Ever since I collected baseball cards and old coins as a kid, I've been a saver. Today, stacks of journals and periodicals clutter my desk. In fact, every available flat surface in my den holds some memorabilia: trophies, figurines, bookends. The walls are covered with photos, artwork and plaques. This museum of memories surrounds me with emotional warmth and security and fuels my creativity.
Before Wendy and I got married, she knew how I decorated my home. And she must have known that the organized clutter that comprised my bachelor pad wouldn't be jettisoned once we were married.
Wendy's idea of a perfect home is one that is utilitarian, easily cleaned and tidy. I do appreciate her penchant for keeping order; our home is always company ready. But we clash over the definition of "neat and tidy."
Every time she enters my trinket-filled hideaway with dust mitt in hand, it's the low point of her week—and mine. (I've offered to vacuum and dust, but Wendy insists I'm not thorough enough.) The final straw came when I couldn't find an important document on my desk after she had cleaned. "I don't want my messes messed with," I yelled. "I'd rather live with dust I cannot see than paper I cannot find."
She laughed, but I didn't find it amusing. I couldn't believe how often we came to verbal blows over my stuff.
I grew up on the mission field, where my parents celebrated the twin virtues of simplicity and order. Because we didn't have money for nonessentials (and little space for what we did need), we made the most out of very little room. What couldn't fit on a bookshelf or in a cupboard was tossed out or given away.1