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Prime Reason For Conflict In Couples

She Sees Clutter, He Sees Treasures

Not long after she remarried two years ago, Karen Steele realized the look of her Roseville, Calif., home had changed.

The problem is her husband’s office. It has become a catchall for papers and a collection of plastic hotel keys. Pictures are stuffed into storage boxes, and there always seem to be a few plates and coffee cups scattered on the desk. When she walks into the room, she says, “I really start to unravel.” She prefers spending time in the kitchen, where everything has its place.

“It’s a bachelor pad in the middle of a family house,” says Ms. Steele, a 43-year-old sales manager for a technology company.

Her husband, Bruce Steele, who is 49 and works in software sales, says he likes to keep his papers in stacks and close at hand so he can get to them easily while working. “I like to be able to see what I have and where it is,” he says. “If I put it in a drawer, I’ll never look at it again.” He says he tries to stay neat in the rest of the house.

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