Cleaning Up His Act:
A Quick Guide

The Mama’s Boy may come with the additional quirk of being messy or disorganized, basically because his mother picked up after him and managed his affairs all his life. He’s not the only type of guy who has these flaws; I would guess a healthy majority of women would say that their men lack good housekeeping and organization habits. This problem can be extremely frustrating, and probably seems inconsiderate.

Here are some tips for countering his behavior without causing a world war. Break your man in early. Otherwise you’ll either assume these duties or live with his idiosyncrasies for the next thirty to fifty years, like many of our moms did. It wasn’t enough to cook and clean for their kids; they also inherited a perpetual adolescent called a husband!

If you can’t agree on dividing chores and can afford to contract house cleaning and yard work, do so.

Establish minimal standards, such as putting away perishables, rinsing toothpaste out of the sink after brushing, and wiping the mud off shoes.

Make it clear you expect him to pick up after himself.

Almost every man requires reminders about placing the toilet seat down.

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Do laundry separately.

Men may need to be told that certain items (decorative towels or soap) are for show, not practical use.

Designate an out-of-the-way area for his clutter (newspapers, magazines, take-home work).

Set aside a convenient drawer for his wallet, keys, money, pens, jewelry, or other trinkets.

If he’s reluctant to take his turn shopping, give him a grocery list.

To encourage him to cook, ask him to make something he likes to eat.

If he doesn’t know how to cook at all, prepare new recipes together.

If he drinks directly from a container, buy him his own and request that shared items be poured.

Guys often think a morning shower means they’re good for the day. Remind him he’ll need another after golf or a walk on a warm night.

Gently suggest hygiene improvements. Joke, for example, that “trimming and mowing” (getting rid of unattractive facial or body hair) isn’t just for women!

If he has no fashion sense, buy him clothes he looks and feels good in.

If you share a car, install a bin especially for his stuff so he doesn’t use the entire interior as his portable filing cabinet

Arrange for him to have automatic bill payments, with deductions from his checking account.

Show him how to program an electronic calendar on his computer, cell phone, or PDA, with automatic e-

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mail or text-message reminders of appointments, dates, birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays.

On important occasions, reinforce these reminders with Post-It notes and personal e-mails and text messages.

If he habitually screws up the configurations on your TV remote, alarm clock, computer, or printer, affix instructions nearby on how to return them to the proper state.

Set designated locations (hooks, cubbies, drawers) for items to which you both need access, such as car and house keys.

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Nicholas Aretakis, author of Ditching Mr. Wrong: How to End a Bad Relationship and Find Mr. Right.

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