When Michael and I first started working on getting our dysfunctional relationship back on track, we opened up separate checking accounts. Neither of us talked to the other when we withdrew money from our joint account. If either of us felt angry about this, we just stuffed it. As a matter of fact we didn’t talk about money period because we didn’t know how to! We were so focused on each other, or as psychotherapists say, enmeshed, that neither of us knew where the other ended and we, as individuals, began. Separate checking accounts forced us to reclaim our individuality and discuss money matters. 

My closet was also a source of disagreement for years, because, to this day, periodically it becomes impossible to get into. 

I have clothes strewn in piles all over the floor and sometimes they appear to be creeping out into the bedroom! We’ve even referred to the disaster in my closet as “the creature”. During the early years Michael would go into my closet to straighten it up. Afterwards, I wouldn’t be able to find a thing. Instead of expressing my feelings about this, I would stuff them.

​I knew Michael was trying to help and I feared sharing with him how upset I really was when he went into my closet and moved my things around. My sloppy system worked for me and each time he would organize it the way he thought it should be, I was an emotional wreck because I couldn’t find anything. It was my responsibility to set limits and boundaries in our relationship by saying, ‘Please stay out of my closet.” 

It’s important to respect one another’s personal belongings and private items. It’s also important to speak up and communicate with one another when we feel we are not being respected or in some cases, violated with regard to our personal space and belongings. Mind-reading doesn’t work in a relationship and, in the long run, expectation of it causes misunderstanding and difficulty between partners in a relationship. Respecting each other’s boundaries is essential for a relationship to work.

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