when mr. clean meets ms. messy (3) ribbing

Some people recommend as a coping strategy. A little humor goes a long way working past problems in a relationship, they say. Most couples can the joke, even when it smells of revenge. For years, Carol Stevens has up her home. He says, "I like knowing that my stuff is where I can and go." Her husband, a neatnik who washes his car three times a week, doesn't appreciate the order her mess. "The clutter makes me feel like I am in a combat zone." To , he regularly scoops his wife's piles right into the garbage—and ignores her protests.

Then, one day after work last winter, he did something even worse: He his briefcase on top of one of his wife's piles—the place she calls "my spot, there is an X there"—and crushed her Ralph Lauren sunglasses. Ms. Stevens, 57, was herself with . "All he sees is a bunch of junk sitting there," she says. "He never realizes there might be some importance or order to it." She got her a few days later, when Mr. Stevens dropped his Dolce & Gabbana eyeglasses in the driveway—and she over them with her BMW SUV. "It was something only a psycho would do, not a person in their mind," says Mr. Stevens. His wife sees it : "It was the happiest day of my life."