The Terrors Of Life With An OCD Wife

By: James P. Krehbiel

What in the heck happened? Why didn't I see it coming? I guess I should give myself a break. I suppose you have to live with a partner before fully understanding the differences in the way people "live." It didn't take me long to find out that we lived on polar planets.

My wife is a neat-freak and an organizer — sigh! I think it was passed down through the gene pool. On the other hand, I am a bonafide spreader. I confess, currently there are two empty coffee cups, two plastic water glasses, and a half empty soda can in my office. My desk is cluttered with "important" papers. It is so bad that Andrea cordons off my office when the cleaning lady comes each month. She refuses to subject Maria to cleaning around the junk on my desk.

In preparation for Maria's arrival, my wife has a concept called, "cleaning before the cleaning." Andrea makes me put my shoes and toiletries away so that Maria can cut a path through the clutter. I remind my wife that if we have a "maid" that I shouldn't have to do all of this preliminary work. She orders her lazy husband to get busy because she says, "Maria is not your maid."

My side of the bed seems to be the focal point or featured dumping ground for all the stuff that I leave laying around the house. It's quite an interesting pile of assorted artifacts, including shoes, socks, clothes, glasses, cell-phones, and extraneous papers. This consciousness-raising concept orchestrated by my wife does get my attention so it has become a standard operating procedure in our house.

One of my many bad habits is failing to remember to put my chair back in its proper place after eating. One morning, as I meandered into the kitchen for breakfast, I found a missing chair at my seating area. Andrea still maintains that it was stolen by an alien.

Today, my wife was looking through a catalogue and found a deluxe-model shoe holder. She graciously offered to purchase it for me. I gave her an interesting look, proceeded to pick up my shoes and return them to their proper place, and told her that it was too costly of an investment to buy a shoe rack.

There is a silver lining in this organizational stuff. When my "garbage" gets too deep, and I start tripping over it, I generally become more conscientious about handling the chaos. Andrea appreciates this.

Come to think of it, the real truth is that my wife and I have begun to negotiate this issue. Andrea has become a little more flexible, and I have become more sensitive about the nature of my surroundings. After all, isn't that what marriage is all about? I mean a transformation which consists of taking on some of the qualities of your partner? I hope so, because otherwise we are headed down a one way street going in the wrong direction.

James P. Krehbiel, Ed.S., LPC is an author, contributing writer to, and cognitive-behavioral therapist practicing in Scottsdale, Arizona. He can be reached at

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