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the dreaded sock dilemma

H and I both work full-time, though he has a longer commute and sometimes works longer hours.  I usually do most of the cleaning, simply because I'm home more and have a crazy schedule, some days working first shift, some days second.  What really drives me crazy is that sometimes I'll get up, clean for a while and then go to work at about 3.  By the time I get home at midnight, the house can sometimes look like a tornado went through it...  shoes and socks on the floor wherever he takes them off, plates and bowls in the living room, garbage on the kitchen counter, etc.  He knows it bothers me and always says he'll try to do better, but it never lasts long.

Knowing that not everyone values neatness and knowing that I'm lucky that this is my biggest complaint, my question is this:   What would you do?  How do well-adjusted couples handle things like this?  Should I just suck it or would that be setting a bad precedent?  (oops, that's more than one question....)



Re: the dreaded sock dilemma

  • All I can say is good luck. I dealt with this for YEARS. I am with someone new now who also likes a neat house and boy is it GREAT to have a partner who helps keep the messiness under control!!!


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  • Well, since you have talked about the subject before, I would sit down again and agree to a chore list, where each of you agrees to do a certain amount of things. Put it all in writing.

    Example - I do all the laundry and DH does all the grocery shopping and the majority of the dishes. This has worked long term for us.

    So, when I do laundry on Saturday, I only wash what is in the hamper. If he were to leave socks everywhere (which he doesn't do) then those would not get washed.

    Hope is not a strategy.
  • My DH is the same way... he tends to not notice the messiness around him, while it drives me up the wall. I have no great advice other than like a pp said, we have "assigned" chores. I stay on top of our laundry and he keeps our kitchen clean. Any chore that needs to be done daily, like trash and dishes, we have on our chore list. It may seem silly, but DH likes it. All the other stuff like dusting, mopping, etc we do together once a week. GL!?
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  • Quit cleaning up after him. Go home and declare that dishes not in the dishwasher will not get washed, trash not in the trash can will not go outside, and laundry not in the basket will be left on dirty.

    Then, when he has no clean clothes and eats in his own filth, he'll get pissed off because you aren't being his mommy. Then, you can remind him that you're his wife and he's a grown man.  He'll get the hint.

  • He walks into a clean house, scatters dirty shoes and socks around, leaves dirty dishes in the sink.  You walk in after working. You left the house clean, walk in on a mess.

    What does your husband expect you to do at this point?

    What does HE expect? Or want? What are you supposed to do or say?

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  • Definately do not suck it up!  If it bothers you, then say something.  It could lead to bigger problems down the road then if you keep quiet about it.

    DH does this an it's annoying as hell.  It's like he knows when I've just cleaned the house and am proud of it. (I mean really cleaning, the whole works not just pick up.) And I'll find socks in the chair, or an open bag of chips on his desk or on a chair in front of the TV.  Sometimes it's not even clean for two hours. 

    I suggest taking turns cleaning, or gently reminding your SO that this bothers you.  Hopefully he'll get it after the first few times of hearing it.  Otherwise I suggest that you NOT cleaning up after him for a couple weeks and see how your SO likes living in his own filth. (Gets DH every time.)

  • well, if he gets better about it for a little bit it sounds like he's just being a little bit lazy and not following thru.

    maybe you can:

    a) have a serious convo with him about why it bothers you, how it makes you feel, and why you want him to stop doing it.

    b) adjust your expectations a little bit, maybe instead of expecting the whole house to remain clean he could restrict his mess to the bedroom?

    c) pick up all his [email protected] and dump in on his side of the bed. 

    I would recommend picking one or two things that REALLY bug you and talking to him about those.  Start small.  good luck!

  • Thanks for all the replies! 

     I wish not cleaning up after him would work, but I've tried that.  I also tried not picking up any of MY stuff just so he would see how annoying it is.  I really think he doesn't do it on purpose...  It's like it just doesn't occur to him to take his dishes to the sink after he's done with them.  I think that's why he gets better for a bit after I remind him, but then the reminder fades and he goes to his old way.  I guess I'll just have to keep reminding.

     Lex, I really like the idea of asking him to restrict the mess to one area.  That seems like a doable goal!


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    Get one of those "pop up" hampers (you can get them in the laundry section of Target, BB&B, etc).  Put one in the front closet or wherever you have space.  Anything (not food-crusted or breakable) throw into the hamper.  Socks, books, his cell phone (if it is on the floor).  Just get it out of sight and let your dh deal with it.  Don't take socks out of there on laundry day - let your dh put them in the regular laundry hamper or they don't get done.  Maybe on Sat you can hand him the hamper and tell him to put everything away.

    If you find that the hamper has become your husband's "lost and found" box (he still doesn't put anything away, and thinks "oh, great! now I know where everything is!  In the hamper in the front closet!), move the hamper to somewhere where it is a PITA for him to run down and get things (ie the back of the basement).

    Honestly, I think he is being disrespectful.  Socks and shoes out, I can understand, but food and plates is just plain dirty.  Maybe only cook for yourself while his dirty dishes are still out. 

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  • I'm the messy one in my family :) My new hubby has always done a great job with keeping the house tidy. I have always thrown my clothes all over when I get mom used to shut my door at home because she didn't want to see it! I would leave dishes in the sink for a couple of days, etc...I've gotten a lot better though because of three reasons....1.) we have been together for 6 years (living together) and he has slowly rubbed off on me so now I pay attention to more things than I used to, which is always a possibility with your hubby!. 2.) We designated one area that I can throw my clothes which is near the place that I used to just throw them on the floor. There just happens to be a hamper now...Now if I throw them on the floor, I feel bad for not putting them in the hamper and 3.) my hubby and I discussed (calmly and lovingly) the reasons why we should make efforts in keeping the house clean and I have improved because I love him! He didn't come at me like "you aren't doing this and you should be" was a "we" conversation. Hope this helps in some way! Good luck!
  • I just thought of something else....You said that he will do good for awhile but it never lasts long...Make sure to let him know how happy you are that he is trying (when he is) and when he isn't, just give him a friendly reminder that he told you he would do better. Just the other day my hubby told me that sometimes he just doesn't remember and he needs to be reminded of some things. I know we may feel like naggy wives, but sometimes the men just need a little loving budge. He does that for me with the cleaning.
  • I would just chill. If there are socks/shoes around its really not that bad.
  • Are you guys home at the same time most of the time? DH and I are both a little messy... I tend to care more though.  I do some cleaning in the AM before I go to work, but most of the time, we clean together. That way we both do our fair share, and it's not just me contending with HIS clutter.
  • Don't clean up after him. ?Let him know that he is supposed to pick up after himself and that if the clothes aren't in the laundry, they won't get washed - he'll straighten up the first time he's getting ready for work and has to put on dirty socks. ?Same for the dishes.
  • DH has a bin by our bedroom door. It's a faux-leather box that Target sold awhile ago for firewood. DH is getting much better about cleaning, but when I need to do a quick sweep, he knows that I'll gather anything up that is out of place, and dump it there (this does not apply to dishes. We don't live in a barn. If he doesn't put his dishes away, I gently remind him that we don't live in a barn, and they magically disappear into the dishwasher). This works really well for us.
  • If it's at all in your budget, hire a housekeeper.  It literally saved my marriage!  DH and I both tend to be messy, and it's so much easier to be clean, when your house is spotless.

    I also like PP's hamper suggestion, putting it in the front closet. That's a great idea!

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  • My FI is the SAME way. After 6 ... almost 7 years it has not gotten any better nor do I see it getting better. He has told me this is how I was when you met me and this is how I will be. So I  have started cleaning less. Instead of once a week I wait about a month. Yes it drives me CRAZY to look at the mess but usually he starts to see how bad it is and will pick up a little. We have argued to no end about this and I have come to realize that this is all his mothers fault as she did and still does EVERTHING in her home but mow the lawn. When we stared dating he was 20 ... she would clean his room. That should have been my red flag to RUN! I thought once we bought our own place he would take better care of it ... wishful thinking. Basically pick up your stuff and leave his.
  • when I read this post, I thought maybe I wrote it while sleepwalking or something... it sounds exactly like me and my boyfriend.

    However, I have decided not to care.  Life is too short. However, my boyfriend works 10-12 hours per day and does work when he gets home.  I work 8 hours.  So, I am responsible for the house too.  And, I dont mind.  He puts out the garbage.  Also, he never gets to complain about a messy house.

    He has one job... the living room table.  I hate it when it is all cluttered and messy.  My mom always said "as long as the focal point of the room is clear, the whole room looks less messy" and I agree.  so, at the end of each day, he is supposed to clear that table.

    also, laundry on the floor is not washed.  He has his own room (study) and I throw all his junk on his desk.  Sometimes things get lost and just remind him that when things are thrown around... they may get lost.


  • My DH takes his socks off as soon as he walks in the door, and used to leave them right on the floor in the entry way. I am not the cleanest person in the world but I like for things to at least be picked up/somewhat in order. After asking him many many times to take his socks off upstairs and in the hamper which he tried but just never got in the habit of, I compromised and put a basket on the floor in our entry way where he now puts his socks, and I throw in the hamper every few days. We don't have a lot of people over so I don't worry about the socks being near the front door (if I know we are having guests the socks go in the hamper before they arrive) and I learned to just compromise - if he won't get them in the hamper at least he gets them in the basket instead of all over the floor. To me it wasn't a fight worth continuing to fight over so I compromised.
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  • I have this same issue. Mine just happens to be very lazy - mainly for things he doesn't like doing, but he doesn't like doing a lot of things that need to be done regularly.

     He would do the same thing of getting better for a little bit then falling back into his old patterns. 

    I found that what really bothered me was the fact that he wasn't living up to what he agreed to do (this happens in more than just the messiness area). When we had that discussion recently, I noticed a change in how he 'got better' - something more 'everyday' about it, if that makes sense. Hopefully this will stick.

    My advice is to figure out what the bigger issue is - and there's always a bigger issue if it bothers you enough to keep bringing up with him.

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