3 Tips to Make Moving Suck Less with Your Spouse

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i think most of us can agree – moving sucks. so how do you make moving suck less? we will get to that in a minute but let’s set up why it sucks in the first place. i believe moving utilizes a certain muscle in the brain that doesn’t get used very often. this can effect people in two different ways. take my husband for example – when his ‘moving muscle’ becomes engaged in him he launches into action and sees moving as a type of ‘cleansing.’ he can easily part with almost all material things, he wants to downsize, and he has the realization that the minimalist life is for him.

i fall into the second category. my ‘moving muscle’ freaks the hell out. it has atrophied and can barely function, resulting in me going into survival mode and wanting to hoard every little thing. no joke that i have a small little baggie of colorful paperclips that i keep on my desk in the ‘i’ll-probably-keep-these-so-don’t-even-ask-me-to-get-rid-of-them-how-dare-you!” pile. how many paperclips i have honestly used in the past 365 days? zero. none.

i have painted this picture for you because moving is not the most harmonious time in our marriage, especially when moving states. actually, come to think of it, my husband and i have never moved apartments in the same city – our moves are always big moves to different states.

so today, here are 3 tips to make moving suck less with your spouse:

1) go through your things separately

seriously, this is a relationship saver. while i was going through what clothes to keep, give away or try to sell, my husband was in our office going through his things there. we have made this fatal error in the past of sorting through things together and sure, it starts out innocent enough. you are giggling together, both trying on clothes that clearly don’t fit and high-fiving periodically about how easy all of this is!releasing clothes

*note about the above photo – this was everything in my closet. someday i will share with you how i cut out 3/4 of it and don’t miss it.

then it happens. you ask your husband’s opinion if you should keep the long black dress you got when you were 14 and he says “ummm set that free!” to which all you hear is “you have horrible taste, burn that dress and you are never to be trusted to clothe yourself again!” (remember, my moving muscle has atrophied).

or, you casually walk by his pile of “giveaway clothes” and spot his favorite orange pullover sweater. you pull it out of the stack of clothes and say, “you’re not really giving this away, are you?!” to which he replies, “yes, someone else can enjoy it now.” this somehow ends in tears insisting on the fact you fell in love with him while he was wearing his favorite orange pullover and how dare he even consider giving it away!

go through your things separately and save all of your bargaining and bartering for communally owned things in the living room and kitchen. trust me, you’ll need it.

2) take a breather

you can only take a breather if you don’t save all of your packing for the night before the move, so ensure that is happening. it’s easy to get caught up in the craziness of moving because your cute home gets all disheveled and it’s an outward display of just how much crap you have.

take a breather and ensure proper hydration and nutrition because “hanger” manifests itself ten-fold when you mix it with moving. we are shoving all of our boxes in the corner of our office and the corner of our living room so there is at least slight order to the chaos. it’s fine to take a breather, eat some chips and just sigh.

3) reminisce together

after you have gone through your things separately and taken lots of breathers, make time to reminisce together. let’s define what i mean by “reminisce.” this means look at sweet photos of the two of you together or from when you were a little lad and a little lass. it means looking at artwork in your home and laughing about how getting your favorite painting from an artist in thailand was less expensive than it was to get it framed.

‘reminiscing’ does not include holding up odds and ends and saying “SEE! i told you you would never ever use this!” and it does not include bringing up arguments from the past. moving is a stressful life event so tame your brain and don’t let yourself go there.

if you are moving away from the city you currently live in, go for lots of walks and look out the window a lot to appreciate where you are and what you’ve had for the past few years. how i will miss this view from our living room window.

portland sunset

bonus tip: or have your spouse travel the week before you move so you end up packing most everything. instead of being resentful, reframe it to realize that now you can hoard whatever your atrophied moving muscle damn well pleases while watching the west wing! muwahahah…


which type of mover are you? do you find the process cleansing and good or do you tend to freak out and want to save everything?

ps. last day to nab some of my jewelry i’m setting free! there are still a few pieces left so check them out! thank you ladies who have already ordered – they are shipping out tomorrow.

pps. remember that friday is “tell me something good!” and boy do i have a ‘let me check myself before i wreck myself’ story to share with you.


  1. Elyse

    February 17, 2016 at 9:22 am

    Love these tips – I’ll be putting them to good use soon very soon!

    P.S. Yup, we’re moving the where is still a secret until the time gets closer. It’ll obviously be on the blog!

  2. jennifermckennasays

    February 17, 2016 at 9:26 am

    I am somewhere in the middle- I like the purge but have to “rev” myself up for it. We aren’t moving any time soon but its time for a decluttering- which a girlfriend and I affectionately refer to as “pick up the bag” such an old inside joke I don’t even recall the origin- This happens tonight to my closet so wish me luck! I might be selling some of my jewelry – Good luck with the move and enjoy West Wing! I could watch it over and over and have!!!

    • chelsea

      February 17, 2016 at 5:53 pm

      oh timely! i bet you are in the process of decluttering as i type this jennifer! i hope it goes well!!

      it’s my first time through west wing and looooving it! on season 3 🙂

  3. Paula Howley

    February 17, 2016 at 9:53 am

    I LOVE getting rid of stuff. In fact I love getting rid of stuff so much that I frequently get rid of other people’s stuff too. I am currently a little freaked out that I may have gotten rid of this ugly wooden/iron cannon bookend of my husband’s in my last mega-cleanse just before Christmas. I was ruthless. I got rid of a TON of stuff. It was so awesome to create some space. Unfortunately said cannon was given to my husband from his dad who has crossed over and is probably laughing at me right now. So I’m just kinding of hoping I put it away somewhere while simultaneously checking thrift stores for that cannon.
    I love to GET stuff too but I am pretty good at discerning what I really need. There are a few items that I still have and will probably never use but am attached to sentimentally- Meg’s christening dress, her baby stuff etc. not too bad, eh?
    good luck with the move! Enjoy Denver!
    Paula Howley recently posted…Singing Bird from the Mosh Pit of Despair

    • chelsea

      February 17, 2016 at 5:54 pm

      oh you and ravery, paula! you are both are so good at it and at *sometimes* getting rid of other people’s things! a! i really hope the bookend shows up for you (unless you don’t really want it to). good job ridding your place of lots at christmas, that’s a good way to ring in the new year!

  4. Alanna

    February 17, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    I definitely get emotional over my stuff and have gone from “let’s go through our stuff together, this will be hilarious, fun, and productive!” to crying because my stuff somehow represents ME and you must hate me and think I have terrible taste because you think I should get rid of something. Will try to avoid it again in the future (but I probably won’t).

    • chelsea

      February 17, 2016 at 5:55 pm

      oh i feeeel you on that note, alanna BIG time! i tend to attach sentimental value to just about everything. hope you do avoid going through things together in the future because it isn’t worth it 🙂

  5. Lindsay

    February 17, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    These are great tips! Andy and I have never moved together, so I will definitely have to remember this guide if/when the time comes. PS I would absolutely be right there with you crying over the orange pullover (in Andy’s case it was caramel brown and so old it had more snags than not) because OMG HOW DARE YOU GET RID OF THIS VERY OLD GARMENT THAT YOU HAVEN’T WORN IN LITERAL YEARS BUT WORE THAT ONE TIME WE DID THAT ONE THING AND MADE THAT ONE MEANINGFUL MEMORY.

    I mean, what? Who, me?

  6. Amberly

    February 18, 2016 at 8:07 am

    I needed this when we moved the two times we’ve moved in our marriage. I am not a happy mover… I get stressed and grumpy and I want help but not really because I want to be in total control of where things are in my house… it’s not pretty….
    Amberly recently posted…Wives to Watch in Every Stage of Life – Kaitlyn from Plain and Simple Joy

  7. Audrey

    February 18, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    Oooh, I’m in the same camp as your husband! 🙂 I love moving and purging and starting fresh with a lighter load!! Haha!
    Um… The West Wing is our jam right now. Kyle’s lucky we’re married and I’m not a fictional character because if I was a single lady working in the White House in 1998 I would straight up STALK Josh and Sam. HAHAHA!
    Audrey recently posted…It’s A Disney Wednesday

  8. Your Partner in Passion Kait

    February 26, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    I hate moving but I LOVE the cleansing process. I think I scared Bren when we did our first move. I was RUTHLESS about getting rid of stuff. We were also downsizing from 900+sq ft to 650. Then we went down to 400 so he was grateful to me in the end! 😉

    And I’m happy we didn’t ditch ALL the towels as we have actually squeezed two people into our apartments and if it had been up to me, we would own three towels total (two for me and one for him). So you know, it all balances out in the end. O:)

    • chelsea

      February 28, 2016 at 3:45 pm

      wow! that is some serious downsizing! oh NYC 🙂 good work team though! it does all seem to balance. i am feeling quite luxurious in our 1200 (up from 600, up from 850) because daaaang. also…i have like 13 towels. ha!

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