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Can a storage unit save your marriage?

You might think that is a ridiculous question, and if I told you the answer is yes, it might not be entirely correct. Is there some truth to it? Yes, for some of us.

My husband's childhood left him and all his siblings with a deep and profound fear of scarcity, for good reason. They have all worked incredibly hard in their lives to provide well for themselves and their loved ones, and that drive, I believe, is due in large part to the fact that they never want to feel that way again.

Like many people who lived with such fear, my husband tends to cling to things: just-in-case. I wouldn't necessarily call him a hoarder, but he certainly isn't a minimalist. I, on the other hand, am overwhelmed and often paralyzed if my environment is cluttered. You have probably heard that a cluttered life leads to a cluttered mind. This couldn't be more true for me. The older I get the worse it affects me.

For a long time the most frequent disagreements we had was over things we should keep or not keep. I purged and donated and tossed, while he gathered and piled and stored - in corners, closets, cabinets, garages, spare rooms (that weren't really spare), under the bed, shelves, counters, etc. As the piles grew more numerous and bigger, and our usable space grew smaller and less accessible, my anxiety and frustration (and outright anger) grew, and grew, and grew. I knew something had to change. I had tried to just let it go, to learn to live in the clutter and stop nagging him about going through the piles and boxes, and making wise and practical decisions about what he really needed to keep.

One day I got online and looked up storage unit rentals nearby. I found one that was reasonably priced and seemed big enough to contain all the boxes, totes, tools, and equipment that had not been used (or opened) for the fifteen years we'd lived in this house. I told John my plan and although he resisted at first, he acquiesced. I explained that it would get the stuff out of the house and still be safe from weather, it would be nearby in the event he felt compelled to go through it, and it would be waiting for him if ever there came a day when he needed any of it. I loaded up the van (several times) and took it all to the storage unit. The only unit available at the time was actually larger than I needed. Score. I would have a place to bring all the future piles that he wouldn't be ready to deal with or part with.

The reasonable people who read this might shake their heads and say what a terrible idea that was, but I'm here to tell you that it was genius. It saved my sanity, helped make room in our house to create a home where we could relax and welcome loved ones more comfortably, helped him not stress about me throwing things away without consulting him, and stopped "passionate" conversations about too much clutter. It's less than a hundred bucks a month and I consider it an extension of our mortgage (which is now paid in full). It's cheaper than buying a bigger house to store more stuff or a divorce because we both lost our minds. And lest you think I'm just kicking the can down the road, our children all know that if that storage unit is still full of our stuff when we're gone, they can simply pull the dumpster up and empty it out without one single inkling of guilt. I'll even make sure to pay for the dumpster :-)

Seriously, if you and your spouse are having regular heated arguments about the issue of too much stuff, consider renting a storage unit. I joke about it here, but the truth is it really did save my sanity and healed a big area of our relationship.

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