Wedding Woes

I'm married to a nitpicker

Dear Prudence,

My husband has this habit of inspecting the house when he gets home. After a quick hug hello, he walks through the house and points out anything out of place: lights being on in an unused room, my shoes in the wrong spot, dishes unwashed. He says he’s unable to relax after work until everything is tidy. He does the vast majority of all household chores, so it’s hard for me to complain about things like putting my shoes in the right spot, but it still feels really patronizing and controlling. I have worked hard to be more tidy (I was a complete slob when we first got together), and he is working to be OK with the house not being spotless, but we still bump heads about this pretty regularly. Advice?

—Taken to Account

Re: I'm married to a nitpicker

  • Good time of day to go to the gym!
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  • levioosalevioosa Southern California member
    Seventh Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Dude is a giant asshole 


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    STARMOON44
  • What I'm not getting is what is their agreement?  Is he a nitpicker AND is this also a house with two working people? Does he clean up after himself? 

    I think this guy is a jerk but it's half the argument.   And I am somewhat guilty of coming home when DH is in charge and I get irritated when I see that NOTHING has been done and the sink is full of dirty dishes and his empty chip bag is on the coffee table.

    So these people need to use their words to clarify expectations and a division of labor and if neither can come to an agreement then the choices are going to need to be cleaning lady or divorce attorney. 
    STARMOON44MesmrEwecharlotte989875
  • Dearest one, I’m not your maid and I can leave my shoes wherever I want. Happy to go to therapy with you, but you need to figure out a way to deal with this that isn’t treating me like an employee failing to meet expectations. 
    MesmrEweshort+sassy
  • edited November 2019
    If what she is saying is true, this is abusive behavior and a huge red flag of abusive control patterns.  IDK if I can even recommend LW stay b/c I've seen far too many victim stories that start out just like this.

    I guess they can both continue working on their goals, but I don't see a resolution with someone who needs to list your daily sins with you.  And those sins are 'your shoes are in the wrong place."

    ~Varuna
    mrsconn23charlotte989875
  • climbingsingleclimbingsingle NYC 'burbs member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    This makes me twitchy, because my dad was like this, and he was abusive. That's fine if HE wants to clean and organize the house, but telling her that her shoes are not in the right spot? I would lose my shit. 

    MesmrEwemrsconn23charlotte989875
  • This sounds like a mental quirk for him ... I know someone that I don't disclose certain things that I do because he would freak out, and he is not doing that to be controlling, he just can't deal with certain things not being done a particular way.  It doesn't compute in his brain.  I think for this couple this is a "him" problem and he needs to go to someone to find out why he is this way and what he can do to change it.  It sounds like he is willing to work on it.
    But then again, he could be abusive.  Hard to say from the little that is here.

    ILoveBeachMusiccharlotte989875short+sassy
  • Dude sounds like has some OCD issues and should seek help about how to cope with this if LW is actually trying to clean up.
    kerbohlshort+sassy
  • This sounds borderline controlling to me. If he’s not abusive then I’d say plan to go for a walk/take a bath/be alone while he does his routine. Or hire a housekeeper. 

    But eff no would I be putting up with a partner who told me I put my shoes in the wrong place. 
  • To play devil's advocate, while the daily nitpicking sounds awful and needs to stop.  I would see it as normal to occasionally have these discussions with his wife.  Like, "I've noticed you've gotten back in the habit of leaving your shoes in the living room.  I know it's small, but it does drive me nuts and I'd appreciate it if you'd put them away when you get home."

    I'm not quite at a place where I see him being abusive, but more that this is his tic.  Because she does say that they have BOTH made a lot of compromises to make each other happier.  Where she picks up after herself a lot more and he tamps down his extreme-clean impulses more.  She also points out that he does do the vast majority of household chores.  So he is more than pulling his own weight in keeping the house as clean as he wants it to be.
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    ILoveBeachMusicMesmrEwe
  • To play devil's advocate, while the daily nitpicking sounds awful and needs to stop.  I would see it as normal to occasionally have these discussions with his wife.  Like, "I've noticed you've gotten back in the habit of leaving your shoes in the living room.  I know it's small, but it does drive me nuts and I'd appreciate it if you'd put them away when you get home."

    I'm not quite at a place where I see him being abusive, but more that this is his tic.  Because she does say that they have BOTH made a lot of compromises to make each other happier.  Where she picks up after herself a lot more and he tamps down his extreme-clean impulses more.  She also points out that he does do the vast majority of household chores.  So he is more than pulling his own weight in keeping the house as clean as he wants it to be.
    This is where I am.  The daily policing should be stopped.  

    But having these types of discussions and having different expectations of cleanliness and clutter is totally normal.  Frankly, it's one of the only things H and I fight about.  I think one of the biggest things that has helped us is organization.  If everything has a specific place, there's really no reason things like shoes and stuff should be out.  I think it's also a respect issue.  He needs to be more respectful of her and cool it with the patronizing attitude, but she could also be more respectful of his tidiness impulses and make more of a effort to turn off lights and put shoes away quickly if she's home first.  

    I also think Banana's point is important.  Whats the agreement between them about household things?  Is she working outside the home like he is?  Does she stay home?  Is the expectation from both of them that she do more around the house?  Maybe they make a weekly chore list to make sure that things like shoes and dishes never go more than a day or two out of place. 

    I don't think the attitude of "my shoes can go wherever, if you want them moved do it yourself" is a healthy attitude for either person.  
    short+sassyILoveBeachMusic
  • It does sound controlling to me. Even if he does a vast majority of the housework, that doesn't indicate what you must do in return. Even with an agreement in place as to who does what, he does not need to check that you have made no infractions. I agree with what another member said, "the policing needs to stop."
    charlotte989875
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