Can You Help Me Organize My House In The Midst Of A Divorce?
Dear Done and Done,
I’m an organized person and so is my husband, but we’ve come up against a problem we can’t solve. We’re getting divorced and we simply can’t figure out how to dismantle our home without fighting. Not to give you all the nitty gritty, but we’re separating after twenty-two years of marriage because he met someone else.
I can’t help but feel that because he caused this, not only shouldn’t he be entitled to half our belongings, he shouldn’t get any of it. Also, why should I have to dismantle our perfect home because he wants to live somewhere else? I don’t even think I can afford to stay here without him, but I don’t want to move.
I chose most of the things we own, though we’ve both worked very hard all our married lives and contributed equally. I just can’t accept that the furniture, art, knick knacks, kitchen stuff, holiday items and everything else we jointly own has to be divided.
Now that I’ve written, I can see this may not be an organizational question at all. But perhaps since you handle moves all the time, you may have come up against a similar situation. Any advice would be much appreciated.
Angry In Arizona
A House Divided
I’m sorry. This sounds very difficult. You’ve obviously worked hard for many years to make a home and now you have to accept change on so many levels. This isn’t going to be easy but, of course, you know that already. We do handle moves all the time and even in the best possible circumstances, moving is stressful. However, while your situation is more challenging, it isn’t hopeless.
I understand that you don’t think it’s right or fair but it sounds as if an agreement has already been made to divide your belongings. So now you have to figure out whether you are going to stay in your home once your husband and half of your belongings are gone. Not staying would be easier in some ways, but maybe not financially or logistically. Either way, having a plan of action will make things seem more hopeful going forward.
The First Step Is Often The Hardest
The first thing to do is have a heart to heart with yourself. Don’t shoot the messenger, but when it comes to moving, most people don’t want the majority of things they own. So if what you want is your husband but you’re putting those feelings onto your possessions, it will make this process very hard. Try saying to yourself, “I don’t want this divorce, that’s true, but do I want this couch?” Give yourself room to want what you can’t have – your husband – but then with clear eyes and a clear heart really look at that couch and every other item you two own.
Break It Down, Piece By Piece
I suggest you get four colors of painters tape, two for each of you. Walk through the house and put one color of tape on the things you’d like to have, and both colors on the things you can’t live without. Then have your husband do the same thing. Perhaps you’ll get lucky and the things that mean the most to you will mean less to him. You will only have to discuss the “must have” items because you should agree before you start that an item goes to the person who desperately wants it.
But What About The Value?!?
If there’s anything that has actual monetary value, you can either compensate the other person with cash or with other items in the home. Just so you’re prepared, “actual monetary value” of all household items has plummeted in recent years. Even silver, crystal and art are unlikely to be worth what you paid for them. Rugs have taken an enormous hit because nobody wants them and the market is flooded. In order to have a realistic view of prices, look up household items on Ebay, EBTH and Replacements. Only look at what similar items to yours have sold for, not what they’re listed for.
Additionally, realize that most auction houses have a 70/30 or 60/40 split which means that a $1000 set of silver will only bring in between $600 and $700. The good news about the low prices is that you may be able to find replacements for the items you had to give up at seriously reduced prices.
I know you’re sad and angry and nobody would blame you for feeling that way. I can only tell you what has helped me when life has dealt me cards I didn’t want. And it is this – we don’t get to choose what happens to us, but we do get to choose how we feel and how we react. You can get through this and you will come out on the other side.
Best of luck with everything.
PS If you need some more help with decluttering and organizing to prepare to sell the home, we have a course that can assist you, here.