Is your home’s clutter holding you back and ruining your relationships? New research shows you’re not alone.

Peter Walsh

Peter Walsh

We know men are from Mars and women are from Venus but researchers from UCLA’s Center for on Everyday Lives of Families have finally proved men just don’t see or stress about clutter.

By analysing more than 20,000 photographs, 47 hours of family-narrated video home tours and 1,540 hours of videotaped family interactions and interviews, researchers chronicled the lives of families and found the amount of clutter in your homes correlates with how much stress you feel but men and women are not affected in the same way.

The research showed women who worried about messy or cluttered rooms or unfinished projects had elevated levels of the stress hormones.  Not surprisingly men’s stress levels didn’t increase, probably because they just don’t see it — unless it impacts upon them.

According to the Australian Institute one in four Australians feel anxious, overwhelmed and depressed about the clutter in their homes, and Peter Walsh — author, speaker and organiser for stars like Oprah — agrees that clutter can wreak havoc on your personal life.

“It is the quality of our relationships and the state of our well-being that leads to deeper personal happiness. Having more stuff doesn’t just ruin your credit rating and cause clutter, it distracts you from the important things in life: healthy happy relationships with your family and friends – and yourself,” Walsh says.

“Clutter is anything that stands between you and the vision you have for your best life. It could be a pile of inherited furniture or a jumble of kids’ toys all over the living room.  But it could also be the constant self-doubt that creeps into your decision-making, anger about how you’re treated at work, shame about your weight or looks, or a tendency to respond defensively when your spouse challenges you.  In a relationship context clutter appears as competing egos and miscommunication, or assuming your partner might want to hurt you deliberately.

“Whatever the case, you have to ask yourself, ‘does this item or thought or response move me closer to my vision for my best life?’ If it does, great. If it doesn’t, what is it doing in your life?”

So what is the first place Peter recommends to declutter for a better relationship? The master bedroom.

“Your bedroom should be a space that reflects your vision of your relationship and fosters calm, warmth and love,” he says.”No matter what the state of your personal life you owe it to yourself to create a haven for yourself in your home.  The master bedroom is that haven.”

Peter Walsh will appear at an Australasian Association of Professional Organisers event entitled  ‘An Evening with Peter Walsh’ on Friday 25 July. For more information visit www.aapo.org.au/special-events.php .

Does the state of your house affect your relationships? What are your tips for getting organised?