My husband and I are decluttering our basement together. It’s a slow process. If you missed the earlier posts, you can read them here:
A Basement Update:
We’ve cleared the center of the basement area and we’re in the process of pulling things from the perimeter of the basement down and deciding if the items need to be kept, thrown out, or donated.
When the things on the perimeter are put in the center of the basement to be sorted, it looks like we’re right back at square one. It can be discouraging. A couple of people commented that it frequently gets worse before it gets better and I have to remember that. I have to keep in mind that we are making progress. Progress is the goal, not perfection.
You say Tomato, and I say Tomahto
It’s so easy to think that our way is the best way isn’t it? How is it that after 17 years of marriage we haven’t melded brains in the slightest? Surprise, surprise, we are still separate individuals with many complementary and conflicting differences.
These differences can stretch us in good ways (if we let ourselves be stretched) but they can also be frustrating. I am trying to stretch in the spirit of cooperation.
3 things I’m learning NOT to say while decluttering with my husband:
1. “You should….”
This is for all areas of marriage, but particularly for decluttering. I will start to say, “You should….(insert sage advice, according to me)” and I will get a blank stare. He has said to me, “You just said ‘you should’ and I stopped listening.” I don’t know why that surprises me – anytime someone says that to me, my knee jerk response is to resist as well.
Instead, I’m trying to get his input, “What do you think about this idea…” I am honestly open to his idea too. I don’t have a secret Plan B, other than the wild desire to throw everything out and start fresh. We are both clueless as to the best way to organize this basement, so we can only talk, dream, and scan with envy through Pinterest.
2. “Really? Are you sure you want to keep that?”
This reaction will usually get a firm, “Yes.” If there were any hint of desire to letting that item go, that question cemented his desire to hold onto it.
Instead of stating my thinly veiled contempt, I’m learning to hold my tongue and put it in the Keep pile.
The third is not something I say verbally, but it’s what I’m saying with my silence. In my effort to hold my tongue, I will sometimes hear myself sighing and not saying anything. My husband is a very intuitive man. He can hear my “judgy” tone in my sigh – like I said, we’ve been married 17 years.
Honestly, I don’t have an alternative to this. An alternative would be – don’t be so “judgy” and impatient! I know this, but like our basement, I am also a work in progress.
Other quick tips:
- Don’t declutter together when one of you is tired or hungry. It’s hard to be patient in either of those states.
- Don’t declutter when your children are having screen time. They will end up playing for hours!
- Don’t declutter when the weather is beautiful and there is low humidity. Get out and enjoy the beautiful weather with your beautiful family!
What wisdom do you all have on how to work well with your partners during a project?
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