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A new client wanted me to come to her home. Her husband, however, was up in arms. He had never met me and didn't understand why a strange woman would be coming to the house to "touch his things." I suggested his wife try something. She had read my book The Zen of Organizing and enjoyed it. I asked that she very quietly start to implement some of the things she had learned.
Dirty dishes suddenly vanished from the kitchen sink. The daily drama of missing keys ended when a special hook was hung by the front door. Small things began to make a huge emotional difference in the home. Guess what? Her husband softened. As things began to change in his home, he got the idea that a visit from the Zen Organizer might just be a good thing!
We are constantly bombarded in the media by ads suggesting that men will fall in love with us if we do any number of inane things. We see that brushing with the right toothpaste is a surefire way to capture a man's heart. Wearing sexy lingerie will turn a man into a lovesick puppy. And, heaven knows, handing over the remote will produce instant devotion. Pretty funny, huh? In my experience, couples that truly love each other work in concert with each other. I don't know a single happily married couple whose relationship is based on anything I see on television.
After we launched the Get Organized Community Challenge, I took a driving trip with an old friend. I like to pick his brain about the differences between men and women. Lots of women had been asking me how to get their husbands to do more around the house. "Why do I have to nag him to clean?" was a common lament. "Doesn't he see the mess?"
So, I asked my wise friend if men do indeed notice or care about their environment. I presumed he would say "no" and then we'd kick around some ways for women to seduce a man. What he told me, however, floored me.
He said that a man did indeed notice the environment -- from the first date. "I felt really hurt when my wife let the house go after we had been married a few years. In retrospect, it was one of the first signs our marriage was over."
I was shocked. So much so in fact that I decided to interview more men to see if my friend was the exception or the rule. Time after time all the men I spoke to repeated this theme. It became apparent that men want to be nurtured. One of the key ways the men felt a woman's love expresses itself is with the physical state of the home. Who could have guessed? Forget the lingerie! If the house is a pigsty, the lingerie won't help solidify the relationship.
One young bachelor, heavy into the L.A. dating scene, told me: "If the woman's home looks like a bomb went off, I will probably forget the possibility of a long-term relationship. But, if all I want is sex, I won't care at all."
Does this mean that we should forget the importance of looks, personality and brains and morph into mini Martha Stewarts? Hardly! I encourage women to create nurturing environments to soothe their own souls. I think a calm, peace-filled environment best allows us to understand and fulfill our purpose in life. If this state of affairs attracts a man -- we have earned a bonus. Remember, your home isn't just four walls holding your furniture and clothes. It's an extension of your very being.
Whether you are a young woman participating in the dating scene or have been with your partner for years, why not take a few minutes to examine your home. Take a walk through and pretend that you are seeing it for the first time. How do you feel about the physical state of the house? Does it provide a calm, soothing environment? Do you find it easy to think clearly? Does the visual clutter jangle your nerves?
After you take your initial walk through, try some journal exercises. Use these suggestions as a guide.
- Has my house always looked like a bomb went off or did something happen recently?
- Was a newborn introduced to the household, for example, or did a death occur in the family?
- Many things can throw us off our game. Has your partner ever participated in the care of the home?
Sometimes women set up a new relationship in such a way that they are responsible for everything in the home. Later, when the initial crush of love has given way to the reality of life, we feel stuck with the results of choices we would no longer make. Getting organized is a skill that many of us never learned. Just like learning a musical instrument or taking up a sport, it is never too late to start making new priorities in your life! The important thing is to establish realistic goals and practice, practice, practice.
If your house is in what you consider shambles, start by acknowledging that it took a while to evolve and it may take some time to change. Slow incremental steps lead to permanent change. And remember, give those who share your space a chance to catch up with you. That includes your husband.
It has been my observation that it is the woman who sets the tone for the household. If she respects herself, so will everyone inhabiting the space. So whether the creation of a nurturing environment brings a man into your life (one who will be enamored by what you say and do and by the environment you have created for yourself) or if your longtime partner suddenly sees you in a new light, getting organized is a wonderful tool in your romantic arsenal. In fact, the men I spoke with confirmed this was a much more powerful aphrodisiac than sexy lingerie!