Monday, March 22, 2010

What About Your Stuff?

posted by Michele Olson
Oh sure, there’s sex, finances, children…that’s what people think of when they think of things that can come between couples, but what about STUFF? You know, STUFF!

Great article in the Wichita Eagle by Lisa Gutierrez about couples stuff and what the other partner considers to be weird possessions. If you’ve been watching The Marriage Ref on NBC, you know people do have disagreements over some weird things. (Did you see the episodes about the stuffed dog and the prosthetic leg?)

The article is the result of one simple question:
What stuff of your partner’s would you toss right out of the house if it were up to you?

How about two huge stuffed tom turkeys? That’s what one story revolves around. (Taxidermists must have some great stories to tell at dinner parties)

A big clown picture.

A vintage Bud Light beer can phone.

A BETA tape player.

Most of the feedback about stuff they would throw out of the house was women talking about men’s stuff. My husband has had to live with a collector of stuff for over 30 years; although I think I’m rubbing off on him…he now has a few collections too. (Come on! I Love Lucy and Wizard of Oz are magical things, I can’t even bear to think of them as just stuff!)

Overland Park psychologist Paul Anderson quoted in the article gets to the bottom of the issue of compromising when it comes to our stuff; the ability to talk about it.

From the article:

Generally speaking, when couples start arguing over stuff, it becomes a point of contention and tension, and the reason is what it represents to the couple,” Anderson says. “And they may not be able to talk about what that represents.”

Basically, our stuff is the smokescreen for what’s really happening; working through control, power and respect.

Once again it comes back to being able to talk about it in a healthy way and that comes back to communication and conflict resolution skills. (Those are things you can learn in marriage and healthy relationship education opportunities, such as those we offer at

You may remember this line from the Humphrey Bogart movie Maltese Falcon:
What about your relationship?
What would you get rid of in your home?
How have you resolved “stuff” issues?
Tell us some stuff about your marriage and stuff!

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