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Spouse claims freed up space
Advice from Jill Ellen Shankar

Q. I am trying very hard to simplify my life and to get rid of some of the clutter. I love those shows on TV where they are ruthless about it.

But I live with someone who just won't cooperate. Every time I make a space, he seems to absorb it for his own stuff.

I am parting with things I like to make space and then I can't even enjoy the space because he takes it over. Help!

A. Ah, those pesky TV shows-everyone is thin and gorgeous, and it's a snap to get completely organized in 23 minutes.

Know this: it's only TV! Life is not like that, sometimes because spouses, kids and pets don't cooperate.

I tell my clients to have 3 zones: yours, the other's, and common space.

For example, the kitchen, living room, etc. are common areas, and everyone needs to pitch in for tidiness. Sit down and negotiate the guidelines, ie, does the throw have to be folded and hung neatly, or can it be tossed on the corner of the couch in a heap?

Baskets and other containers will help organize your stuff, like magazines, the TV clicker, mail, etc. Whatever you do, don't clean up for everyone else or you'll end up being the resident maid.

Instead, discuss and negotiate, as often as necessary until you're all relatively satisfied.

In some areas, like the bathroom, you can split space, like cabinets, into yours and his (or hers). You each get to do what you want in your respective zones.

Likewise in bedrooms and other areas where you can designate specific areas to be one person's.

Remember, this process takes patience and practice, so keep at it until it's right.



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Jill Ellen Shankar
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