Many parents advise their children to wait to get married and then live with their spouses. It’s “moral” in some cultures and preferable to many. Those old fashioned values are endearing and well, very unrealistic. Living with someone after marriage is the same as buying a car before test driving it. Then as I grew older, and by the time I really wanted to be with someone, my mother would say, “Live with them first!” She would say this especially if she did not like the person I was interested in. She wanted me to see the ‘real’ person I was in love with. She wanted me to see their messy life - (in all aspects). I’m glad she said that because I really did come to find out the one person I fell in love with years ago was a total slob at home. Though I didn’t live with her, I was there 24/7. I would come home before she did and find piles and piles of dirty dishes in the sink. My OCD flared up like an atomic bomb. All I kept thinking was how many rats and cockroaches were hiding behind the cabinets, lurking, stalking me, waiting for their next grilled cheese fix. When my girlfriend came home, she found me scrubbing and washing her dishes. “Why are you doing that? You don’t have to do that, Deb!” I just looked at her and said, “Yes, I do.” Then I thought about all the dishes piled up and asked her, “What did you make last night?” And she nonchalantly said, “Oh that was grilled cheese from last week, and that pot over there was from a sauce I made last Wednesday.” Just horrifying.
Another grim time that I recall is when I went to her house early with one of our mutual friends. We were all going to go out to dinner together. When I opened the door, there were dirty underwear scattered right on the living room floor, blouses left hanging off the beautiful sofas and a trail of socks, shoes and whatever she threw along the way in the corridor heading into her bedroom. “I’m so sorry about this, can you sit out on the patio for just a few minutes?” I asked, hoping my friend didn’t think this was my mess. In fact, my friend knows how much of a clean freak I am. Thankfully it was a beautiful summer evening. I went in and cleaned up the best I could and then went into the bathroom to discover another disgusting mess. The toilet wasn’t flushed, tissues were all over the floor missing the trash can and her makeup was scattered around the sink with bits of powder from her blush everywhere. Wet towels were thrown in the corner, leaving it smelling like wet dog and clumps of hair had built a dam around the drain, preventing water from going down. I had to get the big guns for this and threw everything in the washing machine and cleaned up with a bleach substance. It was a forensic crime scene. I then shuffled into the kitchen to discover another disaster which I had to clean up. Who leaves food out? Throw it out if you’re not going to eat it! Gross. It was at that moment when I heard my mother’s words, “Live with her first!” And she was so right. I was so disgusted by the way she lived that I was 50% out of the relationship at that point, when in fact, before I discovered her way of living, I was 99.9% in. I made every excuse not to be with her after that day and our relationship dwindled little by little, leaving ‘other’ problems to be the reasoning for our breakup. I felt as though she was 'dirty' herself.
So Deb’s advice for the day is-- live with them first! It’s advice I will never forget. I am so glad that I'm married to someone as freaked out about bugs, dirt and germs as I am. We have the same core values and cleanliness which I thank the Gods for. Even watching that show, Hoarders: Buried Alive makes me so itchy. How can people live in such messy environments? When I walk into someone’s home and it’s a complete mess, I automatically think they don’t respect their home or themselves, and perhaps they’re severely depressed. There are times when I go through a depression and my home isn’t so clean and tidy. So I understand the occasional mess once in a while - but to live like that 24/7? That’s an emotional problem that needs to be addressed. I’m glad my mother always reiterated the ‘move in before you marry’ bit, because I would have had a lot more on my plate than I do today. Oh I feel a huge cliche coming on... Everything happens for a reason.
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