We recently learned that one secret to a happy relationship is having separate bathrooms, which makes sense when you consider all the less-than-attractive things we do in there. But what happens when there’s only one bathroom at your disposal? Does that mean you’re doomed to an unhappy relationship? Not according to human behavior specialist and relationships expert Shelli Chosak, Ph.D., who encourages discussing your bathroom habits with your significant other as a means of keeping the peace.
“The simplest way to decide schedules—who uses which drawers and so on—is to have an honest conversation with your mate,” she says. “One person may feel stronger or more sensitive about how space is shared, and their wishes should be honored.” Relationships, she points out, are about making sacrifices for the betterment of your significant other—even if that means making time for them to spend an entire hour in the bathroom every single morning.
Oftentimes, the biggest problem when sharing a bathroom is cleanliness: No one wants to stroll in for a relaxing bath, only to be greeted by a clump of discarded hair the size of a Medieval plague rat. It’s best to tackle this issue long before it leads to bathroom-related unhappiness, and Debra Johnson of Merry Maids claims that you and your significant other will only achieve this by working together as a team. Here’s how she recommends keeping your bathroom clean while keeping your relationship drama-free:
- Create a Cleaning Schedule: Messes can build up extremely fast when two people are sharing one bathroom, but sticking to an alternating schedule—that is, you and your significant other trade off cleaning certain areas of the bathroom each week—can combat this. “One day per week, you scrub the toilet and sink, while your significant other cleans the shower and mirror,” Johnson says. “If you each have tasks you absolutely hate (or love), it’s fine to keep those tasks each week.” The most important thing, though, is that you make a habit out of cleaning the bathroom on a weekly basis.
- Tackle the Hair: Two hairy heads are the bane of sink and shower drains everywhere, so it’s important to clean up any stray hairs before they’re rinsed away. “Make a habit out of wiping down the sink once a day and the shower once a week,” Johnson suggests. “To make this a simple task, keep disinfectant wipes under the sink, so they’re always handy.”
- Put Stuff Away When You’re Done: “If either of you leaves a collection of toiletries all over the bathroom, it’s likely you’ll end up driving your significant other crazy,” Johnson says. “Make sure everything has a home, you both have a space for your own things and you each do your part by putting them away as soon as you use them.”
- Keep Cleaning Supplies in the Bathroom: Generally speaking, it’s easier to clean when supplies are handy, so Johnson recommends storing cleaning supplies under the sink. “Disposable wipes are perfect for cleaning the toilet, since they can be quickly disposed of after use,” she notes.
- Improve Your Maintenance Habits: “When two people are using the same bathroom, the amount of lingering moisture increases,” Johnson explains. “Moisture remaining inside a shower or tub will cause mildew, so it’s important that you take two minutes after each shower or bath to wipe down the surfaces with a microfiber cloth.” If you have a ventilation fan in your bathroom, she also suggests turning it on for 15 to 30 minutes after showering, with the shower door or curtain open to reduce moisture.
- Be Courteous: This goes back Chosak’s advice, but it’s extremely important when sharing a bathroom. “If you use the last bit of toilet paper, replace the roll right then and there. Rinse the sink and wipe away splatter after brushing your teeth,” Johnson says. “Don’t leave clothes lying on the floor, and use an air freshener when necessary.”
In other words, the simplest way to share a bathroom with your S/O without killing each other is to leave no trace behind. Who gets to shower first, though, as Chosak explained, can only be decided by means of an honest conversation—or possibly a best-of-three arm wrestling match, whatever works for you.