Organizing Shouldn’t Be A Game Of Hot Potato

Organizing Shouldn’t Be A Game Of Hot Potato

Even if spouses don’t agree on how to organize, organizing shouldn’t be a game of Hot Potato. In the game, players toss an object quickly between them while music plays. The last one holding the object when the music stops is the loser. It can be like that with organizing if you’re tossing blame back and forth. But in marriage, if one of you loses, you both lose.

“You” And “I” Become . . .

People come into marriage with different ideas on the importance of organizing. One spouse may have come from a home where tidiness is next to godliness. The other spouse may have come from a home that was one step away from being condemned. When two people marry, they have to figure out how “you” and “I” become “we”–even regarding organizing.

different colored potatoes
mashed potatoes

. . . “We”!

It’s possible to blend Spouse A’s style (doesn’t want any clutter in the home) with Spouse B’s style (isn’t sure clutter is a real thing).

Examples how spouses differ and one possible solution:

Spouse B is very visual and is concerned that out-of-sight is out-of-mind. Putting paperwork in a file drawer incites fear they won’t be able to find the papers they need or they’ll forget to handle a particular project. Spouse A just sees a mess of paperwork.

Use colored folders to group paperwork by project. Papers are tucked away but the colors quickly point to a particular project for easy retrieval.

Spouse B lost a parent and many belongings from that parent have come into your home. Spouse B sees these belongings as an extension of the deceased parent and struggles with discarding anything (this can be true whether the relationship was good or bad) but Spouse A sees them as clutter.

This tough situation requires patience and empathy. Spouse B needs time to process their grief but, at some point, must respect Spouse A’s need to not live in a home with 4 couches, 8 easy chairs, and 2 dining room tables. It’s good to remember that the deceased parent wouldn’t want Spouse B and the family living in a home that no longer functions well or has the family living in emotional turmoil. Together, choose items that fit your home, lifestyle, and really meant something to the deceased parent. Let the rest go to a thrift store to bless someone else.

Spouse B is resistant to Spouse A taking charge of decluttering because they fear their belongings will be arbitrarily thrown away.

With Spouse B’s agreement, Spouse A creates “keep” and “suggested discard” piles in areas that both agree should be decluttered. Spouse B scans the “keep” pile to see if there’s anything they would be OK discarding as long as Spouse A agrees. Then, Spouse B moves to the “suggested discard” pile and to see if there’s anything they want to move to the “keep” pile. Whatever is left in the “suggested discard” pile will be discarded by Spouse A. However, if Spouse B moves everything to the “keep” pile, A and B need to step back and re-establish their wants, needs, and goals. Or, if Spouse B takes an excessively long time to make decisions, set a timer for an agreed upon time to make decisions.

Finding the “we” in marriage can be challenging whether it relates to clutter or where to spend Thanksgiving, but it’s essential. With give and take from both spouses and sometimes outside help from someone like Unjumbled, you can do it!

potato shaped like a heart
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