Why does my wife get so annoyed with me when I complain about her throwing away my stuff?

OK, I’ve been living with my wife for 11 years, and every three months or so she will throw away some important document of mine. I will fish it out the trash, and point out it was there, and usually an enormous row then follows where my wife complains that (a) it wasn’t her (b) it wasn’t her fault (c) it was my fault. We’re in the middle of one of these rows now.

Then eventually we resolve it, and come up with some solutions like, if it’s on my desk, it doesn’t ever go in the bin. Then she’ll ignore one of these rules and do it again. Sure, accidents happen, but the thing is they happen because she’s not really thinking about what she’s doing, and will throw away anything I’ve left on the kitchen table, and on occasion will throw away stuff in my office (even though we’ve apparently agreed that if it’s on my desk, it doesn’t move).

My question is more what am I doing wrong here, in that as far as I’m concerned it’s a problem – she doesn’t look at the documents before they go in the trash, she doesn’t rifle through piles of kids drawings to check there’s nothing important in them, all of which I would think is reasonable kind of ‘checking’ behaviour. Instead, she gets very defensive about her actions and tries to turn the argument so that she can attack me (e.g. if it was up to me, we’d be knee-deep in trash because I don’t throw anything away – not true, but certainly justified that I don’t throw away everything I find).

I just don’t get it. If I leave the fridge door open, mea culpa, I’ll think what I did wrong, and try and stop it. But with this whole ‘throwing away my crap’ this is a cycle, it’s going around in circles, and she just doesn’t seem to take the fact that it is (in my view) demonstrably a problem to just pick up a piece of paper and throw it away without even looking at it. I’m no saint in any way, but seriously, it’s things like tax forms, invoices, envelopes that she hasn’t checked doesn’t have something important in it.

How can I (a) persuade her that it’s not just me, this is seriously uncool to do this when you live with someone and (b) get her to try hard to take it seriously so that we don’t have this cycle of arguments about it and we can bicker about normal boring stuff instead!

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