dallasannie

your relationship to objects

dallasannie
September 14, 2016

After emptying yet another truck load of excess stuff to various locations, I realize that, as I remove items, other items come out of hiding and take their place.

For example, a pretty flat basket and a beautiful large, white ceramic platter that I bought from yard sales to use for a wedding about six years ago. I have never used it since and probably will not use it for any foreseeable occasion. Yet, it has been stored in a second tier storage area of kitchen related things. When that area was edited, it moved into a first tier position in the house where it rests today. I have done nothing but move it around and clean it of dust and dirt in the last six years.

So, hubs and I were having dinner last evening when I brought up my desire to clear our space to make it easier to keep as we get older. He periodically gets antsy about my clearing of spaces and uses it as ammo against me when he gets angry (another topic). So, as an example, I pointed to the aforementioned object sitting there and declare that it is probably ready to leave our house. He protests. Until I pointed out the article to him just minutes before, he had no idea that it ever existed in our house for these past years. So, NOW, he has a relationship to it? Now, after all of these years of it sitting unnoticed by him he suddenly finds it worthwhile for ME to keep? It makes me realize that it is I who has most of the relationships to the things because it is I who does 99% of the keeping. He is only along to enjoy the home, the table and the meals. He has no real opinion on it and does not even know that most of it exists until I pack in the truck to get rid of it.

He thinks that it gives me purpose to keep house and cook his meals. That is the "other topic".

It made me realize that the only relationship here is the one that I have to this object. He has NO relationship to it, at all. And, IT has no relationship to me because it is incapable of relationships, it being and inanimate object, and all.

So, why have I kept this thing when all I have ever done since it served it's one purpose is to move it around, store it, and clean it? Why? Since I am the only one in this relationship, it is I, and only I, who has the power to change that.

I am enticed by it's beauty. It is really pretty and makes an elegant presentation. But, I am past doing elegant. I retired from doing dinner parties, much to his dislike (another part of the "other topic".) If it were smaller, I might use it. But, it is very large.

So, I think that it is important to realize the different dimensions of our relationship to objects and to access just what is that relationship, exactly?

My relationship to this object is one where I am simply a keeper of it. It serves only to make work for me to store it and keep it from getting dirty. That is about to change.

Since I am the only one in this relationship, I will make this decision.

My relationship to objects changes as I get older and realize that I will probably not ever use that thing again because life has changed and will change even more as we get older. I prefer to not have so many things to have to keep as I get older.

Sure, I do enjoy keeping and living in my home and I do enjoy food and cooking. I just want many fewer things to look after and work around. I just want things clean and simple. Especially as we get older. I just can't be bothered with one way relationships to things. I won't be a slave to inanimate objects. I am the one with free will, not it.

Comments (11)

  • talley_sue_nyc

    those are some very interesting thoughts!

    I think you're right, that the way we think objects changes as we mature.

    And I like that idea that only YOU can have the relationship; the stuff has no relationship. I know my kids tend to personify object and they feel bad about getting rid of something; they feel like they're rejecting it. I sometimes feel that way a little--but the platter really has no feelings.

    (and I maintain that if I'm the one to bring the object in, and to do the care-taking of it, I get to decide about whether it goes out, and I simply do not mention it. Send that kind of stuff out one item at a time, and he'll never notice. Hell, tell him it broke.)

  • dallasannie

    What I find dismaying is his absolute lack of understanding of the concept. He loves the home that we make together, but he really has no understanding of the considerations and the work involved in keeping our home neat and pleasurable. He was the provider as we raised our family, and I was the home maker. He retired, but there is no time frame for me to claim retirement.

    It is not fair to me to expect this level of attention that I am able to apply now.

    Most of the stuff that I am getting rid of he had no real awareness of, ever. It was just the landscape of his home, taken for granted. I think that for many people it is a lot about the idea that it was always there until it was no longer.

    As you get older, those things that were tucked away in a cabinet or closet still had the possibility of having their day in the sun and the chance of being useful. As time and life closes in, those chances diminish. The platter is an example of that. I am not going to willingly host any event that might require such a presentation. If I were in my thirties, that would still be a good possibility. That is one way in which our relationships with things, and our priorities changes when we get older.

    And, I am reluctant to pass it down to live in my daughter's house. I am afraid that she and her husband are much to willing to let stuff build up to an unmanageable degree. I think twice before I hand anything down to her.

    In the end, it is just stuff-----for someone else to dispose of. It will not miss you when you are gone. It will not feel abandoned when you give it away. It will not long to come home.



  • LaLennoxa

    What an eloquent discussion! It is really empowering to learn about the relationships we develop with objects, and why we hang onto some things - especially those which don't always have a use, or worse, cause us some kind of negative reaction. There is so much I could say, but I will give you my thoughts on one specific point you brought up - that you are dismayed by his lack of understanding of the concept. I think in his way he has developed his own relationship with the object(s), or maybe what they represent in the home. So perhaps he just relates in a different way than you.

  • dallasannie

    Well, he has his own room full of stuff that he values. But, most of anything that has to do with the household, he has no awareness or acknowledgment of. He does not care to and he does not have to. Even in the garage it is I who arranges and keeps the garage. He has no idea where anything is and he cares not. He never has. At least, not until it is loaded up in the back of the truck.

    Sometimes he will declare how much he loves our home and how he appreciates that it is not dirty and cluttered as some we know. Then, other times, when he is angry about something else, he accuses me of unthinkingly getting rid of everything with abandonment. as if it is some character fault of mine and some act of vengeance against him.

    I do encourage, nag, cajole, and demand that he edit the things in his room.If that causes resentment, so be it. If it were not for the fact that I go in once in a while and clean, it would NEVER get cleaned at all. Dust would be inches thick and there would be food crumbs everywhere. The last remaining piece of nasty carpet is in there and it never gets vacuumed because we no longer own a vacuum that will handle carpet. So, it is not a nice place to be. He would have books and old magazines stacked in piles in the corners and all of the things that need to be filed in the file drawer or trashed would be one big pile o' mess! It looks like a room of a sloppy teen.

    He will pass by something that is needing attention for days,or months and never feel a need to address it. As I sit here, I hear the toilet running upstairs because he is resistant to fixing the multitude of little repairs that need to be done, So, it leaks and fills and is hard to flush and the seat is falling off. If I don't build a fire under his butt, he would never address anything.

    It is I who does almost all of the keeping and the maintenance in our house. So, it is I who gets make most of the decisions about it, even if it is behind a closed door. Not everything in there is his. Some belongs to both of us, such as the filing cabinet and photo albums.

    His relationship to objects is totally suspect and questionable and he makes no distinction between a pile of trash and a sentimental object from his father. They are both likely to set on a shelf or buried in a pile of trash with no distinction between the two.. As long as I am the keeper I will define the relationships. I will put away the momento from his father and get rid of that pile of free address labels and holiday cards that he keeps piling up. Clearing away the trash helps us to put into focus those things that are deserving of value.

    I realize that some will find fault with me for not acknowledging that his relationship to stuff may be defined differently than mine. But, until he begins to become more proactive and to do some of the keeping, care and sorting of objects and spaces, I will be the one in charge calling the shots and assigning the value.


  • cupofkindnessgw

    DallasAnnie: Fascinating ideas, any updates?

  • Susan

    Following

  • Mrs Pete

    For example, a pretty flat basket and a beautiful large, white ceramic platter that I bought from yard sales to use for a wedding about six years ago.

    Thoughts:

    - We bring items into our house for specific purposes -- in this case, a single event -- and we never really have an "exit strategy" for these things. Maybe it would've been wise to think of these things as temporary items. (I'm not pretending I have a handle on this topic ... just throwing out an idea.)

    - If you're in doubt, consider putting away the item in question away in a box dated one year from today. In a year, if you haven't wanted those items, the box goes to Goodwill without being opened.

    - Be practical: If you give these things away, then you want them later, how hard would it be to re-purchase or borrow similar items? Even rent? My guess is, it'd be easy.

    So, as an example, I pointed to the aforementioned object sitting there and declare that it is probably ready to leave our house. He protests.

    Is it his basket? his platter? Does he even notice these things? Don't include him in the discussion of YOUR STUFF that's going out the door. I strongly suspect he wouldn't notice.

    My relationship to this object is one where I am simply a keeper of it. It serves only to make work for me to store it and keep it from getting dirty. That is about to change.

    Who owns whom? Be the boss of the basket. And the platter.

    He was the provider as we raised our family, and I was the home maker. He retired, but there is no time frame for me to claim retirement.

    You seem upset about this. This is a related-but-separate topic.

    Has he been retired long? It sounds like you two are having some trouble with the transition ... 'cause down deep, it's never about the stuff.

    And, I am reluctant to pass it down to live in my daughter's house. I am afraid that she and her husband are much to willing to let stuff build up to an unmanageable degree. I think twice before I hand anything down to her.

    Offer, making it clear that "No thank you" is a perfectly acceptable offer. My daughter is -- as you said, is less willing to let stuff build up -- but just today I asked her if she wanted a set of plates that had belonged to my grandmother, and she was thrilled. Said she'd come pick them up this weekend. Ask.

    I do encourage, nag, cajole, and demand that he edit the things in his room. If that causes resentment, so be it. If it were not for the fact that I go in once in a while and clean, it would NEVER get cleaned at all.

    You say these things he values are in "his room". Put him in charge of it, and if it doesn't get cleaned, who cares? It's "his room".

  • Holly Stockley

    I don't know if you'd noticed, Mrs. Pete, but this thread is about 3 years old. :-) And the OP didn't come back the last time it was bumped in February.


    I will say that it sounds like the OP has a larger issue with her relationship with her husband than her relationship with stuff - which seems pretty healthy.



  • sushipup1

    This thread got bumped by a spammer, twice, even.

  • dallasannie

    Oh, I did not know that I got "bumped" by a spammer, much less twice.

    Holly, thank you for your analysis of my marriage. It is quite fine, thank you. We have been together for 50 years and will be until death we do part. Hopefully, though , along the short way that we have left to travel we can unload the extra burden of things that we do not need so that our kids don't have to.

    Yes, some time has passed and I am still divorcing myself from things that are not needed and I have "retired" from many things.

    His room o' stuff is still a nasty mess and I am still working on getting it cleared. He still never provides care or cleaning of anything. But, the things requiring care and cleaning are going away from other areas.

    I don't come here very often anymore.


  • CindyR

    Dallasannie:

    You are not alone. My husband has fought me on everything I have tried to re-home, donate, etc. He even goes through the trash when he suspects I may have thrown something of his away...he has issues letting go of things. Crazy things. A shoe box, a broken hammer, etc. I found things in the garage that he had told me a while ago he had taken to the dump...but he had not.

    I have spent the last 9 months going through our house one drawer, cupboard at a time. Organizing because after all of these years I want my home to be easy. I know where everything is. His stuff is...not organized.

    I love my husband but I hate his stuff. There, I said it. My marriage is fine. I just hate his “junk.”

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