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Friday 27 August 2010

Guest blogger: Mia Freedman on "The clean freak vs the messy pig. A story of domestic hell."

Never has a column resonated so much with me as this one. As I read my Sunday papers and came across Mia Freedman's column in the Sun-Herald 'Sunday Life' magazine I sat there, newspaper sections strewn everywhere, mouth agape.

This is a story about a messy pig versus a clean freak. They live together. Maybe they have children (cough, maybe even twins... perhaps). But the clean freak is not the wifey. Oh no, it is Mr OCD, I-will-move-anything-I-want-and-may-even-throw-it-out-husband.

Okay, so I am not talking about the column anymore; I am talking about my husband and I. I read parts of the column to said hubby. He didn't even flinch. He knew I was talking about him and I.

My friend sent around a fun chain email last week about lessons men need to be taught. It included points about men not changing toilet rolls, and men leaving socks on the floor and wet towels in bathroom, and dishes in the sink.

No. No. And no. Does not happen in this house. Ever. Hubby is neat and tidy, sometimes annoyingly so. His way of living creates an environment where the other half cannot slip. Cannot leave a spoon in the sink. To his credit, he never huffs and puffs about it, never makes a scene, but sometimes, when the tiny pile of papers in the garage need to be rifled through and dumped in the recycle bin, it's an all out war. I am not even kidding.

And hello, it's not like I am messy. Okay, so I hoard magazines. And I am emotionally attached to certain things. And certain clothes. But I don't leave shit everywhere. Ask my friends, they'll tell you.

The good thing is that living with someone who is an opposite kinda makes you up your game and want to improve yourself. Likewise, I should hope I am helping hubby relax a little. Hope being the operative word.

I won't deny living with a clean freak has huge benefits. Before you know it, that job you hate? Done. There is lots to love about that. Hubby makes my life so much easier in so many ways. He helps free up my time to write, and spend time with the kids, and do all the nice stuff in life. I adore that. And, may I add, he never cooks. Only I do. Not sure what relevance that has here, but perhaps I am keen to let you know that yes, I am still a domestic goddess. Just not a fully fledged, Bree-from-'Desperate Housewives' freak. Thank the Lord.

Here is the column by Mia. Have a read and I would love to hear if you can see yourself in this piece.

"Listen carefully. Can you hear the sound of fighting across our wide brown land? These are not disputes about politics or religion. Nor are they about asylum seekers or immigration or whether the burqa should be banned.

The arguments you can hear are about leaving teabags in the sink. And dropping wet towels on the bed. About a new bottle of milk being opened before the last one is finished. And leaving lights on when you leave a room. Not replacing toilet rolls when they run out. And the right way to stack the dishwasher and squeeze a toothpaste tube. They’re about putting whites in with colours. And leaving doors open and toilet seats up. About not wiping up toast crumbs AND LEAVING THE CEREAL BOX OPEN SO THE SULTANA BRAN GOES STALE, DAMN YOU.

These are the big issues of domestic life and they’re tearing happy households apart. It doesn’t matter whether you live with your spouse, friend, defacto, children, parents or flatmate, there are always petty home dramas that niggle. Chief among them are issues of tidiness because it’s statistically impossible for everyone in a house to share the same mess threshold.

There’s something about living with other people that calibrates your tidiness against each other and assigns one person the role of Clean Freak (aka The Nag) and someone else the role of Messy Pig (aka The Nagged).

Notice how both terms are pejorative? This is because each party sees the other as abnormal, tiresome and a big fat punish.

It’s a widely held misconception that clean freaks are female. Wrong. I live with a Domestic God and I don’t say that to brag. It’s hell. My husband may not be able to bake but he is a very tidy guy. Organised too. I am neither tidy nor organised domestically and this causes many problems. For him. But for me too. May I please speak up on behalf of messy people and state it’s not fun to be constantly told how to be less messy.

I am often baffled by this turn of events because honestly, I used to be the tidy one. In past lives with past boyfriends and flatmates, I have done plenty of bitching about wet towels and carelessly strewn teabags. Plenty. Similarly, my husband has been the messy one in his past.

So how did we get here?"

To read the rest of this piece, go here.

Thanks to Mia for permission to reproduce this excerpt.


  1. Love it and can relate - I've been on both sides - now tending more to untidy organisation .... that's my story and I'm sticking to it !!

  2. Oooh, "untidy organisation". Can I steal that one? Thank you! x