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To Have And To Hold On To 

To Have And To Hold On To 

I’ve just read Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki. It’s not a good idea to read this book if your spouse is dead set against ridding the house of any of his possessions. Yes, H holds on tight. 

To become a minabalist, as Sasaki is suggesting, is not my main goal. Deleting unnecessary aricles of possession is. I could never discard the TV as he did. How else would I drive the message home with all these DIY shows of decluttering, rearranging, and remodeling if I did? Besides, the TV keeps H occupied while I try to work. 

Most of my books are on my Kindle or on Audible except for a few cherished volumes, so that takes care of my book clutter. H’s stash of books is a different matter. His collection consists of everything from his first bible and mountainous stacks of music books, to Azimuths of the Sun – just one of the many unreadable titles from his dad’s collection that do nothing for our entertainment but allow us to watch the dust build up. (I’m refusing to dust these questionable articles anymore.)


At last count there were about twenty-seven bibles in this small house. And that doesn’t include other bible related materials. Included are bibles that belonged to his great-great and maybe greater grandparents. There are bibles so old that the covers hang on by a thread and the pages crumble when turning. There’s a whole tub of religious sheet music and music books of H’s mothers taking up valuable floor space in The Philadelphia Room. She also dabbed a little in the art of writing her own music so that’s included in H’s stash.    

I have recently organized and labeled tubs of old photos and ancient framed pictures of H’s ancestors. But what do you do with scenery pictures of unfamiliar places and the ones of faces with no names? The box is too heavy for me to pick up. 

Another book I read last year is Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  What I took away from this reading experience was how to fold clothes to fit in the limited space we have for storing them. I gave up trying to teach H this art and just do it myself. It’s easier this way. Kondo’s next book, Spark Joy,  was written after the inclusion of a husband and baby in her life. I haven’t read it yet, but I am curious to know how she keeps all that order with a baby in the mist, much less, a spouse! 

With all that being said, H and I have been at a stalemate on the subject of downsizing. I tug one way while he stands firm on the other side. 

An article I read this morning, Simplicity When Your Spouse Doesn’t Get It, says to take a vote about getting rid of shared possessions and respect the decision. It doesn’t say what to do in case of a tied vote. With only two participants who don’t usually agree on what to toss and what to keep, it’s bound to happen – the majority of the time! 

This, too, comes from the same article – “Start with Yourself. You can’t change anyone, only yourself. So focus on the stuff that is yours – your wardrobe, your desk, your schedule, your stuff. The best way to change the hearts of those around you is to lead by example – forcing the issue will not win you any allies. If it belongs to someone else in the house, keep your hands off.”

Yes, I have stuff too, but I try to keep it organized and at a minimum – and I know where what I need is – most of  the time. (I’ve also decided to stop being keeper of where all items H may need to put his hands on are.) 

Even though there are only two people involved in this battle-of-the-wills, I’m convinced I’m outnumbered! 

~Elle

About Elle Knowles

Elle Knowles lives in the Florida Panhandle with her husband and off-at-college-most-of-the-time son. She has four daughters, one son, and eleven beautiful grandchildren. 'Crossing the Line' is her first novel. The sequel 'What Line' is a work in progress. Recently published is Coffee-Drunk Or Blind - a nonfiction story of homesteading in the Alaska wilderness with her parents and four siblings, told through letters by her mother and remembered accounts from the family.

4 responses »

  1. I assume your household might have the following spaces in them: (1) Spaces that have only your things (2) Spaces that have only your spouse’s things (3) Spaces that contain things that belong to both you and your spouse. (4) Spaces that contain common household items.
    Assuming this fits you, you may want to protect your boundaries for category (1) and not let your spouse encroach on that territory. And perhaps for spaces held in common (category 3), you could subdivide them into what space belongs to you and what space belongs to them. And while you may not be able to get them to pare down their possessions directly, you can at least be try to establish boundaries that their stuff cannot go into your space. And this might eventually cause them to make decision about which of their items they want to keep and fit into their space.
    Disclaimer: I don’t know you or your spouse. I am a random stranger on the Internet. Take all my advice with the same precautions as any advice from a random stranger on the Internet should be taken.

    Liked by 1 person

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    • Ha! That is a thought though. He does have stuff in my space. Wonder where I could move it to? The common areas are overflowing with too many “things” that I’m pretty sure we don’t “need”!

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  2. Perhaps you should get a storage shed in a flood plain!

    Liked by 1 person

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