Shhhh...decluttering - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 28 Old 11-06-2010, 11:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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In secret? Does anyone else do this, decluttering "undercover" so you are not bothered or because you just want to get it done and moved out? Just wondering. As of late, I find myself rushing around the house when I get 15 minutes to myself, I bag up what I don't want and out to the Jeep in the backseat, donated on Monday morning. There are just times when I get tired of asking or talking about it and I just want it done without my hubby thinking I am nuts again.
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#2 of 28 Old 11-07-2010, 12:12 AM
 
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Well it's not that I do things 'in secret' as such, because apart from throwing out some of DH's old t-shirts without him knowing, oh and some rags, because he always wants to hold onto rags....I don't really have anything I need to be secret about.

I do it all by myself anyway because DH is always working, and if not working, he is out in the garden weeding etc, so he just leaves the decluttering and donating to me. So I don't bother talking to him about it most of the time, unless there is an item I am really not sure about getting rid of.

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#3 of 28 Old 11-07-2010, 12:52 AM
 
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I have to do it when my husband is gone because if he's home and I try to get rid of stuff he claims he might have to use it someday so we should keep it. I've gotten rid of probably over half our stuff in the last 1 1/2 years and it's all stuff that we never use or wear. Of all that stuff he's asked about 1 thing. When I told him I took it to the thrift store he just shrugged and said "Oh, oh well, I'll just use something else". His parents are packrats. His mom died in 2006 and when his dad's new wife first came to their house for the first time (late 2007) she said there were papers and unopened mail from 3 years before his mom even got sick (so from about 2002!). One of the rooms in their house was so crowded you couldn't even open the door. So if I didn't constantly filter stuff out that's where we'd end up, which makes me anxious! So while he was away this weekend, I spent all morning decluttering and took a very large box to DI and sent several empty boxes to be recycled...that's another thing, my husband likes to keep boxes for expensive things just in case they break down so we can return/exchange them. Aaaaaahh!!! :P March 2013 can't come fast enough--his military service will be over and we can get rid of all the uniforms (we have a huge storage bin packed with uniforms that he can't even wear because the Army no longer uses them, but we have to keep them anyway and return them when he's out...yeah, makes no sense to me either!) and other military-issued stuff floating around.

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#4 of 28 Old 11-07-2010, 11:55 AM
 
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Wow I would be furious if my husband "secretly" got rid of my stuff because he was tired of talking to me about it. That is horribly disrespectful. Without a doubt I think that if a woman posted here that her husband was secretly decluttering her stuff the outrage would be never-ending. But so many here seem to think men are simpletons not worthy of the same respects women are expected to have.
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#5 of 28 Old 11-07-2010, 12:14 PM
 
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Wow I would be furious if my husband "secretly" got rid of my stuff because he was tired of talking to me about it. That is horribly disrespectful. Without a doubt I think that if a woman posted here that her husband was secretly decluttering her stuff the outrage would be never-ending. But so many here seem to think men are simpletons not worthy of the same respects women are expected to have.
she didn't say anything about getting rid of her husbands stuff.
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#6 of 28 Old 11-07-2010, 12:22 PM
 
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In secret? Does anyone else do this, decluttering "undercover" so you are not bothered or because you just want to get it done and moved out? Just wondering. As of late, I find myself rushing around the house when I get 15 minutes to myself, I bag up what I don't want and out to the Jeep in the backseat, donated on Monday morning. There are just times when I get tired of asking or talking about it and I just want it done without my hubby thinking I am nuts again.
I'm not really secret about it. But what I get rid of are my belongings, household stuff and the kids stuff. They tell me what can go. Dh doesn't really have alot to begin with. And I don't mess with what he has. He has gotten rid of just about all his military stuff as soon as he retired. It was loads and loads of stuff. I was afraid it would never end
But he realized it was very freeing to let it all go. The garage actually has room for the bikes now

I do have to say though I like to declutter alone. I can't enjoy the letting go part as much when I have people under foot.
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#7 of 28 Old 11-07-2010, 12:27 PM
 
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March 2013 can't come fast enough--his military service will be over and we can get rid of all the uniforms (we have a huge storage bin packed with uniforms that he can't even wear because the Army no longer uses them, but we have to keep them anyway and return them when he's out...yeah, makes no sense to me either!) and other military-issued stuff floating around.
I can tell you it was a reflief for all of us when that stuff left our house! At first it was hard for dh after 26 yrs. of service. But when he got started he hauled off huge loads of foot lockers full of stuff he would never use again. The more he got rid of the happier he got about it.
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#8 of 28 Old 11-07-2010, 12:39 PM
 
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I have a dd who just started kindergarten and both my kids are prolific artists. They also play lots of pretend games that require generation of large amounts of paper. On occasion (weekly) I gather up a huge armful of paper and put it in recycling. Sometimes I get caught and there is outrage. But seriously, how much paper can we hold on to?

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#9 of 28 Old 11-07-2010, 12:45 PM
 
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I always declutter when DD is at school. I seriously get rid of a lot of stuff. If I'm not sure whether she'll miss something, I'll put it in a bag in my closet. If she doesn't ask about it in a month or two, out it goes.

She always thanks me for cleaning her room and is happy to have the clear, open space.

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#10 of 28 Old 11-07-2010, 02:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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"Wow I would be furious if my husband "secretly" got rid of my stuff because he was tired of talking to me about it. That is horribly disrespectful. Without a doubt I think that if a woman posted here that her husband was secretly decluttering her stuff the outrage would be never-ending. But so many here seem to think men are simpletons not worthy of the same respects women are expected to have."

Wow..that was rude...moving on.
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#11 of 28 Old 11-07-2010, 02:53 PM
 
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I homeschool and every summer I put my kids in summer camps and spend the week decluttering and getting organized for the upcoming school year. I put the items away for a few months and if they don't ask for it it, out it goes. I am always amazed that they don't ask for much! In fact, they seem quite happy that I've cleaned and organized for them. I find my kids prefer a clean and organized environment where they can find their stuff. They don't know where to begin in a cluttered environment.

As far as my dh goes, I will sometimes unclutter for him, but I never take any of his things out of the house until he has checked it first and is okay with it.
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#12 of 28 Old 11-07-2010, 03:49 PM
 
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Honestly, I wish I could declutter some of hubby's stuff secretly. But he has often implied that I do get rid of his stuff without asking (I never have) and I am not willing to ever be caught doing so! Really it is that he has so much stuff and can't remember what he does with it, so he implies that I have moved it/lost it/donated it and then will find it somewhere much later that I suggest he looks in the first place.

My mom used to do this with our stuff and my Dad's stuff though. It annoyed me as a kid, but I totally understand as an adult.

I think it is one thing to take someone's stuff without asking. However, when you are the one to have to clean, organise, work around someone else's stuff that they don't take care of I kind of feel they lose any priviledge of complaint about what happens to the stuff. And the discussions really aren't worth it!
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#13 of 28 Old 11-07-2010, 03:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This thread seems to take a turn to implying I am decluttering hubby's stuff without asking. I would never do that. I do encourage him, since he is a self admitted piler of things and has no organizational skills whatsoever. The original point of this is sometimes, I just like to go about doing things and move on, without the should we keep this or what do we do with this questions...when basically I know what we need to run the household and hubby is fine with this arrangement. I was just trying to be lighthearted about this. Thanks for the input.
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#14 of 28 Old 11-07-2010, 07:12 PM
 
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This thread seems to take a turn to implying I am decluttering hubby's stuff without asking. I would never do that. I do encourage him, since he is a self admitted piler of things and has no organizational skills whatsoever. The original point of this is sometimes, I just like to go about doing things and move on, without the should we keep this or what do we do with this questions...when basically I know what we need to run the household and hubby is fine with this arrangement. I was just trying to be lighthearted about this. Thanks for the input.
I think the previous poster didn't read your post thoroughly and when they got to my bit saying that the only things I had ever got rid of secretly was my husbands old t-shirts, she must have assumed that you had started a thread about throwing out your husbands stuff.

Maybe she is actually cross with me? For throwing out my husbands 30 year old t-shirts which had more holes than swiss cheese?

And for what it's worth I understand perfectly about the need to do things secretly....I wait till DH goes overseas so I can move furniture how I want it!

SAHM to three
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#15 of 28 Old 11-07-2010, 07:20 PM
 
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I'm completely decluttered. Seriously, I'm the queen of minimalism. And I kind of wish you *were* getting rid of your husband's stuff in secret so you could give me some tips. Just kidding. But I long to throw out half his stuff.
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#16 of 28 Old 11-07-2010, 07:33 PM
 
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Well, to stay on topic, yes I do work in secret.

I talk with the kids ahead of time about what I am doing, but I prefer to work alone because the kids get stuck on specific things. When I am done, I show them what I would like to give away, and they get to choose what they want to keep. I do have some rules like if it is stained, broken or something they have outgrown. My middle dd would keep everything, from a baby rattle to a bottle cap.

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#17 of 28 Old 11-08-2010, 01:22 AM
 
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I also work in secret. DD2 is attached to every piece of broken trash. It takes a lot of convincing to put things in the recycle, but she is slowly getting better. I am not sorry for throwing out her broken stuff when she is not looking.

I just put of all DH's in his office area. He can deal with his own clutter without me having to see ut. I do recycle all his junk mail without asking because I know he does not need or want any more credit cards or balance transfers. If I did not do this, it would take him years to get to tossing them himself. I know, we have been there.

Mostly, I work kin secret because if I take a poll on everything that needs to get done in the house it would be quite impossible to get anything done.

I would love it if anyone cleaned up after me or threw out my stuff. I don't really have any stuff I am attached to. But with my family of packrats, it would be a sign that the end of the world is near if they started cleaning up unprompted.
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#18 of 28 Old 11-08-2010, 03:59 AM
 
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I have to declutter when the children are out too ... I tried to implicate them = took EVERYTHING out of their bedroom and tried to get them to sort stuff in 3 heaps (keep, give, throw) .... it didn't work AT ALL

I am bad at decluttering anyway .... books too
BUT we had to look for a library book that was still on our card (turned out later, that that book was un-properly scanned when we returned a whole bunch of them so it remained on our card but was sitting in the shelf at the public library)
=> ended up asking DH to take all books out in each kids' bookshelf, dust the shelf and remove some ot the books in the process to make room (as well as look for the missing library book) => what AMAZED me was that it was at the week-end when the children were around, they knew what was going on, saw him, heard us talk about it BUT never made any fuss at all (as they would have if I had done it instead of DH)
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#19 of 28 Old 11-08-2010, 09:21 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Eliotsmum View Post
Honestly, I wish I could declutter some of hubby's stuff secretly. But he has often implied that I do get rid of his stuff without asking (I never have) and I am not willing to ever be caught doing so! Really it is that he has so much stuff and can't remember what he does with it, so he implies that I have moved it/lost it/donated it and then will find it somewhere much later that I suggest he looks in the first place.
This totally goes on in our house. Its very frustrating to keep house together with someone who is secretive about what they are accumulating, is extremely resistant to going through their accumulated belongings, and yet doesn't like someone else to do it either. Over the summer we actually hired a professional organizer and that helped, and I plan to do that again as needed. Takes me out of the equation somewhat and though money is tight for us, it was worth it.

As for the kids... of course I do a lot of decluttering without telling them... things like actual trash they are playing with, junky toys that make it into our home, too-small clothes, and most of their literally 100+ drawings per week. BUT I try to involve them in the the process as well. Looking at DH and my mess-generating problems (hording and laziness/complacency, respectively) I want to help the kids develop the skill and habit of regularly editing their belongings and being thoughtful about how and why they are attached to things. DD is too young still but DS is almost 6 and he's very good about it. We periodically go through a set of toys and he sets aside a bunch for hand-me-downs or donations. Its best to get them out quickly before he can reconsider (or one of us!), but mostly he's good about it. We just made a huge move and had to radically, radically downsize and it was interesting to see that in the end letting go of belongings was easier on the kids than on us.

dissertating mom to three

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#20 of 28 Old 11-08-2010, 12:35 PM
 
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Yes, I only do my decluttering work when I have the house to myself.

Mostly the issue is DD. The second I start making piles of stuff, she's into them. She'll make a mess, not to mention just annoy me with all her questions. Plus it's a task I like to really focus on, and I don't want to entertain someone else while I'm doing it.

So, in the warm season I sometimes beg DH to take her to the park or something so I can get something done.

Yes, some of the reason is so I can declutter some things against DD's wishes. She is a major packrat and doesn't like to see anything of hers given away - not even a stained shirt two sizes too small. I am very careful about decluttering toys, and so far have not made anything disappear that she noticed, with the sole exception of one stupid little stuffed dragon that she never played with but she once saw in the background of a photograph ("Mom, where is that dragon?" "Uh, we'll have to look for it..." case dropped, thankfully).

I really like to Freecycle and HATE to throw things away. That causes problems in my family, unfortunately. DH hates Freecycle in numerous ways, and would rather just load up the station wagon for a few trips to the landfill. The idea makes me so nauseous that I would rather just keep the junk. The problem is that most of the stuff I want to get rid of is truly perfectly good. My mother buys us way too much crap, so having things new in box or with tags still on them - I would feel like vomiting if I were to simply toss them in the landfill. So much waste. But DH hates humanity and does not want people on our porch or property, and he hates having clutter sit on the porch for a few days while I work through giving it away (something else I can't understand at all - our whole house is cluttered, it's not like I'm spoiling an otherwise pristine porch with a few bags). And he reads about people getting murdered over their stuff. Sigh. I've been getting my way over the last year, though, thankfully.

And DD, it's just that if she sees something sitting out and waiting for someone to pick it up, it can turn into a mess of questions and so on. I finally got smart enough to store a big, opaque plastic tote bin out there, and I bag up the stuff and stick it in there and tell the freecyclers to look in there. So DD is used to the box being there, never wonders about it, and has no idea things are going in and out.

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#21 of 28 Old 11-08-2010, 01:45 PM
 
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I prefer to declutter by myself, too, but not necessarily secretly. I just like to work quietly, and that comes to housework, too. It's not the best for teaching my kids to clean, though, so I have to suck it up and include them even though it means the job will take 5X as long

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#22 of 28 Old 11-08-2010, 03:00 PM
 
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We have similar issues to Laohaire. This helpful for me to read.

Third generation WOHM. I work by choice.
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#23 of 28 Old 11-08-2010, 05:38 PM
 
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Once in awhile there is something of the kids that I sneek out, but mostly my kids are really good. It brings them pleasure to know that their cousin, a friend or a stranger can play with something that is "too babyish" for them.

That being said I donated this giant stuffed St. Bernard creature the other day. It's huge and we don't have space for it and I just didn't want to move it to the new place.
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#24 of 28 Old 11-09-2010, 02:30 AM
 
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Montlake - your response got me thinking about respect and clutter. Hmmm, well, I am a minimalist and live with someone who likes to retain his stuff. It is an ongoing issue in our relationship. And I can get pretty frustrated about all the stuff we have that serves no function other than that it was purchased/given/found once and can be useful one day. I have come home (our small-space home) finding a huge wall unit in the living room (acquired by my partner because it was cheap), for example. Every time I enter the garage, I have to clean clutter for an hour before I can get to where I want to go. This too is disrespectful, in my mind.

I have not thrown anything out without my partner's approval, but the temptation is always there, because I did not ask (and frequently was not consulted) for all these items to take up my living space. As I mentioned, it is an issue in our relationship and we are trying to work things out. Things have gotten better in the last little while after I put my foot down and said that there simply is no more room to store (other people's) stuff anymore. I am looking at this message board to come up with ideas to declutter...respectfully.
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#25 of 28 Old 11-09-2010, 10:33 AM
 
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I don't know, it really is hard. Some people have set up arrangements where the "clutterer" gets a particular room, an office or a den or a sewing room or whatever, that they are free to fill as they like. And then the rest of the house stays clean.

Unfortunately this isn't necessarily equitable, since the house belongs to the clutterer as well and they are just being confined to one room. My SIL is a low level (I believe) hoarder, and she has remarked that the "stuff" makes her feel comfortable and safe. So she would feel really stifled in the rest of her house if she was forced to keep her stuff in one place only.

But it's even more complicated than that, because true hoarding is not normal or desirable. I don't think people have an obligation to just live with drug abuse or whatever, and hoarding has clear and obvious detriments to the family in terms of monetary loss, safety issues and more.

But let's assume you're not with a hoarder but just someone who doesn't really care for "minimalism." Maybe you could start the opposite from what I described above - give YOURSELF just one clean, clear space. Your spouse agrees to not bring anything into it.

After you've had and maintained and enjoyed that space for a while - talk to your spouse. What does he think about it? You feel able to relax in there since it's clean and you know where everything is and you have space to do your activities. Does he see that? Or does he hate your spartan space? If he agrees that the room is nice, then I think you have wiggle room to maybe even convert him. Ask him if you guys can declutter another room. Ask him if you can put stuff in a storage box in the garage or basement or his closet or whatever, and if he doesn't need anything in it within a year, is he ok letting it go?

If he feels stifled by the space like my SIL probably would.. I just have no idea. Or the other possibility is that he will not care one whit about it - the space doesn't stifle him but he doesn't think it's worth any effort trying to attain. In that case he just doesn't "see" clutter at all, or care about it. In that case I would feel free to push for further clear space and package his stuff up in boxes. Having a basement full of boxed crap is not what you want (and I would NEVER pay for storage except in very specific circumstances, like you sold your home and are moving to a small apartment for a month or two while you buy a new one) but could it be a compromise?

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#26 of 28 Old 11-11-2010, 08:05 AM
 
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I declutter mostly alone because the fact is, dh is at work all day and I've got things to do! I can't sit and wait to go through every.single.item with him asking permission to donate a hammer he hasn't used for 6 years. He's great about it and I do text/ask him if it's something I think he would want or miss (honey, can I donate your ____ or do you still want it?). Same with dd. I tried asking her about everything and everything would go into the 'keep' pile despite her not touching or looking at it or fitting into it for 3 years, so similar tactic with her too.  I declutter on my own mostly, but ask if it's something I think she'll still wear/have interest in, etc.  My husband is pretty relaxed about it and agreeable to my efforts to maintain a clutter-free home because his dad is a hoarder and he NEVER wants to get even *close* to that point. He does occasionally joke with me that if he sits still too long I'll donate him too :P

 

Also, the donation pile is always by the door area (it usually sits a day or two before I get it out) so DH can see what's there and veto a donation lol

 

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#27 of 28 Old 11-16-2010, 05:43 AM
 
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i have totally decluttered things of my husband's without asking. i don't think it is disrespectful at all. i mean, it could be, if you were just getting rid of things left, right and center without any thought to the nature of the item you're discarding, but i doubt anyone is doing that. the fact is, it's hard for some people to disengage from physical items, even when they KNOW they are useless pieces of junk. i have restrained myself from discarding dp's broken, unused TOYS (like seriously, toys from when he was a kid) that are using up my precious shelf space because they have sentimental value. i have not restrained myself from surreptitiously getting rid of old random stuff (shoes with holes, thrift store halloween costumes, gifts that have never been taken from their packages, old clothing, etc) because if i ask, he will hem and haw and in the end decide he's not quite sure he wants to get rid of it. it's not me deciding what is and isn't important, it's me realizing he isn't very good at prioritizing belongings, and we live in a tiny 2 bedroom apartment and really honestly don't have space. he already has two very space-consuming hobbies (photography and computer programming) so our second bedroom is already 3/4 filled with his equipment... i would never get rid of anything like that without asking, but when something moves from a dusty box in his mom's basement, to a box in our old apartment, to a rubbermaid bin in our new apartment until i finally unpack it and put it on a shelf where it never gets touched, looked at or thought about, it is seriously time to get rid of it.

 

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#28 of 28 Old 11-17-2010, 11:45 AM
 
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Originally Posted by SilverFish View Post

it's not me deciding what is and isn't important, it's me realizing he isn't very good at prioritizing belongings, and we live in a tiny 2 bedroom apartment and really honestly don't have space <snip>  when something moves from a dusty box in his mom's basement, to a box in our old apartment, to a rubbermaid bin in our new apartment until i finally unpack it and put it on a shelf where it never gets touched, looked at or thought about, it is seriously time to get rid of it.

 

 

This sounds like something that my BF's father describes as "playing to the strengths."  He talks a lot about how it can be helpful to apportion tasks to the person in the relationship who is best at getting it done.  It's more of a utilitarian and team-like, "we are one unit" approach that is rather old-fashioned (vs a strict everything is equal, you handle your stuff and I'll handle mine approach), but it does seem to work.  "Make the 'executive decision'!" my boyfriend and I often say to each other about things.  But we trust each other to really be trying to do stuff for the family's best interest, which is what it sounds like you are doing here.

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