I’m a minimalist in a maximalist world. In fact, I live with my very own maximalist. He collects coffee mugs like we don’t have a dishwasher. T-shirts like a washing machine is not a luxury we enjoy. Books like there’s no library less than a mile down the street. Sunglasses like he forgets we live in the PNW where the sun only shines a few months of the year. And don’t even get me started about the treats he has squirreled around the house. He’s not at peace until we have 3 jars of olives in the fridge with 2 in the pantry as backup for whatever olive shortage emergency there may be in the future. I can’t even bring myself to discuss the pickle situation.
I, on the other hand, take pleasure in getting rid of stuff. Broken stuff, no-longer-loved clothing even when it is still in good repair, single use gadgets (some of the time), paperbacks, duplicates of whatever, and all manner of clutter are not safe from my culling. Thinning out my space is therapeutic for me. I like clean lines and surfaces, makes me feel peaceful and like I can breathe easier.
So how do we coexist? Mutual respect and effortful understanding.
Looking at his overflowing desk in our shared office sometimes makes me see red, but then I take a deep breath and remember why he is the way he is. This isn’t really my story to tell, but I do have permission. My partner did not have much growing up. He lived a life of true deprivation in a backwater house with no electricity and subpar parents where love, security, clothing and even food were scarce. He talks about these things freely and it breaks my heart every single time. And that’s what I think about when I feel any kind of resentment rising inside of me about all of his stuff crammed into our house and overflowing into a storage unit. It puts it all back into perspective for me and gives me the patience to accept that he will feel better about letting things go once he has experienced enough love, safety and security to fill up that crater in his child’s heart. As someone who loves him deeply, I want to stay on the right side of that process. That’s more important to me than having things my way, right away. For his part, he respects my needs too. 2 coffee cups went to Goodwill last week, so he is coming my way as well! I am confident that with time and patience, we will find the middle ground that works for both of us.