Organizing as a Couple

Most of my clients are women. For what I’m sure are myriad and complex reasons, women feel pressure to have organized homes, that they are responsible for said organization, and that they need to research how to do it best.  Men, on the other hand, tend to fall into two camps.  Either they are self-professed neat freaks, or they don’t really seem to care.

Home organization can be a huge pain point in a relationship, and mine is no different. I’m, well, me, and my husband is the second kind of guy. 

Things came to a head early in our marriage. We had purchased our first home, decorated it as best we could on our budget, and were enjoying entertaining as often as possible.  And it was driving me absolutely nuts that my husband would leave stuff everywhere and stall when I would ask him to take care of it. Getting mad wasn’t working, so I started asking some questions, and the answers were seriously illuminating.

Question 1: Did you have to pick up after yourself as a child? 

The answer: no.  My husband had chronic health issues as a child and his mom took care of him the best way she knew how, which included cleaning up after him.

Question 2: Do you want to live in an organized house? 

The answer: yes!  My husband was incredibly proud of our home and actually rather hated when it was messy. 

Question 3: Who should be responsible for organizing our home given that we both want it that way?

The answer: ohhhhhh…

I’m not going to tell you that my husband was cured of his messy habits overnight, because that would be a total lie.  But he started to realize that the more effort he put in to creating organizing habits, the better our house looked and felt to live in.  That was also the point at which, as he says to anyone who will listen, he became my first client.  He realized he didn’t actually know how to get organized and he wanted to learn.  To this day, he will periodically come to me and ask for my help organizing his closet or home office.

Last year, on the West Highland Way in Scotland

All that said, let me be 100% clear: just because I’m more organized doesn’t make me a better person than my husband.  I mean, if we’re talking intelligence, drive, integrity, listening ability, and a million other things that make a wonderful person, he’s way ahead of me.  Organizing is a skill, not a value judgment, and I can teach it to you!