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January 19, 2023


Is Clutter Ruining Your Relationship? Find Out NOW!


It is undeniable that you are affected by the habits of your partner. You are committed to one another, and you share space. In that space are all sorts of belongings, from furniture to clothes, books, kitchen items, hobby supplies, sports and fitness equipment, audio-visual equipment, etc. Growing up, one of you may have been told, “Cleanliness is next to godliness,” or “Everything has a place and everything in its place.”  One of you may have grown up in a cluttered yet comfortable household and are at peace amongst the household items that never seem to make it to the drawer, closet, garage, etc. There are many reasons that you and your partner may struggle with clutter. It could be rebellious or passive-aggressive acting out. The busyness of life doesn’t allow time for organizing. Maybe you were never taught how to organize your stuff. Mental health issues can also be a factor, leading to hoarding. This blog can’t fully address all of the reasons for clutter, but I will address the effects of clutter and some practical ways to deal with it if it is an issue in your relationship.


Negative Effects of Clutter


  • “Low Grade” Stress

This generalized stress is an undercurrent in the life of a person who cannot feel relaxed in their environment. This kind of stress bleeds intoLove Recon IS CLUTTER RUINING YOUR RELATIONSHIP body every part of their relationship. Arguments about nothing can be a sign of this. If your spouse is feeling stressed, chances are you are also feeling stressed. Clutter, therefore, not only affects your spouse but also creates a stressful atmosphere for you.


  • A Sense of Weariness

Clutter is emotionally heavy. Walking into a cluttered room or garage can be overwhelming for some people. You may not realize it, but your cluttering could be causing your partner to feel frustrated, exhausted, and maybe angry about the mess and the tension between you.


  • Judging and Arguing

Clutter becomes a frequent topic of conversation. Unfortunately, nothing changes, so the non-clutterer may become frustrated and judge or verbally put down their spouse. As a result, their spouse may become defensive or combative, and no understanding or resolution is found.


  • Feeling Devalued

If your spouse lets you know specific clutter that bothers them, and you continue to clutter, they feel devalued and not considered worthy of the effort. It could be as simple as leaving your shoes in the den and not putting them in the closet. Each time they see your shoes in the middle of the floor, they will feel disrespected by you.


  • Inability to Enjoy Life and People’’

You would love to invite friends to your home for dinner, but that would require hours of decluttering and organizing. You can’t seem to get motivated and may be feeling stifled. All your relationships suffer because you are not participating in activities. Your partner may begin to feel disconnected from you and resentful because you are also stifling them.

  • Financial Difficulties

You can’t find the shoes you want to wear to an event, so you buy another pair. Things are lost or buried in your piles of stuff, so you repurchase what you already own because it’s easier than organizing. Shopping could even be “retail therapy” because it makes you feel better, but you are gathering more stuff to add to the pile. You make unplanned purchases for unnecessary items and therefore accumulate more clutter. And, of course, financial difficulties will put extra strain on your relationship and, in some cases, even end the relationship.


Steps to Deal with Clutter


If the signs and symptoms of clutter above are evident in your relationship, then cluttering is an issue. Here are some simple steps to resolve the problem.

  1. Listen to what your partner says and how they feel about the clutter. Be willing to hear what they say, and don’t get defensive. Recognize that the clutter (maybe mostly done by you) is a real problem. Don’t deny or dismiss it.
  2. Get Organized. Take a weekend and get organized. Donate items that you haven’t used for months … or years! Put your stuff in some semblance of order. Recycle the recyclables and throw things away. You will feel better, maybe if only because your spouse is happier.
  3. Make Room. Clear out space in your closet(s), bedroom(s), study, garage, etc., so you will have room to keep what you want.
  4. Get Help. If you don’t have the time to get organized, or if it’s not in your skill set, hire someone to help you. The cost of a professional organizer will be worth it if it creates a more peaceful, enjoyable, and stress-free environment in your home.
  5. Designate Clutter-Free Spaces. This could be your bedroom, bathroom, workspace, or wherever you like to relax and recharge.
  6. Establish Clear Up Clutter Routines. When my wife and I raised a family, our “clear up the clutter days” were Mondays and Thursdays. However, any day of the week that you saw something out of place, you were to pick it up and put it on the bed of the person to whom it belonged. Our motto was, “Don’t pass it up. Pick it up.” Then the person who owned the item would need to “put it up” so they could go to bed or leave it in a pile on the floor until Monday or Thursday. It was their choice. We still have the routines, even though it’s just the two of us in the house.
  7. Learn the Value of Things. I’m not talking about monetary value here, but the place things occupy in your life. Do you own them, or do they own you? Would keeping and maintaining so much stuff give you a sense of peace, make your relationship happier, or bring you more joy?

You don’t have to become a strict minimalist and get rid of all your things. With communication, patience, and love, you can find a way to make both of you comfortable. Begin by understanding that your other half might be oblivious to the clutter and the effect that it is having on you. If you, however, are the messy one, be understanding and realize that your clutter could overwhelm your spouse. Whichever one you are, be willing to compromise and meet in the middle.

If you want to discuss how we can help you and your relationship, please get in touch with me at [email protected] or call 866-218-1716. You may also visit our website, www.LoveRecon.org, for testimonials and information.

About the author 

Cliff Poe

Cliff Poe is Founder and Lead Coach for Recon Coaching. He and his wife, Jeani, are Master Coaches and their passion is to help individuals and couples form healthy, lasting and satisfying relationships. Cliff has a M.Div. in pastoral counseling and ministry. He enjoys writing and coaching as well as his family which includes 2 adult kids and their spouses, 6 grandchildren and a fur family composed of a Golden Retriever and a Mackerel Tabby.

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