Mess and Marriage (Or Couples and Clutter!)

Marriage. It goes something like this. “Honey, (trying to keep the irritation out of my voice) what is that pile of stuff that has been sitting on top of the dresser for 5 days and is growing like mold in a damp basement? Can I do something with it?” (Translation: When are you going to …..?) And the response? “Just. Leave. It.”

Or even worse. “Why is it bothering you?” (Really? You have to ask that question?)

Now I should know better. But, let’s be truthful here. I am much harder on my husband than I am on my clients. Frankly, I don’t have to live with my clients. Just to be fair, my husband has to live with me. Our organizing styles could not be more different. I am a filer; he’s a piler. I’m a concealer; yes, he’s a revealer. You get the idea.

Now the research shows we are not alone. According to a survey in a recent issue of Consumer Reports Magazine, men and women say they are the most different from their partners when it comes to putting things away properly. Here are more interesting statistics. Over 40% of couples fight about messes. The two things that drive most people crazy when out of place? Keys and bills. And, who is messier? 39% say men and 26% say women. Interestingly, over 67% put items away or clean up if a partner leaves stuff out of place. Only 21% ask their spouse to straighten up. (We all know where I fall in this survey!)

So how did my husband and I resolve our organizing differences? With a lot of humor, compromising on shared spaces, a large, clutter catch-all tray that lives on his side of the dresser, and a small, “man-caveish” room in our basement that I haven’t seen in years. Our secret to marital bliss!

Email me at and let me know how you manage mess and marriage. 


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