If you share your living space with another person, you have probably thought at one point or another that you were doing more to keep the place clutter free and organized than the other person. Maybe you still feel this way?
My post “Photographing your mementos” is a confession that I have not always been committed to simple living practices. It’s safe to say that until five or six years ago, I was the one annoying my husband and former roommates with my disorganization.
It wasn’t until I had been married for a few months that I started to notice that I was a problem. I didn’t want to be the problem, so I asked my husband if we could work to find a level of contentment between our two styles. He happily agreed because he was on the verge of erupting.
He suggested that we each make two lists. One list should detail our vision for our living space and the other list should explain what we do around the house to achieve that vision.
After we made our lists, we compared them and talked about what they said. We were surprised with the results.
For starters, our visions weren’t that different. We both wanted a place for everything in our home. The difference was that I thought we needed a bigger home for all of our things, and he thought we needed fewer things for our current home. After talking about our financial status and how we needed to be in our place for at least three or more years, I saw that my “bigger home” solution wasn’t practical. We couldn’t stay stuffed in a place for that amount of time. Yes, I wanted a bigger place, but I wasn’t going to sacrifice my husband’s sanity until we could get it.
Second, we found that our lists explaining what we did around the house to achieve our visions were extremely lopsided. And, strangely, I was doing more work than he was. It was not what we had expected at all. What we had expected, and what was true to some extent, was that I wasn’t doing the few things that he wanted me to do and, as a result, he was dismissing everything else I was doing. To fix this and the lopsided problem, we drew up a new list with all of the actions on it, and then went through and evenly divided the list. For a while, we even hung the list up in our kitchen to keep us on track.
I’m not going to say that making these lists saved our marriage, but they did help to make living together easier. If you are frustrated with the state of your home and how other people factor in on those feelings, you may want to try a similar exercise. Keep feelings out of the discussion and just focus on being honest and open with yourself and the other person or persons. Maybe even do it over hot chocolate and cookies at your local coffee shop to put a little fun into the activity. Communicating about everyone’s vision and what they do to achieve that vision can be eye opening for everyone involved. Good luck!