My spouse (28) and I (30) have been married for about 3 years. Everything started out great, as new relationships tend to do. We were happy, in love, and inseparable. I'm not going to sit here and tell you it was the perfect, flawless fairy tale romance straight out of a Disney movie, we had disagreements and life stressors just like every other couple on the planet. But we were happy, and we were perfect together.
We agreed to move in together one summer, after we realized we had spent several months only being separated by work. We talked about it before we moved in, and agreed that one of the top priorities for both of us is being tidy. Both of our parents and most recent serious relationships had left a lot to be desired in the cleanliness department.
So after we moved in together, we made it a point to do all the cooking, laundry, cleaning, etc. together, as sort of a bonding activity. This worked out perfectly for both of us, as the house was always clean and we got to spend quality time together while we did it.
Up until this point, our working hours were pretty similar. We both worked 40+ hours a week, had similar wages, and our shifts were pretty close to the same. Then on days I worked late, they picked up the slack at home, and on days they worked late, I did. It was a great system, and we both felt it worked out fairly.
Then their hours got swapped pretty suddenly, to where they were working overnights, while I was still working days. This left us with only a few hours in the late afternoon to spend together.
Now, their job is a lot more physically demanding than mine, the new hours made it worse, and we suddenly didn't have as much time together, so I offered to keep everything clean during this time. They had never been a messy person, and generally cleaned up after themselves anyway, so the extra load really wasn't bad at all.
After a few months, their schedule went back to normal and all was well with the mental health, it seemed. But I didn't want to immediately start in on the nagging about chores, so I decided to continue to do all of it while they adjusted back to their normal schedule.
A few days, then weeks, then months went by, and I was still doing all of the housework. Again, they're pretty tidy, so it wasn't overly bothersome. But I did finally sit them down for a conversation about it. I asked if we could go back to how we used to do things, where we were doing all of our chores together.
They agreed, and started doing the dishes after I had cooked, but that was about it. I assumed things at work were still stressful, and let it go, since it ultimately wasn't that much extra work anyway.
We got married in autumn the following year. A small wedding with just our officiant and a couple friends, with hopes to have a bigger one when we were able. (looking at you, covid outbreak 2020). We had worked ourselves into a nice little routine at home, and we were happy.
Then they got a promotion at work and a position pretty far from home. Think several thousand km away. My company offered to transfer me as well, since during covid, I was largely work from home anyway. We had a lot of stress associated with the move, but we still found a way to have fun through it.
Shortly after arriving to our new home, I got a pretty bad case of covid, which made me pretty sick and I had to miss a lot of work. I was diagnosed with long covid within a few months. I returned to on-site work as soon as I was able, but my heart and lungs took a pretty heavy hit.
Because of this, I started slacking on the house chores a bit in favor of just resting. About a year went by, and I got a bit better, and started to pick up the housework again. But things had changed. They were no longer cleaning up after themselves, their clothes got thrown on the floor after work, and dishes stayed dirty on the couch until I noticed them.
They would spill things and not clean it up, leaving me to discover it later. At one point, we had a bug infestation because I could not find the source. I sat them down for a conversation, and asked if things could please go back to how they were when we were newlyweds. They gave me the excuse of "I'm just very tired from work and all I want to do at the end of the day is play video games."
Now don't get me wrong, gaming is one of the things we initially bonded over when we first started dating. I love gaming, and we would frequently play together. But this was going from when they got home from work around 1600 to well past 1 or 2 in the morning, without breaks.
More on weekends. I expressed concern over how much this was taking over their life, but all I got in return was "it's the only way I can relax." We got into a pretty big fight over it, until I relented and went back to doing all the housework.
Eventually I got a pretty big promotion that kept me away from home a lot. When I would come home, the house would be a mess. Bottles and cans everywhere, old food in the sink, laundry that had been left unattended for so long, it was starting to smell.
I couldn't keep up. I was so worried this was depression hiding behind work stress, so I urged them to seek some counseling. I told them I loved them and just wanted to see them happy again.
But I was told "no, I don't want to do that. It won't help". I researched depression and things I could do to help. Some things helped a little, but it always went right back to 12+ hours a day on the game, and personal hygiene leaving the building.
Our intimacy has suffered greatly because of it. They complain that they need more intimacy in the marriage, but after working 10 hours a day, coming home and having no help cleaning, with the fear of a fight if I ask for help, I'm just really not in the mood to be touched.
It's been too overwhelming for me to do entirely myself, so as a result, our house is frequently quite messy, and I am constantly on edge over it. It's been a year since that last conversation. We're fighting about chores every day. They tell me they want to be better about it, but just forget when it's time to do their responsibilities.
I offer suggestions and little helpful tips I've learned, and get met with hostility and anger and "you're trying to control me". It's the same cycle over and over again. I try to find something that works for us both, they get mad, I relent. They apologize and say they want to be better, and then they do a load of laundry, or clear the sink of dishes. Things are okay for a day or two. Then back again to nothing.
Today I went into the bathroom to find a half used roll of toilet paper sitting on the counter top, instead of on the holder 10cm away, something I've asked them not to do many times before. I broke down and got so mad. I told them I couldn't live like this anymore, and I needed some space to consider everything.
They got quiet and sad, and told me they really were trying, and didn't know what more they could do. It was a very emotional conversation, and now I'm left feeling like the AH for blowing up and wanting to leave over something as stupid as house chores.
NTA. Ask them what ideas they have to help them “remember” to do their chores. “I’m trying” may be true, but it’s also not measurable. Ask them what actual concrete steps they’re taking to show you they mean what they say.
NTA. They can remember to pick up their game controller and play a game so the memory excuse is total BS. They got used to you doing all the work and liked it.
Funny how in the beginning remembering to do the household chores was not a problem but now they can't even be bothered to throw away trash that's sitting around. Wanting to leave over household chores is not stupid. Living in a pigsty with a guy that can't be bothered is affecting your entire life and he's being a selfish AH.
The last straw can break a camel's back. At some point, after all the extra burdens, your trust in them is going to break in way that can't be salvaged. Go to therapy yourself for support. Because they're probably not going to give you any. NTA.
NTA. This sounds like one of those weaponized incompetence issues. They will continue to do f all as long as mummy will clean up after them. You need to bin them and marry an adult.
NTA the switch up happened when they felt you were trapped, like when you had long covid, so it’s harder for you to leave. They are fine with your permanent level of unhappiness because they’ve decided that you won’t leave living in filth.
Is this how your want to live for the rest of your life? The ONLY saving grace is that you don't have children. It's time for "two cards". Hand them two business cards. One for a therapist one for a divorce lawyer.
Tell them to pick one because OR you'll pick one (and since you don't need a counsellor you'll be calling the lawyer) but the call is being made tomorrow. NTA for leaving-- only for waiting so long to do so.