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Decorating With Love

The married editors of The Bitch in the House and The Bastard on the Couch impart some wisdom.

Say you want to get rid of his stuff. How do you convince him?
Cathi Hanauer: Figure out how much a person loves the item, because if they really love it, you’re stuck. If you really can’t stand something, say, “I know you care about your Erte painting from 1976, but until we figure out the perfect place to put it, we’ll store it at your parents’.” And then just hope he’ll forget about it.
Daniel Jones: Or you each set out four of your favorite things, and the other person says, “You have to pick one of these to get rid of.” You trade and barter.
CH: Honesty is best, and sometimes you have to fight until you figure it out—but you have to come to an agreement.

What if you hate your mother-in-law’s wedding gift, but your husband insists on displaying it?
CH: We have some of those.
DJ: Yeah, the Austrian vase.
CH: If you both finally agree not to display it, you could put it in the closet, and when that relative comes, take it out.
DJ: It takes a lot of swallowing hard; it’s easy to get into fights about aesthetics that are really arguments about other things. On our honeymoon, we were in this antique store in Maine and we had this huge fight because Cathi wanted all the marbles we were buying to be the same color and I wanted a few blue marbles. And it just became this fight about how we could never be married—
CH: It became a metaphor for our entire life.

How can couples prevent these fights from escalating?
CH: Picking out registry gifts together is one way.
DJ: You need to realize how difficult it is to go through those first couple of weeks—or a year—of being married. Sure, romance is heightened, but that’s sort of papering over how difficult it is to get married and move in with someone. You start off thinking, Oh, this is gonna be so much fun, it’s gonna be the best time of our lives, and then when you have a fight about marbles, you think it’s the end of the world.
CH: Right. It’s about learning how to fight, learning how to be together, and giving up the power that you had when you lived alone.

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