- My boyfriend likes this picture hanging in the living room, and I can’t stand it! What do we do?
- I am a pretty neat person, but my wife has clutter coming out of her ears – and she won’t listen to me when I ask her to clear it! How do I deal with this?
- We’re moving in together and neither of us is used to sharing our space: how is this going to work?
…then guess what? These physical-level struggles are perfectly mirrored in the emotional level! Check it out:
- When you’re working through disagreements about the decor, it means that you are working through disagreements about how the combined aspects of your life experience are going to play out. This is a natural and healthy part of any relationship, and rather than being something to worry about, it’s actually part of what you signed up for! As such, it’s important that both you and your partner express yourself lovingly about your needs and desires, and that you share the objective of finding solutions that work for both of you. (And to use the above example, if you can’t stand a picture, it is not ideal to have it in a common area in your home. In such a case, you would want to find out what it is about the picture that nourishes your boyfriend, and see if you can find a decor solution that satisfies that need while also being something that you enjoy living with.) And regardless of how much tension you move through during the process, if your relationship is characterized by good chemistry, you will end up with a product (i.e. a magical home environment) that is more than the sum of its parts.
- If you’re concerned that your partner has clutter and you don’t, first of all, chances are that you are wrong. While your partner may have more clutter than you, you no doubt have something you can clear, even if it’s just the glove compartment of your car. And once you clear it (because like attracts like), it will be much more likely that your partner will naturally choose to clear his or her own stuff. Second of all, this type of concern usually indicates that you would do well to remember that, while your partner is a big part of your life, you are the deciding factor when it comes to your decisions, actions, and overall well-being. Chances are also that – over and above the clutter situation – you will feel empowered when you remember that no person, place, or condition has the power to hold you back from experiencing the life you want to experience. So, your partner’s stuff aside, what do you have jurisdiction over, in your home and your life? What do you have the power to change now?
- If you’re moving in together for the first time, (you guessed it!) all the adjustments you will be making on the physical level are mirroring adjustments you will be making on the emotional level. And of course, nothing could be more natural: sharing your life is a big deal! So embrace every second of it. Move directly into it and through it instead of attempting to move around it or shy away from it. If merging your life with the life of another human being weren’t a little bit messy and challenging, I would be concerned! Just remember that balance is key, and (just like in any co-creative relationship), it’s important for both partners to express themselves, listen, and spend the time and energy necessary to find solutions that work for everyone.
One more thing! I highly recommend that both of you have a space that is just yours. If you have the square footage, having rooms all to yourself (where you are the only deciding factor when it comes to placement and decor) would be great, but if not, smaller areas that are totally off limits to the other partner are key. This way, you can remember that you are each autonomous people, and you can have the freedom to explore your uniqueness and individuality.