Setting An Example
This really is not that serious an issue, however it is one that is very difficult for me to deal with. I remarried 5 years ago to a man who runs his own business from home. He has his office on the same floor as my two son's bedrooms (ages 16 and 13) and the most commonly used bathroom, by family and guests. His office is a disorganized pig sty. Papers are ankle deep on the floor, there are dozens of coffee cups scattered, the dust is so thick in some areas I could scoop it up and in general he rarely can find things, bills and important papers are buried and it is an embarrassment to the rest of our home. I knew before we married that this was how his office looked at the home he had, and I explained to him very seriously that I could not live with or tolerate that kind of disaster in our home. He reassured me it would not be a problem. He is well meaning and I hear him say "I have to clean up my office" but it never happens. And guess what I do for a living? I own a housecleaning business! I have bargained, pleaded, hired an office organizer, paid for part-time office help and yet it still remains in chaos. So, now I ignore it / told him he has to hire his own secretary and insist that the room's door remain closed at all times. But, there are instances when we have people over and I am rushing up the stairs ahead of them to make sure the door is closed. I am quite fortunate that for the most part when the kids are asked to tidy their rooms that they do it, however they will often say "what about Steve, how can you get on our case when his office looks like that?" Steve is also quite good at taking things out around the house and leaving them there until I point out that they need to be dealt with. I generally say that the way Steve functions in his office is his issue and that I still have a say with the boys and how they keep their rooms ( or others around the house). But, Steve is losing creditability with them because of his sloppy habits. Any suggestions how I can get through to my husband that it is imperative that he set an examle for his step-kids (oh and by the way their own dad is a neat freak!)
Hubby needs help of the psychological type, not the secretarial. That level of sloppiness is something a psychologist or psychiatrist should evaluate since it may indicate disorders that are treatable, such as Attention Deficit Disorder (yes adults get that too). Or his behavior may suggest some psychic conflict to be addressed in therapy. Softly point out to him that since he's unable to do a thing he claims he wants to do (maintain order), then it's time to see a specialist.
The good news is that while your kids may try and use him as an excuse to not be orderly, their step-father's disorganization actually serves as a great teacher when they see the prices he pays for being a slob.
Beyond all else, try and keep a sense of humor. Yes, being a slob is not a good thing, but it is also not the worst thing. Be sure to not let that one issue start to hurt your relationship by letting it become the relationship. Find the good things about Hubby and remind him (and you) of those as well.
Being a Felix Unger to my wife's Oscar Madison (The Odd Couple), we have a phrase for each other when we're driving each other nuts: "You make me crazy! I love you to death!"
Dr. Mike Bradley
Dear Doc Bradley,
I should have replied earlier, but the day after receiving your response to my issue regarding my husbands disaster of an office...well, my husband asked me where he could go to find packing boxes. If we didn't have our own computers I'd of sworn that he had read this forum. He started to clean up his office (mind you the piles that were on his desk and floor were and still are in those boxes) BUT the office has stayed tidy and I'm not afraid to leave the door open anymore. He said that he should never let it get that way again. This, after almost 5 years! Wow! Do you have some unique transcending powers that I am unaware of? But thank you too, for your perspective on the situation. You are so right. We must keep our sense of humour in our marriages, if not we will literally go mad with the things that drive us bonkers. Thank you again for your personal response, I valued it.