DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’ve been with my partner for over five years, and it’s really starting to get to me how little effort they put into keeping our home clean.
They’ve always been a bit on the lazier side, but I feel like it’s gotten worse over time. (I don’t want to immediately point to their increased cannabis consumption as the cause, but the thought has crossed my mind.) I’m doing my best to keep our home clean, while the amount of effort they put in is next to none. At most, they will occasionally tidy up the living room. The rest of the chores have become solely my responsibility.
It’s gotten to the point, and I know this is petty, that I only wash my own dishes, just to see if they take the hint or even notice. It’s been five days now: All of my dishes have been cleaned after I used them, while theirs are still in or around the sink. I honestly don’t know if they think I enjoy cleaning all the time (I don’t), or if they’re just enjoying knowing they don’t have to clean because I’ll do it.
I know I need to speak up, but I just don’t know how. In the past when I’ve made comments about cleaning, they get upset, tell me that they do their fair share (it’s never been a fair share, but it used to be more), or that they’re trying to get better. I know bringing it up will start an argument, and I hate having to deal with them when they’re in that mood. Knowing this, and knowing a conversation has to happen, how do I tell my partner to start helping out?
GENTLE READER: Conversations like this are always difficult, but letting it build up to the point of ending the relationship and moving out without saying anything is infinitely more so.
Miss Manners noticed that you did not mention this ending the relationship as an option (or perhaps, during the world’s current situation, it is not one), so she is happy to see that there is still hope. Her best advice is to ask for the advice of your partner:
“I don’t know what to do. I am deeply unhappy about the cleaning situation, and I don’t seem to be able to talk to you about it. I know that it is your position that we clean up equally, but I noticed that when I only did my own dishes for a few days, yours went untouched. I am not trying to trick or test you, but I am at my wit’s end. I want this relationship to work and to be free of resentment, but I am finding that particularly difficult right now.”
Your partner will either listen and change, or won’t -- forcing you to make a bigger decision. Either way, you will likely have a clear, less dish- and dust-laden path forward.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)