I grew up in a family who was fond of making piles around the house. There was a pile of paperwork on the steps, a pile of mail next to the refrigerator, and a bottomless pile of magazines and newspapers ready to be recycled. This ‘love’ for clutter even extended to our bedrooms. Although my sister’s room was the worst, my room always had a sea of clothes covering the floor and a pile of books next to my bed.
In contrast, my husband, Dan, grew up with a love of organization. He comes from a family of six kids, so his need for order was really born out of a necessity to keep his younger siblings’ sticky little hands away from his stuff. If you left it out, it was sure to get ruined, so he developed good organizational habits pretty quickly!
My Piles of Junk vs. His Need for Order
After Dan and I got married, I started forming clutter piles for the both of us – what a great wife I was! As you can imagine, my side of the bed had my beloved pile of books and a mountain of paperwork was growing nicely on our dining room table. Clueless to the way these piles made Dan feel, I kept habitually forming new ones.
I don’t remember how long it was before Dan brought it up, but being organized was the topic of one of our first tough conversations as a newlywed couple. He explained to me that although I thought of these piles as my way of organizing, he thought of them as heaps of clutter and they made him feel anxious.
We sat down and talked about ways to deal with the situation. I wasn’t going to be a natural at keeping everything super organized, and he wasn’t going to be comfortable with my clutter, so we had to meet somewhere in the middle.
As with any good marriage, Dan and I learned to communicate and compromise together. We went shopping for a bookshelf for my side of the bed and file bins for the dining room. He didn’t love seeing the file bins, but he was happy that the paperwork was becoming organized in one place.
In the first year of marriage, it can be difficult to get used to thinking about another person and how some of your habits may affect them. It was tough for me to get used to putting things away (gasp). Now that I knew how important a clutter-free zone was to him, I slowly came around and saw the error of my ways. It helped knowing how my clutter made him feel because I didn’t want it to be the cause of his anxious feelings.
Over the years, we have developed our own way of staying organized as a couple. I have learned to appreciate how organized Dan is, and he has even taken to creating a pile or two. Of course, they are full of things he wants me to put away!