A Sobering Letter to the Wife With the Filthy House | Imperfect Homemaker

A Sobering Letter to the Wife With the Filthy House

“Is a filthy house grounds for divorce?”  

Someone's husband found one of my blog posts by googling that phrase.  Isn't that sad?

He ended up leaving a comment and further expressing his frustrations. He noted that normally you think of the wife as the one who is always cleaning up behind her family, but in his case he was always cleaning up behind his wife.

He hated the fact that he had even done such a search, but he was just beyond frustrated with the horribly messy home he had to come home to every day.

He said his wife would move heaven and earth to get the house clean before guests showed up, but every other day it was a pig sty.  He also made sure to note that he does a lot of cleaning around the house to help her, but she never seemed to do her part to keep it that way.  She was embarrassed if someone else saw her house all dirty, but she didn't care if her husband saw it that way.  He admitted that perhaps a messy house bothered him too much – that maybe he was being a little OCD, but he really was just wishing that his wife would put a little more effort into keeping things clean and tidy.

Now, I have no idea who this man is or what their marriage is like.  I don't know how good of a job he is doing at communicating his needs to his wife.  He does have a responsibility to be honest with her and tell her in a kind and gentle way how much the state of the house bothers him and affects his mood when he comes home after a long day at work.  I'm not negating that he has a responsibility to help resolve the conflict.

(And if you're Mr. Clean married to Mrs. Messy, stay tuned because my husband and I are working together to share some ideas for your situation.  Perhaps she's trying harder than you realize or she may even be suffering from depression and not even know it – depression sometimes shows up as apathy. Whatever the case, we are working on resources to help you work through this together.)

But this particular article isn't for the husbands; it's for the wives.

So if you are that wife whose husband might feel so depressed inside your messy home that he is googling about whether to divorce you over it, it's time to wake up.

It's time to pull yourself out of your funk and do something about this problem.

A Sobering Letter to the Wife With the Filthy House | Christian Homemaking

I know some of the things you are thinking right now.  I know because I am a wife who really struggles with keeping the house clean.  Here are some of the things that are going through your head, and I will acknowledge that some of them may be perfectly legitimate.

“I have a chronic illness which makes it hard to do any physical work.”

“The kids don't help me at all.  They make messes faster than I can clean them up.”

“I never learned how to keep a house clean.”

“He only thinks I don't do any work.  I work hard all day, but at the end of the day it looks like I haven't done a thing.”


As I said before, I completely believe you that some of these statements are true.  But I also know that sometimes laziness is very sneaky.  Can't is a very relative word, and sometimes when you determine in your heart that you can, you will make a way. (Remember the guests?  You can make a way on the non-guest days too.)


If your heart almost stopped when you read that there is a husband out there somewhere who just wants OUT of the mess, and you know it could easily be your husband, read on.

I want to help.

Let's address some of the reasons/excuses for a messy house one by one:

“I have a chronic illness which makes it hard to do any physical work.”
I get it.  I live with this every day of my life.  I've had to learn that when I'm having a good day, I MUST use my time wisely.  If I procrastinate on a job that needs to be done, there is no guarantee I will be able to do it later.  It is also important that you communicate clearly and openly to your husband about your needs.

My husband has asked me to please let him know when I'm having a hard day so that he can at least mentally prepare himself before he comes home.  It is absolutely deflating to him to be all geared up to do something he needs to get done that evening and walk in the door to find out that he has to fold piles of laundry, wash dishes, and help the children clean up whatever messes they made because I am unable to do it.

Also, if you need to accept outside help (volunteered or hired out), don't be too prideful to accept it.  I've had to do this, and I cried (and cried and cried and cried) when the decision was made to get some help.  I felt like such a failure.  But I knew that ultimately for the sanity of my family, I needed help.


“The kids don't help me at all.  They make messes faster than I can clean them up.”
I understand this one too.  Young children don't automatically know how to pick up after themselves.  They have to be taught.  You can't just say “Go clean your room.”  You have to say “Pick up all the dirty clothes.”  “Now put all the race cars in the container.”  And if you don't stay on top of it, things will be a mess all the time.

They need constant supervision.  I try to keep everyone in the same room at all times whenever possible.  It doesn't mean things go perfectly, but I can at least catch my toddler when she's only dumped out half the bag of potato chips instead of the whole thing.  And I can get them swept up before anyone walks all over them and tracks the crumbs throughout the entire house.
Read this article for more help on avoiding children's disasters.


“I never learned how to keep a house clean.”
Then, honey, it's time to learn!  The health of your marriage and the happiness of your family is on the line!  There are multitudes of sites online that will teach you housekeeping basics.  If you don't know where to start, I recommend starting with Flylady's Sink Reflections book.  She has a website too, but it can get very overwhelming very quickly.  If you need something more step-by-step, the book will be a game changer for you.

Sink Reflections - Learn How to Take Control of Your Messy House!


“He only thinks I don't do any work.  I work hard all day, but at the end of the day it looks like I haven't done a thing.”
Once again, I am going to strongly recommend that you get the Sink Reflections book.

If you want to learn how to work effectively and get things done, it will really help you!

The book is based on a baby-steps philosophy, and I am constantly reminding myself of that when I get discouraged about my progress (or lack thereof.)

I may not have the entire house sparkling, but I can have the one area that I have chosen to focus on done.  And when I look at that area I can see that “I did it!” and it only encourages me to get up and keep trying.

This is also another area where communication with your husband is super important.  He needs to know that though you may not be perfect, you are at least trying.  If he feels that you are not even trying, he is going to feel very unloved.  But when he knows that you are working to learn how to be a better housekeeper and to overcome bad habits, he will be encouraged.

Ask him which area he would most like you to focus on.  Does he like a clean bedroom to relax in at night?  Make your main priority every day to keep it tidied up no matter what.  Do crunchy, crumb-infested floors make him cringe and want to scream?  Make it a habit to sweep the floors every day before he comes home.  The rest of the house may still need some help, but he will notice that the areas which bother him the most are clean.  (Which will encourage you too when you feel like you've been working hard but that all he notices is what you didn't do.)


Finally, be honest with yourself.
The things listed above are all circumstantial and don't have much to do with your character.  But you also need to be willing to admit it when your problem is that you are lazy and undisciplined.  It's very possible that you are dealing with a combination of legitimate obstacles and laziness.

Ask God to show you where you are being lazy and don't realize it.

Are you:

  • Browsing Facebook and Pinterest
  • Watching TV
  • Reading a Book
  • Crafting
  • Etc.

all while dirty dishes sit piled in the sink?

I'm not saying you should never take time out of your day to rest.  And the work will honestly never be done.

But deep down inside, you know whether what you're doing at the moment is what you ought to be doing.

Make a list of the absolute must-do priorities that you will promise you'll get done before you sit down to relax.  Here are some of the biggest things that make a house look filthy if they're not done and can create great improvement when you do keep them done:

  • Dishes washed and kitchen tidied (my personal problem area!)
  • Floors swept
  • Laundry going
  • Beds made
  • Clutter put away
  • Focus area cleaned (the one that bothers your husband the most)


In conclusion, let me balance all this out by saying that this post isn't meant to browbeat you and make you sink into despair about your failures.

It's not about perfection.

(If it were, I would still be in big trouble!  I'm very much a work in progress!)

No, it's not about perfection; it's about providing hope for your family.  It's about eliminating the stress and strain between husband and wife and helping you create a game plan for being the good homemaker that
you're wanting to be.


That may mean admitting some hard things and making some difficult changes.

But the end result of bringing peace to your home will be worth it!


Need some more help managing your time and getting more done?  Sign up for the free 5 day time management ecourse!


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