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Couples With One ADHD Partner

Constant mess in the home

Hello,  I am new to the forum so excuse me if I should post this elsewhere.
My wife has ADHD and for the most part it is fine, but I have a disorder myself in that I like things to be neat, tidy and more importantly organised.  This has been causing me so much negative thinking and constant reviewing in my thoughts as to how to handle it (for years).  I could talk more about the details of the issue, but it is much my issue (wanting things the way I want them to be) as it is hers.
I don’t think things will change, so I’ve been trying to deal with it from my perspective, trying meditation etc for years now, but seemingly getting nowhere.  On my walk to the train this morning, more negative thoughts about the state of our house and I realised I was having these thought 5-10 years ago!!!  Something has to change (or not!).  Is there any advice anyone can give me on dealing with this type of thing?


It is not likely that you will come to enjoy mess or that she will be organized. So, in that sense, things will not change. However there could be places in the house which are calming and organized. Such places, or such a place, can be yours alone.

Posted by John Tucker, PhD, ACG. ADHD Coach on Apr 25, 2017 at 12:29pm

Thank you John.  This is good advice.

Posted by kfburke on Apr 25, 2017 at 12:39pm

I struggle with this as well. Because I work at home, I must live with the mess 24/7 while my wife gets to leave during the day.

So I’ve started keeping a few nice wooden file boxes in a few places—-kitchen counter, bathroom counter, etc. When I find her stuff lying around I put it in one of those boxes. She knows where to look for her stuff now, and I can have a little more order in the house. Then when a box fills up I ask her to take 30 minutes to empty it. Also, every few months, I declare a 30-minute Pick-up-the House event, where we both work to put things away.

Posted by CatherineRae on Apr 25, 2017 at 12:51pm

***I highly encourage you to post this question to ADDitude’s new discussion forums, as well. I think your question would get a lot of attention in the Relationships forum: ADDconnect is transitioning over to this new forum now.***

I am the frontal lobe for my entire household, the only one in a family of 4 who thrives on tidy and organized. I fought their chaos for a long time, but found that I was just making myself (and everyone else) miserable.

I recognized that they don’t have the same internal need for order that I do. I realized that they often, truly, didn’t see anything wrong, out of place, or amiss when it was glaring to me (like the scissors on the kitchen counter, when they have a home in specific drawer, where they found and retrieved them. I started with nagging, and that didn’t make a difference. Then I cleaned up behind everyone and fell into resentment. Then, I accepted each person for who they are, and that helped me let go a bit.

As John said above, the key is find the compromise that honors each person’s truth.

Your wife’s truth is that she isn’t good at organizing and tidying up, may be a collector of things, and likely doesn’t see anything wrong with the mess/clutter.

Your truth is that your mind likes order. (If you’re like me, you even need symmetry to feel comfortable and at peace — that’s how important order is to me brain). You have a need for organization.

So, how can you blend your individual truths? Is there a way to bring more order to her chaos (bins for different categories maybe)? Is there a room that can be your orderly sanctuary, and a room that she can use for collections or piles, if she’s a pile-er?

Clear bins and lots of labels can help.

Here’s more strategies on organizing with ADHD:

ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

Posted by adhdmomma on Apr 25, 2017 at 12:55pm

Thank you Penny and Catherine.  I will post this on the ADD site also.

really appreciate the insights.


Posted by kfburke on Apr 26, 2017 at 12:00pm

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