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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My wife cannot take any feedback or suggestions. She says that I am overstepping my boundaries. In our family we have an agreement: each member of the family has their own field that they work on. It's a division of labor. My fields are career, studying, finances, documents, taxes, car, and anything related to the computer. Her fields are cooking, kitchen, gardening (although more like a 50/50 split for me), cleaning, laundry, organization of the house. Each one of us is supposed to stick to their own field only and not step into the other person's field.

My problem is that I am stepping into her field. Let me explain. I would have liked to offer feedback or suggestions to my wife about how I think certain things should be done. For example I have always had an eye for organization and neatness around the house. I personally like to look up life hacks on the internet, small tips and things that would enable our household to be more organized and efficient. I have a full time computer job, which necessitates extra studying outside of work during my own free time, and also I manage all the computer related things in the family, and because everything is in electronic format these days, I also manage all finances, banking, insurance, and other documents. So as you can imagine, I do not have any time to implement my ideas about how I think our household should be organized. My wife manages that field.

The thing is that I have many ideas about how things should be done differently. For example, my wife often leaves used paper towels, utensils, plates, plastic bags, bottles, egg cartons, vegetables and pieces of vegetables, and other odds and ends ... scattered around the kitchen, and all on the two tables that we have in our living room/dining room, and on the coffee table. She just haphazardly takes things and places them just where ever. I don't like it because, according to me at least, the entire place looks like a mess. I think that each thing needs to have it's permanent place. For example all the egg cartons should be together in one place, all the root vegetables together in a box, plastic bags should be sorted into three groups: completely unopened, opened and used but "clean", opened and used but stained with food, etc. I just don't like that there is a sweet potato, a bread in a package, used coffee mugs, glasses, and scissors lying around on the coffee table.

The same picture is duplicated almost in every room, except for my home office, which I keep in an organized state because that's my domain. I particularly do not like the picture that we have in the garage. My wife goes shopping and comes back with grocery bags. She unloads the grocery bags from the car, puts them next to the car in the garage, and just leaves them there. We have two small utility tables in the garage, and often there are vegetables, various containers with processed foods, lying on the tables scattered about in between the tools that I use to fix the car. Sometimes I find the vegetables in various states of decomposition.

I have been holding back all my irritation inside of myself, and showing a content face, for a very long time now. I pretend that the problem doesn't exist. This is because my wife simply cannot take any feedback. I do not criticize her or call her names. I just say "it would be good if you could do this", or "this should be done". The thing is, every time I tell her that, she gets super defensive. I cannot make any slightest subtle implication that she we are unorganized! She is super insecure and allergic to feedback. I cannot tell her that she is doing something wrong, I cannot tell her that she would do otherwise, or she explodes. I mean that we get into an argument that lasts for days. It isn't worth the lost time, it isn't worth the nerves, it isn't worth the fallen productivity. So actually attempting to give her constructing feedback would be counter productive. I cannot tell her what to do.

Fine, if she doesn't want to listen to me, if she doesn't want to do what I say, I take the problem into my own hands. For me it doesn't matter whose fault is it. It may not be my fault, but it is my responsibility to clean this mess up. It is my house after all. So I myself take items and start putting them into labeled containers. But no, that triggers her even worse. She grabs the items out of my hands, yells at me. She says that I am overstepping my boundaries, which is true, but someone has to do it. If she doesn't want to do it, why she doesn't want to let me do it? She tells me that if I want to organize the room a bit, then I will have to do everything, all the chores by myself. She would leave if I would be overstepping my boundaries.

I can't do everything by myself. I work as a web developer. For anyone who isn't familiar with this profession, the amount of knowledge that a web developer has to know in order to perform their job, is comparable to a doctor or a physicist. One has to know five different programming languages just in order to get a job, so many codes to memorize! In fact in web development new frameworks are often produced, so we have to learn them as well, which means that unlike a doctor or a physicist, the web developer's old knowledge quickly becomes outdated and expired. I work remotely at a startup, and they expect me to put in a ton of time and effort to work on the projects. Sometimes I have to juggle as many as three different projects. That is just working on projects. Outside of working hours, often well into the night, I study the programming languages and frameworks that I have to know, I try hard to fill in my many knowledge gaps that I have about the subjects. I am a major computer nerd, and I love studying. I put my everything into my career. I use my free time for going through various courses on LinkedIn learning and Pluralsight. I eat in my home office at my desk, and I watch lectures on YouTube.

So as you would imagine, while I can devote a small amount of time to work around the house, there is simply no way that I can do everything by myself. And my wife prevents me from even doing a small amount of work around the house, because then I would be reaching into her field. And everything has to go through her. I have to ask her just to get some snack out of the fridge. Even though I am a master at self-control, internally just walking around the house and seeing the different items just lying around haphazardly irritates me. I love organization but I love my wife even more, and I just avoid even bringing up the subject in conversations because I do not want to trigger another argument. Everything runs more or less smoothly as long as I ignore this concern.

But I feel helpless and depressed. I don't know how to make a move without triggering. I can't get the outcome that I want. I can't get the household to look exactly as I want it to. I like to feel as the "big man", as the master of the household. Am I overreacting? Am I a control freak?

Looking logically at the situation, if we ignore the unaesthetic disorganized look and feel of the rooms, nothing is really all that bad. Even if some vegetables inadvertently do get lost or go bad, it's a neglectable thing, it's an expense not even a dent in my salary. She does everything for me, that I do not have time for. I do not have to worry about preparing food, washing the floor, washing laundry clothes, she takes care of it all. Which frees up all my free time in order to study my programming languages and become a better web developer. It's good because I really enjoy learning. She is a really good chef too. So I have the say in large, strategic career and financial decisions, but I have to give in the small things every day. I repeat, as long as I continue to ignore the unpleasant (for me) situation, everything just works smoothly. Should I just throw it out of my mind?
 

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I don't get the groceries being removed from the bags in the garage. Why not carry the bags into the kitchen and put the goods where they belong?

Sorry to say, your wife is a disorganized slob.

As for you keeping all of the finance data to yourself, do not do that. If something were to happen to you, your wife would be lost. She needs to be regularly involved in all aspects. Give up some control.
 

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In the nicest possible way, you stress me out. She is not organised, you are. Let it be.

We have a similar setup, it’s human nature sometimes... we venture into eachother’s domain. We always step back because you know what they say, too many cooks spoil the broth.

Appreciate her messiness, sometimes the little things become bigger things and one person snaps and leaves. Or life happens, things end, people get sick, pass away.

I spent years yelling at my family to pick up towels and socks and put their plates away. And then one day when I was home alone it hit me - what if I lost them all and I had that tidy house?

I pick up that messy crap with a full heart now.
 

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She sounds like a rat, leaving vegetables laying around the garage and house in various stages of rot. And, you can't even have a discussion about it because she has issues with communication.

I don't know how you live like that. It sounds highly unusual.

I don't think this is going to change. Was she always this weird about leaving food items scattered about the house?
 

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Wow, I just read the line that she has control of the house and you need to ASK her if you are going to get a snack out of the fridge.

Some of this sounds like twilight zone living.
 

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Wow, I just read the line that she has control of the house and you need to ASK her if you are going to get a snack out of the fridge.

Some of this sounds like twilight zone living.
It smacks of power dynamics. She isn't allowed to know anything about the 'man's domain' (which is unwise) so she's going to the extreme for payback. Wonder who will call Uncle first?
 

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My comments are not meant to be rude, but they will sound that way. You sound like the IT people at my company and the ones I know. You are just SO busy doing SO many things that you actually love doing. Your "fields" are the ones you want, that you chose, and that you think are important. Each day is a new challenge, and you're up for it. So while you're swamped with work, your wife is taking care of the boring, laborious tasks of keeping the house clean. It's just not clean to your specifications. Get over it. Get over being so self-important with your "demanding" IT responsibilities. (I've developed software in a former life.) There are a LOT more demanding careers than being a web developer. I have several working for me.

You neglected to mention whether she has a job outside of the home. How many kids do you have? How many hours per day do you play video games? How's the love life?

Keep your area spotless and organized and leave the rest alone. If there's something you can do, such as throw trash in the trash can, do it.
 

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I absolutely hate housekeeping, but I won't leave vegetables in the garage and you won't see a sweet potato on my coffee table.

Your post makes me feel good about the state of my house! LoL!

What does your wife do outside the house? Does she work?

I kinda have the same agreement in my house. I work part time and I'm in charge of the cleaning, cooking, kids stuff, groceries. Some days I'm busy at work and my house is a wreck. My kids should be helping more, I'm tired of repeating directions, I just end up doing all the chores myself.

I don't like things out of place either. I can't imagine having a vegetable on the coffee table, that is hard for me to understand.

Leaving stuff in random places makes me think of someone who has ADD. What's your wife's train of thought when she leaves vegetables in the garage? Why not bringing them to the kitchen and unload the bags there? How is she in other areas of her life?

Why do you have to ask if you want a snack out of the fridge? What are you, a five year old? Does she tell you to close the fridge as well?

Your dynamics are so weird.
 

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Time to reorganize.

With the both of you in separate lives, no longer married.

I think your wife does these messy things out of spite.

You burned up any neat freak she might have had.

I see your OCD battling her ADD.

And her obvious anxiety depression.
 

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Is this the same wife you mentioned in a previous post wiping things down with hydrogen peroxide? But now she’s really messy? 🧐
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The issue is that she cannot accept any feedback at all. It's frustrating that I cannot tell her anything, I cannot point out anything, I cannot imply that she is doing something wrong. She is simply unable to accept even constructive criticism, spoken even in the most gentle manner. She is unable to be even told where she is wrong, unable to be told how something should be done differently.

She treats any suggestion that I may bring up as an insult, as if I know better, that would imply that she isn't right, that it would be a dent on her dignity and self-worth. She simply cannot be wrong.

After not mentioning the garage thing for more than a month, after I assumed that any negativity would have been defused by now, I decided to casually bring it up again in a totally unrelated discussion. I said very softly, with the intention of explaining that there exists a problem, why I think it should be solved, and my suggestions about how to solve it. I said like I want to help you or let's do this together. I said that we have this thing here. I didn't blame her or anything like that, I didn't shine the spotlight on her specifically. I didn't even mention whose fault is it, because I'm not concerned about whose fault, I only want things to go into their proper places. I mean nothing personal with it.

Well, it was not good. She recognized that I was bringing that specific issue up. She got extremely upset because she thought that I was blaming her, but I'm not, I'm trying to help. She said that I wanted to hurt her, that I was getting back at her for when she blamed me for something stupid I did the other day. Yes, I did do that stupid thing and deserved her scolding 100%. But no, I absolutely did not intend to get back at her for that, or make her feel bad, I just intended to sneak around her usual defensiveness and solve the issue. She says that I brought it up because I'm running on feelings. It seems that I just couldn't fly my idea under the radar.

In the long run, if she is doing anything wrong and she cannot get people to tell her that, she might potentially get burned by that. She grew up in a dysfunctional household and her parents very harshly criticised her on just about everything, so she has a lot of insecurities. Which leads to her criticising me for anything I do that she does not like, but absolutely unable to accept any feedback, no matter how skillfully constructed. I kinda feel lonely when she does that. My words do not find their destination.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Is this the same wife you mentioned in a previous post wiping things down with hydrogen peroxide? But now she’s really messy? 🧐
We have different definitions of clean. My definition is neat, and organized, without any visible spots or blemishes. Her definition is lack of germs.
 

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I started skimming this and got to the part where you began comparing a web developer to a physicist and then I tapped out.

You need to learn to give up control. Relax. Take a deep breath.

My wife keeps the house very untidy and I’m not allowed to arrange it. But I love her. So you know what I did? I got over it while she was still my girlfriend before I married her because I wanted to be with her even if she keeps piles of junk mail for some inexplicable reason. It’s part of who she is, and it’s not worth fighting about.
 

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Your 'feedback' is probably constant nagging. That's the only reason I would think she tires of it. I had the same issue with my husband. Got old real quick. If that's her field, leave her to it. You delegated tasks and you'll have to accept what she does.
 

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You need a third-party mediator. You two are completely incompatible.
 
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