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Relationship compromise

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Relationship Compromise – The Key To Messy & Neat Living Happily Together

July 2, 2023

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Hello, I'm Jen
As a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization® (CPO-CD®), I am uniquely qualified with the knowledge and experience to help you with ADHD issues, hoarding, chronic disorganization, and aging. 

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We thrive on human connection, and our relationships are incredibly important to us. 

In fact, the quality of our relationships has a great influence on our overall health, and they are one of the most important aspects of leading a fulfilling life – the studies are there to prove it. 

But no good relationship comes without its struggles – especially when you’re polar opposites in the realm of tidiness (or lack thereof). 

Whether it’s marriage, dating, or strictly platonic, the love is there – there’s no doubt about that. 

Your conversations flow, you love one another’s company and enjoy being together, you have a lot of the same ideas, goals, and visions…but when it comes to inhabiting the same space, you’re constantly bickering. 

One of you feels criticized and harped on for your lack of organization, while the other feels annoyance and frustration when things are disorderly. 

Both of you feel disrespected, and the longer this carries on, the more the tension builds.

It can feel hopeless. 

Can it even work? Can messy vs. neat cohabitate and be happy? 

My answer to you – absolutely.  

But there has to be relationship compromise. 

Why Relationship Compromise Is Important

To put it simply, relationship compromise is reaching an understanding where each person feels their point of view has been heard. 

That’s all any of us really want anyway, right? To feel understood.

And when there’s the pressure of conflict without healthy compromise, the pillars of what makes up a wholesome relationship and life – what we refer to as SHiFT – are adversely affected. 

This leads to both parties feeling unconsidered and unworthy.

S – Lack of social life

A healthy social life is a huge component of a wholesome relationship. 

But when the cleaning isn’t getting done, things are piling up, and tasks are being forgotten, socializing can be impacted in several ways. 

The tidy partner may feel embarrassed to have guests over, while the one who struggles with organizing may feel overwhelmed trying to get a handle on their disorganization. Often times this level of overwhelm makes it difficult to make plans or even get out the door. This leads to feelings of loneliness, despite being in a relationship, and both partners are left feeling frustrated.

H – Deteriorating health

Tidiness in the home greatly contributes to overall health and well-being, both mentally and physically. 

Keeping up with the cleanliness of the home helps to eliminate allergens and germs, and clearing out the clutter helps to reduce the visual distractions that breed feelings of stress and anxiety. 

As the piles of things grow and dust and dirt start to accumulate, the health of both partners is impacted. 

i i am deserving

As the arguments build over the conditions of the home, it gets harder and harder to see eye to eye. 

Each individual then develops their own core painful feelings – feelings of heartache, loneliness, or helplessness caused by their current reality. 

This greatly impacts the feelings of worthiness that each person holds in their relationship with one another.

F – Mismanaged finances 

Finances are a common source of disagreement in relationships, and when one partner struggles with chronic disorganization while the other takes pride in orderliness, the burden can be even more significant. 

The one who has difficulty keeping things organized tends to also spend too much on unneeded items, or shops in excess to “fill the gap”. Bills get misplaced, budgets are blown, and both parties suffer.

T – Wasted time 

Time is precious – we all know it and talk about it often. When one partner regularly loses sense of time and the other thrives on schedules, frustration builds up and each individual can feel greatly disrespected.

Were you nodding your head as you read through these? 

We know it can feel like the foundation is crumbling around you when you can’t find common ground. 

But with compromise, there’s magic in the SHiFT Method. 

Just as misunderstandings can start to weaken the structure, working on little things within each pillar is what strengthens the bond and builds back feelings of worthiness in the relationship – both as individuals and for the relationship as a whole. 

So how do you get there? What does relationship compromise under one roof look like?

Relationship Compromise – Messy Vs. Neat 

It’s important to remember that compromise doesn’t mean you have to give up on all that’s important to you – it’s not self-sacrificing. 

It’s more about meeting halfway, and here are some ways to meet that mark together. 

1. Change Your Perspective 

Start by taking the proverbial walk in one another’s shoes. 

Taking time to view things from your partner’s perspective can invite some much-needed compassion into your relationship. 

When it comes to someone who struggles with disorganization, there is often more than meets the eye. Underlying disorders such as Chronic Disorganizationor ADHD are often part of the picture, and keeping things tidy does not come as easily as it does for others. Truly take some time to open your eyes to how difficult this may be for your partner. 

If you’re the one who struggles with organization, peel back the layers of frustration that your partner shows toward you, and try your best to understand where that frustration might be coming from. For someone who is very orderly and neat, how might disorganization and chaos feel for them in their day-to-day life? 

Reaching the realization that you both have individual struggles, and facing them together in a compassionate way, is the start of finding solutions that can work for both of you. 

2. Work Together 

As we discussed before, meeting in the middle is the premise of a healthy relationship compromise. It’s a choice you make together to begin making some changes that will support your efforts in creating a happy life under one roof. 

“A compromise happens when both of you make shifts in your behaviors or desires to make your relationship flow again.”

psychologist Alyson Nerenberg, PsyD.

Changing the circumstances of your disorganized home will not happen overnight, but making changes to the behaviors you have toward one another is a great starting point. 

First, take some time to list out the ways you may have been disrespectful or insensitive to your partner. Share your lists together, and declare a clean slate. 

Then try these ways of working together, or brainstorm some of your own.

  • Choose one day per week where you will set aside an hour-long “date” to clean up around the house together – but make it fun! Turn some music on and throw some snacks together or call in takeout to munch on while you tackle projects. Go in with the mindset that you’re spending time together and enjoying each other’s company. 
  • Delegate tasks and break them down. Decide together on a realistic workload for each of you to take on weekly. Break it down into simple tasks and set a timer each time to ensure focus on one thing at a time. 

3. Talk Openly 

Having open lines of communication is a very important aspect of relationship compromise, and it’s essential that it be respected and revisited often. 

This one can be tricky because we’re often unaware of how closed our communication may be. 

It’s common to assume that others have the same thoughts and feelings as you, therefore you may set the same expectations on others that you would on yourself. But we are all different, and we all come with unique sets of values and past experiences that shape who we are and how we communicate in the world. 

It is hard to be vulnerable and speak hard truths, but it’s crucial that you make time to sit down together and spill your thoughts (in a respectful and productive way). 

4. Set & Respect Boundaries 

Part of a healthy compromise is sitting down to establish boundaries that respect both people. 

Boundaries are important in all healthy relationships – especially when two people’s living styles are polar opposites. 

Boundaries to consider: 

  • Discuss and establish some “non-negotiables” when it comes to cleaning and daily tasks. An example would be that the common living areas be maintained for the neater person (simplify the area as much as possible – keeping it cleared of clutter with minimal things makes it easier to keep tidy) while the “messy” person can have a room, garage, man cave, etc to be kept as they feel fit.  
  • Be mindful of your words and actions. There can be NO judgment or criticism of the other person – labeling the disorganized person as “lazy” or a “slob” is not respectful or kind. The same goes for the tidy partner – labeling them as “rigid”, or a “neat freak” is not helpful. Always come from a place of compassion, and think before you speak. 
  • Don’t assume. What works (or doesn’t work) for you is likely not the same for your partner. Making suggestions to “just put things away when you’re done” may work for you, but may sound condescending and hurtful to your partner who doesn’t find it that easy. Instead, ask how you might be able to help them  – open the conversation and list out possible solutions to try together. 

Need Some Help Taking Those First Steps?

It’s truly incredible how things can shift for the better making even the smallest efforts toward healthy relationship compromise. 

But sometimes these changes can feel overwhelming and downright scary. 

After all, your relationship is so important to you, and you don’t want to risk things getting worse. 

We understand this dynamic, and we’re here to help. 

We’re passionate about helping people reach new heights by making the SHiFT, and we’d be thrilled to help transform your life and relationship for the better. 

Until then, we’ll be here, cheering you on. 

You both deserve the happiest, most fulfilling partnership. 

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