Monday, December 13, 2010

Happiness is: The Designated Control Freak Rule

This rule says, basically, whoever cares enough to want it is in charge of making it happen. 

In our house, there's rarely a dispute over who is in charge of what.  Now this could be because my partner is wonderfully laid back and patient, so he may just not be telling me when my skimping on the vaccuuming bothers him.  Or it could be because of the way the chores have settled between us. 

We discovered fairly early on that a neat, clean house was more important to him than it was to me.  I enjoy a clean house, but it isn't as high a priority on my time and energy as many other things.  I've always operated on the "blitz" method, where I periodically decide I'm sick of the mess and take an entire day to deep clean.  He's much better at daily ongoing maintenance of a clean house, and I'm learning to adapt to his better cleaning habits.

But there's no "if you love me you'll do the laundry this way because you know it's important to me" passive-aggressive nonsense. He knows that I'll put off laundry until I'm actually out of underwear (and even then sometimes I'll wash one pair in the sink rather than do a load).  I will also habitually leave most of the clean clothes in the basket until I've worn it all again, rather than put them away.  He has fewer clothes than I do and is much more concerned about how they're cleaned and put away.  One way he could theoretically handle this conflict of priorities would be to stand on "your turn" principles, nag me about getting it done, then get disgruntled if I don't do it "correctly".  Under the designated control freak rule, he simply does the laundry.  This may mean more work for him, but it means less nagging, conflict, and aggrieved but ultimately pointless discussions about when to add the fabric softener.  It means more peace and fewer resentments. He considers that a win-win situation.

Of course this can't work one-way.  There has to be give and take between adults, and some personal responsibility.  If one person is doing all the work then the couple or group may need to consider whether their needs and priorities are compatible.  And, of course, while it's generally good to give kids some choice in which chores they're in charge of, giving them full freedom to do nothing hasn't ever worked to my knowledge.

So my partner does the laundry and dishes.  He also wears shoes in the house and I like to go barefoot, so I'm in charge of vaccuuming.  It bothers me more to feel "grit" on the carpet. That's my Designated Control Freak.  I also like to dust, so that's mine.  I'm a germaphobe and actually like the smell of bleach, so the bathroom's mine as well.  He works at home during most days and hates looking at clutter, so general "picking up" usually happens before I get home from the office. 

I suppose you could argue that we're lucky in a lot of ways.  After all, our Designated Control Freaks don't conflict that often and we're able to settle it pretty amicably when it does.  We've made sure to "check in" periodically to make sure we both feel like we're contributing equally and the burden isn't all one direction.  It ends up working out according to our cleaning habits; he does the daily tasks and I do the periodic ones that can be moved a few days in either direction.  Win-Win.

Designated Control Freak comes down to personal priorities.  Is having something done a certain way more important than arbitrary divisions of labor?  Do you get more peace of mind doing it "correctly" yourself, for yourself, then trying to get someone else to do it for you?  Then consider simply doing for yourself, and find some peace of mind in the process.


Notblueatall said...

I think you just described my style of housekeeping to a T! Glad to know I'm not the only one. =0)

Karen said...

Not sure this is an active site, but I've enjoyed reading this in the past (when I considered this way of eating for my two sons).