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Keep the Black Couch, Win the Argument

Win the ArgumentWhat kind of world would we live in if men were left to their own devices when it came to decorating? Granted, there are more of us out here with a touch for color and design than we admit, but decorating just isn’t something men are known for.  

Have you ever roomed with a male buddy? Think about the decor in that domicile. Pizza boxes where plants should be. Instead of artwork, a tattered poster of Halle Berry adorned the wall in your living room. An empty two-liter soda bottle acted as the centerpiece of your coffee table, that is, if you even had a coffee table. Where do you think the term "woman's touch" came from?  

Several of us aren't or really don't care to be good decorators. Besides, who cares if your couch and love seat match when you're staring at a 42-inch high def plasma screen broadcasting crystal clear images of football. But remodeling a room in your home requires knowing how to win the argument. Do you even have a love seat? Do you even care? But let's talk more about this television. Let's say, for the sake of argument, you are in the remodeling process. Of course the 42-inch high def plasma screen broadcasting crystal clear images of football has to be center focus (if she has a problem with this then you might want to really reconsider your relationship). But what happens to your other stuff?  

Surely your wife feels strongly about some ideas. You can't have all your possessions and ideas voted off the island. You have to find a way to grant them immunity. Of course, some of your things are bound to get tossed. You may even want some of it trashed. But you have to do your best to salvage what you can. So, how does your stuff survive?

Step 1: The Assessment
Take inventory. Be honest with yourself. There's no need to keep the brown suede couch that you and your college roommate scored from the Salvation Army in the boondocks – not even in the cave. Besides, shared items such as living room furniture should be in agreement. A general rule of thumb, if you are going through your things and you find an item that generates the response, "Oh shoot I forgot I even had this." then it's not worth keeping. After you've inventoried, create a three columned list labeled Must Go, Must Keep and Must Discuss. With a written list you can prepare your case for what must stay and eliminate the excess.  
 
Step 2: Opening Arguments
Make sure you are adamant about the items you want to keep. Be prepared to make strong arguments. If you start your defense with "Baby, I think we should keep my ...." then you've already lost. Be assertive. Be firm. But don't be Chris Brown. Also be reasonable. The two of you are sharing space. If your Must Keep list is long, condense it. In fairness to her, you can only keep some of your stuff. Make sure you give her arguments and belongings the same attention. She is going to feel just as strongly about some of her things.   

Step 3: The Common Ground
Rules have to be laid. An example of this, each of you gets to retain the same number of Must Keep items. In the event where this item is the same (i.e. toaster, microwave) then the two of you fight to the death and the victor gets to keep their choice. If a fight to the death doesn't suit your relationship, the two of you can use other means of deciding. Which item is in better condition? Is there any sentimental value attached to an item? Is one more expensive than the other? Does the item fit within the grand scheme of your home? These are some questions you can consider. The most important thing to remember is you each will lose at least one Must Keep item. Relationships are all about sacrifice aren't they? That wasn’t a rhetorical question, they are.

Step 4: Find Some New Stuff
When everything is said and done there is still a good chance you will need additional items. There are a few ways to get new things. One way is to do the shopping together. Find items that appeal to both of you. This is the perfect time for you to establish a collective decorating style. Another option is for the two of you to choose which rooms you are going to individually decorate. This can aide the development of your individual space.  

"[I] let her do her womanly thing decorating the bathroom,” said  Abraham Adegbesokun, of Philadelphia. “As long as there is a toilet in there that's all I need." 

Step 5:  If It Doesn't Fit…
Now comes decision time. The two of you must begin the process of keeping certain items and throwing out the rest. Remember, you are sharing a common space. One person's style shouldn't trump the others. You should be taking this time to develop a collective style, one that incorporates both of your tastes. So what do you do with all the superfluous stuff? Why not turn it into profit? A yard sale or Craigslist is a great way to turn extra possessions into some extra cash. eBay is another viable option. If the money doesn't fully interest you or if you feel like being a good Samaritan then there are many thrift stores in your area where you can donate much of your things.

A writing professor of mine used to tell us to "trim the fat" in our writing. After reading this it's obvious I didn't fully listen in class, but that's not the point. The point is you trim the excess from your new living quarters. Assimilating your belongings and reducing clutter is a forgotten step to a productive relationship. If you can successfully "trim the fat" from your home with little to no problem, that goes a long to toward saying how well you two will be able to handle other problems. And if you have anything slightly valuable that you just want to get rid of, I’ll be more than happy to take it off your hands.       

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