Oh boy! It doesn’t matter if you are married, have children, are living with room mates or sharing a dorm, because in every situation where two people cohabitate and share the same space, the argument of who does things better is bound to come up. It’s as old a battle as whether the egg or the chicken came first. And worse, no matter how long two (or more) people are battling out the right and wrong way to fold clothes, it is sure to lead to disagreement. And arguments. And resentment.
So what is a couple to do? The easy ticket is the next time your wife (or husband) stands over you scratching their head, wondering where you got the idiotic idea to roll towels rather than actually fold them before putting them in the linen closet – is to say, “If you don’t like the way I do it, then do it yourself!” This way, you take away all ammunition they have to criticize your technique. On another positive note, you give yourself a great hall pass to getting out of things that you likely didn’t want to do anyway, using your partner as the excuse.
The problem is that this aggressive stance on the issue will not solve problems and will more definitely make more as time goes on. And really, does it really matter how towels are folded? If you think about some of the things two people find to disagree about (and start arguments over), it becomes obvious that the issues at hand may not be the issues at heart.
Of course, when people live with others, regardless of whether they are married, close friends or family members – you open up the household to more options as the right way to do nearly every little task. Chances are you cook and prepare a meal differently than the people you live with. Maybe you clean up as you go, while your spouse likes to pile the kitchen sink high as possible and clean up (or not) once the meal has been enjoyed. If you always put your shoes in their appropriate place the minute you walk inside, it is certain to annoy you that others you live with leave them in the middle of the room. If you like to use bleach in the toilet but your partner thinks pine-sol is better, disagreements can arise.
Under a magnifying glass, the issue of disagreeing HOW to do things, is really about someone having a ‘my way or the highway,’ approach to life. And yes, there are millions and millions of these strong-willed Type-A folks in this world – who truly believe that they have found the best technique and way to do everything. If you live with one of these people, your efforts to get things done around the house will feel like a mission to pass some sort of imaginary test. After a while, it is only natural to get annoyed and to feel like you are being treated like a child. Next step is to throw up your hands and give all responsibility to that other person.
As for the Type A nut case you live with (and this is meant lovingly of course), they truly do believe heart and soul that their way is best. They likely take on too much responsibility for everything around the home, and feel the need to micromanage. Psychologists say that this has more to do with control, than about how towels are folded. These types of people like to be in the driver seat, because they are living with deep-seated fears, and often an inflexible attitude. Some of it, quite simply – has to do with genetics and personality types. Likely, if you were perceptive before you shacked up with them, you noticed these hardheaded traits. Maybe even respected them for it.
So what is the right way to deal when two people disagree about the right and wrong way to do things?
Compromise! Compromise! Compromise!
The most important thing to remember is that BOTH of you are adults. Sure, you have different ways of doing things, but that doesn’t mean that one of you is always right while the other is always wrong. Instead, try to sit down and calmly discuss the way you feel being berated and the way the criticizer feels when they think things aren’t going well. Then, come up with lists of chores that enable both of you to capitalize on your strengths. Try to make things as even as possible. For instance if one partner seems to handle the outside work better than another does, then allow them to take charge of that domain. If the other person is better at keeping the house organized, then that will be their realm of duty. And furthermore if you have a partner that is never pleased with your methods or efforts, then simply allow them to take them over. Just discuss it before hand so it doesn’t look like you are simply escaping responsibility. Often, they might be relieved to hear that your days in the kitchen are numbered.
However, the two of you also have to learn that it is sometimes okay, and best – to let go of the logistics on how things are done and run, and just be glad that they are done. If you have the tendency to go behind the people in your home and redo what they do, you are sending a pretty clear message that you don’t think their ideas are as valuable as yours. And likewise, if you fishbowl yourself because you are sick of being critiqued about how you do things, you are setting a foundation of resentment in the relationship.
Relationships, whether romantic or otherwise, take 2 people to stake their energy into respect first and foremost. If, and when respect is absent, the relationship will never be healthy or last. Now ask yourself, is it really worth ending things because of how towels are handled post washing machine and dryer?