To procrastinate or not to procrastinate, that is the question

I am not a procrastinator by nature. I prefer to get things done first and relax later. Sipping that glass of wine on the patio just isn’t  the same if my mind is full of a list of to-do’s. I have been know to have trouble sleeping if I don’t at least write down what I need to do the next day, be that at work or at home.

My husband (sorry honey!) on the other hand, needs time to unwind and relax before he is ready to tackle the to do list. If he feels stressed out or like he hasn’t had a chance to sit down all day, it is hard to be motivated to do yet more. He tends, therefore, to leave things to the last minute. No. Matter. What.

This can cause, as you might imagine, a bit of a clash. If I can’t relax until the dishes are done (yes. the kitchen is my #1 BIGGEST pet peeve and I NEED it at least appearing kinda clean before I have to make breakfast and lunches the next morning) and he says he will do them, but waits until the last minute… well nether of us really get what we want. And neither of us really relax. Me because I don’t have that ‘ahhhh everything is done’ feeling I crave and him because, lets be honest, I am a bit of a nag and will bother him about it until he does it. Sometimes I don’t actually say anything, my nagging is now telepathic. Which means he can’t get that wind down he needs to then feel the motivation to do the dishes.

But despite the occasional culture clash, it really doesn’t matter much which philosophy is followed- we get about the same amount done. I may not like to procrastinate, but I have my limits and there are many times I say ‘screw it’ to the less important things and let them slide. And my husband still chips in a ton around the house, despite his procrastinating ways. When you really think of it the “I can’t relax until everything is done” and the “I’m not ready to do stuff until I have had a minute to relax” both make sense. No philosophy is better then other other and both can get out of hand when practiced to the extreme. (* cough cough, clean kitchen obsession*).

I am going to go out on a limb and assume that within every family there are culture clashes like this. I don’t mean culture in the traditional sense, although I think many families have that too, I mean culture in the ‘mode of operating’ sense. How we deal with life and what life throws at us, differs so widely from person to person. Some people like to talk it out when a conflict comes up, others want time to process. Some people like to plan ahead, others prefer to be spontaneous. Ect. Ect. Most couples I know may have similar interests, but have at least some of that ‘opposites attract’ tendency at play as well.

So how do we deal with these clashes? Do we change? Do we just muddle through, somewhat frustrated? Do we argue about them, trying to get the other to see the ‘wisdom’ in our ways?

In our house, we mostly muddle through. I try to be less obsessive about the kitchen, or just get up and do it myself. My husband tries to do the dishes before they drive me crazy. We muddle. I don’t really think people change much when it comes to ‘mode of operating’. We change our opinions, our perspectives, our priorities… but our mode of operation? Not so much. Just like our little bad habits that drive our partners nuts. They aren’t going away.

So tell me, do you have a culture clash in your house? Is it over procrastination or something else? Have you found a better way to deal beyond just muddling through?

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5 responses to “To procrastinate or not to procrastinate, that is the question

  1. Perpetua October 12, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Oh, do we ever. I am an organizational demon. The husband, not so much. To be fair, he’s great about some things, like filing bills and paper work and tax forms (exactly the stuff I can’t stand, so it works out well). But he loses his keys almost every day! To which I say: there is a table by the door. Put them there! It’s like he’s physically incapable of keeping track of his stuff.

    So, we muddle. It used to bug the crap out me, but now it’s just another part of life. It doesn’t even frustrate me anymore. I just find it kind of quirky and bizarre, like, how do you lose keys every day? Who does that? Weirdo.

    We have other clashes, like politics, but we’ll leave that for another day. 🙂

    And hey, did you ever decide what to do about ControverSunday?

  2. Ginger October 12, 2010 at 11:01 am

    My husband and I have essentially one argument: that I don’t clean well enough, often enough, or OCD-enough & that he nags (telepathically like you sometimes!) constantly to the point of anger on both our sides. I don’t care as much as he does, and it makes him mad which then makes me mad.

    It’s literally the ONE thing we have as an ongoing clash. We’ve tried lots of ways to deal with it, but at the end of the day, we both have to give a little (I try to do more, he tries to nag less) because we’re never going to completely change.

    Much to his chagrin.

    • amoment2think October 12, 2010 at 3:10 pm

      Perpetua, Ginger- So glad to hear it is not just us that deal with these ‘culture clashes!’ And well it kinda sucks that we all just muddle through rather then coming up with a miracle solution to deal with it– its good to hear we aren’t alone!

  3. Alan October 12, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    I also do the dishes at our house, but I am also a procrastinator married to someone with more the type of personality you describe in yourself, Kathleen. She hates feeling like she has to endlessly nag, and I’m not crazy about getting nagged either. What I came up recently as a compromise to try to ameliorate this is the following system:

    At any time, she is allowed (encouraged, even) to give me a fifteen minute warning that I need to do dishes, setting a timer on the stove. This gives me time to finish up a comment like this one, say. 🙂 Then when the fifteen minutes is up, I have to go do all the dishes that fit on the bottom of the right-hand sink without stacking, plus all the silverware (which we keep soaking in a cup behind the sink). Once I’ve done that much, I get an hour buffer before she can give me another fifteen minute warning. It is my feeling that this should get us completely caught up before too long, provided my wife remembers to “nag” me frequently enough (to me it doesn’t feel like nagging, because I’ve laid out these exact parameters and agreed fully to them). So far she hasn’t been doing it often enough to catch up, just enough to kind of tread water, but she knows she can!

    • The Disgruntled Academic October 13, 2010 at 7:20 am

      THANK YOU! My husband and I struggle the same way. I used to attribute our culture clashes to our upbringing (I’m the oldest of the 3 and he’s an only child). But really, we’re just different people and housework/bills/childcare can add layers of stress to our already hectic lives. The trick is to figure when those stresses are about to tip you over the edge and asking the other person for a helping hand.

      Perpetua: Seriously. What is up with the keys. I’ve drilled hooks, I’ve laid out dishes, I’ve designated pockets in his man bag, and he still loses and forgets them. At our last apartment, I think he lost 3 sets of keys. My philosophy is, if you know you’re absent-minded with keys, make a point of putting them in a designated place all the time. He thinks that now that he’s aware that he loses keys, he will somehow no longer lose them. As if the awareness cures the forgetfulness. Ugh, such a weirdo.

      Anyway: We normally split our chores pretty evenly, but there always comes a time when one of us slacks. The kitchen and bathroom are big ones for me, the livingroom and bedroom are for him. So when we’re both on the ball, everything gets done. But when it starts to get stressful, it’s usually because something else in our lives is freaking us out.

      For example, last week I totally snapped about him not contributing as much to the evening baby routine. I don’t want it to sound like we don’t have an even distribution of parent labor, we both pull our weight, he just was too busy to feed the Noodle on time *that one night*, so I had to feed and bathe her (usually he feeds, I bathe, he sets up the bath and dressing areas, I put her to bed). I was totally P.O.-ed and I didn’t realize until later that I was freaked out about a meeting the next day with my dissertation advisor. I thought, oh god, if I have to be the one to do all this baby work at night, I’m NEVER going to get the dissertation done, I’ll be this unemployable albatross to the whole family, and a big fat failure! … This all from one night where I had to feed the baby for 20 minutes. I wasn’t able to think it through before I railed all over Mr. Disgruntled, but I came back the next day and apologized and explained what was up and he totally understood.

      Basically, whenever Mr. Disgruntled and I get ginned up over housework, it’s because it’s adding one layer of stress too many. It’s almost always a simple fix, and if we’re clear-headed enough, we can usually communicate to each other: “Hey, that sink full of dirty dishes is freaking me the hell out, can you take care of that before I lose my s***?”

      Maybe it’s nagging, but sometimes we all have to nag to keep the peace.

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