User Post: Are You Living with your Organizational Opposite?


by Sarah Welch and Alicia Rockmore

What's your type? No, not tall, dark, and handsome or strong and silent. It's neat freak vs. total slob. You probably never even thought about it when you were falling for your mate's puppy dog eyes, but now that you're living together, it's probably one of the first things you notice. Opposites do attract after all. If you're the neat freak, the clutter and lack of organization can feel like a personal attack. That pair of shoes left in the middle of the bedroom? It's like a dagger straight to the heart. Or, if you're the slob, you're constantly feeling browbeaten and nagged. "Why can't I live in my own house how I want?," you think. It's a challenge to coexist with your organizational opposite, so can a Pigpen and a neatnik live a happy and stress-free life?

Sarah on "knowing when to give up"

"My husband and I are lucky to be similar, but we are also really different. While we both tend toward being neat freaks, we never seem to care about the same thing being neat. He freaks out when I put the ketchup next to the milk on the top shelf, and I can't stand the way the lumpy bed that he considers "made" looks. We were driving each other crazy over such little things, so we decided that we each would take over the things we personally care about. So, I make the bed and he puts away the groceries. It's our version of an olive branch - and it has done wonders for our familys."

Alicia on "pigeon-holing the mess"

"I'm lucky to say that I am still very much in love with my husband. I absolutely adore him - even more than the day we got married. That being said, he can drive me crazy with his messy ways. He has, how do I put this elegantly, rather "relaxed" standards - and I am a bit of an organizational maniac. We're definitely opposites. After years of spitting nails over his messes, I designate a messy zone. He has a room that we fashioned off of the garage that I let him keep as messy as he wants. If I find a stray belt or piece of mail lingering where it shouldn't, it goes into that spot and close the door. It really works for us."

Tips for Cohabitating with Your Organizational Opposite:

If You Are the Neat Freak:

1. It's not about you. Really, it isn't. It might feel like a statement about you or a personal affront if your spouse leaves his dirty socks on the floor, but it's not. Get over it.

2. Ditch the Nag. Yes, you will attract more bees with honey, so stop nagging and start using positive reinforcement instead.

3. Establish Zones. It sounds like the United Nations, but if you pick a designated slob spot like Alicia does, it can make a huge difference in the way you see things.

If You Are The Slob:

1. Before you ball up the socks and throw them to the dog to catch, stop and think about how it might be interpreted and who will inevitably be the one picking it up.

2. Make little changes. Small steps go a long way and if you show that you're working toward being a little less messy, it will be appreciated. Pick one are to improve each month and then keep up the good work.

3. Five minutes really can make a big difference. Set aside five minutes before bed to pick up ten things and put them away. You'll be amazed at how easy it is and your neat freak partner will love you for it.

So which are you; the neat freak or the slob? How do you manage to cohabitate with your loved one and deal with their different standards? What tips would you offer to others to keep peace in the family? We'd love to hear from you!