Well, she was right - I only cleaned up when absolutely necessary. I did the same after marriage.
In my slovenly ways, I was encouraged by my husband, whose unspoken motto is:
If there is a flat surface, that's where I will put my stuffIt wasn't too bad when we were first married. There is only so much clutter that 2 humans can make in a 3-room apartment. A quick pick-up a couple times a week, deep cleaning once a week - we were good to go.
Even after we had kids, the mess was SOMEWHAT controlled by the fact that we moved - a lot. Some of the clutter never got unloaded from move to move, staying in boxes stashed in corners.
It got bad - REALLY bad once we stayed in the same place for more than 10 years. Fortunately, that house had both an attic and a basement, where a lot of the junk ended up.
When I moved to SC in 2005, I found that cleaning up wasn't that big a deal. I was helped by the fact that I didn't have all that much stuff, at first.
Every trip my husband mad down to SC, he brought vanloads of junk with him. Which, he left in the middle of the house when he left. Just about the time I found places for all that cr@p, he'd visit again.
It was beginning to look like a losing battle.
We moved again, and initially, the house looked good.
Then he started bringing stuff home again, from purchasing trips, unloading the other 2 houses, and - occasionally - stopping off at garage sales. When, last June, he had to bring home the entire contents of his classroom, I thought I'd lose my mind. The only thing that kept me together was the idea that I would be free of his stuff in the fall, when he went back to work.
Right now, as I am typing this, I'm surround by boxes, fileboxes, and stacks of stuff. There is a lot that he can't manage to either sort through or give up.
It's an emotional thing. He both fears that he will throw away something that will finally have a purpose, and that he will give up an essential part of his past. I'm not just asking him to give up possessions, but possibilities for his future, and remembrances of his past.