I Used the ‘Manceptacle’ System to Deal with My Messy Spouse and, Honestly, It Has Saved Our Relationship

Opposites attract. Or so the saying goes. But the fact that I, a type-A, borderline obsessive neat freak ended up falling for a man incapable of leaving his once-worn pants anywhere besides the floor seemed an especially cruel twist of fate.

I genuinely need immaculate conditions in my home in order to function properly. I crave it on a visceral level; I’m ruled by it like the moon holds the tides. When the crown moldings are dusted, the hangers are spaced evenly three inches apart and the dining table free of paperwork, I can kick my feet up and relax. If something is dirty or out of place, I see it in my periphery at all times, lurking like a giant bug I need to squash. Needless to say, I have my own issues. But this isn’t about that: It’s about how my fiancé and I have managed to find domestic bliss despite our differences. Meet the Manceptacle system, the four-pronged program I set in place to keep his messes at bay…and my sanity intact.

In a nutshell, the system is a series of catch-alls strategically located in spots where messes first occur—designed as a visual cue to catch them before they spread. While this can be customized to preference and lifestyle, here’s how mine shuffled out:

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stack of mail
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Position 1: The Mail Cart

Regardless of cleanliness, everyone needs a drop zone; a place to leave mail, umbrellas, bags and other miscellanea that travel in the front door with you. To curtail his honey, I’m home! messes, I stationed a double-tier side-table right at our front door. Paperwork on the table surface, random junk in the lower cubby. Boom.

coffee table tray

Position 2: The Coffee Table Tray

The living room was another area that fell victim to his clutter. For this, I stationed a decorative tray, which usually ends up catching his wallet, keys and anything else that would otherwise poke into one’s butt when collapsing on the couch after a day at work.

wite laundry hamper

Position 3: The Hamper

Would I prefer to have a lidded hamper tucked out of site? Absolutely. But since the goal is to catch messes before they happen, we have an open-top hamper stationed right next to his closet where he undresses. With this positioning, putting his discarded clothes anywhere else would be a greater effort.

bedside table
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Position 4: The Bedside Table

This is the hardest working spot of all because it serves as ground zero for pocket junk—aka the endless stream of coins, receipts, lip balms, dried-out pens etc.—that accumulate. In addition to a designated change bowl, there’s a decorative box for miscellanea on his bedside table.

Every other weekend, I have him sort through these various receptacles and give each item a home, whether it’s the garbage can, the laundromat or the filing cabinet in our office. But during the busy work week, having these various “manceptacles” as designated messy spots is enough to see me through.

Are men always the messy ones? Absolutely not. But if you’re dealing with a slovenly partner/kid/roommate at home, give my system of strategic catch-alls a try. Make no mistake: Our home isn’t entirely clutter-free now, rather, it's controlled pockets of chaos. But knowing me, that’s huge.

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