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Decluttering wife meets hoarding hubby halfway


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POSTED: Thursday, December 10, 2009

We're in the middle of a kitchen renovation. Although I think I will be a very happy camper once it's all over with, the process is a huge headache. For one thing, it involves sifting though all of the cabinets and getting rid of the things we don't use. Really, if you haven't had a beer out of a specific glass or coffee from a certain mug in over five years, do you really need to give that item cabinet space in a new kitchen?

I have the answer to that one: yes. It turns out that throwing or saving is one of those marital issues that only a long-term marriage like ours can survive. I toss, my husband hoards. I'm ruthless about unworn clothing, unused bowls and appliances that don't run.

Wayne, on the other hand, is sure that every dog (eared) item will have its day, and it was only because it was a fire hazard that we recently got rid of the ancient sander I used in my glory days to refinish furniture. These days, if furniture needs upgrading, I polish up my credit card and refinish by ridding and repurchasing.

ANYWAY, I am now reduced to creeping into my cabinets at odd hours, packing quietly and doing a stealth number to the garbage can. Fraternity Beer Mug—gone. Purple Glass Prom Favor (was I ever that young?)—history. Cracked pitcher once belonging to Great Aunt—unloved under the discarded dishes and dented detritus at the Waimanalo dump.

It was incredibly liberating to give away my mother's leftover casserole dishes. I like to cook but Wayne hates anything baked in a casserole dish, so I probably didn't need 18 of them in different sizes, and now most of them are the centerpieces of some other family's food fests.

Having experienced the epiphany of tossing, I am now eyeing my husband's clothes closets. He is convinced that the things he could wear at 20 will not only come back into style (which they might), but that he will be able to fit into them (he won't).

Wayne is charming and funny and very wonderful, but he won't throw out a shirt, and he loves to buy clothes. How many men in Hawaii have bought, in recent months, a seersucker suit, three pairs of dress pants and both a brown and navy blue wool blazer? We love the beach, and with only three operas a year, he might never have to dry clean again.

So slowly the boxes of rescued German beer glasses and sentimental coffee mugs are mounting. Lucky for me I am congenitally clumsy and I might be able to drop enough kitchen ware as I pack, to clear some space before the new cabinets are installed.

I did plan on the toss-vs.-save battle, and ordered up extra-high cabinets with a shelf that not even Yao Ming could reach, just for sentimental stuff. Sometimes marriages are held together by humor, sometimes by friendship, but most often by compromise.

Cris Rathyen teaches English at Moanalua High School. ”;The Goddess Speaks”; is a feature by and about women. Essays of about 550 words may be sent to “;The Goddess Speaks,”; 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).