Leave Things Around the House Many couples face this annoying habit of leaving stuff around the house. But fear not, it’s not too late to correct it. BY DR. TERRI L. ORBUCH
Kaia Lai (www.kaialai.com)
We know you don't mean to leave your fishing poles in the kitchen, but you can't help it.
Even when my wife tells me not too, I still have a habit of leaving stuff around the house—why?
We all have rules and expectations for how a good relationship should work. In this situation, your spouse believes strongly that a clean and organized house is a happy house and each of you should do their part to clean up after themselves. Sounds easy enough, right? In contrast, a clean and organized house is not the highest priority on your “to do” list, and I’m sure that you can list twenty other things you would rather do around the house than pick up after yourself.
Either way, don’t let it get you down. So, you and your spouse differ in the importance of a clean and organized house and picking up after yourself. It’s really not a problem to have different expectations or priorities, as long as you share those expectations with each other.
Have you and your spouse communicated your relationship rules with each other? Are you aware that cleanliness and organization is fundamental to your spouse’s life and sense of a happy marriage? If not, what should you do?
First, each of you should identify a list of five to six very important relationship rules or expectations. Then, share these rules with each other and let the other spouse know these specific rules are crucial to how you think your relationship and life together should work. I encourage couples to have these joint discussions at least once a year.
With that being said loud and clear, do you recognize how vital cleanliness and organization is to your spouse, yet you still leave your things lying around the house? If so, then we are dealing with the issue of power in your relationship. There are many ways that power gets displayed in a relationship. Not listening to your partner or continuing to do something that you know they don’t like is a form of relationship power. Perhaps this is the only form of control and decision-making power you have to make use of in your relationship? But more than likely, you are the one with the power in your relationship and you are choosing to exercise it over your spouse by not listening to what is important to them. You are displaying your authority and strength by not listening. Had enough, yet?
Keep in mind that when a relationship is unbalanced in terms of power, this causes feelings of resentment and anger in the partner without the power. Couples do not necessarily have to be equal in every aspect of life, but the closer they get to that sense of equality, the happier they tend to be in the long run.
How is your power in the outside world--at work, with other family members, or with friends? Often, when we have a power struggle in the outside world, we compensate at home with our spouse. In this instance, you need to work on gaining more decision-making power outside of your marriage with your co-workers, your parents or your friends.
Also, try to consult your spouse more in decisions concerning the relationship. For example, seeking input on where to go out on Saturday night or suggestions for how to invest your money. Use your power wisely and make sure your partner gets to shine, too. Trying to create a few small changes can go a long way toward making your relationship feel more balanced. And, as balance gets restored, leaving your things around the house will not be necessary any longer since you won’t feel the need to make a “statement” to your spouse about who has the power in your relationship.
Terri L. Orbuch, Ph.D., aka “The Love Doctor” (www.detroitlovedr.com) is a psychologist, sociologist, Oakland University professor and research scientist at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. She recently released her 3-CD set, “Relationship CPR: How to Breathe Life Into your Relationship.