I think it’s one of the biggest issues people face when they decide to simplify their lives. I was really fortunate that my husband was on board from the beginning, although I am more consumed with decluttering than he is.
The answers below could apply to a boyfriend or girlfriend, or anyone that is an integral part of your life. In the spirit of simplicity, I’ll refer to the husband or “him”, but know you can apply that to your wife or anyone else too.
If you’ve had a conversation with your husband about simplifying your life, and he is not on board, my suggestion is to start with you. Before you start looking at decluttering the kitchen or garage, start in your closet or nightstand.
As you start the process, you will build momentum, and be excited to have more less. This is a good time to talk to your spouse again.
How to talk to your spouse about simplifying
- Focus on the benefits. While cleaning out the garage might not sound like a fun way to spend the weekend, when you focus on the why, instead of the how or when, your husband might come around. Remind your partner that when you don’t have to focus on debt and stuff, you can focus more on each other.
- Daydream together. When you started simplifying your life, you probably thought about how much easier life would be for you. Now it’s time to start thinking about how simplifying will help the two of you. How will spending less, working less, hoarding less help you as a couple and as a family? What do you want to do with your lives? What would you differently if you were debt free? Now is your chance to dream together.
- Make your clutter work for you. If debt is a part of your relationship, it’s time to kick it to the curb. Make your clutter work for you and have a yard sale, or let Adam Baker teach you how to sell your crap.
- Hide stuff. This is not for everyone, but if you think this will work for you, give it a try.
- Put it in reverse. Remind your husband that some decisions are reversible and that if it doesn’t work out, you are willing to go back to the way things were. This takes the pressure off some of your simplifying tasks.
- Relationship First. Notice if your efforts are helping or hurting your relationship. If your actions are causing harm, step back and re-think your approach. Remind your spouse that he comes first. If your husband isn’t receptive, focus on him and your marriage and leave the decluttering for another day.
- Respect the vote. If you want to clean out your closet, go for it. If you want to cancel the cable or sell the house, it’s time for a vote. Any big decisions need two votes to pass.
If these ideas fail at first, do not resort to begging and pleading. (and definitely no nagging!) Simply lead by example. Continue to declutter your personal possessions, and see if there are things you own together, in the kitchen for example, that he would agree to getting rid of. In terms of his collections, clothing or other stuff, that’s off limits.
While you might talk to him about your goals of decluttering, and some of the benefits a simpler life may bring, he has to come around on his own. My husband and I talk about things like moving into a smaller home, traveling more, giving more freely, and working less. Because we have eliminated our debt and most of our stuff, we can talk about living life our way.
It’s important to focus on the benefits and not just the immediate task.
When you married your spouse, you married his clutter. You married his past and his future, and together, it is your responsibility/honor to make your “right now” as good as it can be. That goes for you too, Mr. or Mrs. reluctant spouse. If your husband or wife asked you to read this post, take the hint! Maybe there is something to this simplicity stuff after all.
Be motivated by other couples that survived and thrive with simplicity
What is the biggest objection your spouse has to living with less?