Carolyn Hax is away. The following first appeared Jan. 9 and 23, 2005.
My boyfriend and I have been together for 4 1/2 years, living together for one. He is super-super neat and clean, and I am, admittedly, a slob. He knew all of this before we moved in together, said he didn’t mind in the least. I made sure to confirm that several times before the big move.
Now, a year later, he is saying how much he is bothered by the chaos. I understand this, and I truly do make an effort, but I just don’t have the clean gene. Now he is getting upset about this, but so am I, since I confirmed several times last year that he knew I was like this and it wasn’t going to bother him.
We are getting engaged and this is our one big issue. Can’t afford a maid. Who’s in the right?
— Sooo Not a Domestic Goddess
So I get to dispense blame? Cool.
OK. He’s wrong for changing the terms of a deal when he was fully informed when he made it and none of the facts have since changed.
There! Now your filth won’t annoy him.
You’re arguing a point that’s totally beside the point now. Which means you’re wrong, too — for debating fairness while the laundry piles up.
Yes, you had a deal. But what good is a year-old deal if he sees now, as your actual roommate, what he didn’t before — that he does, in fact, mind the mess? He thought he could handle it, he can’t, it’s bad, but it’s done, so move on from the right vs. wrong thing.
What you move on to is figuring out a practical solution that’s built on mutual acceptance that neither of you is going to change. Either you develop a system you both can live with — e.g., he cleans up after you, in return you pay bills and grocery shop and do other annoying chores that don’t require neatness — or you scrounge the money for a housekeeper, or you go your loving but separate ways.
A friend I grew up with is getting married this summer. I’m in the wedding party. She’s having a bachelorette party in a middle-of-nowhere resort town 2.5 hours away. I’m expected to be able to take off work as well as rent an expensive cabin. I stated my stance: supporting her decision, but regretting I would not be able to attend. I also offered alternatives that would still enable us to spend time together even if I was absent from the actual event.
Now I have been deemed “less of a friend” because I am not going. Am I a bad friend or is this a bad idea?
— Bachelorette Regret
There’s nothing wrong with the idea of an elaborate out-of-town party, and there’s nothing wrong with the friend who declines to go. Your regrets were just fine.
What counts as a bad idea — and bad friendship — is enforcing attendance at an elaborate out-of-town party as if it’s required by law. Anytime you ask guests to travel and spend, you have to expect that some, if not most, will refuse. You may have shared a childhood with this girl, but you’re too kind to suggest she grew up.