Do you feel animosity toward others in your home about their disorganization?

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!

11 Comments for “Do you feel animosity toward others in your home about their disorganization?”

  1. posted by Little Miss Moneybags on

    This is so important.

    I’m definitely more of a neatfreak than any roommate I’ve ever lived with, and it used to really bother me. A few years ago, I decided to let it go–it’s important to ME that things be a certain level of clean, so I have to keep it that way. My relationship with all my roommates since then improved dramatically.

    But yeah, it’s still irritating. You know how some people are messy, but not dirty? My roommate is the opposite–she’s not cluttered or disorganized, but she won’t see a dust bunny till it walks up and bites her. She cleans her hamster cages only after I complain (that’s one thing I will NOT do). She has never scrubbed the shower since we moved in together. I try not to dwell on it, because if I lived alone, I’d still have to do the same work that I’m doing now, and it makes ME happy to have a sparkly bathroom or kitchen. That she benefits is a lucky break for her, but I can’t be resentful about the amount of work that I’m doing or we won’t be able to live together.

  2. posted by Frank Rosquin on

    I actually think that this is exactly what is required to make a marriage work.

    Not how you did it, but THAT you did it. The fact that you saw a problem, and talked about it.

    Well done ^^

  3. posted by Kathryn on

    I think one thing that helped your strategy work in your situation is that (to oversimplify somewhat) *you* were the one with the problem, and you were the one who took the initiative to come up with some solutions. Things would not have played out the way they did if you hadn’t that lightbulb moment when you realized you were creating unnecessary friction in your life and your marriage. If you’re on the receiving end of someone else’s clutter issues, it can be challenging to nudge them toward their own lightbulb moment.

  4. posted by Kate on

    I give you CHORE WARS!!!!

    http://www.chorewars.com/

    Never had to use it, but doesn’t it look fun 🙂

  5. posted by Erin @ Unclutterer on

    @Kate — I totally agree!! That site is awesome 🙂

  6. posted by links for 2007-10-31 on

    […] Unclutterer » Archive » Do you feel animosity toward others in your home about their disorganizati… (tags: gtd lifehacks relationships) […]

  7. posted by Kathryn on

    @Kate

    We actually tried out ChoreWars…when I wound up with more experience points than everyone else in our party combined after a few weeks, I found it pretty discouraging on a level that no amount of virtual treasure or gold could counteract.

  8. posted by 1husband2sons on

    All I want is for my family to put away what they use. Is that too much to ask? Most clutter happens when things taken out are not put away. Why is this so daunting a task for some?

  9. posted by Juli on

    The Unclutterer Blogger said: “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.”

    “….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.”

    OH! YOU ARE ME! That is so exactly our situation. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to go about resolving it as easily as you did, since my husband is not big on sit-down discussions – and who has time for them ANYWAY? We do, right now, have a tower of organizing bins (I LOVE THEM, but I may abuse the concept) stacked up, awaiting a final decision and purchase of a shed/barn/somewhere else to put stuff building.

  10. posted by Khürt Louis Francis Elliot Williams on

    Yes, I am pissed! At myself. For allowing the people around me to clutter my life. Even when I take on ( over ) tasks that are not being done I am agitated because I know that within a day my work will be undone. I live with a person who has trouble throwing out moudly food but who has no problem over buying ( she calls it cost saving ) at the grocery store. A person who laments that we need new dishes but refuses to toss out the chipped ones. Who has clothes from two pregnancies and four dress sizes ago but loves a sale. Aarrgh!!!

  11. posted by Keter on

    @ Khürt Louis Francis Elliot Williams: Ouch! You *are* ticked…. I hope you and your SO sit down and go through the process described in this article, but the key here for you, I think, is to set aside resentment and listen. The symptoms you seem to describe are typical of someone who is deathly afraid of being poor or who has been very poor (the overbuying food thing is a powerful sign). I used to be like that and it takes a paradigm shift and a HUGE leap of faith to get over it. Facing anger won’t do it…talking it out in a caring manner might.

    Talking it through in a caring manner also may help you determine if the problem is tending toward something more serious – hoarding disorder. You might want to look that up to learn its warning signs (the moldy food thing is one of them). If you suspect hoarding disorder, professional counseling is needed – and you need to go, too, because you’ll need to learn techniques that will empower you to be supportive and not enabling. Best wishes for an uncluttered future. :o)

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