Reader Courtney submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:
I am getting divorced, and I’ll be moving from a roomy house to a one bedroom apartment this summer. This scenario raises two questions:
1) What do I do with all the “us” stuff that may have some sentimental value (we’re parting amicably), but takes up space? Prime example: wedding pictures.
2) What’s the best way to sell a lot of furniture/artwork/etc that won’t involve a large time investment? I know craigslist, etc, are valuable for getting rid of something large, but I need to downsize a lot and quickly, and the idea of negotiating 20 bajillion individual sales makes me cringe.
There’s a third somewhat related question:
3) Can you think of any other opportunities for uncluttering hidden in this situation?
Thanks for any advice you might have for me!
Before I get too deep into the post, I just wanted to say I’m sorry to read your marriage is ending. Even when divorces are amicable, they’re still emotionally draining and wrought with paperwork. I’m also sorry there aren’t more resources that discuss handling the physical stuff in a divorce. I hope I can help!
To answer your first question, I talked to my friend and asked her what she did with her wedding photographs. She was married before digital pictures were standard, and I really like the way she handled splitting their photographs:
With all my wedding/marriage items, I worked in phases. At first holding myself together emotionally was enough of a job! When we split things in half, we did the same with the pictures. He got the ones with his family and vice versa. And you know how you have gobs and gobs of group shots? We went halfsies with those, too.
I put the wedding album in a box in my closet when I moved. About a year later, I pulled the pictures out of the album, tossed the album, and kept the pictures that still made me smile. Which, was a decently sized stack. And I put them back in the box in my closet and that’s still where they are. Occasionally, I like to look at that very young, very pretty 23-year old me and appreciate her.
If your wedding pictures are digital, I would simply make sure that you each have a copy of the files. In time, you can decide if you want to keep or delete them.
Regarding your second question, I would get into touch with an Estate Sales professional. The American Society of Estate Liquidators has a Find an Associate feature that can help you locate someone in your area. You may not end up using the person you contact, but he or she should be able to help you find a single-sale solution. You can also do a Google search for “Estate Liquidators” in your area and check out the companies’ reputations through Angie’s List — just make sure the one you want to work with is insured and bonded. A good ol’ fashion yard sale might also work for you. Schedule a Goodwill or 1-800-Got-Junk truck to come at the end of the sale to haul off the things people didn’t buy.
Finally, to answer your third question, I think now is a great time to do some soul searching and really decide what it is you want for yourself in the next stage of your life. Only bring into your new home those things that you need and that inspire you. Cast off clothing that doesn’t pass the red velvet rope test, let your ex take all of those kitchen gadgets you never use, and donate your wedding dress to Brides Against Breast Cancer or another worthy cause.
Thank you, Courtney, for submitting your question for our Ask Unclutterer column. Please check the comments for more advice from our readers who have gone through similar situations and emerged on the other side. My best wishes for you!
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