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Yours, Mine, Ours: Balancing Personal Needs and Marriage

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Disorder in the House

Conflict zone: You keep everything in its place; he drops dirty clothes on the floor and leaves half-full glasses in the den. When you clean up after him, he says you're invading his space.

Keeping the peace: First, understand that "some people need a neat environment to function effectively and feel in control, while others see home as a place where they can let everything go," says Dr. Taylor. You and your spouse may never see eye to eye, but you can end ongoing space wars. Distinguish between common areas (kitchen, living room, master bedroom) and private ones (your office, a corner of the basement, closets). Then agree to reduce clutter in shared areas while reserving the right to be sloppy on your own turf -- no questions asked. For example, he won't scarf down chips in bed, and you'll stop going into his closet and hanging up his clothes.

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