tough call

A Woman Wonders If ADHD Is A Valid Excuse For Her Boyfriend's Lack Of House Cleaning

He asked her to write him a list of what needs to be done; she said no.

Originally Published: 
A woman wants to know if she's in the wrong for blowing up at her boyfriend for not helping around t...
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Couples who can’t quite figure out how to split up the housework is an issue as old as the hills — and, historically, everything from childcare to dishes to dusting has disproportionately fallen to the woman in the relationship. But what if the reason that the sheets never get changed ostensibly has less to do with gender roles and more to do with mental health and neurodivergence? Should everyone be more understanding?

This week in Reddit’s infamous “Am I The A**hole?” forum, a woman is at the end of her rope when it comes to household chore equity. Both in their mid-30s, she and her partner have been together for over a year and have lived together for five months. But she feels like she’s pulling more weight when it comes to taking care of their home.

“When it comes to daily housework, we do a good job of sharing tasks like washing the dishes, making the bed, laundry, etc.,” she begins. “There are certain tasks I find myself doing more, like cleaning kitchen surfaces and sweeping, and tasks he does more like mowing and grocery shopping.”

But the good news stops there.

“My issue lies with the less frequent, but equally important tasks,” she confesses. “Things like changing the bed sheets, mopping, scrubbing the toilet, wiping down windows and mirrors, wiping off furniture surfaces, cleaning the shower, dusting baseboards. He has done them just a handful of times since we’ve moved in. He sees me doing them, so he knows they are things that need to be done, and they’re overwhelming completed by me. I’ve brought up to him multiple times that I’d like him to contribute more.”

But when she brings it up, he’s ready with explanations.

“He usually became defensive or gave excuses,” she says. “He says because of his ADHD he doesn’t notice when it gets dirty or forgets. In the end, he says he will do better and then takes up some of those tasks for the day, but theres no long term improvement.”

Then, it all came to a head.

“Today I found myself again working my ass off on these chores,” she explains. “I approached him again about my frustration and he got very defensive and downright angry. We both escalated quickly and it turned into mutual yelling. He again cited his ADHD as the cause. I said he does amazing at managing his ADHD in his career and in other tasks by using strategies like setting reminders, alarms, putting things into a calendar, etc. He should implement them for housework too if he can’t remember.”

Her boyfriend offered the solution of getting a list from her, but she saw it as taking on an invisible load of household management.

“He told me to write him a list of what needs to be done and when,” she went on. “I said no because I’m not taking on the mental load of being the household manager and sent him a video about how it is unfair when women have to manage and delegate tasks and schedules for their spouse to do their share of the work. Eventually I just sent him a chore list and schedule I found online because im not sitting down for an hour to make one.”

There wasn’t a resolution.

“It ended in me saying I wasn’t going to end up in a misogynistic household where the woman is expected to do most of the cleaning and manage when others clean,” she finished.

Down in the comments, Redditors had lots of thoughts — and the overall consensus was that everyone sucks, on both sides of the argument.

Most people agreed that while having ADHD isn’t a “get out of jail free card” for chores, it does help to have a supportive partner come up with solutions for chore equity.

“As someone with ADHD, ADHD absolutely isn't an excuse to not get anything done. But if you have it and live with someone with very high standards of cleanliness it's almost always going to end in frustration unless they're willing to meet in the middle,” one person posted. “ADHD is a constant battle to remember to get things done. You can have a very pressing and important concern on your mind in the morning and a few hours later it's completely slipped away. It's difficult to remember to do extremely important shit, let alone clean the baseboards or track that it's been a week since you washed your sheets.”

Speaking of baseboards, the comments section erupted into an argument about how often they need to be cleaned — if they need to be cleaned at all. But that might be an argument for another day.

The bottom line? Chore equity is super important if you want to live in a happy household. But recognizing your partner’s ADHD and working with it to find a solution is going to be key to keeping both your relationship and your house in good order.

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