His + Hers | beginner's guide to happy co-existence

My ideas for this post are all over the place. Do I want to share about having his and her spaces in a small home? Do I want to talk about sharing household chores, or coping when one of you is a keeper and the other wants to be minimalist? Or maybe skip the meat, and go to the fun stuff of cute "his and her" goodies.

You can see the dilemma, can't you? They all have potential. So, I'm doing a little of it all. I hope it's not too overwhelming, but is instead a breath of fresh air for happy co-existing with your spouse.

Happy month of love to you both!

His + Her Minimalism

If you're an attempting minimalist and your main man is a "keeper," things can get tense at home. You want things cleaned out and simplified, and he wants you to just leave everything alone. What do you do?

Start with your own stuff.
When you jump into simplifying, it's tempting to want your main man to jump on board with you. That's not always the case, and that's okay. Start with the only one you can control--you. Your clothes, your keepsakes, your collections.

Ask first.
If there's something of his or something you share that you know you want to get rid of, ask. Don't just assume he'll agree or not care. He's an adult, and the one you agreed to share your life--value his opinion like you believe that. Then, hear him out. Maybe there's a valid concern you didn't think of.

Make a suggestion.
If your man is a keeper simply because sorting belongings doesn't come natural to him, then give him a boost by making suggestions of what to keep and what to toss. Go through his keepsakes or clothes or other area of belongings and sort what you think should be kept, tossed, donated, etc. Then let him look over the piles and see if he'd change anything. It helps to see the cleaned out stuff--he'll probably agree he likes it better with your suggestions.

Talk logic.
Most "keepers" aren't just blindly keeping stuff--they usually have a reason. It may not always be a good reason, so talk logic. Hear him out, and offer a thorough and sound differing opinion. He'll hear you out and might even agree--maybe not right away, but if letting go of something really does make the most sense, he'll come around.

Give it a break.
If there's an area that you really don't agree on, let it be. It's his stuff--let him keep it. As long as it's not imposing on you or the family, or is somehow contained to his space, then try and let it go. You can always revisit it another time. But wait until emotions are settled and you're both ready to address it less passionately and more logically.

His + Her Spaces in a Small Home

I don't have to tell you the difficulty of sharing your space with someone. And especially sharing your space with someone that is likely your opposite--because "opposites attract" isn't just a saying, it's fact. Here are some ideas for creating your own spaces when you don't really have room for it.

Work Space
Do you have separate spaces for you to both be on the computer at the same time? Are the spaces organized with what each person needs to do what they do (pay bills, meal plan, work at home)?

Desks can be small, hidden away when not in use, or multifunctional (i.e., a dining table). But you should both feel like you have a reliable space to use your computer and browse or get something done.

We both have small, simple IKEA tables for our workspaces. When we had a spare room, these were joined into one large workspace. Now these are in separate corners of the bedroom.

Lounge Space
Is there a comfortable place for you to both sit in all of your spaces (living room, dining room)? If he's tall, does he need a less dainty couch or lounge chair to be more comfortable?

I'm little, so I don't even think about cute accent furniture not being comfy for men. But it's important that they feel at home when they're at home. Furniture that's too small won't do that.

Closet Space
Do you both have a place for all of your clothes and shoes in the closet? Do worn-out, never-worn or wrong-size clothes need to be cleared out so there's more space? If you share a small closet, do you need a larger dresser or armoir? Would a hanging extension help use space more efficiently? Could under-the-bed-drawers help with shoe or lesser-used items?

Hobby Space
Are both of your most-used hobby supplies organized and accessible? Is there a multi-purpose space (dining table, desk) that can be used for hobbies?

Daniel has a shelf for all his tools, he has a bin each for car tools and washing supplies, He has a closet for his snowboard and golf stuff and fishtank supplies, and we keep his guitar stuff accessible in the living room. I have a shelf for my sewing stuff and sewing machine, my workspace is where I pursue my online hobbies (blogging, photo editing, writing), and I try to get most of my books from the library and only keep those I'm currently reading.

Shared Style
Are both of your favorite things worked into each room (colors, pictures, objects)? Can his guitar or long board be put on display rather hidden away in a closet? If you like girly, floral prints can you let that show in a couple small accents, and let the other stuff be a little more neutral?

Thankfully, Daniel and I have very similar styles. We're both pretty simple, earthy people. Even though I like some cutesy stuff, I try to keep the cutesy toned down throughout our home, and use my own spaces (the top of my dresser, my workspace) for those accents.

His + Her Chores

Adding to the challenge of living with your opposite, comes opposite ways of approaching household responsibilities. Mix in a little more complication when one stays home (with the kids or working) and the other works out of the home--who should do what, and how do you share the load? Here a few ideas that help us work together.

Divide and conquer.
Whenever we have an afternoon or even just a few minutes to get things done around the house, we usually chat for a minute to talk about the priorities, then jump right in doing our own things. Sometimes this means someone running to the store while the other stays home and puts the kids to bed, or sometimes this means one person doing dishes while the other vacuums.

10 minutes joint effort.
After he's gotten some downtime after work, either after family dinner or right after the kids go to bed, we get to work for 10 minutes. Loading the dishwasher, running the vacuum, hanging clothes up, sorting mail, clearing off the dining table, and picking up the main living area. It's amazing what can be done when there's two fully capable human beings to share the load--and no kids crumbing it up while you do so. Then, relax together the rest of the evening knowing you're all set for the next day.

What you like or do well.
My main man actually enjoys vacuuming, and can easily take the trash out on his way to work. He's super handy with the car and researches to do a lot of repairs himself. He's also our online deal shopper if we need a new electronic or gear. I'm efficient at doing dishes and process laundry throughout the day. The budgeting and meal-planning are my strong points, but Daniel adds his input and helps with cooking (especially on the weekends). And I take care of the kids, doctor's appointments and other stay-at-home-mom type stuff during the day.

His + Her Goodies

I like the idea of his + her products, but they're often a little more for "her." I don't have an overly feminine style, but if I think the scripty fonts and cheesy sayings are too cutesy, then I am positive men must be thinking the same thing.

Here are a few ideas for a more balanced approach to his + her goodies.

1 | her guidebook + his guidebook
I loved For Women Only and learned so much from it. I can only imagine For Men Only would be as insightful. Power of a Praying Wife and Power of a Praying Husband are also great his + her book combos. Or, find a book or series that you'd both enjoy reading.

2 | his leather bag + her leather bag
The personalized fabric-and-leather Better Life Bags are a perfect option for her; a more manly all-leather messenger style would make a great "his" option.

3 | his + her longboarding prints
Maybe these exact prints are a little too feminine, but they're still a fun way to incorporate the main man's hobbies in cute decor. These superman and wonderwoman super hero prints are a more manly his + hers option.

4 | his + her leather cuffs
It would be fun to personalize leather cuffs with a non-cheesy message. Or perhaps his + her rings with a sweet line from Star Wars, or another of his favorite nerdy movies?

5 | his + her t-shirts
My Live with Less shirt is one of my all-time favorites. It's so comfy, has a message I love, and part of the proceeds helps provide water for those who need it most. And, it's gender-neutral. There are lots of other fun options for matching or his + her shirts, including options to create your own.

Love is kindly stating what I need from my main man, even though I think its obvious what I need from him.
Love is finding ways to give him a break after a long day of work, even though I've had my own long day.
Love is holding his hand as we join together to take our burdens before God.
Love is believing for him when he doubts, hoping for our future, and enduring through our trials together in Christ.
{1 Cor. 13:4-7}

May your marriage and love go deeper than simply co-existing.


also read:
making an effort 101
date night essentials
change-up to pizza night