As seen in the Dayton Daily News on July 1, 2017.
My husband and I rarely raise our voices to one another, but the other day we got into quite a yelling match.
I came home from work, looked at our messy garage and walked into the house with a bad attitude. With my voice raised, I told my husband, “I have lived with a messy garage for our entire marriage. It’s my turn to have the garage the way I want it.”
My demanding demeanor was not well received. This is when the yelling back and forth began.
Our exchange was going nowhere so I stormed out of the room. After a moment, I realized I was doing exactly what I advise my clients not to do, jeopardize their relationship by fighting about stuff.
I immediately turned around, walked back into the room and apologized for my poor style of communication. He reached out and hugged me tight. All was right with the world again, except my garage was still messier than I wanted it to be.
We then started a more calm conversation about our garage.
I presented my side. Even though we have always been able to park our cars in the garage and find what we need, I would like for our garage to look more orderly.
I made a point to let him know that I was not trying to be controlling, which I had a feeling was why he acted defensively during our argument. I also let him know I felt disrespected, because for the most part, I am the one who straightens the garage only to find things out of place again.
My husband presented his side by saying, “In no way do I mean to disrespect you by not always picking up after myself. I simply get busy with work. Keeping things neat is not a priority for me. Bringing in a paycheck for the family is my prime concern.”
Two things came out of this discussion that probably caused our yelling match. First, he validated that he was not attempting to be disrespectful. Second, he did feel I was being controlling instead of understanding his priorities.
Having these misconceptions cleared up allowed us to move forward with a garage plan that would keep the peace between us.
I am going to let go of my fantasy of having a ‘magazine shoot ready’ garage, and therefore be more patient when things are out of order. When he doesn’t have the time to put things away, I will help straighten up as a way to be supportive to his career and satisfy my need for order.
We decided to purchase closed cabinets to organize the tools and products needed for his home building and flipping business. I will have the order I want, while he controls what’s behind closed doors.
As you can see from our story, sometimes stuff brings with it a host of emotions that need to be dealt with before you can move forward.
If you’re frustrated with your spouse because things aren’t as organized as you would like, start with a conversation where both parties voice their viewpoint and solutions. Be ready to compromise as you come up with a realistic plan that meets both your needs.