Podcast 312: Confront a Clutter-Related Conflict, a Hack for Having Fun, and Using the Four Tendencies Framework to Get Chores Done


Valentine’s Day is coming up!

Research shows—and I’ve found this in my own experience—that sweethearts often treat each with less courtesy than they show to friends, or even strangers. To help you develop more loving habits, I created a 30-day Relationship Challenge.

Once you sign up, you’ll receive a text message to your mobile phone, with an audio message from me, with that day’s challenge. If you need to pause the challenge, you can stop and restart it at any time. This experience is available via SMS for U.S. and Canada and through Whatsapp for all other countries.

In it, I suggest a series of concrete, single steps for you to try. If that step works for you, consider making it a daily habit. By the end of this 30-day challenge, I hope you and your sweetheart will experience greater happiness and connection. The goal of this challenge is to improve your romantic relationship—and that challenge starts with youbecause the only person we can change is ourselves. 

Try This at Home

Confront a clutter-related conflict in a relationship.

Elizabeth mentions that she is clutter-blind, and we mention the difference between abundance-lovers and simplicity-lovers.

In episode 52, we talked about Try This at Home of asking, “What happens if I ignore this?”

Some clutter-related resources:

Happiness Hack

Anne Mercogliano is my new COO. Her hack is to “attend” online film festivals, such as Sundance or the Mill Valley film festival.  

Four Tendencies Tip

To continue the theme of clutter and relationships, if people aren’t doing their part in terms of clutter clearing, consider their Tendency:

UpholdersMake expectations very explicit, with clear, agreed-upon rules.

QuestionersExplain why you want something done. “Because I want it done” or “Because we have to” isn’t a good reason. Questioners are interested in efficiency, so discuss how systems could be made more efficient. They’re also often interested in fairness, but they need facts, so calculate how much time you’re spending on chores vs. how much time your partner is spending on chores.

ObligersAs always, Obligers need outer accountability, so figure out how to create that structure. Note that sweethearts often don’t count as “outer” accountability.

Watch out for Obliger-rebellion that may build if the Obliger feels exploited. If you live or work with an Obliger, show appreciation, do your share, encourage the Obliger to take breaks and vacations, and help do the work of pushing others, like children, to help (nudging others to do their work is a lot of work, itself).

RebelsGive Rebels freedom and choice; let them do their work in their own way, in their own time. Remind them, “This is what you want. This is who you are—it’s part of your identity.” Don’t remind, nag, or give helpful reminders—you may ignite the spirit of resistance.

Don’t know about my “Four Tendencies” personality framework? You can read a brief description here. To find out if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel, take the free, quick quiz here. (More than 3.2 million people have taken it.)

Elizabeth’s Demerit

When she does laundry, she leaves her clean clothes by the machine instead of putting them away.

Elizabeth's laundry

Gretchen’s Gold Star

I give a gold star to the Greater podcast — “Conversations with leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors about working together to make New York City greater.” Full disclosure: It’s hosted by my husband Jamie Rubin and Cheryl Cohen Effron. If you’re interested in policy, city government, the non-profit sector, public-private partnerships, revitalization, and related subjects, you will love it.

Button: In the button, my happiness-project resolution to “celebrate a minor holiday.”


  • To boost connection and fun in your romantic relationship, join my 30-day Relationship Challenge. Each day, you’ll receive a text message to your mobile phone, with an audio message from me, with that day’s challenge.

What we’re reading

  • Elizabeth: Warlight by Michael Ondaatje (AmazonBookshop)
  • Gretchen: The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis (AmazonBookshop)




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