What can you do if the clutter in your home isn’t yours but belongs to a partner who refuses to do anything about it?
An American woman wrote to me once to say, “85% of what is cluttering up the energy of our home belongs to my boyfriend from before we met. There is nothing in this house that represents US together. I have asked him about doing some clearing and reading your book, but he is saying it’s stupid and all in my head. I love him and I believe that if he would just understand and maybe even just remove those things, he might be happier too.
How can I get him with the program? I feel trapped and soooo unhappy. He came from a very unhappy marriage and there are things that he brought from that relationship that he isn’t willing to let go of. When we moved in together, I took my kitchen table and chairs and clothes and a few other things. That’s it!! I gave up everything that fit into a beautiful 3 bedroom house with a two car garage to live in a 2 bedroom single-wide trailer because he didn’t feel comfortable in my house. I want a home that reflects US, not HIM!! Please tell me what I can say to get him to understand.”
In Chapter 14 of my book, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, I explain that there are only two remedies I have consistently found to be effective in dealing with other people’s clutter. The first is education and the second is leading by example.
By education I mean getting your partner to understand that the stagnant energy that accumulates around clutter can make it more of a liability than an asset. Trying to convince them of this yourself doesn’t usually work. Getting them to read about it is much more effective because then they’re discovering the information for themselves. Most people who have clutter suffer from constipation, so you don’t even need to suggest they read the book. Just leave it where they’ll have time to read it (!) and you can even put a bookmark in the page you want them to start reading at to intrigue them to open the book and begin.
The other approach, leading by example, also involves you saying nothing at all to your partner. You just get on with clearing your own clutter and very often they will get the idea to start doing it too. Again, this is effective because they feel they had the idea all by themselves.
What doesn’t work at all is nagging your partner about their stuff. This usually only makes them more entrenched about hanging on to it. And pleading rarely works either. Something fundamental has to change in a person’s belief system for them to see clutter clearing as a positive step rather than a chore or a process that will destabilize them or cause them to feel at loss in some way.
The important thing to understand about clutter in relationships is that it’s only a symptom of deeper underlying issues. When one partner lives clutter-free and the other does not, it highlights a fundamental difference in beliefs, values and emotional makeup which is sure to be reflected in other areas of their relationship too. The good news is that if the clutterholic partner finds their way, as a result of education or example, to changing their habits, they become less emotionally attached to their stuff and more emotionally available to their partner too.
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