When Organizing Styles Collide

When Organizing Styles Collide

Nancy married Mark expecting years of wedded bliss. Mark was handsome, funny, intelligent, and the love of her life. But as the years passed, Nancy wondered if she had made a horrible mistake. Mark is also MESSY. If his clothes hit the hamper, it’s the outside rather than the inside. Every piece of paper might be important and should be kept. Every nut, bolt, screw, and whatchamacallit could be useful later.

As it turns out, bliss only lasts for a while before life gets real. Nancy felt that Mark didn’t care about their home or her since his mess seemed to be more important to him than she was.

Fiery arrow pierces icy heart

Nancy was ready to throw in the towel but, thankfully, reached out for professional organizing help instead. She learned that Mark isn’t being disrespectful, but he looks at clutter differently than she does. Figuring out that his messiness isn’t personal was a big first step.

Hot potato with the words organizing shouldn't be a game of hot potato

After thinking through their different ideas about clutter, Nancy decided to look for the “we” in marriage. With help from Unjumbled, she and Mark talked about what is important to them individually and as a couple. Mark was willing to part with some things and let Nancy move others to places that are “out of sight, out of mind” for him because she can remind him where they are if he needs them.

Not surprisingly, life didn’t become a field of daisies for Nancy. Mark’s clothing still didn’t hit the inside of the hamper, there was still more paperwork lying around than she liked, and wrenches still sat on her kitchen countertop for weeks. Their home was better, but not quite what she needed and wanted.

Get Help! Get Creative!

Time to get creative! Unjumbled was able to make suggestions that worked for Nancy and Mark. Every home and family is different, but here’s what Nancy and Mark did along with additional ideas. Nancy didn’t get everything she wanted, but she and Mark have solutions that work for them, and they’re much happier now.

Create Separate Spaces To Avoid Frustration

Separate closets are a great place to start. Nancy and Mark have only one closet in their bedroom, but most of Mark’s clothes go in his dresser, so Nancy took over the closet, and Mark’s few items of clothing that require hanging were moved to the guest bedroom closet.

If Mark had needed more closet space, they could have considered converting that guest bedroom to a dressing room for Nancy so that all of her things went in there and were moved back to their bedroom when guests came to stay.

Define Space Ownership In Key Rooms

Nancy does most of the cooking in their family. They agreed she would have “ownership” of the kitchen and determine what “lives” there. For instance, Mark has a rarely-used set of cast iron pots his mother gave him that he doesn’t want to give away. They were boxed and moved to the basement. Mark doesn’t love that they aren’t in the kitchen but agrees they’re rarely used. Nancy doesn’t love that there’s one more box in the basement but appreciates that she has more room in the kitchen.

Mark is willing to pare down the paperwork he’s keeping but never seems to get around to it. Rather than Nancy continuing to be bothered and nag, they will convert their unused formal dining room into a home office, put up a 5’ folding table, and add a divider so he can spread out his paperwork with less visibility. Mark has agreed that once the table is full (i.e. things are falling off), he’ll clear it. If he takes longer than two weeks to do it, he’s agreed Nancy can help. Nancy has promised she won’t be ruthless if/when she does jump in.

Shift Things Around To Make The Mess As Invisible As Possible

Nancy always slept on the right side of the bed with Mark on the left. They switched places so that Mark now sleeps on the right side which isn’t seen when they walk into their bedroom. His side is still covered with shoes and clothing, but it’s less visible to Nancy when she walks into the room. She wishes the mess weren’t there but appreciates not having to see it unless she walks around to his side of the bed. Mark is happy that Nancy isn’t nagging him to pick up his clothing (much) anymore.

Nuts, bolts, and fix-it paraphernalia of varying sizes are often a source of clutter angst. An organized workshop would be great, but it isn’t always feasible. However, containing this paraphernalia, even if done less than optimally, is worth thinking through. Consider dedicating a portion of the basement as a workshop and putting up curtains or a divider to block the area. Sometimes big decisions like converting the garage to a workshop (even though it means parking a car or two outside) can preserve marital harmony. A good trade-off!

Marriages need love PLUS communication, compromise, and creativity

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