How to Get Your Spouse to Clean!

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It may come as no real surprise that one of the biggest causes for tension in a couple’s relationship is housework and more specifically, the seemingly unfair workload that may fall on your shoulders – while your partner sits back and reaps the benefits of your hard work.

This is one of the most requested video topics here at CMS HQ – so this week, we’re talking about how to get your significant other to help you with the cleaning responsibilities!

We feel it’s important to note that while researching this video, we came across quite a few articles that talked about how to get “HIM” to clean – or tips and tricks for getting your “husband” to clean – but I assure you we here at Clean My Space will NOT be talking like that. This is not a one-sided issue my friends, over a quarter of our audience are men. So when we say partner – we mean him OR her – there will be no stereotyping here :).

Also, we’re not marriage councillors, we have researched this topic thoroughly and have drawn from our own experiences and that’s what I am going to share with you!

START WITH THE HEART

Having a frank, deliberate conversation about cleaning, its importance to your partner and why your partner doesn’t want to or can’t clean at the moment will help you understand where they are coming from. Perhaps it is a scheduling issue, a physical issue, a skill issue, perhaps it is even an emotional issue! At least the conversation will help you learn something and give you a starting off point. This then gives you the opportunity to do the same thing, speak about how important and meaningful a clean space is to you, how it affects you and how you’ve been struggling with the work load. Your partner cares and when you share about your challenges, naturally they will want to help. Think about how different this is the normal nagging that takes place in many a household!

ANGER MANAGEMENT

During your conversation, it is more than likely to get a bit heated. Remember that getting angry and raising your voice isn’t going to get you anywhere, aside from right back to where you don’t want to be anymore. Look at this in a new light, it’s a new approach to an old and crusty problem. If you point fingers at your partner I can assure you they won’t give a crap about what you’ve got to say. Come from you and your needs, and then listen closely to your partner and their needs. Anger is the easy, common and problematic way to deal with this and that’s what we are trying to change!

DROP THE STEREOTYPES

I am going to assume that you chose your partner because they are a good person and good for you. You also care about them! Stereotyping your partner and perpetuating the notion of one of the many cultural stereotypes floating around is toxic, especially if you want to effect change. Remember that people like to meet the expectations that are set for them and generally want to please others by fulfilling those expectations. So if you continue to reinforce the stereotype that your partner is lazy, they will gladly prove you right. Hold them in a different regard and you’ll be amazed at the results.

ESTABLISH YOUR MIAs

Perhaps it’s easiest to start by focusing on your Most Important Areas, or MIAs. Part of your conversation can be about areas which are most important to the both of you, and that’s where you can start from. If the kitchen is really important to you and the office is really important to your partner, focus on what your partner cares about, and have them start with that space.

COLLABORATE, DON’T DICTATE

No one thrives in a dictatorship environment, and it creates further tension. We know you’re frustrated, but take a second and get into your partner’s head. How can you present this to him or her in such a way that will motivate and encourage them to want to help? Taking a collaborative and respectful approach as opposed to a bossy one, or one that involves yelling and arguments tends to go over better. When you plan to have a discussion about this figure out what you can BOTH do as a couple to work toward a cleaner space. Not ‘you do this and I do that’, rather, ‘I can do this’, and let your partner claim what they can do too. Remember that old saying, there’s no I in team!

DEVELOP A NEW ROUTINE

Once you have had a collaborative chat, and you understand the MIAs, it’s time to create a new routine which makes sense for both people. It’s not fair to pigeonhole your partner into your routine and it certainly is not reasonable to expect them to be up to par with you from the word go. They are likely not skilled or efficient enough to do the work, yet. It’s like training for a marathon, which I’ve never done by the way. Start with a few kilometers and walk, and as you gage and appreciate your progress you can build more in, eventually getting up to your 10K goal. The same goes for your and your partner’s cleaning routine. Build something great together, but start from a reasonable place.

MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS

If your partner is not used to doing any cleaning, or is not good at it or passionate about it, it is hard to imagine they’re going to do anything perfectly. If you expect perfection, I will tell you now, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Don’t expect their work to be done to the Ritz Carlton’s standards on the first go. It’s up to you to manage your expectations and be appreciative and complimentary of the effort more than dissuading your partner to want to do the work again by not appreciating the efforts they have done. Start somewhere, compliment like crazy, and your partner will only want to do better because of the positive reinforcement you’re giving to him or her.

MICROMANAGEMENT

When you’ve started your new routine and your partner is starting to contribute, let them do their thing as they do. It is not your opportunity to micromanage, rather to compliment and thank your partner for their contribution, whatever it was. I have yet to meet one person who likes being micromanaged, especially an adult. Allow autonomy in scheduling and performance and you might see some really interesting changes in your partner – they may do something extra, they may get creative, and without question, they will want to impress you. If your partner asks for help or advice, certainly provide it or you can always direct them to one of our videos!

MAKE IT FUN

As we say so often in our videos, you’ve got to find a way to make cleaning fun. Even with a glum job like cleaning, try to keep the atmosphere lighthearted and fun. If you and your partner do it together, perhaps you can watch a show while folding laundry, or talk while you work, or time yourselves and have a race, whatever you’ve got to do. Either way, when Chad and I finish cleaning our house, it sounds cheesy but we usually high five or say ‘good job’ to the other person. Let me tell you, I need to hear that after a cleaning marathon, and so does he. If we didn’t do that who would ever want to do it again? Let your partner in on the secret that completing a cleaning task instills an enormous sense of pride, compliment your partner and just watch what happens next!

JOINT EFFORT, JOINT REWARDS

We also talk about rewarding yourself for a job well done and this is important to keep in mind when having your spouse join the cleaning team in your household.

Perhaps you can create rewards that are enjoyable to both of you – or, if you really want to entice your partner, you can gear the rewards towards their interests, at least to start. It could be dinner and a movie, a trip to the shopping mall or even just the enjoyment of sitting in your newly cleaned living room and watching a movie together!

Rewarding those who are doing the work is a great motivator for anyone – we’re human – and we LOVE rewards! After an afternoon of cleaning Chad and I really look forward to going out to one of our favourite restaurants as a reward for our hard work!

STICK TO YOUR GUNS

Now let’s say that after all of this, your partner falls off the rails and ‘forgets’ to do something. Stick to your guns my friend, you have an agreement. If they don’t clean the spaces they are responsible for, you don’t clean them either. Sooner or later, there will be a very visible indicator of who’s holding up their end of the agreement. People who know me personally, know that to me, a deal is a deal.

NOTHING CHANGES IF NOTHING CHANGES

Yes, this means you. Change has to start with you. Your attitude, your choice of words, your motives for speaking to your partner and your tone of voice. I can promise you, if YOU change, so will your partner. If you are tired of doing the same thing and getting the same frustrating results, understand that you have to start changing first, and naturally, your partner will have to change too.

You should know that as much fun as we had shooting this video, Chad and I have put a LOT of work into our relationship as it pertains to cleaning responsibilities and even though our lives seem crazy busy most of the time, we have established how important it is for us to live in a clean home and in order to do so – it takes work on both of our behalves. We proudly share these responsibilities and the rewards that come with them – and as mentioned in this video we try our best to make the process as enjoyable as possible..

And as I have said in the past, a great way to make cleaning a little more enjoyable is listening to an audiobook and that’s where the fine folks at audible.com come in, they are offering a FREE audiobook of your choosing and a FREE 30 day trial membership to the entire Clean My Space nation – you get to choose from over 180,000 titles and you can get started at audible.com/cleanmyspace

Recently we listened to The Help by Kathryne Stockett which was an AMAZING movie and an even better audiobook which takes place during the civil rights movement of the 1960s and details the African-American maids’ point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.

Check out this title and over 180,000 more at audible.com/cleanmyspace – it’s a great offer for you guys and it’s a great way to help support us here at Clean My Space!

Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.

2 COMMENTS

  1. No need to rotate a sleep number mattress ever! I’ll never buy another mattress ever. No hammocking whatsoever even after 7 years!!!

  2. I really liked your video and wish I had seen it sooner.
    I got so mad at my husband for not cleaning g anything and then at myself for slacking off. If I had just talked to him or picked up my half,then maybe I might still be married and not get so frustrated about the housework. I procrastinate a lot and then I feel horrible after.
    Thanks for posting these videos.
    How do you clean baking sheets and pans?

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