Cohabiting couples ditch prized possessions in favour of a quiet life
Half of British cohabiting couples admit to regularly fighting over clutter in their home, bickering 32 times a year on average, our latest research reveals. Londoners are the most likely in the UK to argue about space, with one in 10 arguing at least once a week.
These arguments lead to the typical couple throwing away £241.50 worth of possessions they would rather keep, with clothes (42%), furniture (36%) and books (33%) most likely to face the chop.
Meanwhile, some go to extreme lengths to get rid of their partner’s clutter with one in eight (12%) admitting they’ve ‘accidentally’ broken one of their other half’s prized possessions so they can bin it. This rises to one in four (25%) for sneaky couples in Newcastle.
In one in 10 cases, a lack of space has instigated a move into separate properties and even prompted a break up in some instances. The study of over 2,000 cohabiting couples found that two fifths argue over their partner having “too much stuff.” Share of space is also a bone of contention with almost a quarter of respondents saying they were given a fair share of space when they moved in together, but have now lost some of it. A further 13% say they were never given an equal split of space to start with.
The results also suggest that space is less likely to be shared equally when couples move in to one of their existing properties (56% vs. 71% a new home together) as the settled partner looks to ‘guard their territory.’
Arguments over space have forced 44% of respondents to throw away items they wanted to keep. According to these respondents, duplicate (13%) and bulky items (11%) were partly responsible, although 20% were forced to bin possessions they wanted to hold on to because their partner deemed them ‘unnecessary.’
The research revealed clear differences in the items men and women had to part with: men were forced to give up their sports equipment (20% vs 8% women) – in particular, seasonal kit such as skis and surfboards – and their boys toys, including games consoles, DJ decks and wide screen TVs (42% vs 22% women). Women, on the other hand, compromised by parting ways with sentimental items, including cuddly toys, gifts from previous partners, school books, photos and birthday cards (70% vs 38% men).
Anjula Mutanda, counselling psychologist, comments: “Moving from ‘my own space’ to ‘our shared space’ can be thrilling, but this big step can also cause emotional stress. Why? Because your home is your sanctuary and reflects who you are, so inviting someone to live with you can feel a bit like being invaded by someone else’s belongings. This could result in subconscious ‘space guarding’ where you use your possessions to mark out your territory and any perceived violation of this by your partner could cause tensions. The key to a harmonious relationship is to work as a team. Communicate by discussing practicalities out in the open, negotiate what stays and what goes and be willing to compromise. Deciding together how to create an equal and shared space will help to ensure that living together is an enjoyable and positive experience.”