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?
Linking to these great parties: Merry Monday, Monday Madness, TGI Saturdays, Small Victories Sunday, Two Uses Tuesday
Daisy @ Simplicity Relished says
LOVE this piece! We often talk about decluttering as a means to an end, but don’t think about the relational and emotional ramifications of doing so. Thanks for breaking it down so well!
Thanks Daisy. I’m finding that decluttering your own things is much easier than collaborating with a spouse or partner! It’s helping me in so many ways though – slowing down, considering other people’s priorities, and practicing loving words and actions. Good stuff for sure!
Kristy as Giftie Etcetera says
It’s really hard for me, because I’m not attached to stuff and he is!
I’m not quite as sentimental as my husband is either so I know that can be challenging! Ultimately though I have to remind myself that our relationship is more important than a decluttered basement.
We can’t do anything together if one of us is tired or hungry! Even talk, usually! lol
Great job holding your tongue, and learning how to phrase stuff.
You’re so funny Melinda!I’m trying, I really am…
Angela, I am working on de cluttering my sewing room. I have a magnificent fabric stash. Now that sentence alone should tell you how hard this is for me. My husband, if he was alive, would never have let me get so out of hand. I will be looking for more posts in this series. Thank you for sharing.
Maria, thank you for reading and commenting. It sounds like the fabric stash brings you a lot of joy! Thanks for following along.
Oh my gosh, my kids have enjoyed many screen time marathons while I decluttered — you are absolutely right: they need to be otherwise occupied! I thank you for your great advice on decluttering with someone who resists letting things go; I’m guilty of each of your points and I appreciate your insight and ideas for expressing opinions more gently. I’m following your basement makeover; I look forward to the After!
Thanks Carissa! Glad we’re not the only ones! Thanks for following along – I appreciate it!
Gail Akeman says
Thank you joining the Small victories Sunday Linkup party. Please join again. Pinned to the group board.
Thanks Gail! I’ll be sure to come by again this week!
How funny. I think I do all these 3 things with my husband 🙂 Although in my defense, my husband needs an extra push to get rid of things.
Hi Erlene! No need to defend yourself with me! I’m so tempted to push – but it doesn’t work for me! *Sigh* 🙂 I appreciate you reading and commenting!
This is hilarious! We tend to be like this when we cook. so we try to stay out of each other’s hair we when do that. Thanks for sharing. #ConfessionsLinkUp
Thank you Angela 🙂 You are so right with these words of wisdom!
We are decluttering to sell the house and I am the pack rat part of the marriage. I have done REALLY well in letting many things go but have stood firm on many other things that my hubby would have just tossed given the choice. I finally said to him that I’m trying! He got the message that I’m a work in progress as you stated and that I can only be pushed too far.
Funnily enough when we finished packing the ‘keep’ boxes (and after I had purged many things to the trash and donation location) he looked around the basement and said he was surprised at how few boxes there ended up being. LOL Was a big ah-ha moment for him as well as me…
Thank you so much Ann for reading and commenting. It seems like “odd couples” are much more frequent than 2 “pack rats” or 2 “neat freaks”. It’s definitely a growing experience for both of us! It sounds like you and your husband did a great job together!