Is it that art imitates life? Or that life often imitates art? I can never remember, but I did however notice that one storyline from a re-run of How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM) sounded incredibly familiar. In the episode of HIMYM that I’m talking about, Ted was having issues with a girlfriend over what stuff of his could stay and what had to go (actually they’ve had that topic a few times, but anyway). I’ve seen this same argument pop up in the lives of many of my friends and even in my own. The “trash vs. treasure” argument seems to filter through people’s lives quite often. What to do? Clearly compromise is in order and I’m here to help you. I’ll share some of the solutions I’ve used and heard from friends when it comes to displaying or storing the stuff that your other half brings into a house.
My husband is a Marine and with that comes a lot of honor, responsibility, and stuff. A lot of it like extra uniforms and equipment I can’t complain much about because they are a necessary part of his job. That stuff has taken over our guest bedroom and part of the garage, but that’s okay. The awards, pictures, memorabilia, and all of the other USMC stuff that I love, don’t get me wrong, is what can quickly take over a house. In our old apartment, we had a room that I called his “shrine” room because it was covered in his USMC stuff. We’re both proud of his accomplishments, but our front room was covered in his stuff. To compromise on that he took a bunch of it to work. Certificates, pictures, and his sword found a new home in his office. The rest of the stuff like posters, flags, bull dogs, cowbells, and little trinkets got more evenly spread throughout the house. In each room of our house you’ll find at least two things that are USMC and that’s cool with me. I don’t mind having some things around to show our scarlet and gold pride, but I just didn’t want the house to look like a museum or well, a shrine to my husband. Putting stuff in the office, the garage, and other rooms in the house helped to tone everything down so guests weren’t overwhelmed by the Semper Fi spirit that we have.
Just last weekend another couple was complaining about what to do with each other’s home decorations. They have both lived in apartments by themselves for years and have accumulated a lot of stuff. He currently lives in a place that could double as a sports bar and her place looks like a museum for the World’s Fair. After long hours of discussion, they have agreed to prioritize what they want to keep and what they want displayed where. She insists they keep her paintings she picked up in South America displayed and he can’t live without displaying his baseball collection. Basically they are picking their battles little by little and agreeing that some stuff is better kept in storage than on display– like his replica of his favorite football stadium and her collection of bells from every country that she’s visited.
Like Ted, we’ve all learned to pick our battles on when it comes to storing or displaying the stuff we love. It’s okay to keep your stuff that can’t be put up on a shelf or hung on a wall in order to keep the peace. Just put that stuff into a storage unit or a closet and visit it every now and again. Remember to spread the wealth when it comes to displaying your treasures and not to share too much. Also, give concessions on things so you can later play that “hey, remember when we said it was okay to hang that awful painting you made in college? Well now I want to get…” card. Harmony is possible and hopefully your relationships turn out better than any of Ted’s on HIMYM.