Living with a neat freak is something many people struggle to survive with daily. The issue is not about staying with a spouse that loves cleaning; it's the behavior that comes with it. Many people believe neat freaks are control freaks because of their domineering attitude to keep a home or the cleanliness of living space in order.
The funny thing here is, not all control freaks love to clean. You may have a spouse, and they love a clean home but would prefer some other person to do the cleaning. They wouldn't mind paying, forcing, or convincing other people to have a room cleaned up. All they want to see is a perfectly organized and clean home.
On the contrary, someone who's not a clean freak might be a slob. A slob is a person who is lazy, untidy, and struggles to live in a perfectly organized and clean place. They could live in a mess created by themselves or someone else and not have an issue with the environment. Unlike a neat freak, a slob is dirty, disorganized, and maybe rude to people.
Living with a new freak as a spouse when you're not could cause a lot of friction between both of you. But, you can enjoy its pros and manage the cons if you try. Here are 27 ways to survive living with a neat freak.
- 1 27 Ways To Live With A Neat Freak
- 1.1 1. Communicate with them
- 1.2 2. Share responsibilities
- 1.3 3. Meet in the middle
- 1.4 4. Learn from them
- 1.5 5. Respect their boundaries
- 1.6 6. Be honest with them
- 1.7 7. Appreciate their strengths
- 1.8 8. Give them a heads up
- 1.9 9. Try to make every conversation light
- 1.10 10. Appreciate their efforts
- 1.11 11. Apologize when you're at fault
- 1.12 12. Choose non-neat freak zones
- 1.13 13. Understand their frustration
- 1.14 14. Remind them you're different
- 1.15 15. Don't be sarcastic
- 1.16 16. Choose neat freak zones
- 1.17 17. Correct each other's mistakes
- 1.18 18. Hire a maid
- 1.19 19. Discard unnecessary things
- 1.20 20. Avoid having any fights
- 1.21 21. Be patient
- 1.22 22. Go on vacation
- 1.23 23. Take time to explain if there's an excuse
- 1.24 24. Maintain the neatness of an arranged space
- 1.25 25. Find an easy way to clean
- 1.26 26. Sometimes, be silent
- 1.27 27. Use the situation as an opportunity to grow
- 2 FAQs
- 3 To Sum Up
27 Ways To Live With A Neat Freak
1. Communicate with them
A neat freak may not be aware of his obsession with a spotless place. It could just be one of those innate behaviors they unconsciously develop without knowing its effect on the people they live with. But, one of the ways to deal with this is through communication.
If you have a neat freak spouse and you love them, talk to them. Use mild words to tell them about it without causing a new problem. Neat freaks, especially women, can be tamed if spoken to amicably. Have productive dialogue and find ways to bring solutions instead of accusing them of nagging or complaining.
No two persons are alike. Your likes could be the things your husband dislikes. Look around your home and make a list of the chores you dislike that your neat-freak husband doesn't mind doing. For instance, you could do the dishes while he handles laundry.
It depends on you as a couple and your preferences. So you could agree to do the things you're both comfortable doing individually. Or, you could rotate chores; this week, you take out the trash while he dusts the furniture, and next week, you both exchange. If you keep to this, it'll help manage things.
3. Meet in the middle
You have to accept that you two are different, and it's impossible to move to an extreme side of cleanliness completely. While you may not be a neat freak, it doesn't mean you're a slob. It means you're not obsessed with cleaning or keeping a place in order like your spouse.
So, you could both decide on the hassle-free spots in the house. You could keep a storage space or any invisible place that keeps clutter far from the eyes. This is a compromise and, if managed well, will help you two to meet in the middle. It would help if you tried it.
4. Learn from them
If you're the spouse that always causes the mess, you could learn a thing or two about keeping things in order from your partner. It may be overbearing to hear them nag about every mess or clutter that comes from you even when you plan to clean them, but they may just be right.
Watch how they clean, arrange, dust, organize things, and keep them in the right place. It may not necessarily come in handy at home, but it would at work when you're given a responsibility, involved in a group project, or when you're doing a personal thing. So, learn from your spouse.
5. Respect their boundaries
Respecting boundaries in situations like this is something you would love to try, and it may just help out the right way. Spouses that are neat freaks, especially women, treat their personal space as ‘holy.’ You don't want to get blamed for misplacing their scissors or shifting their makeup bag.
The same thing goes for your husband; if he's a neat freak and you're a wife. It would help if you avoided being blamed for putting his clipper set where he keeps his perfumes. Ask before taking anything from their space, return them to the right place after use, and let them know when you do, to avoid any problem.
6. Be honest with them
Sometimes, your differences may not be a lot. It could be about your honesty with them. Remember, they love perfection. They won't mind fixing a place with your mess if you're honest about what you did humbly. Living with a neat freak requires honesty as one of your virtues.
It doesn't matter how serious the clutter is; tell them the truth. With a neat freak, honesty, when bad things happen, comes with better consequences than lies. And it shows you respect them enough to tell them the truth.
7. Appreciate their strengths
As a good husband, you should appreciate your spouse for her strengths. She may nag about an untidy place, but she'll do everything possible to make it neat over again, no matter how tired or frustrated she may be. And she would arrange your things too.
Furthermore, if you're a wife and your husband is a neat freak, you should be one of the women that appreciate their spouses for all they do. They may keep your favorite slippers in an unusual place, but you can say they were safe where he dropped them. So take some time to appreciate your spouse’s strengths. It will make them happy.
8. Give them a heads up
Let's say you have a neat freak spouse, and your profession is such that it would leave a mess when you're working at home; give them a heads up if you're going to use a living space that you both share. You could do it a day or two before you start.
Let them know how long you'll use it, and assure them you'll clean up and return everything to the right place when you're done working. It's necessary to give this assurance to calm them until you finish to avoid additional explanation or to have any problem with them.
9. Try to make every conversation light
Remember, arguments are not always the best when it comes to having good conversations. Having a neat freak as a spouse could make you have a lot to say, and there's a tendency you may both have a lot of conflicting things to say. But, try your best to control your words.
Your level of composure when you both talk about cleaning the house brings solutions to the problem. Choose your words well. Instead of saying, “you nag too much about how untidy the house is,” you could say, “I feel like no matter how I try, I never seem to get it right.” It could help sort the situation.
10. Appreciate their efforts
One of the ways you can live comfortably with a neat freak is to appreciate their efforts. Even if they may overdo it sometimes, throw in some compliments of how airy, clean, and organized your home is whenever they ensure its tidiness. You could buy gifts if you wish.
Surprise them with a dinner or lunch date, or cook for them when you have the time. It's to show that even though they may get on your nerves, you still appreciate their hard work, and you love them as your spouse. When you appreciate them, there's more free will to correct their mistakes amicably without any fight.
11. Apologize when you're at fault
Neat freaks may seem like they're control freaks, but the truth remains that they're not always wrong. You could be wrong too. When you make a mess consciously or unconsciously without cleaning it up, you should apologize to them as quickly as possible.
Like your spouse, you have flaws too, and you should learn to accept your mistakes and apologize for them. ‘Sorry,’ or ‘I’m sorry, I'll fix it,’ or, ‘I’m sorry you had to fix my clutter,’ goes a long way to mend things, and it will play a huge role in softening your partner’s heart.
12. Choose non-neat freak zones
This sounds fun, but it's an option that supports a compromise. While you both are trying to maintain the neatness of your home, you could suggest to your partner to leave some parts as non-neat freak zones where you get to have your freedom and clean them your way.
It may not happen immediately or as smoothly as you imagine, but it's going to be at the back of their mind to be a little bit flexible, remembering that you both share the home. You may be surprised at how many ideas they'll come up with on how you can manage the space but not have it under their control.
13. Understand their frustration
If you've been with your partner for a long time, you both should get to a particular level of understanding. If you're a husband, you should understand that women are quite emotional. She may not just be frustrated with the low level of neatness, but with many other things she has to fix as well.
The same thing applies to men. They could be going through emotional or mental stress for something else, only to return to an untidy home. So, while this is not having a good effect on you, you should understand where they're coming from and try to be there for them emotionally.
14. Remind them you're different
While you're respecting your husband and his neat freak life, you should subtly remind him you're a different person, and you also have your way of doing things. It would help if you let him know how much you respect his effort, but you would appreciate it if he's less uptight.
You're not fighting with them; it's just a reminder to let them know you two can never be the same. It would help if you didn't blame yourself for not being a neat freak or incompetent for not having the tendency to be one. Instead, let them come to terms with you and how you live your life.
15. Don't be sarcastic
Sarcasm is a no-no with a neat freak. You can bring it up once in a while, but not when they're complaining about the cleanliness of your home. When they look serious, you should act serious too, especially with women. It’s annoying, and it makes it feel like they, or what they’re saying, is a joke and insignificant to be complained about.
When they're ranting and displaying their frustration on how untidy a room is, it's not the right time to say something like “year right, because the whole world will be clean if this room is.” Certain statements could be discouraging or disheartening when said at the wrong time.
16. Choose neat freak zones
As a couple, you agree on the rooms in your home to keep clean. It's hard to keep everywhere spotless, especially if you have kids that are not grown enough to help you both with the chores. This will help if you have jobs that take most of your time and make you exhausted.
Common living areas like the living room, dining, kitchen, bedroom, study, and spaces you both use can be the neat freak zones. Living areas where you welcome visitors could also be spotless. So, you and your neat freak spouse could develop an arrangement like this to maintain harmony in your home.
17. Correct each other's mistakes
You may not like the way your neat freak spouse talks to you about cleaning your mess. This is where correcting each other's mistakes comes into play. So, you could tell them they're free to correct you but should mind their use of words or tone when doing so.
The same thing applies to you as a spouse too. Learn to be open enough to listen to your neat freak spouse correcting certain things. If they do, and it doesn't go with your way of life, you could pick out some things or meet in the middle with them. It's quite simple.
18. Hire a maid
It's not all the time you need to be directly responsible for some things. If you have a neat freak spouse and you can't cope with the cleaning life, you can hire a maid to help with the chores or clean the home to avoid much stress.
Before doing this, don't forget to discuss it with your neat freak spouse first, the reason being that neat freaks prefer to handle their activities alone, including cleaning their home. But if you come up with a good reason for hiring a maid, they would accept the idea. If they don't accept, give it some time and try to talk to them again.
19. Discard unnecessary things
Clean freaks are minimalist. They believe you should discard minor things that are not useful at the moment. For instance, someone who is not a neat freak would keep little pieces of something they feel would come in handy for a major activity, future DIY project, or plan.
But, a clean freak, especially if it's your husband, believes if there's no storage space and there is no purpose for it to save at the moment, then it should be discarded. On the contrary, if you feel the need to keep it, you could talk to him to let it be or find a temporary place to hide it from him.
20. Avoid having any fights
It might feel like your neat freak spouse is a control freak. They may get on nerves about the neatness of living space but always avoid having fights with them, whether it's physical or verbal abuse. When it looks like the situation is getting heated, let things be for your sanity.
Neat freaks have their way with words, and they're exceptionally talented at using them when they're pissed or frustrated about the neatness of living space, and there could be a tendency for them to pick up fights if need be.
21. Be patient
Patience is another virtue you need to survive life with a neat freak. Being patient with neat freaks also improves your ability to tolerate other people outside your partner and gives you a quick knowledge of how to handle any situation you find yourself in them.
It will help you survive in every other aspect of life without so much stress. Patience involves you asking them what you can do to make things neater, apologizing when you make a mess, and assuring them you would do your best to ensure neatness in your space with a clear heart.
22. Go on vacation
Vacations have been every couple’s rescue move. They're quite relaxing and could take your mind and eyes off many things to complain about. It's quite normal and sometimes boring to be indoors, so you could take some time off with your neat freak spouse to spend some time in a new environment.
When your neat freak spouse nags too much about the neatness of living space, they could be stressed. In a situation like that, a vacation might be needed for them to relax a bit. And you would both renew your love bond.
23. Take time to explain if there's an excuse
Maybe you rushed off to complete something outside, hurried off to pick a call, or had a deadline to beat with the thought of coming back to ensure the business of the room, but it skips your mind until your neat freak spouse sees it. It is something that demands an explanation.
While cleans freaks may listen to your excuses, they should be valid enough to make them forgive you, and it's not something you should do all the time, so they don't get tired of it. You don't have to say it when they complain. Wait for them to vent first, then explain your reasons.
24. Maintain the neatness of an arranged space
Most times, neat freaks don't want you to organize, arrange, or clean a room. They may just want you to maintain the orderliness they've already created in the living space. It could be as simple as wiping the milk you spilled or discarding squeezed unused papers.
Sometimes, it may not be physical dirt; it could be that you forgot to close a drawer you left open. It may sound like it’s a minor thing, but it is enough to disorganize a living space's neatness. You should try your best to avoid that to keep a place neat.
25. Find an easy way to clean
Living with a neat freak involves you finding a creative way to survive with them peacefully and harmoniously. Cleaning a room shouldn't be a boring exercise. It should be a fun process where you get a positive result of tidiness at the end of it.
So, you could try listening to a song with your headphones, speakers, playing a background movie to keep you company, conversing with your spouse, or performing music to make it exciting for you. You could get things to help you clean faster, like having a 2-in-1 mop and broom cleaner to ease the stress, instead of a separate broom and mop.
26. Sometimes, be silent
It's true when they say that silence is the best answer to avoid any form of violence. Most of the things your neat freak spouse says do not necessarily need any response from you. It's just them trying to correct you and asking for immediate action. You may just need to stand up while they're talking to put things in place.
Sometimes, try not to respond. But don't get this wrong; being silent doesn't mean you should ignore your neat freak spouse or make annoying quiet gestures to piss them off. You're only silent to avoid an argument and possibly, a fight while still doing the right thing to keep things in order.
27. Use the situation as an opportunity to grow
You may feel it's a bother to stay with a clean freak spouse in the same house. But, if you follow their rules at your pace, you would notice that it will affect the other aspects of your life positively without you knowing.
Because clean freaks are perfectionists, they don't only keep their homes clean. Still, they pay attention to details when organizing their work files, personal belongings, and they remember where they arrange everything. Most of them have goals too. So, if you pick some of their cleanliness and tidiness, it will help you grow.
It’s okay to be a neat freak, but you shouldn’t let it affect some other person’s space or way of living. And it should not be a big deal when you’re not perfectly organized or clean as you want to be once in a while. You should give yourself some space to breathe.
There’s no exact proven cause to make people become neat freaks. But, it comes from the urge to make a room, person, or everything look perfectly clean. It could be because of some health, personal reasons, or allergies. Most times being a neat freak is a personal life choice.
You could have a regular cleaning routine, pick or clean specks of dirt as often as you see them, throw out things you don’t need, and have an arrangement pattern for each and everything in your house. It also includes having a storage space for everything and a unique mode of placement.
Well, it depends on the narcissist and his or her personality. Some narcissists are clean freaks and would do everything in their power to make the space they live in perfectly clean. Some of them are not. Some are neat freaks if they find people or a spouse that can do it for them.
If you have a spouse who is a clean freak, respect your differences, and accept yourself for the person you are. Appreciate them for their efforts to keep your home clean and try to understand their discomfort about certain things. Encourage them to be less critical of other people's way of life.
To Sum Up
Living with a neat freak may seem like it's a bother, but you should pick out the positives and learn to manage the negatives. Nothing is unbearable. You can use the 27 tips I've mentioned to handle situations. If you liked this article, please drop a comment and share it with others.
As hopeless romantic I struggled tremendously in my love life. After many years of searching, trial & error, and countless failed relationships, I finally found my Mr. Right. It wasn't an easy road, but one that has taught me an incredible amount about the workings of relationships between men and women, and this is what I hope to share through my writing on this blog.