Socks scattered across the bedroom floor. Again.
Love is patient.
Paper piles covering every flat surface, even though I created a file system for them.
Love is not easily angered.
How many times do I have to remind him there is a container for the chips?
Love keeps no record of wrongs.
These are the thoughts and frustrations that run through my mind every time my husband’s messy tendencies conflict with my organized ways. You would think that after 25 years of marriage I’d be used to it.
When I married Clint I knew what I was getting into. I didn’t marry him for his organizational skills, but rather for his sense of humor, good looks, and kind ways. Plus, I was certain being married to me would cure him of his disorganization.
I was wrong.
Our polar opposite personalities and different ways of keeping things in order clashed from the get-go. We struggled and fought. In the end, I had to learn how to balance my orderly style with his not-so-organized ways.
Love Paves the Way
It wasn’t easy, but hope and LOVE made all the difference.
LOVE paves the way
Since our marriage was a relationship grounded in God, it seemed like the best place for me to search for answers in dealing with my disorganized spouse would be God’s Word. I was certain that I would find the evidence I needed to change Clint to my tidy way of living.
Once again, I was wrong.
In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul writes, “ Love is patient, love is kind … it keeps no record of wrong.” I wonder if Paul knew how desperately some “Odd Couples” would need to hear those words in order to live as one.
Rather than give me the weapons I was looking for, God’s Word showed me how to express LOVE to Clint in ways that would honor him, our marriage, and our home.
Express Love to Your Spouse
Learn your spouse’s organizing style. Organizing isn’t one-size-fits all. In fact, each of us has our own way of keeping order. As much as I wanted Clint to be organized like me, he had his own style.
Once I recognized his style – no lidded containers, simple in function, and everything in view – it made it easier for me to create order for both of us. By honoring who he was, and how God created him, I was able to find a balance both of us could work with.
A marriage is made up of two unique individuals. I needed to stop trying to make him just like me and appreciate the man he was.
Offer to compromise. In a perfect world, everyone would be organized. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and often times those we love are not as organized as we’d like them to be.
While we could insist they do things our way, God reminded me that love is not self-seeking (1 Cor 13:5). That’s where compromise comes in.
Rather than demand that every inch of the house be in perfect order, here are a few compromises I suggested:
• Offering one or two “messy zones” that he is free to keep as he pleases.
• Determining together which spaces in the house should be clutter-free and which everyone has to make an effort to keep orderly.
• Setting terms for dealing with unwanted stuff – agreeing to declutter twice a year with a goal of getting rid of at least 50 items.
Compromise is never easy, but it’s a necessary component of marriage and the organizing journey.
Verbalize your feelings, but don’t nag. While it can be frustrating to see the piles and chaos that disorganized spouses can leave in their wake, constantly pointing out those tendencies will not bring order to your home.
Statements such as, “Why can’t you put the chips back where they belong?” or “You always leave your socks on the floor” don’t exactly convey loving sentiments. Rather, statements like these that can put your spouse on the defensive and make you sound like a quarrelsome wife (Prov. 19:13, 21:9, 25:24).
Instead of bringing up his organizational shortcomings, why not try statements such as:
• “Honey, did you know that there is a basket specifically for the chips in the pantry?” or
• “It really bothers me when you leave your socks on the floor all the time. Could you pick them up more often and place them in the hamper?”
Words Have Power
Our words have the power of life and death and a gentle answer can turn away wrath (Prov. 15:1). They might just lead to order too.
Exemplify. It’s unlikely that your nagging or anger will be what brings your spouse to the light of organized living. I’ve learned from personal experience that setting the example first has more influence and impact than words or fights could ever have.
Truly, actions speak louder than words (1 Peter 3:1). Over time my consistent organized ways and habits eventually began to rub off on my husband. In the past few years I’ve seen Clint become more orderly – he makes to-do lists on a regular basis, he purges his clothes before we go shopping, and I’ve even caught him using my label maker!
I can’t say that he’s organized with everything, but he’s definitely not the same man I married all those years ago. Sometimes the best thing a wife can do is be the example for her spouse, even in the little things.
[Don’t forget to show LOVE to your spouse! Download the FREE printable – 4 Ways to Express LOVE to Your Not-So-Organized Spouse.]
Early in our marriage, I questioned whether two people on different ends of the organizing spectrum could make it work under one roof. I was certain that he was the one who needed to change. Eventually, I realized that the only person I can change is myself.
While our home isn’t perfectly organized, the truth of God’s Word, the hope that things could change, and a lot of LOVE have allowed us to have a home that’s as clutter-free as can be.
How could LOVE make a difference with your not-so-organized spouse?
Liana George is an organizer, writer, and speaker. Her mission is to inspire others in transforming their chaos into an organized lifestyle. Liana is married to Clint and together they have two adult daughters. When Liana isn’t organizing something you can find her curled up with a good book, watching/playing tennis, or planning her next dive adventure. You can visit her website at bygeorgeorganizing.com.