Guest agony uncle this week... Richie Kavanagh advises
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Q: I’m a widower in my 50s, and I recently started seeing a woman. She’s my age, very smart, and is still a very attractive woman.She also gets on great with my friends and is very fond of sport, like myself, so we have plenty in common. But what started as being very low-key has become a bit more serious of late, which brings me to my problem.
My lady friend is a terrible slob. Her house is a shocking mess, with untidy rooms, a kitchen with a sink that's always full of dirty pots and pans, and a garden that turns more into a jungle with every day that passes.
She can't cook either. God help me, I've tried enjoying the food she serves up, but it always tastes bad. I try to have her come to my house as often as possible, and I offer to cook or get takeaway, but she insists we get together at her place a lot because it's nearer to work and her daughter's family.
A few weekends ago, we were out in the local pub and she invited some of my friends back to her place for a late drink. I could see their eyes widen when they saw the state of the place. I was mortified.
I do like this woman -- she's great company. There's talk of us even moving in together soon. But I'm alarmed at the thought that this poor housekeeper could soon be making a pigsty of my place or any new house we get together. Worse yet, it'll probably fall on me to do all the housework and cooking.
I don't want to hurt her feelings but I need to talk to her about this. Any suggestions? Bernard
A: Dear Bernard, we all know that the road to true love never runs smooth, so you are bound to stumble in the odd pothole along the way. You need to tell this woman what you think. Now, I'm not saying that you should go in all guns blazing, ready for attack.
Maybe make a joke about her untidiness, let her know with so many hints that you're not prepared to live in a pigsty, even if she is. If she isn't prepared to make a little effort around the house, then she isn't worth taking that extra step with. Myself and my wife Nancy are married almost 40 years and one of the best pieces of advice that I can give you is to talk things through. It's important to let her know what you're thinking.
Tell her that, before you can commit to moving in together, you need to know she's prepared to make more of an effort about the place. If you don't mention it now, that shocking mess will take over your love life. Many relationships survive on bad cooking, but if this really is bugging you and your tastebuds, then why not suggest to your lady friend that you take a cookery class together? It would be a great way to learn something new and spend a little time together, and what is it the Italians say — food is the language of love? It's important not to get bogged down on the problems in your relationship.
Focus on the reasons why you do like her. As you said yourself, she's “very smart, still a very attractive woman”, she loves sports and gets on great with your friends. A woman like this isn't easy to come by, so make sure you remember her good aspects when you're standing in that almighty mess that she calls home. You'd never know, she might even begin to enjoy living in a cleaner and more organised place As the saying goes, your house should be clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy. Too clean a house can be the sign of a boring person too, so relax a little.
A tidy home is well and good, but make time to enjoy yourself also. In short, speak now or forever hold your peace. If none of this works and she still won't listen to you, then I'm afraid your only solution is to face that lady for the mountain and send her on her way.
Best of Luck, Richie.