One of the first things I do while assessing a homeowners’ paper situation and mail processing is to ask the roles each partner plays in the marriage. It’s important for me to know who opens the mail, who processes the mail, how comfortable the couple is opening each other’s personal mail, and how comfortable each spouse is throwing out mail on behalf of the other spouse. It can get very complicated OR be very simple. I can tell a lot about a marriage with how much the spouses trust each other.
The biggest piece of advice I give couples is to allow the person who is naturally more organized and enjoys dealing with paper to take over and have full control. If your weakness is paper processing and bill paying, let your partner do it. Just let it go. That doesn’t mean you need to live in complete darkness about what’s going on with your family’s finances or paperwork, but you can trust your spouse to get it done and get it done right. Focus on your strengths in a different part of your marriage.
The more hands in the pot or the more cooks in the kitchen, the worse off you’ll be. Take time to sit down and discuss with your spouse strengths and weaknesses in this arena and work as a team to problem solve.
Recently I was called in by a wife to work on paperwork, mail and files in the home office. After assessing the situation and spaces where mail was landing, I found out her husband was in charge of all bill paying and filing in the office. She did school correspondence for the kids and kept the family calendar. Soon, my client’s husband arrived home. To my surprise, he didn’t get involved in our organizing and he completely trusted his wife and I to organize every aspect of the home office. We accumulated five bags of recycling and four bags of shredding. The husband sat within an ear shot of us working and not once did he get defensive or anxious. I was so blown away and super impressed, that I had to share this couple’s example with all of you readers. He was getting his part done in the paper process and trusted his wife and I to get the files caught up and cleaned out. We refined her action tasks and her calendar keeping and the couple was off running smoothly again. It was so freeing for them and so refreshing for me to work with them.
I’d encourage spouses to lean on each other to help stay on top of the mail. Allow your spouse to triage your mail and toss as much as possible, only keeping the important stuff. It can take the time off your plate that it takes to sift through mail your spouse could have already tossed on your behalf. Agree to what should be kept and what you’d like to review. If you don’t communicate what mail is important to you and what can be tossed, then absolutely everything has to be kept for both spouses to review. That is super laborious and such a waste of time. Think of your talented spouse as your administrative assistant. He or she can weed out the time wasters and help you focus on the important stuff. When spouses work together and divide roles and tasks, any marriage can work like a well-oiled machine. Say goodbye to the mail and paper piles and hello to more time spent together.