If the de-cluttering bug has you sorting through drawers, closets and your garage and basement, you’re in good company. As spring takes root, many of us feel the urge to go through our possessions and get rid of what’s broken, collecting dust, hasn’t fit for years or doesn’t match anything else in the house.
It’s a satisfying feeling to fill boxes and bags with unwanted items and then donate them to charity or a local thrift store. It’s even better to have more space in your home and a clearer, cleaner living environment.
What would it be like if you applied your de-cluttering zeal to your relationship? Or, to put it another way, what will happen if you and your spouse or partner just continue on as you have been, allowing a whole lot of unwanted (and unhealthy) “stuff” to build up between you?
There’s no question really...
When you let “clutter” and “broken” habits, actions and words pile up in your marriage, it’s more than just an annoyance; this can become a potential threat to your relationship!
Here’s what happened with Kim and Dan...
Kim is always exhausted and she didn’t used to feel this way. She can’t remember the last time she and Dan laughed together or had anything resembling fun. She can barely remember a time when their marriage felt easy or even natural. It seems like heaps of criticism, mounds of disappointment and piles of mistrust have blocked out not just the light-heartedness that they used to share, but the affection and love too. Kim feels overwhelmed by it all and worries that their marriage can’t stand the strain much longer.
This is what happens over time.
“Little” arguments that never get resolved and misunderstandings that get more and more tense are just two things that constitute clutter. They’re not serving you or your relationship, but you keep them around anyway-- even if you don’t intend to. Until you dig in and find ways to clear up the clutter, you and your partner won’t be as happy or as close as you’d like to be.
Try this 4-step de-cluttering process...
1. Look for the piles
When you think about your relationship, around what issue or area does your stomach clench and you get tight or rigid? It might be a very specific situation, such as your spouse texting with his ex, or a more general one, like differences in the way you and your wife handle money. Once you’ve identified the “piles,” then you can start sorting out what you really want and what you don’t.
2. Sort your stuff
Don’t label a situation (and definitely not a person) “good” or “bad.” That’s not what this technique is about. Instead, think about which issues, habits, lingering questions and personality traits seem to move you and your partner closer together and which bog you down and prevent the ease and flow of love. If it helps, get out paper and pencil and make a list for this sorting process.