You know the worst kind of clutter?
The piles in my house that are actually other people’s stuff.
Not that I don’t have my own clutter. I do. I totally do.
But for some reason, my own clutter doesn’t get on my nerves nearly as much as other people’s clutter gets on my nerves.
First of all, I can usually recognize the reason/excuse for my own clutter. I know (or think I know) what it will take to finish my own unfinished project. I know why that particular collection of things landed in that particular spot.
I’ve learned the hard way over the years that the only way to actually make any progress in my house and also maintain the loving feeling in the family is to first focus on my own clutter piles instead of ignoring them while I focus on his.
But then there’s the matter of the joint piles.
The ones that have stuff of both of ours, but I assume it’s mostly his stuff.
I’ve resented this spot for a very long time. Probably years. When we have people over to our house for anything official, I generally move the nearby breakfast table up against the wall and hide this shelf under it.
But lately, it had become extra embarrassing.
The piles were bigger and more teeter-ey.
And I was more annoyed.
This small shelf is where my husband and I keep our Bibles and Bible Study stuff. Obviously, other stuff lands there, too.
But he has more stuff. As an adult Bible study teacher, he has materials and handouts and commentary and such.
I was convinced that 99.9%, or at least 95.1% of the stuff on this eyesore was his.
But then I remembered my own hard-won-by-experience advice to focus on less. And to make spaces better even when they can’t be perfect.
And most of all, to focus on my own stuff and neutral stuff first, even when I really wish someone else would just take care of their junk already.
And this is what happened:
Just by working through my decluttering steps and only purging my own stuff and neutral stuff.
And straightening. Obviously.
I was pretty sure there was some stuff in there he’d surely get rid of if he went through it, but I knew it would stress him out to not get to go through it himself.
But even leaving that, with a little straightening and purging, I felt so much better about this space and about my home and honestly, about life overall.
And I felt bad for blaming him for the entire mess for so many months/years.
And as soon as he saw it, he saw that the two items on top obviously needed to go.
Which made it even better. Even if it wasn’t perfect.
Better is good.
And yes, the rolling computer bag to the left of the shelf? Totally mine. And that’s a backpack to the right. It’s still better . . .
Wow. This post couldn’t have shown up in my email at a better time. Thank you, and Happy Easter!
I really relate to this.
For me, it’s my kids’s stuff – it drives me absolutely bananas when they don’t put their things away as soon as they walk in the door.
I call them out on it – while stepping over my own shoes that are on the floor at the foot of the stairs leading from our garage up to the rest of the house.
For me, it feels like “I can barely keep my own crap together, I can’t deal with anyone else’s!”
I just moved in with my sister. Into the house that we grew up in. Where a lot of my late mom and dad and brother lived. And where, a few years ago, we had to remove EVERYTHING from the attic for new furnace ductwork.
Before I moved, I purged a lot of my clothing, paperwork and some furniture.
My sister is handicapped and doesn’t move around well. Our decluttering method is for me to bring her a box of stuff and I literally hand her each item from the box. Her pace is maddeningly slow as she examines EVERYTHING. But God has blessed me with an abundance of patience as we go about combining households.
After all, I wouldn’t want somebody pitching MY stuff without me looking at it.
Thank you for this post. Very important to ‘watch for that log in our eye…’
Cheryl Sayles says
Your right I’ve been focusing on my husband clutter way to long. Now it’s time to deal with mine. And move on
Trying to remove the splinter in their eye, while we’ve got a log in our own. yep. that sounds about right. haha…sigh.
Thanks, Dana! Just what I needed to hear today. I was just looking at his piles this morning. Thanks for reminding me that mine are what I need to focus on. You’re awesome, as always.
Theresa Andresen says
I am looking for advice on how to become comfortable living with visual clutter. After reading Dana’s books and following this blog for a couple of years now, this 66-year-old with a spouse of 39 years still can’t figure out how to compromise. I like everything put away “in it’s place” – he wants everything “out where he can see it” – in his defense, he’s had a stroke and suffered some short term memory issues – but his “medical log” living on our kitchen table so that he remembers to take his BP and sugar readings DRIVES ME NUTS! I cleaned out two of my kitchen drawers for him to keep his diabetic supplies, medical logs etc. in a handy place and he now has them filled with junk and the important stuff scattered all over my kitchen counter tops and table. Every time I put things away, he’s mad and tries to lay it on me that he’ll forget to do his checks and write in his log. This is just ONE example (the most frustrating one) – I won’t even get into his hoarded basement man cave or out two car garage that only has room for one car!
Check out Clutterbugs different styles. Sounds like you sort and store things differently, wich is normal. The trick is to know how both prefer and find a middelground.
About the first time I’ve seen reference anywhere to husbands who may actually participate in not just clutter but also cooking and cleaning. Thank you!