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My Wife’s Messy Closet

What’s the difference between a strategic withdrawal and an outright surrender? More specifically, should I be happy that my wife’s mess is contained behind bi-fold closet doors or should I press on….striving for the nirvana of a reformed and cheerily organized wife?

Way back in June 2008 boasted about how I’d convinced my wife to organize her closet. I waited for the right moment, got her involved in the process, and had her put the finishing touches on….. amazing!

And for a while it was.

But now fifteen months later, the shine has come off. Today the inside of my wife’s closet is a jumble of clothes proving that the system is only as good as the operator. She doesn’t take the time to fold and hang, to put things back, to use the sliding basket or put her shoes on the shoe shelves.  She doesn’t see how much better her day would start without the frustration of wrestling with her cluttered closet…..

But she does keep her mess contained enough so that she can close her door.

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Pre-June 2008 Brian really hated that her closet vomited clothes onto the floor of our room and disturbed the Zen like atmosphere. That’s been taken care of. But I do cringe whenever she opens it. Should I care? Should I risk more arguments or just take pleasure in my incremental (yet partial) victory …

Help me?

I need advice.

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  35. Brian Miller October 19, 2009 at 11:29 am #

    I like the tit for tat idea.
    I definitely have some “habits” that bother her….but that’s for another blog.

  36. Julie Bestry October 16, 2009 at 3:01 pm #

    My sister once went on a blind date where the guy, apropos of nothing, leaned forward excitedly and asked “Don’t you just LOVE camping?” (I can speak for my sister and my whole family when I say the answer from any of us would be a resounding NO!”)
    The point? Different things matter to different people. As a professional organizer, I know that a disorganized closet means spending more time finding what you want, wasting money re-washing/ironing/dry-cleaning items and having general frustration about clutter. And it would probably bother me, too, if a closet in my house were as you describe. But your wife may not care about any of that…to you, a perfectly organized closet is “camping”, and to her, you’re that wacky blind date.
    Instead, the issues are two-fold. First, have you you thought about why this matters so much to you? Is it because you feel like your locus of control is being violated? Or does your wife actually experience (and complain about) closet-related frustration, and you want to help her be happier? It’s not about the closet…it’s either about you (making you happy) or about both of you (making her happier…so you’ll be happier).
    Second, does anything about the closet situation, besides the fact that it bothers you, have any meaning to your wife?
    –If it annoys her to hear you talk about it, I’d take three mommy steps backward and just concentrate on things that have lasting meaning. It’s one thing to encourage a loved one to quit smoking (so she’ll be with you for many years to come); it’s another to say “but it’d be so much nicer (for both of us) if you’d wear your hair with bangs”.
    –If she has frustration both about the situation and about your interpretation, then you can broach things as Marcie suggested, explaining you want to do whatever will make her happiest. Find out what’s not working for her–are the shelves or bars too high? Are the clothes arranged in other than the way she thinks about them (i.e., does she think in terms of outfits rather than separates)? Is there enough light? Does she need a step-stool? You can offer to help her find solutions to conquer whatever leads to closet dysfunction.
    –And if she looks at you, bemusedly, every time you bring it up, because she’s not bothered at all by the closet but worries about you being so stressed, perhaps you could make a trade. How much does this really upset you? Perhaps you’d like to be her closet indentured servant and be the one to keep it tidy, and she can just toss all of her clothes to you to put away? Or maybe, in return for acquiescing to your preferences, maybe she’s got a pet peeve about her adoring husband that you could eliminating by satisfying one of her requests?
    When parents complain to me about their teenagers’ rooms, I encourage them to close the door and ignore the situation unless a teen’s academic situation is suffering or there’s a household hygiene hazard, because teens need space to develop their own sense of themselves. Your wife is a grownup, so even if you’re “right”, if her closet is not causing structural, financial or hygienic dangers, shut the door and open your arms to embrace her as she is. 🙂

  37. Brian Miller October 13, 2009 at 4:52 pm #

    Very harsh words but probably true. Little disagreements can fester and grow. If I had any doubts before….I’m now sold on the close the door option.

  38. Marcie Lovett October 13, 2009 at 2:57 pm #

    As a professional organizer, I don’t understand how anyone wouldn’t want a closet where everything is accessible. However, not everyone feels the same way.
    I would ask her what is keeping her from putting things away. If she doesn’t like the way the closet is set up, she isn’t going to use it.
    If having a well organized closet just isn’t important to her, no system is going to work for her. In that case, closing the closet door is the most loving thing you can both do for each other.

  39. rhonda October 13, 2009 at 2:04 pm #

    Is the organized closet more important or the relationship with your wife? That is the real issue here.
    You can have a perfectly organized closet and be alone and divorced. Harsh words, I know…but little disagreements such as this can add up over time and kill love…

  40. Brian Miller October 13, 2009 at 8:58 am #

    I don’t want to die on any Hill Cindy.
    Not just yet.
    Melissa and you offer sage advice.

  41. Brian Miller October 13, 2009 at 8:57 am #

    Melissa you’re absolutely right….I was leaning that way and I just needed someone to push me.

  42. Cindy C. October 12, 2009 at 12:44 pm #

    It boils down to what’s more important…being right, or having a good relationship? Is this the hill you want to die on?

  43. Melissa, Multitasking Mama October 12, 2009 at 12:30 pm #

    Here’s the thing- if she is not motivated to keep it organized then your efforts are wasted. I say if the doors shut, leave it be. I feel your pain 😉

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