Psychologists tend to focus on three biggies that need to be addressed in a loving relationship: the balance of power, sex, and money. But in my experience, there is a fourth biggie that also needs to be taken into account these days — clutter.
A “biggie” is something that can make or break a relationship if it becomes a major issue of contention. Many hurdles usually need to be overcome to establish a happy co-existence in the arenas of power, sex and money, but clutter issues go very deep too and are sometimes insurmountable. It’s not about the items themselves but about the way they reveal the different values that each partner has. When one person lives clutter-free and their partner does not, it highlights a fundamental difference in beliefs, values and emotional makeup which is sure to affect all aspects of the relationship in some way.
Clutter issues between partners
In Chapter 14 of my book, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, I explain:
Merely discussing your partner’s clutter with them can quickly bring to the surface issues that have long been buried in a relationship. Nagging, arguing, threatening and issuing ultimatums only makes clutterholics more entrenched, and NEVER, EVER, EVER clear their clutter for them unless they specifically ask you to do so. People have deep emotional attachments to their junk and can get very upset or even go berserk if it is tampered with.
There are only two solutions I have consistently found to work. They are:
Most people have no idea how much clutter affects them and holds them back. They don’t understand that the stagnant energy that accumulates around clutter can cause them to feel stuck in life and how clearing it allows them to move forward.
Attempting to explain this to a partner is generally not the best approach because they may feel you are trying to manipulate them and change them to your way of doing things. But if you can get them to learn about the benefits of clutter clearing themselves by reading a book, they can have their own realizations about it and are more likely to act.
This article explains an effective way to help them: Here’s an experiment you can try
Leading by example
Leading by example means forging ahead and doing your own clutter clearing, regardless of how resistant your partner is to doing it too. Tackle your own personal possessions and ignore theirs. Sort through your stuff purely for your own satisfaction because you want to improve your quality of life.
In the Fast Track Clutter Clearing online courses I lead, there’s a lovely phenomenon I call ‘The Clutter Clearing Ripple Effect’ that occurs without fail. At least 10% of participants (and often more) find that doing their own clutter clearing without saying anything to anyone about it often inspires a partner, relative, close friend or neighbour to spontaneously start clutter clearing too. Somehow it rubs off on them and they embrace it as their own idea.
Read more about The Clutter Clearing Ripple Effect
How clutter clearing can benefit a relationship
To some degree, anyone who has clutter uses it to suppress emotions of some kind in some way. Intuitively, people know this, and one of the main reasons they put off decluttering is to avoid feeling the emotions that can surface during the process.
However, when you and your partner both work through your feelings as you clear your clutter, it opens the door to deeper levels of emotional and sexual intimacy between you. You will not only have a clutter-free home but also a deeper and more meaningful relationship too. This may seem a little scary at first, but if you value the relationship and are willing to open, you’ll discover a whole host of benefits that come with living clutter-free.
What to do if your partner won’t change
If neither of the two tactics I’ve described in this article work for you, there’s a strong possibility your relationship will not survive or will not thrive. If one partner is attached to clutter and the other is not, it’s like living on opposite sides of a bridge that neither person is willing to cross.
But even if clearing your own clutter does not inspire your partner to do likewise, I still recommend doing it for yourself. Focus on how much better it makes you feel, and the way forward for you both will gradually unfold.
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Copyright © Karen Kingston 2018