Heartbreak

Spring Cleaning My Marriage Led To Our Divorce

Photo: Roman Kosolapov / Shutterstock
unhappy couple

My sisters like to joke I have a two-season rule for my closet. It’s out with the old, in with the new. I hate clutter. One of my sisters would break into a cold sweat when I visited. I couldn’t understand why. Just a little household cleaning while she was at work. What’s the harm?

My phone would ring for weeks.

“Where did you put this? And where did you put that?” she’d ask, deep fearing the worst. Her little sister might have thrown it out. There’s nothing like a clean counter — unless it messes with someone's organizational system.

Eventually, I learned my lesson and stuck to my own closets.

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The distressed look on my sister’s face wiped away the thrill. But donating, trashing, and decluttering were still a personal high, as well as the accompanying benefits: A renewed sense of clarity, control, and focus.

Stress successfully bombed and mood bolstered, I could think straight. There were no distractions. There were fewer things I was endlessly in search of. I wasn’t encumbered. I was lighter.

I’d gotten rid of stuff I could no longer use but someone else might be happy with.

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Here’s the crazy thing: The woman obsessed with physical liquidation — me — was oblivious to emotional purging.

I kept the same husband and people in my life for years.

I was a relationship lifer. I parted with no one. Nada. Zippo. The high was holding onto everyone. I never evaluated relationships. I never emotionally decluttered.

Even when my husband was literally begging for spring cleaning, everything about him was saying, “Pick me, pick me! I’ve been in your closet too long.”

I didn’t listen.

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My husband fell into the “hard to part with” category.

He was like that thing you really don’t use but were once crazy about. The item you shift from one pile to the other and then back again. Should I keep it? Shouldn’t I? Sentimentality takes over. He's an oldie but a goodie. A great memory you want to hold onto. But that’s it.

My husband was a physical representation of a forgotten time. He no longer walked, talked, and engaged with me. He didn't make me feel fabulous anymore. He occupied space.

Marie Kondo would ask, “Does he spark joy?”

No. My husband has not sparked joy for a very long time.

Remember: I hate clutter. I’m a two-season girl. Out with the old, in with the new — it's just that spring cleaning of the heart never occurred to me.

With a renewed sense of clarity and control and my mood bolstered, I could think straight.

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There were no distractions. There were fewer things I was endlessly in search of. I wasn’t encumbered. I was lighter.

Don’t worry: I didn’t throw away anything good.

Colleen Sheehy Orme is a national relationship columnist, journalist & former business columnist. She covers love, life, & relationships.

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This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.