Ah, married life. Living with someone brings a whole new set of challenges. Talk about combining clutter.
I recently got married and I’m learning so much. I’ve never shared such close quarters with someone—besides sharing a room with my two sisters as a kid.
I’m used to having my own space where I can create my environment exactly as I want. But now living with my husband (who’s petitioning for a junk drawer, by the way, just to give you an idea of his priorities), we share the space and the look and feel of the home.
And before we start a family, it’s important to me that we declutter.
We’re combining household items, closet stuff, chotskies and collectibles…it’s a lot to wade thru.
Why do we hold onto things?
As we’re going through everything together, I’m wondering, “why do we hold onto things?”
We hold on because:
- stuff makes us feel important
- stuff gives us new beginnings (when the stuff is new)
- stuff gives us the impression that we’re safe from poverty, or dying without an identity, a legacy
Jay’s carried years of stuff with him throughout his adult life, in the Navy, in different cities worldwide, and it’s all just kind of sat in boxes, and in the way back of closets and drawers. Until now.
Now it’s sitting on our back porch waiting to be dealt with.
So I thought I’d bring my Declutterist brain to the sitch.
When decluttering a partner, roommate, a child, or even a parent, it’s important that you involve them and be sensitive to their decision-making. Try not to judge, but rather get them to think deeply about their answers to your questions.
Sit with him as you both go through his stuff. As he picks something up and holds it, ask:
- Why do you want to keep this?
- How does this thing make you feel when you hold it? (Do you feel good energy or bad?)
- What stories (memories) does it make you think of when you see and touch it? (Is it valuable to your heart?)
- Who are you keeping it for?
- If not you, will this person want it when you plan to pass it on to them?
- How does this add to your life TODAY?
- Where will it go? And are you ok with it being there for years untouched? Taking up valuable space?
- And for what, remind me why you want to keep this?
Yea, this Q&A can be a long, tedious process. But hang in there! You’re diving into the depths of clutter, of history, or memories, and finding out why it’s still around. You’re learning more about him.
Plus, you’re not just tidying for today so it comes back again later. Your goal is a lasting decrease in the clutter. These questions will retrain the mind to think hard before bringing anything new into the house (more on that in another post).
Speaking of marriage and clutter, I think back to my parents. When I was growing up, my mom would buy everything brand new and my dad would hoard it all, even if mom was ready to buy the newer model and toss out the old. (She’s a bit of a shopaholic and my dad’s the packrat). That dynamic caused so much tension and so many problems, so I want my marriage to be different.
They’re divorced, but now the best of friends. I know the discord was because they didn’t do their individual work of decluttering their minds and hearts and then tackling the house.
It’s so easy to blame the person who brought the clutter with them. But that doesn’t help heal any relationship. Besides, clutter goes much deeper than a couple boxes on a U-Haul truck.
Honestly, I’m happy to help him declutter because this is my strength. And I’m able to declutter more of my stuff while we’re at it (!) because I’m in the zone. I start to question what am I bringing into this relationship that’s taking space away from just loving him.
Good thing is, he helps me declutter my junk (and stinkin’ thinkin’) too. He calls me on my ish all the time. Guess I should let him puff up his chest where his strengths are, too.
What is the biggest area of clutter for you and your partner?