I’ve started a new organizing and de-cluttering project with a wonderful couple in their mid to late sixties. They called me because the state of their home is straining their relationship of 40 years. It’s not at all unusual that disorganization and clutter in a household can cause stress and tension between couples no matter how long they have been together.
When I first drove up to their home in an older, established neighbourhood I noticed that there were some minor repairs and maintenance needed to the exterior of the house. Not at all uncommon for an older couple. It can become increasingly difficult to maintain a home if there are physical restrictions or limitations those individuals may be challenged with.
The initial consultation
Upon entering their 4 bedroom home it presented as very well kept, tidy and clean. During our initial consultation and needs assessment we all sat in the living room as I jotted down information, inquired about any health issues I would need to be aware of and went through my in depth assessment in order to be able to understand how they function within their home and what their requirements and concerns were.
It was not too long into the consult when it became evident that the wife was not at all pleased with the state of certain rooms in the house and expressed a significant amount of blame and anger with her husband. She was extremely embarrassed to have anyone over to her home, including myself, and was very concerned about what her neighbours might think. This is fairly common as there seems to be unfortunate negative connotation to being disorganized and bringing in the “big guns”. Why not bring in a professional if your home is not functioning as well as it should? The thing is the majority of homes I work in are not in the state of clutter that you see on those television shows about hoarders. In fact, when you first walk into the homes we work in most of the disorganization is hidden behind doors and cabinets and not necessarily in plain view.
Tension in relationships
In any event, with these clients the tension was palpable and there were at times some harsh glances between husband and wife. Mr. X was quite soft spoken and although not in denial about his part in the disorganization, he used humour as a defense to the allegations and stress expressed by his wife while also acknowledging her concerns. At this point I had not taken a tour of the home or seen the clutter that was disrupting their relationship and their life. Although there was a great deal of tension between them it was also very clear that they loved each other dearly and that Mr. X was willing to do whatever was necessary to make things better both in their home and in their relationship.
In my next post I’ll continue with this story of motivation, support and facilitating change with these great people.