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More Time for Sex:
The Organizing Guide for Busy Couples

by Harriet Schechter & Vicki T. Gibbs

All That Stuff
Most people come to a relationship with hopes and dreams and plans for the future. They also bring with them, however, all their stuff, not to mention years and years worth of habits and attitudes. Trying to blend all this stuff and these habits and attitudes with someone else’s stuff, habits and attitudes can be a nightmare.

First, there’s all that stuff. Today, many people are waiting longer to get married or live together. Couples are anxious to get their individual careers going strong before they commit to a relationship. That can translate into almost a decade of single life in some cases. Consequently, by the time they are ready to marry or cohabit, these folks have each collected a household of furniture, linens, books, stereo equipment, and kitchen appliances. Likewise, they may each have a car, a condo, a washer and dryer, and numerous adult toys, like snow skis, ski boats, dune buggies and more. Then, if they have a large wedding, they’ll end up with still more stuff.

That’s great, you might say. Better than starting with nothing. Perhaps. But if both members of a couple come to the relationship with this much “stuff,” how is it all going to fit? And what if each has a much-loved house, condo or apartment? where will they live? And who will give up some of his or her precious possessions so that two full households can be crammed into one?

When Vicki married at the age of 29, it took several weeks for her and Jake to squeeze everything from her fully furnished two-bedroom house into his more-than-fully furnished two-bedroom condo. Working together, they found places for two popcorn poppers, two blenders, two juicers, and myriad towels, washcloths, sheets and blankets. They also discovered that, thanks to economy-minded shopping, they were now the proud owners of five gallons of window cleaner, 15 household cleaning brushes, and a two-year supply of bathroom cleaner.

Habits and Attitudes
Then there are all those habits. You may have spent the last 15 years falling asleep to the soothing sounds of classical music played softly on a bedside radio, while your mate, on the other hand, can’t possible slip into slumber without the squawking of a bedside police scanner reporting every break-in, robbery and murder in the vicinity. He may keep his half of the closet perfectly organized with nary a pair of trousers out of place. You, however, need at least ten minutes each morning to dig through all five of your bureau drawers to find a pair of pantyhose without a runner from heel to thigh.

Worse than bad habits, and harder to change, are attitudes. Each member of a couple comes to the relationship with certain well-entrenched attitudes about how a household should be set up and maintained. One person might make it a regular practice to each month toss out old newspapers and magazines and bundle up a box of giveaways for the Salvation Army. The other partner, however, might feel it’s essential to keep every issue of National Geographic that’s ever received. Just in case it’s ever needed for researching Indians from the jungles of Brazil or learning about the rivers of Asia.

One gentleman Vicki knows has kept every single textbook he’s ever been issued … just in case he ever needs to get to that information again. He’s apparently never heard about public libraries. And because he now has two master’s degrees and is close to a doctorate, his poor wife is looking into having a library of their own built into a spare corner to house all those dusty tomes.

Challenge One: Cleaning
Jackie and Jim had barely returned from their honeymoon when she began thinking Divorce! The reason: A difference in cleaning standards. It wasn’t quite that serious, but she did question his sanity when they began cleaning house one Saturday morning and he went and got the toilet bowl brush to scrub the kitchen sink. Luckily her shrieks stopped him in time. Jackie, who never ate a meal without first washing her hands twice, was horrified he would even consider doing such a thing and flabbergasted when he didn’t understand what she was so upset about.

Renae faced a different problem when she first moved into her husband Wally’s beach condo. He proudly boasted to her about his housekeeping prowess, claiming he was quite domestic. And it was true; the place was relatively uncluttered, with lots of clear space on cabinets and counters. A peek in the closet in the second bedroom, however uncovered some definite packrat tendencies. Plus, when she started to take her first shower in what had been “his” bathroom, she was horrified to find a light layer of pink pre-mildew covering the tiles on the stall floor. Wally thought he was a good housekeeper because he kept his place picked up and he always put things away, but he was actually spending very little time “cleaning.”

A difference in cleaning standards can be critical in a relationship. A floor that one person considers clean might make his or her mate run for a bucket and Lysol cleaner. Communicating your feelings about what you believe is clean is also important, but if you are the Felix member of an “Odd Couple,” you may have to lower your standards just slightly if you wish to live in peace with your mate. Either that, or resign yourself to doing absolutely ALL the cleaning yourself.