Does Your Need for Neatness Help or Hinder Your Marriage?
Ok, now I can feel all the “neat freaks” getting restless. Bear with me….
Let’s take a look at the real issue here.
Do you feel there is a right way and a wrong way to put away and store things?
Do you feel there is a better way to manage everyday life at home?
The first one is about control. The second is about caring.
If you wish your spouse would change their habits (to fit your lifestyle), it has nothing to do with neatness. It has everything to do with you.
But if your true wish is to make life better for both you and your spouse – without overhauling your spouse’s habits – then neatness might be a useful ally.
Neatness means clean or organized; showing care in execution.
- It’s clean (enough) if the person who plans to use it is happy with it.
- It’s organized (enough) if the person who needs it can quickly and easily find it.
Now maybe you feel the need to clean something so you feel better. Maybe you need to organize a closet, the kitchen, or garage to make you feel more in control. That’s perfectly fine. Have at it. Go to town. Make yourself happy.
Just remember, you are doing it for yourself, not your spouse. It’s your problem, not theirs. It’s to make you feel better, and no one else.
So…. if you are a self-proclaimed neat freak, don’t use your need for neatness as a weapon against your spouse. Use it to help your marriage, not hinder it.
If you are wondering who is the neat freak in our home, it’s me. Thankfully, Lori bears with me when I go on a neatness binge. She knows it’s not about her. I’m doing it to make myself feel better. Then when I’m all done I can go back to being normal again.
A word from Lori…
When we were first dating, my father took Rob to look at my room. I was a 17 year old with a bedroom where you couldn’t see the floor. Rob looked around, and he says that he knew at that moment that I’d never be neat. And he was OK with that. We got married a few years later. Over the last 32 years I’ve gotten somewhat more neat, but it will never be my strength. Rob has always taken the lead in this area. And he has NEVER made me feel like I’ve disappointed him. He’s cheerfully and willingly stepped in to make our environment neat. Now that we live in 282 square feet neatness is especially important! The key is to know your strengths… in marriage sometimes it’s important to let the spouse with the strength take the responsibility… And you just support them. 😉
I’m putting these posts – “A to Z” Values – all under the FAMILY portion of this site. Why? Every one of these Values words will be a blessing to each spouse – but more than that… they’ll benefit your whole family!
Imagine if you are motivated to work on and for your marriage – what kind of impact will that have on your family? On your children? I’m guessing that your children and family will only benefit as they watch the two of you standing together – using your strengths.
This post began as an Instagram challenge for July 2016 – A to Z and a few numbers… ( check out our Instagram account) and grew into a series of Values posts!
The posts in this series can be found on the PAGE – 27 Values to Enrich your Marriage
This was an unresolved, “hot topic” issue in my nearly 40yr marriage. I am a neat freak, my ex is a pack rat/hoarder. I believe in “a place for everything, and everything in it’s place.” My ex would drop her keys anywhere, then spend precious time searching for them. When we married we moved boxes of her stuff into the closet of the second bedroom of our apartment, which gradually expanded into the bedroom itself. We moved those same boxes to three different addresses over the years and the topic of the need to clean, organize and discard came up more times than I can count. Each time the words expressed and personal attacks got uglier. The negative impact (though not realized by myself at the time) was devastating due to the walls of anger, bitterness and resentment that went up. As her “junk” overtook an entire room of our house, I viewed her behavior as disrespectful and selfish. Needless to say, the pattern of not effectively resolving conflict spilled over into other areas of our relationship which hindsight clearly shows as a recipe for disaster. To make a long story short (if it’s not too late for that), after 20yrs of this toxic pattern I made the horrific decision to seek solace outside of my marriage. After my affair was discovered we attempted to repair the damage through counseling, but the harm that my unfaithfulness imposed was more than could be overcome.
I have a new perspective on my “neatness”. I’m not the control freak I once was, although I will always wipe up the water spots, make the bed and hang my keys on the key hook, I don’t demand the same of my partner. I find myself repeating the mantra: “Not right, not wrong, just different.” It’s an ever present, conscious effort on my part to suppress my obsession and show love in all things. My new wife will be the beneficiary of a changed man with a changed heart. The sad part is that it took me so long to realize that I was the one who needed to change AND that the only person I had the power to change was me.
Thanks for sharing, JH. Happy you finally came to recognize the honest truth that YOU needed to change. That’s an important realization for all of “us” neat freaks – hopefully sooner than later in marriage.