What if you and your spouse have different cleaning styles?
If you are smirking, then you already know exactly what I mean. But, just in case you are not sure, let’s talk about cleaning styles.
The wife, let’s call her “Susan” likes quantity over quality. She wants every room picked up by the time she is done, but, isn’t looking for every single thing to be 100 percent perfect.
Her husband, let’s call him “Bill,” is the opposite. He prefers to hunker down in one room and spend three hours there, getting it clean from top to bottom.
Alright, you guessed it. My husband and I are Susan and Bill.
I tend to treat the house like a three layer cake.
First I go all over the house on the top layer, picking up clutter, putting things away, wiping off counters, etc. Then, and only then, do I go on to the next layer and so forth.
Pros: This type of cleaning gives the cleaner immediate satisfaction. It’s more bang for the buck.
Cons: Susan NEVER gets to the bottom of the pile. She will be lucky if she can ever get to the nitty-gritty of a room.
Bill’s style (my husband) is good too, although different. Instead of starting on the top layer of the cake, he chooses a place to start and dives into all three layers at once, slowly making his way through.
Pros: It is extremely thorough! (And looks so good in the end!)
Cons: It takes a LONG TIME and if he is pressed for time, he cannot finish and it causes frustration.
There are other styles of cleaning too:
The follow-the-list cleaner. This person has a list. She follows her list and then she is done. No more, no less. She can wait to do the other things tomorrow.
The anxiety cleaner. This person sees something that needs to be cleaned and starts to clean it, but then sees something else that needs to be cleaned and gets distracted by it.
The let-it-pile-up cleaner. This person has things organized, sort of. Piles are everywhere and when, and only when, the pile becomes a problem, they address it.
The cleaning as therapy/exercise person. This person cleans to keep themselves sane (or fit). They throw the vacuum around like it’s a rag, they haul the soapy water through the house with ease, they move boxes with all their strength…just don’t get in their way, because you will be trampled or conscripted into working.
Which one are you? Which one is your spouse?
So, what is the result of different cleaning styles coming together? After being married for more than twenty years, I can tell you: arguments.
I confess to looking at my husband 45 minutes after we started cleaning one Saturday (or several) and allowing my impatience to come flying out of my mouth. Quantity-wise, I had accomplished MORE in that 45 minutes. But quality-wise he had accomplished more.
When we plan a cleaning time (or home repair, because it come up then as well), I have to consciously choose to not critique him and not compare.
I didn’t know this when we first got married. We got into some serious bumps on cleaning days during the first years (ten?) of our marriage because I would say: “What have you been DOING??” The unhappy result of that was that he felt bossed around and criticized.
And even worse, the cleaning stopped! (kidding..sorta)
As the years have gone, I have learned to seen the value in his style of cleaning. And most likely if you and your spouse do it differently too, there is some good to his way of doing things.
But, I have had to CHOOSE to not push my style of cleaning on him.
I have had to learn to see the value in his style.
I have had to accept that maybe not all the things will get done in the time I thought they would.
And that’s o.k.
I see now that when he leaves a room, it looks stunning. Shiny, organized and peaceful, just the way I want it to. So, really, why am I complaining?
I’ll be honest, probably because I am impatient!
I am quick, he is methodical. It comes down to that.
If you and your partner have different cleaning styles, I would encourage you NOT to allow it to come between you and for you to attempt to see the value in the other persons’ style.
Rather, choose to focus on the fact that you are lucky he is willing to help, as not all husbands are.
And always, remember:
“Cleaning with kids in the house,
is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos.”