You Asked: Can I Force Them to Clean?

Dear Sugar,

I live with my boyfriend and his brother, mostly for financial reasons. If I had the money, I'd live just with my boyfriend. Kris, who is 26, just moved out from his mother's house. He's a very nice guy but he is the baby of the family. His mother always cleaned up after him, cooked for him often, did his laundry, cleaned his room on occasion, kept the kitchen clean, did his dishes, the works. Now that we all live together, I find that Kris doesn't do a very good job of cleaning up after himself. I'm not perfect, believe me, and neither is my boyfriend, but when the trash is full, I don't think that it's common sense, or very nice, to just pile things on top of the lid rather than take the trash five feet to the garage!


I am the only person in the house who puts my dishes in the dishwasher, turns it on when it's full, and empties it when they're clean. I've avoided doing it occasionally to see who will do it without my asking, and neither of them will step up to the plate. The dishes will pile in the sink while the dishwasher is full either with dirty or clean dishes. If I ask my boyfriend to do it, he'll complain about my "nagging." Finally, the kitchen will get so disgusting that Kris will call their mother and she'll drive the 20 miles to our place and clean it up for them.

The main problem is that I find it offensive that their mother, my potential mother-in-law, still babies them. I feel like this is our house, I live here too, and that the people who live here should take care of it and come to an agreement. I can't really put into words WHY I find it offensive that she cleans up after them, but in some ways I feel like she's looking down on me as a bad "woman" because I'm not doing a good enough job at keeping a clean house. My boyfriend thinks I'm crazy for feeling this way yet doesn't do anything to chip in. How can I convey to them how I feel? Am I really just acting crazy? Please help! — Living with Two Slobs Tommye

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Dear Living with Two Slobs Tommye —

When you share living space with someone, it's imperative to be respectful of your roommates, and it sounds like your boyfriend and his brother are just so used to someone picking up after them that they don't know the basic fundamentals of cohabitating. With that said, you need to lay down the law ASAP. Living together before marriage is a good way to get a glimpse into the future, so set your ground rules now before it's too late.

If I were you, I would call for a house meeting and suggest hiring a maid immediately. If you split the cost three ways, it can't be all that expensive and it will eliminate the "nagging" that your boyfriend feels and the frustration you feel about the boys being slobs. To maintain a clean house, I would also fairly assign chores and make sure they understand how important it is to respect each other's living space.

You are not crazy for feeling the way you do and I happen to think it's completely inappropriate that their mother still cleans up after them. She certainly isn't doing them any favors by continuing to baby them. Hopefully, once the maid comes on a weekly basis and everyone pitches in accordingly, you will be future mother-in-law free and living in a clean house before you know it. If they aren't willing to change their lazy ways, you're going to be better off living on your own. Good luck!

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