Procrastinators Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from chronic procrastination.

Codependency & Procrastinators

I am a procrastinator married to an extreme procrastinator. Sometimes I wonder if somehow I am an enabler to this problem in some way. When we first married, he did a little to help (he's retired and I work (very hard and very long hours). Now, his help is limited to feeding the cat -- period. My house is turning into a wreck and I feel so overwhelmed it's driving me nuts. It was this way when I was raising kids, too. I wound up feeling responsible for everything, because nobody would help . . . and I never could handle it all. I'd look around at the mess and be totally confused as to where to even start.

Same thing?

If codependency includes being "needy" then yeah, I'm quite guilty of that. As a chronic procrastinator, in my wake is a neck pile of disappointments from friends and family, broken promises, missed oppurtunities, and a near infinite of could've-beens. Honestly, it feels like degrading one's self and because of this, I have a tendency to become a doormat. For example, I text one of my friends and if she doesn't text back as quickly, I get anxious. But when she textes me, I reply as soon as I get her message. It's like I'm starving for some external validation. Another is me constantly asking my seatmates if they want to be study partners with me when in truth, if only I had the ample confidence, I wouldn't even think about asking routinely for a study partner for every upcoming test. I suppose procrastination really takes a toll on one's confidence. I just feel like I'm a walking turn-off. Has anyone else felt this side effect of procrastination?

"That which the fool does in the end, the wise man does in the beginning."
--R. C. Tench

Monica's picture

It's Not Just Me

I've only been on this site for a week. But I've noticed something about my husband since I've been getting better at staying on task. He has a problem with procrastination too. I could never tell him this because he would totally deny it. But, I've noticed him doing a lot of the things I'm usually guilty of:

  • playing several PC card games,
  • waiting til it's almost too late to get something done,
  • waiting til it's too late and missing opportunities
  • making promises to the kids only to break them
  • laying around watching TV til all hours of the night
  • sleeping at times when he should be productive

  • The focus for so long has been on my problem that I never thought about the fact that he could have the same problem. And from my husband's prospective, "if you'd (meaning me) just get your act together, everything would be alright." I also thought the baulk of the problems in our family stemmed from my issues. But I think I'm starting to see that maybe (just maybe) I'm not soley responsible for this craziness we call a family.


    If I can't do it perfectly, I'll do it anyway. If I can't do it all, I'll do some. If I do nothing, nothing gets done.

    "I don't feel like it" is a poor sacrifice for your dreams.

    eye opener (re It's Not Just Me)

    That's an important insight!! Problems with the way a family functions are never one person's fault. Families are complex social systems where everybody plays a role. Sounds like you've been scapegoat!

    missed this

    I keep finding threads that I completely missed - this is one of them.

    > Now, his help is limited to feeding the cat -- period.

    Gawd!!!! I'd kick him out. Seriously. I couldn't stand that - it would make me too angry.

    But maybe I'm just rigid about this because housework is the one thing I don't procrastinate on.

    there's already a codependency thread

    I checked and found this one. I relate to it somewhat because I am codependent and my husband is as much of a procrastinator and slob as I am. However, I don't think that I particularly enable his procrastination, nor he mine. In fact, when we see each other procrastinating we tend to get rather judgemental of each other and to cut off from one another. If I ask how his day was and he shares info that lets me know he procrastinated (he doesn't outright confess), I get disgusted and leave him to his problem. He tends to either nag or do something passive-aggressive. Eh, I probably am fairly passive-aggressive with him, too.

    But one way we do enable one another is that we collude on letting our standards fall lower and lower.

    But my main interest right now is how much codependency I'm displaying in other areas of my life--it's causing even more procrastination because I'm putting everyone else ahead of me often (not all the time). I sometimes put other people's trivial concerns ahead of my own well-being (even eating,drinking, sleeping, and using the bathroom). I also put myself at my kids' beck and call, especially my son, because I'm afraid of losing connection with him (he's a teen).

    Should I start a new thread for this, or continue here?

    Might as well stick with this one

    You say you've already been working on it. What sort of things have you done that have been effective before?

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    HI Mrs. Bell.

    HI Mrs. Bell.
    It sounds tough. I can hardly handle my own mess but when you throw in an unhelpful person it would get overwhelming.
    It does sound very unfair that he only feeds the cat. That just helps make another mess when it comes out the other end! Big help!
    Could counseling help? There is always that problem of setting boundries. It can get hard to do and if some one is unwilling they will not be very helpful. Sometimes setting up boundries just invites an attack if they are not decent people.
    If you say "We both are going to roar around the house and clean for the next half hour. Wonderful man of mine, lets get to it." How does he respond? It seems fairly reasonable. It was a technique that my mom used on us that worked pretty well.

    I live alone but I notice I have a hard time with other peoples messes. I want to clean them up. I help them clean thier house but at the same time it terrifies me also that I am turning into that.
    We had an elderly neighbour die in a fire recently. She was a horder. Some papers got to close to the furnace and caught on fire. She would police other peoples front pourches and call the landlady on us if we had things on our porch. In the meantime, she was the worst offender.
    I just had an extreamly sloppy studio mate move out. I was so happy to be free of his mess. He dribbled uncooked oatmeal from one end of the studio to the other. We got roaches from it. He splashed, sprinkled and splattered. I was ranting about it to a friend who gently pointed out that I should look at my own kitchen.
    Oh man.......
    So I dont want to turn into this woman who recently died. I can see it coming if I dont change my ways.
    We will hang in here together.
    Offering encouragment.

    Thanks, everydayineveryway!

    Thanks for writing. I can sure see what you mean about being terrified that you're going to become one of those hoarders. I can see it just gradually encroaching here at my house as I get older. I don't want to need run and hide every time I hear the doorbell ring -- or even worse -- get so used to the mess that I quit caring and let it just take over.
    I had counseling long ago when I was raising my kids which I can recall and it helps me now. It was about natural consequences; not that my husband is a child. But, since I have to do so many of these things myself, I definitely have less time to spend with him. He wonders why I only sit on the couch with him for short periods of time at night; he probably also wonders why I'm in a lot better mood. Things look a little better around here, they're caught up a little better, and he is even being a little neater.
    Lately, I've improved a bit. I have certain things I've been doing every day. Since a big part of my procrastination is a memory problem - I can forget and overlook all kinds of important things - I've started doing my routines in clusters of 3-4 activities revolving around something that I will absolutely do anyway. So, I do things when I get up in the morning: make the bed, toss any laundry in the hamper and lay out my clothes. Then I have another little cluster of routines around making the coffee.
    But I can also tell you, that although the laundry is caught up and the kitchen is fairly decent, this room I'm sitting in has looked like a bomb hit for the last two years and it gets worse by the day. Oh, if only I could figure out where to start. I read something recently that makes me realize that I should start somewhere . . . ANYWHERE!!

    Enabling Procrastination

    I definitely think it's possible to 'enable' a procrastinator in the way you say Mrs Bell. My DSO can be a procrastinator at times, especially with doing stuff around the house (I nearly said 'help' which implies it's my job and he's helping me, but really it's a shared responsibility). I know there are things he could care less about that are important to me, so I do count those things as 'help', but there are things that he wants doing too - like having food in the house (he ~does~ help with shopping), or keeping warm (he won't do bills, or many household maintenance jobs). I found that by just getting on with things myself, and not complaining about his (lack of) input, he comes around to doing more things.

    For example, if I have everything of mine in the room picked up and he walks in and sees that the only mess is ~his~ stuff, he ~is~ more inclined to pick it up. If the mess is ours his stays where it is. Obviously I can't say if your DH would react in the same way.

    People say you can't change someone else, but he feels he ~has~ changed since meeting me, and he feels the change has been for the better. When he sees the results of me doing something that leads to less stress (such as having packed meals and clothes ready for the next day) he soon picks up on it.

    He can't always tell what it is I've done to make things different. For example, one morning he was rushing round trying to get ready for work. I was already ready and calm and relaxed, so I helped him out. He couldn't understand why I was already ready. This happened a few times, then he said, 'I want to do what you're doing - what ~are~ you doing?', and started getting stuff ready the night before himself. He loves the results.

    If your house is turning into a wreck you've got to consider whether getting it sorted is something you want to do ~for yourself~. If the tidiness of the house is something he's not bothered about he's not going to be motivated to do anything about it. If it's for you, and you want him to help, he has to be motivated ~to help you~. If you've got a birthday coming up maybe you could ask him to give you a year's worth of half-an-hour a week help with tidying up as a gift to you. He may need specific instructions about what to do (not everyone knows how to 'tidy up' - I had to learn), and he'll probably need lots of praise if it's something he hates (I'm afraid I sometimes get fed up of the giving praise bit, but it really helps if you show appreciation).

    I'm sorry this has turned into a bit of an essay, but the problem has got deep roots - you're going to need all the tips and tricks you can get! I hope you get ideas from other people - the board's gone very quiet of late - just try implementing them one at a time, perhaps for a month each, and see what works for you. (And check out some of the support boards mentioned in the 'what's worked for you' section).

    All the best!

    I think people may only be

    I think people may only be willing to handle their own mess. "If she has HER laundry laying around, why should I clean up?" I noticed at the studio if my studio mate cleaned up, I cleaned up my end and vice versa. Then we congratulated each other and went out for ice cream.
    I live alone and I noticed I am perfectly happy standing at the sink doing dishes if a guest comes over and sits with me.
    Two weeks ago I called my folks in tears asking them to come over and watch TV while I cleaned.
    My house is not that bad at this point. The day I found this site, I cleaned up for two days. That was not that long ago and I feel like I am starting over again.
    Its the layer of grime. I just hate it.

    Thanks, Normy

    Thank you for writing. You really have several good ideas. Yes, I have noticed that my husband is a bit neater if I keep my own stuff picked up, too!

    I think one of the many things that has me overwhelmed is that when I first moved into this house more than two years ago, I painted and wallpapered my living room, bought wallpaper for the hall, put wallpaper border up in the bathroom and started painting and wallpapering the kitchen. I got so much done, until I got into that kitchen and ran into difficulty that I couldn't handle. I could not get the paint to cover. It had streaks. The wall I wanted to wallpaper had lumps. Okay, that kitchen has been in limbo for more than two years. So has the basement.

    Then I got married. My husband told me all these wonderful things he was going to do to help me. Well, he has managed to fill an already messy garage with such chaos that you cannot even walk in and pick up a hose. He made we wait for days before calling a plumber when our plumbing was backed up and I couldn't do laundry.

    Today we visited his relatives. I think this is what makes me panic... I do not want my life to deteriorate to what I saw today, simply because I do not have the ability to overcome. The home he once lived in has a foot-wide hole in the ceiling where water pours in. The roof is collapsing, the floor beneath is rotting away and black mold is in the walls. Yet...he had a good tv and a new computer.

    His mother has six dogs and three cats in her 700-sq-foot house, none of which are housebroken or allowed to go outside. (dogcatchers!) At any one moment you can see 50-100 roaches crawling on all visible surfaces. She said today that she hates going over to her other son's house because his wife keeps such a horrendous house. Well, we went there today. All I can say is ohmigosh. It was hard to find a place to sit down and when I did I had a little six-legged guest trying to crawl inside of my shoe, which, by the way, was sticking to a floor sticky with spilled soft drink.

    My husband is used to this stuff. He cannot relate to my wanting a pretty, clean house that smells good when I walk in the front door.

    I guess I am one of those procrastinators who is overwhelmed. No matter how hard I try, it seems as if I choose the wrong priorities and am in a constant struggle or escaping into something I have just recently discovered on this website: time-binging! And now I have obstacles that come from outside in addition to those inside myself.

    I get really discouraged and am glad to have found this website.

    How does he react to other homes?

    "My husband is used to this stuff. He cannot relate to my wanting a pretty, clean house that smells good when I walk in the front door."

    How does he react to other ("normal") people's homes? The ones with intact ceilings, floors, and no crawlies?

    Especially for housekeeping thoughts, I have heard many recommendations for FlyLady. She may be old news to you, but she has helped other clutterers and procrastinators.



    FlyLady's what got me started on all this. Took a couple of years to get to the point where I was ready to tackle general procrastination, but it was time well spent.