Is your partner chronically late? Do bills go unpaid or appointments somehow never get made? Is looking for important paperwork like looking for a needle in a haystack?
Dealing with an irresponsible partner can be draining and frustrating. However, if their lack of responsibility is putting a strain on your relationship, there’s nothing else for it – you need to deal with the situation before it causes any further damage.
In practical terms, many relationships have one partner who is more proactive and organized, and one who isn’t so much so. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you’re both taking responsibility and acting as a team. But if your partner’s irresponsible streak is bad enough to drag you down, it’s time to take action. Here are some tips to help you navigate the situation
Talk to them
The first step is to simply talk to your partner. They might not realize how much their actions are stressing you out. They might not realize that certain tasks are going undone, or responsibilities are being left unmet.
Being irresponsible doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care about responsibilities, or are just relying on you to take care of everything. Sometimes it’s a simple as an oversight. A good talk will help you both clear the air and get a clearer view of the situation.
Plan your approach carefully
One thing is for sure when it comes to difficult talks – nagging never works. If you nag or berate your partner, they’re more likely to resist what you are saying, and your discussion will degenerate into an argument.
Pick a time when you’re both relaxed and don’t have any other commitments. Talk about your feelings and hopes rather than focusing on what you want them to do differently – they won’t feel attacked, and you’re more likely to be heard.
Make some agreements
Ask your partner to make some firm agreements with you. Perhaps they’ll take over cooking on two nights a week, or perhaps they’ll take charge of taking out the trash while you take charge of picking up the kids.
Work together to make agreements that you’re both happy with. This might take a little compromise – dealing with chores and responsibilities is part and parcel of being in a relationship, so you will both need to compromise a little. The aim is for you both to agree on your plan of action.
Take practical action
Don’t be afraid to take some practical action to help move things along. For example, if budgeting is an issue, download some budgeting software, gather recent receipts, and ask your partner to set aside time to go through your budget together. If organization is a sticking point, get yourself a wall planner and keep it up to date. Encourage your partner to do the same.
Sometimes seeing you take some practical steps will be enough to galvanize your partner into action, too.
Decide what really matters
Dealing with an irresponsible partner can be really frustrating. You can make it much less stressful by sitting down and deciding what really matters to you, and what you’re willing to let go of.
Of course there are basic standards you want out of your relationship and you shouldn’t compromise on those: Financial responsibility, shared chores, and knowing household and social commitments will be met properly and on time.
However, you might find there are some things that don’t matter as much as you thought. Maybe it’s okay if your bed gets made later in the day, or laundry isn’t always done on a Monday. Perhaps a little clutter in the lounge isn’t the worst thing. You don’t have to put up with things that really upset you, but learning to let go of the little things will reduce your stress and let you focus on what really matters.
Ask what you’re willing to live with
There is a line where being a bit irresponsible spills over into not being the right partner for you. Of course you don’t want to break up your relationship over an unwashed glass or missed appointment, but you do need to be honest with yourself about what you can live with. A relationship takes compromise, but it doesn’t require you to ignore your needs.
It’s important to find out how your partner feels about teamwork and you both taking a role in making sure responsibilities get met. If they really care about your relationship, they’ll be willing to talk it over with you and find a compromise.
Play to both your strengths
When it comes to deciding on who is responsible for what, try to play to both your strengths. Are you fantastic with finances? Then perhaps it makes sense for you to manage the household budget, while your partner takes responsibility for something they excel at, like cooking or managing your family’s social calendar.
It’s important that you both take responsibility in your relationship, but you don’t have to take responsibility for the same things. Be willing to assign tasks based on your strengths and you’ll both be happier.
Dealing with an irresponsible partner can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to spell disaster. If you can sit down and talk it out, and make some agreements that you’ll both stick to you, you can assign responsibility in a way that suits you both.