November 15, 2010 in Features

Miss Manners: Tidying beau’s apartment could be trouble

Judith Martin United Feature Syndicate
 

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have been in a relationship with an absolutely fantastic guy for about six months. I regularly spend the weekend with him in his above-garage apartment.

The problem is that his place is not clean. It’s not completely disgusting but is in need of some window spray, dusting, mopping and organizing. He lives in a small place, and it takes all of my self-restraint not to just start wiping up the dust and attacking the soap scum on the sink.

I have sneaked some cleaning: I once spilled on the counter and took the opportunity to clean the whole thing. Another time I made dinner and we worked together to clear away the move-in boxes and old papers.

The times when I sneak in the cleaning, he always comments about how nice it is to actually see the counter or be able to eat at his dinner table.

I am wondering if there is a way to suggest we work together to really clean the house once and get it organized so that the upkeep isn’t too much for him. He has lived alone before, so maybe he is used to this, but he also previously lived with a girlfriend. Maybe she did all of the cleaning?

I think he would appreciate having a clean and organized home, and I would be more than willing to help him get to that point. How can I offer to help without hurting his feelings or “butting in”?

GENTLE READER: You may take Miss Manners’ word for it that the gentleman does not resent your cleaning his apartment. His compliments mean that he would be delighted to have you do his cleaning.

You could probably spend all your weekends merrily scrubbing while he sang your praises from the sidelines.

Were this a more settled arrangement, as it may become, you would presumably divide the chores. So if he resisted cleaning, you could suggest his doing other chores, ones that you dislike.

Now it is premature of you to assign him household tasks in his own household. A weekend guest who cleans is merely doing a charming favor and perhaps demonstrating her domestic skills.

Etiquette aside, your suggestions would be bad for romance. One day he would tire of feeling that he was being nagged and say something you would not like. And one day he would forget to compliment your efforts, and you would say something he would not like.

Miss Manners’ advice is to let things go, merely tidying up after yourself, unless and until you are a full-time resident with a future.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it acceptable to have a big party for the end of child support being paid to an ex-spouse?

GENTLE READER: Only if you know people who would be charmed by your exultation at severing the responsibility for your child that is no more than is expected of every parent. And who would enjoy your sneer about the person who has been doing the daily job of rearing your child. Miss Manners is not among them.

Visit Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com, where you can send her your questions.


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