Decluttering Couples



Are you and your partner the classic yin and yang? While they do say opposites attract, opposite behavior when it comes to home organization can attract some nasty arguments… with the mess remaining perfectly in tact. Here at ShipShape, we recognize that a decluttered home leads to a healthier relationship – so allow us to put on our relationship organizer hats and dispense some helpful advice for tackling those tough messes in your home.

1. Identify each partner’s strengths and weaknesses. For example: Perhaps one of you is the “keeper,” and the other is the “minimalist.” Figuring out what role you play may be the key to preventing unwanted arguments. If you’re the keeper, you may be the perfect person for family archiving/organizing projects – that way you’ll never lose that adorable picture of your pup or last year’s tax return. If you’re the minimalist, tackle projects that suit your strengths – tedious, but necessary yard work or keeping the fridge from overflowing. Being real with each other and recognizing your role will save you time, money, and Tylenol!

Even clean-freak Monica had a secret messy closet!

Even clean-freak Monica had a secret messy closet!

2. Come to an agreement about doing the project together. Don’t let one person dominate the whole project, that is, unless one half of the couple is totally unwilling to participate. The willing partner should then start with their own space and their own belongings…. eventually inspiring that recalcitrant partner to take care of their own stuff. The key here: No nagging involved.

3. Think dollars and (common) sense. Reframe the problem at hand in financial terms. Believe it or not, there is a cost associated with keeping all that clutter. Start by figuring out the square footage the clutter takes up. For example: if you pay $2,000 per month in rent for 1,000 square feet of living space that comes to $2 per square foot. If you allow clutter to take up one 10 x 15 foot room (150 sq. ft) that equals $300 per month, or $3,600 a year! Now think about that vacation you’ve been meaning to take… the one with the margaritas by the beach? We think we know which one you’d choose.

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

4. Speaking of that vacation…. If you meet resistance from your partner, try this game: Pretend you’ll be traveling for 6 months. Set aside what you would need, pack up what is left and put it in an off-site storage facility for 3 months. Notice what it feels like to live with less.. and notice what you miss and what you don’t – you will most likely surprise yourself!

5. Checks and balances. Decluttering may upset the balance of your relationship. Taking the time to check with your partner and consider his/her feelings will considerably ease the process. Be gentle, take time to check in with each other emotionally. Set ground rules:  ask instead of accuse, no name calling, treat sensitive topics with extra TLC. Just like a good ole fashioned decluttering takes time and patience, so does working well with your partner. Don’t set unreasonable deadlines, but don’t let it go too long without fixing… it’s all about balance!



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2 thoughts on “Decluttering Couples

  1. Gail Enfiajian

    Your advice has always been so right on. So, after reading this blog, I immediately put some of the advice into action (decluttering couples). Worked great. Now, I am looking for some brilliant advice on how to get rid of flab. Looking forward to your next blog advice.

    Be well

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