I’m going to give you some simple advice that helps me every single day: Ignore your husband’s side of the closet.
Matt is amazing and talented in a billion ways. The man patiently goes through every single math problem of all three middle schoolers every single school night to check their work and see where they need extra help. I can still do algebra, but this is his ritual with the kids and I am so grateful it’s off my plate.
It may not occur to him to clean the house, but he is always willing to help if I ask. On the Saturday before Christmas, I made an enormous list of all the chores for the entire week of Christmas (so that we could skip them all week) – cleaning bathrooms, mopping the kitchen, everything. He led the kids in completing the list, even cleaning our toilet himself, while I ran some last minute errands. When I got home, the house was totally clean and I didn’t have any looming errands. That certainly put me in the mood for Christmas!
When my tire had a major blow out on the interstate a few months ago, which led to me having an anxiety attack on the side of the road … he cancelled all of his meetings for the next few hours and came to rescue me. He drove to me from Dallas (25 minutes away) and put on the spare before the roadside assistance had even dispatched someone to our location.
I have things I love about my husband, and I have things that, well, I try to ignore. (And guys, he has a loooooot of things I’m sure he has to ignore about living with me! This definitely goes both ways.)
I had a therapist tell me a few years ago that anytime I wished Matt would be or do something differently, to think to myself: what thing that I love about him would I trade for that? The answer is always nothing, I don’t want to give up any of the things that I love and appreciate about him.
So, during this declutter challenge or whenever, just ignore your husband’s side of the closet. If it’s important, you can bring it up. Maybe if he knows you care about it, he’ll fix it. But, don’t nag. He’ll get to it when he gets to it, or he won’t. Either way, focus on your side of the closet and make your side of the closet as beautiful as you want. THAT is what is in your control.
Read Surviving Decluttering as a Couple for specific tips about getting through the declutter challenge with a spouse.
I took a couple of quick pictures of our shoe shelves to demonstrate a small part of what I mean without totally invading his privacy.
Here are my shoe shelves (the shoe sticking out is a decoy shoe for Cookie – she is naughty and already destroyed the other one):
Here are Matt’s shoe shelves. Like, I’m not sure why he has empty spots on the shoe shelves but then shoes have trickled over to be on the shelves underneath his clothes. Hmm?
His shoe shelves are pretty much just part of the scenery for me now. Occasionally I’ll re-notice, but then I just go back to ignoring. And we’re both happier this way.
ps – I will say, if I asked Matt if I could clean his side of the closet for him, he would probably say yes. But, he doesn’t expect it and it hasn’t been the project on the top of my list. I still have enough things on my own project list to tackle first!
From my home to yours,
Very wise advice! I agree completely!
My husbands side of the closet I keep clean, not decluttered but clean. Shirts organized shoes not to bad. Oh but his dresser drawers makes me want to pass out. I don’t look I ignore.
lol, I can’t remember the last time I looked in his drawers. I imagine them clean because I think he just keeps pants in there … I’ll just assume that.
Amanda Kendel says
My husband has a ‘man cave’ so I have an entire room that I have to ignore LOL. Clutter just doesn’t bother him like it does me, so I just have to let his stuff be, though that is easier said than done. I will say that he catches the declutter bug in small doses, like the other day he cleaned up the hoard of magazines he had stacked up on the floor. Baby steps right?
Definitely enjoy the baby steps!
Mryia Williams says
This is such great advice. I practice this was the dishwasher because he loads it entirely different from me but I have learned it is just best to appreciate the clean dishes (with no work on my part) when he loads it.
Yes! I do this with the dishwasher too, and almost anytime people in my house clean something. I’m just so happy I’m not the one doing it that I ignore any details that differ from how I’d do it. Can’t sweat all the small stuff!
Luckily, my closets are in the guest room. He has the small closet in our bedroom. I never nag him about it because I never have to look for my stuff in there! Lol. Occasionally I’ll go through it and neate it or relocate some stuff. During this challenge, I’ll pull things out that I think he no longer needs or wears. He goes through them when he feels like it. But I know he appreciates what I do. I’m very lucky that we have separate closets.
That sounds great! I feel lucky that we have different sides of the closet and mine is the one facing the door as you walk in. lol. Marriage is just figuring out what will work, right?!
Su Hallenbeck says
This is incredibly smart advice, and you saved me hours of vexation. I carefully fold all my husband’s t-shirts, sweatshirts, sweaters, etc., before putting them away in a dresser drawer or on a shelf in the closet. Within seconds, he can destroy all that careful work by just grabbing something, wadding it up and throwing it back if it’s not the sweater or t-shirt he wanted; the next thing you know, his dresser drawers and closet look like they’ve been ransacked by bears. I used to spend an hour or more pulling everything out, re-folding and putting away again. Now, I just won’t bother. If that’s how he wants to live, more power to him.
Meanwhile, it meant that I was able to declutter MY side of the closet – including trying on clothes that no longer fit due to weight loss, and sorting out what will be donated or moved to my out-of-season closet – in less than an hour. 🙂
Yes! That’s the spirit!! Good job getting your side taken care of!
Part of ignoring my husband’s side of the closet means that he does his own laundry. I’ll still help him if I see something in the washer that needs to move or I’ll fold a load coming out of the dryer if I have time, but those are just bonuses for him. It helps my sanity so much that he just manages his clothes and his side of the closet, and I have the power to just ignore it!
LINDA STRAWN says
My husband is the ONE who wishes I was more organized, so needless to say he’ll be thrilled I’m doing this 91-day challenge. We haven’t had the “family meeting” yet as I’m just starting this challenge, but I can already hear him say, “It’s about time!”
That’s wonderful. Not only are you helping yourself, but you’re doing something nice for him too. 🙂
Pam Runyon says
Since I wouldn’t trade any of Jerry’s good traits fora little something more. I will try to remember your advice. Thank you for all you do for us!
Thank you! Remembering our partners aren’t perfect and shouldn’t be expected to be, is such a good reminder to also give ourselves grace! Good luck decluttering!!