently experienced an unexpected family loss, so I chalked it up to grief. However, things didn’t improve. I ended up making a chore chart to divvy up responsibilities, but I still find myself reminding him three or four times to do a task. And this isn’t minor stuff either. He sleeps in until 4 p.m. on the weekends (not due to staying up late), and often is late to work from oversleeping or misses work entirely. I worry that his forgiving employer will one day fire him on the spot, so I’m constantly urging him to get up and go to work. He is irresponsible with finances, purchasing parts and equipment for projects he never starts.
I’m tired of being his mother. In terms of chores, I either have to nag him incessantly or give in and do things myself. I don’t want to nag and intervene, but I feel compelled to since I care about him and want him to do well in life. I’ve tried talking with him about these things, and he genuinely seems to want to do better but says that disorganization and prioritization have always been issues for him. He says that his “brain doesn’t work” like mine does. If this is the case, I want to be sympathetic, but I still think he should seek help. His employer offers free therapy, and I’ve encouraged him to take advantage of that, since his problems are affecting his ability to achieve his own goals and not just my desire for a clean house. I really want things to work between us, since he’s so wonderful in other ways, but I’m tired of my efforts being unreciprocated. I don’t want to break up with the man I’m in love with over dirty dishes and an upswept floor.
My mom says that I should just deal with the chores myself, since I am the one with higher living standards. My friends say that I shouldn’t worry about his life being in disarray, since it’s his life to live and his mistakes to make. Are my concerns valid? Is this enough of a reason to break up with someone? I feel guilty since I advocated for the move, and I think our relationship would still be just fine if we hadn’t started living together. Furthermore, a breakup at this point would leave one of us without housing. Should I wait until the lease is almost up? Although I’ve brought up my frustrations numerous times, I don’t think he realizes how deeply this matters to me, and I think a breakup would catch him seriously off guard. I don’t want us to end up that way, but I’m running out of strategies and patience.
—Don’t Want to Be a Nag