Living with someone else can be a challenge, especially when it comes to dealing with minutia — like whose taste in artwork really matters. To improve your relationship, try focusing on the big picture

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: My husband and I are having a major disagreement about a particular piece of artwork he recently brought home that he loves and I hate. I read somewhere that it is bad feng shui to have ugly things in the house — which is why I’m writing to you. From the point of view of feng shui, is there anything I can tell him to make him agree to get rid of it? I think that if I could just convince him to get the painting out of our house and out of our lives, I would be happier — or at least less irritated.

Ah! I understand where you are coming from and the frustration you are feeling, but to give you an informed opinion, I need more details. For example, certain images can be bad feng shui, depending on what they depict and where they are placed, but you didn’t mention what the image is or where it was placed. As for your basic question about using feng shui to persuade your husband to get rid of the painting, what one person likes, another person may hate; To say the painting is “right” or “wrong” is a judgment, not necessarily “good” or “bad” feng shui. Still, all is not lost. We can look at this in another way and hopefully find a balanced solution to your dilemma.

Reassign the meaning of the artwork

Generally, when a difference of opinion exists as to whether or not something in a common area is energetically supportive, consider reassigning the meaning of the item in question to represent the love and respect you have for each other.


For example, rate your dislike of the art on a scale of 1-10, with 10 representing the highest level of dislike. Then, ask your husband to rate how much he likes the same piece of art, with 10 representing the highest level of like. If your level of dislike is lower than your husband’s level of like, compromise may be a little easier.

Next, ask yourself if you love your husband enough to allow that art to represent your love for each other. If so, and you agree to let it grace your wall, you have the opportunity to transform how you see it — no longer an eyesore, but a gift of love.

Doing this exercise gives the art a new symbolic meaning. Each time you see it, it will remind you of the love you have for your husband and how important he is to you.

Every time he sees it, it will remind him of the love you have for him, and how lucky he is to have you. The art will have become a reminder of love instead of an instigator of disharmony.

This process can be effective for you, but only if you dissipate any emotional charge the painting has for you and clear up any symbolism the painting may have triggered in your subconscious.


The artwork’s symbolic aspect


Take this one step further, and ask yourself what it is about the artwork you dislike? Is it the style, the image, what it reminds you of? Or, are you simply annoyed that your husband failed to consult you first? I’d like to share a story to help you to understand why I ask these questions.

I had a client whose husband purchased an image he thought of as a “peaceful scene” — a man alone in a rowboat on a lake at sunset, relaxing. My client however, disliked the image. She told her husband that she did not like the photo and wanted him to take it down, but he refused, saying that he liked it, and, anyway, he was putting it up in “his area” of the house.

Soon after, she invited me to her home for a feng shui consultation. When we got to her husband’s area, she asked if I would suggest that he remove that photo, feeling that he would “listen” to me. (People do this to me all the time.) I was curious as to why the image bothered her so much. At first, she gave me a lame answer; but, after some questioning, she shared that she felt it showed his true desire to be alone and foreshadowed his leaving her one day. When I asked her why she thought he would leave her, she became emotional and said that she had been nagging him a lot through the years and was afraid that she had gone too far.

I mention this because sometimes our reaction to certain images goes deeper than mere dislike. Take a look at the image your husband purchased to see if it has any symbolism you can relate to. It may be that it is simply not your “style” or it could be something deeper. By being aware, you can gain even more from this experience.

The joys and challenges of living together

It is never easy to live with someone whose tastes or style is completely different from yours, but stepping out of our own comfort zone and letting go of your ego can be expansive and a sign of growth. In every situation that upsets you, ask yourself what is truly important and put your focus on the bigger picture, not the minutia. As the stand-up comedian George Carlin once said, “Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things.” Good advice.


Alice Inoue, a life guide at Alice Inoue Life Guidance LLC, shares her wisdom as a professional speaker and personal consultant, and offers a series of instructional DVDs on feng shui. Visit