Dear K&K: My husband drives me crazy asking where things are — batteries, light bulbs. I never move these things. They’re exactly where they were the last time he asked. I don’t think I could possibly be more organized but clearly, if he can’t find things on his own, I don’t have the right homes for everything or something!?! Crazy in Carmel
Dear Crazy: Sometimes things don’t need to make sense to live together and we’re talking possessions and people! We think you’re right that for some reason your system isn’t working for your husband. First, try asking him where he’d put the things he can never find if he were in charge. For instance, I keep stamps near my passports in a drawer with other insanely important documents. Stamps are not exactly connected to those items but it’s where I’ve always kept them. I keep doing it despite the nonsensical nature of it because it works. Two wise women once said: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Now, if your attempt to have his input craft a new system fails, then figure out what things he’s usually looking for and create a central home for all of them in one place like a drawer. Even if it doesn’t make sense to you, having things in one spot will end up limiting how many times he asks you because he will eventually learn anything he needs is in that one drawer. All our best, Katie & Kelly
Dear K&K: My husband can’t stand how I leave piles of paper on my bedside table. But, it’s where I like to do my leftover work reading after dinner. Eye roll. It’s like one pile of paper. He says bedroom clutter stresses him out and he wants the bedroom to be a place where he can relax. Do you have any suggestions to resolve our standoff?? Many thanks: Reading in Reading
Dear Reading: Ever wonder why a luxury hotel room is so relaxing when you first open the door? It’s because someone has put thought into every inch of the decor AND your pile of work reading isn’t hanging out there! That being said, old habits die hard. Therefore, the chances of you changing your reading routine are slim to none.
Now, the first step to a clutter “free ” bedroom is to get a nightstand with a cubby. One of our Organic Structure clients hides her nightstand clutter from her Classic husband’s view with one of these; it’s both open and hidden at the same time. Finally, the second step is to make sure everything else in the bedroom has a purpose and is beautiful. Hope that helps cool down tensions! All our best, Katie & Kelly
Dear K&K: How do I get my husband to put his clothes in a hamper. I think he’s a Classic Freedom based on the description on your website. He always puts his clothes on top of hamper or folds them neatly at the foot of our bed in our bedroom. It drives me crazy because it’s not that difficult. Or am I crazy?? Signed: Hampered by a hamper
Dear Hampered: Easy … and we are not trying to be glib … remove the lid from your hamper. You’d be surprised how much that one extra step hampers clothes going into a hamper. That’s step one. Now, if you’re in the market for a new hamper, get no lid hampers such as these Pehr bins. If that doesn’t do the trick? Then take his clothes and put them back in his drawers. Or, do as Kelly started doing when her husband does something similar which is to put those carefully folded clothes IN the hamper. She’s still waiting for him to notice and yell at her but hasn’t happened yet. All our best: Katie & Kelly
Dear K & K: I was listening to your interview on NPR and I find this very interesting! I took the test and it turns out, I am the Organic Freedom type. Your description of this type fits me to the tee. I wanted to call the radio station with one question. What category does my husband fit in? I have been married for 22 years, and I am still trying to adjust to my husband’s habits. He is very neat, he puts all things in cabinets, cupboards, and closets. The problem is that he puts things wherever he finds room. I spend my life rearranging the silverware drawer, my kitchen, the shelves, dresser drawers, and everything else after my husband is done… I think he might be a hopeless case because he knows where things belong. For example, we had a house guest one time, and she was helping him in the kitchen. Of course, she asked him where things belong because she was drying the dishes and he knew it. He just doesn’t do it. Any suggestions? Thank you: New Fan in Illinois
Dear New Fan: Thank you SO much for listening. You’re Katie’s type so naturally, she thinks you’re awesome and feels your pain because it sounds like your husband is potentially a neatnik Classic. If they don’t see a clear organization system — and this doesn’t mean you don’t have one, it just means they don’t see it or know about it — they’ll put things away behind closed doors just to get rid of the visual clutter. The solution for dealing with these little clutter squirrels is three-pronged.
First, find a home for everything in your home and make sure it’s in its place. Second and this is potentially more important, give him a tour as if he’s the new guy in the office — a.k.a. your home — and you want to help him succeed. Then, review each and every system with him. Tell him what goes where and what NEVER goes where. We’d suggest doing it room by room over a period of time. Also, you need to be clear that some things are always going to need to be out in the open — you’re an Organic Freedom, THIS IS A MUST. But, make sure this visual clutter has proper homes — transparent bins/attractive bulletin board. Then, tell him “DO NOT TOUCH”.
If these two steps fail, ask him how he thinks you should change your organizational systems since he clearly knows they exist but doesn’t always pay heed. Essentially, convey to him that something must not be working for him and you want to make sure the house works for him and not just you. Finally, if that fails then we’d just put his personality type down as … stubborn! 😉 Hope that helps!! All our best, Katie & Kelly
Dear Katie & Kelly: Money is tight right now but we desperately need a date night with three kids and a lot of stress. Any cheap date night ideas? Sincerely: Broke in Boise
Dear Broke: We’ve all been broke at one point in our lives — or at least we have! At the risk of stating the obvious … have a home date. Since drugging children with Benadryl is probably illegal and a sitter is costly, bribe your eldest to watch the younger kids. If your kids are all super little then wake them up early and put them down early. They can’t read the clock; take advantage of their illiterate years. Then make your favorite cheap dinner, set the table as if you were having guests and after play a board game afterward or cards. As awesome as watching a movie is, it’s not conducive to talking and remembering why on earth you picked this person in the first place. Cheers: Katie & Kelly
Dear Katie & Kelly: My husband is a Classic of some sort. He’s fastidious, cleans the kitchen, likes everything tidy and generally keeps everything tucked away in their proper homes. But for the life of me, I can’t keep him from folding his clothes and putting them on the bench at the end of our bed (which is supposed to be for sitting but the folded clothes render it useless) instead of his dresser. I can’t stand the way it looks. I’ve tried the nagging route to no avail. Help!!
Signed: Powerless in Pittsburgh
Dear Powerless: Nagging works right up until you stop nagging and who wants to spend their life as a nag?? Our hunch is that since he’s a Classic and not a typical piler there’s a likely problem with wherever he deposits his clothes. Nine times out of ten if a Classic isn’t properly putting things away then you know the problem isn’t them but rather it’s too difficult to put something away or retrieve it in its proper home. Our advice? Make sure his drawers are not overstuffed or hard to open/shut. Ditto for closet. Resolve with decluttering, a bigger/newer dresser, or both. If those areas are not an issue maybe get desperate and leave a sign on the bench, “Don’t even THINK about it buster!! This is a NO CLOTHES bench” … he’ll either heed your warning or you’ll find him sitting naked on the bench.
All our best: K & K
Dear Katie & Kelly: One of my best friend is engaged to be married to an older guy who has been married before. He has asked her to sign a prenup. She asked me if I thought this was a reasonable request and since I always speak my mind, I told her I think it seems questionable to start out a marriage with a legal document preparing for the potential demise of their marriage, especially given his track record. But, she’s decided to sign it anyway and is now rationalizing it to herself. I’ve bitten my tongue so far but it’s getting tough listening to her rationalize it. I’m a Fun Structure.
Signed: Skeptical in Skokie
Dear Skeptical: What’s that phrase, once bitten, twice shy? Divorce is expensive $$$. Biting your tongue is the prudent course even if difficult since your friend seems to have niggling doubts about it all or she wouldn’t still be rationalizing it. We don’t know what the groom’s personality type is but we’re betting he’s a Classic Structure, Fun Structure or Smart — the most practical types — so his request is likely not personal just practical given his past experience. Once you’ve lost half your assets, which he might’ve with his first marriage, it’s not logical to take the same risk again.
From a subjective point of view, you could argue that who cares about signing a prenup if you’re marrying for love and not the potential to take half a person’s assets down the road, i.e., once you remove logic then there are lots of different ways to judge/view a prenup. Our advice is not to pass judgement on your friend but to make sure she’s smart about it and gets her own lawyer to review the prenup and layout in layman’s turns what it’ll mean to her. When it comes to love we want to be all heart but sprinkling a little logic into marriage prep doesn’t erase true love.
All our best: K & K
Dear Katie & Kelly: My mother-in-law to be is insisting on throwing me a bridal shower in her hometown. I told her it was fine but then my mom, a stickler for tradition, told me it most certainly wasn’t okay because family isn’t allowed to throw showers. I already told my MIL it was okay so I don’t want to come back to her and tell her she can’t throw me a shower because of some tradition. Any thoughts on how to please both ladies??
Signed: In a Quandary in Quebec
Dear In a Quandary: Technically your mom, probably a Classic, is correct. It’s seen as unseemly for family members of a bride to essentially be asking for gifts. But it seems to us nobody but Classics and 60-80 year olds follow rules like these anymore. If you’re a Classic and a stickler like Kelly is, see if your MIL can get a friend to serve as a front for the shower — a beard of sorts to mask that your MIL is the real hostess. If you’re not then let it lie and make sure your mom is aware that if a bride is from out of town, it’s traditionally okay for the MIL and a sister or sister-in-law-to-be to throw a bridal shower, especially if the bride is not from their town, because they’re just introducing the bride to people. We’re guessing this was deemed legit because the family members in this scenario are offering a public service — introductions — and not just procuring gifts for you.
Congratulations! K & K
Illustration available at BreckWorks on Etsy
Dear Katie & Kelly,
My wife insists that I buy her gifts every year that she has specifically requested because she hates being disappointed when I don’t get her the right thing. So I gave up years ago and buy her what she wants. Great. Everybody is happy. Trouble is, the other day she complained that I never buy her gifts from the heart anymore. It seems that I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t.
Aggravated in Annapolis
You are ALMOST damned either way … but not quite. If someone asks for a specific gift you would be a fool not to get it for them if you want to make them happy. BUT, nobody minds a little bit of extra sparkle or effort after they’ve received everything they want. Now, don’t get us wrong, she could still easily return or not like whatever extra gift you get her. But the way to have more hits than misses is to take note of where she likes to shop whether a boutique or a catalog — seriously write it down somewhere you will be able to refer to frequently — and pick something from there. This goes for any gift, wherever someone is naturally drawn to purchase things for themselves is bound to have other things they’ll like. Another way to get it right is to use a personal shopper or a stylist.
Katie & Kelly
Illustration available at BreckWorks on Etsy
Dear Katie & Kelly,
I’m recently engaged and my fiance floated the idea of doing Christmas with his family and doing Thanksgiving with my family … every year. He says he doesn’t care about Thanksgiving. I shouldn’t have a problem with it — I love Christmas but it’s not the be all end all for me like some of my friends — but I do. My fiance and I have never spent the holidays together. I guess the problem is that I’m close with my family and don’t want to never see them on Christmas ever again.
What do I do?
Confused in Columbia
Welcome to the wide, wide world of super fun holiday planning. Not! If you were lucky, you probably never knew the tumult behind the scenes of holiday planning until the point you decided to get hitched. Holidays and newly forming families are a powder keg. To avoid lighting this fuse, they involve compromise (ah, the joys of marriage!) and finding what you can each live with and that your families can live with. Sometimes everyone is flexible and easy going about things. Sometimes they’re not. The latter is out of your control since you didn’t pick your family or your fiance’s. You’re your own family unit now. Go with your collective guts.
Just remember that no matter what your personality type, change is difficult. Give people time to adjust, including yourself. Plus what you decide to do now isn’t written in stone. If you have kids one day, you might decide to shake things up or your siblings or parents might do it for you. We will say one thing for certain, the first holiday you don’t spend with your own family will be tough even if you like your in-laws. But, it gets better from there. Or at least ours did with a lot of good wine!
Katie & Kelly