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psychlady
psychlady, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 6886
Experience:  Psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of a variety of mental health issues.
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Customer Question

So, I’m in a big argument with my partner over a towel, or the straightness of a towel on a towel bar. Silly right?

Here is the issue. The towel bar is visible from most of the apartment and it’s a ½ bathe we share. My partner is generally clean and straight but on this particular towel and bar I would say is crumpled off to the left nearly falling of the rod most of the time. I fix the towel daily, sometimes multiple times a day and it’s starting to get on my nerves.
I have asked my partner if it could be straightened more, kindly and in frustration – multiple times. He knows it bothers me. It seems of no concern to him how I feel about it because he passes it off as a crazy obsession that isn’t worth his time. I am an architect/urban designer/planner – the visual quality of things matters to me and this is really bothering me. I don’t think its fair not to consider my issue.

To be fair, this is selective, not all things bother me this way. I have my own tendency to leave things (shoes) about the apartment, but if I were asked to straighten them up and it was an issue for him I don’t think I would refuse. In response he has said “you have unreasonable obsession issues and you know it” “I just wish I didn’t have to be on the receiving end.” He also said “It’s not my job to deal with that kind of obsession that has no explanation nor is it consistent with your standards on other things in the house” Why does he get to define what’s unreasonable? I think it’s unreasonable not to consider your partners requests.

I was hoping it would go down more like this…. “Honey, could we please keep that towel straighter, you see it first thing and it looks bad. It makes me upset”….. “Ok, if it really bothers you, I’m willing to help.”

Am I crazy? Am I asking too much? He didn’t seem to bother when I drew up a floor plan for our movers so that the apartment could look as good as it does… But if I make a request of him that not what he feels is fair or consistent, all bets are off.

What can I do?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Suzanne replied 2 years ago.

Thanks for bringing your question to JustAnswer.

I have a feeling there are bigger issues in the relationship, and this struggle over the towel is a symptom. If none of the answers that immediately come to mind--

--put a device on the door to automatically close it so the towel bar cannot be seen, or

--move the towel rack to a spot that isn't visible from the rest of the apartment, or

--give up on towels in the half bath, and put a supply of elegant folded paper towels out for guests, don't appeal to you--then this issue isn't about the towel.

The fact that you know you leave shoes around, but are waiting for him to object before doing anything about it, shows that the two of you are engaged in a struggle of some sort. Shoes are no more visually pleasing than a rumpled towel. Couples counseling is probably something the two of you should consider.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
"The fact that you know you leave shoes around, but are waiting for him to object before doing anything about it" - thats not a correct interpretation. I go around and pick them up when I notice them, becuae i dont think its fair to ask for other things if I am not doing my fair share.
Expert:  Suzanne replied 2 years ago.

Fair enough. It sounded differently in your original note.

But my point remains--this isn't about the towel or the shoes. If it were, you would just tidy up the towel when company is expected, and laugh it off as one of his endearing faults. It sounds as if there is a feeling that you don't matter as much to him as he does to you (because you worry about being fair, and he doesn't seem to share that concern) and that seems to be the underlying current that is making this such an issue between the two of you.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

oh no - that fair thing is beaten (not literally, we're never violent) into my world by him on a continuous basis. i've been called a hypocrit and irrational more times than i've been told I love you.

Expert:  psychlady replied 2 years ago.
I don't agree with the previous expert. I think the issues is frustrating but doesn't require couples counseling. I can see what you are saying. You like to keep a nice home. This eyesore is not consistent with the way you want your house to look. When you do say something he doesn't acknowledge your feelings. You are unfortunately in a small power struggle. But isn't the end of the world. Explain why it bothers you and come to a compromise rather than his way or your way. Tell him that you like a home that presents well to others but that doesn't make you controlling but that you take pride in your home. Work together. Find a solution that works for both of you. There is no reason to criticize you. Try to present in a way that doesn't come off as being frustrated but ask him directly = what do you think is a compromise for you. Work from there

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