I often work with couples. I talk with both of them during the clutter busting process. I help them look at their stuff together. Sometimes one of the partners wants to control the other’s decision. The other partner often becomes reactive. This creates a tangible separation. I expose it to them in a non-judgmental way. I help them see that it’s clutter. The control and the reaction to the control don’t serve either of them. This brings increased clarity into the relationship and the connection grows stronger.
I remember working with a couple who were getting along pretty well until I came upon a large stack of fancy shopping bags. There were probably over a hundred. The husband became critical of his wife and angrily said, “Why don’t you get rid of these. You don’t need them!” She physically shrank and look ashamed. She said, “Don’t tell me what to do! I’m keeping them.” They were emotionally miles apart.
I quietly said to the husband, “You’re frustrated that your wife won’t do what you want her to. You want her to go along with what you think is right.” I said to her, “You are feeling ashamed and angrily reactive to your husband. You don’t want to be told what to do. As a couple you are no longer connected. This hurts your hearts. You like to feel connected. And then this happened.”
I turned to the woman and said in a gentle voice, “How many of these bags do you think you need?”
She softened. Her defensive tension went away. She thought about it and said, “Um, I don’t know, maybe five,”
I said, “Okay, let’s pick your five favorites.” She did. I put the ones she didn’t pick in the recycling bin. Her husband’s mouth was hanging open.
I said, “You like each other. By stepping back and being gentle, good things result. This softer way can be a new habit.” They got along better for the rest of the session.
Clutter Busting together can be a powerful activity because it helps you become aware of the value of connection. You see that your relationship is a thing too and that it satisfies an essential need to be connected with another. The appreciation extends to the connections you have with family, friends, and coworkers.
If you are a couple and would like my help with your de-cluttering process, you can sign up for Skype, FaceTime, or phone sessions here.