Decluttering with Your Significant Other
You’ve had it with clutter. Maybe you want to move and don't want to take most of your stuff with you, or you just want to live a simpler life. Either way, you’ve decided that now is the time to start letting go of your stuff…now all you have to do is to get your partner on board. Once that happens, you’re on your way to living clutter free, forever. Amen.
But in our experience, that’s only just the beginning.
Let me explain...
If you head into our kitchen and open the cabinet above our coffee maker, you’ll find a relatively small collection of adorable, eclectic coffee mugs. Now, it’s important I point out that if this article were written by my husband, John, that last line would have read, “… you’ll find an abundance of the most gaudy, mismatched coffee mugs on the planet.” He’d prefer we ditch most of those mugs, but for reasons my husband finds ridiculous, I insist we keep them.
Unfortunately, we have several examples of these 'differences' throughout our home (don't even get me started on his grandmother's cabbage shredder in the basement!).
So my point is, even though you may both be working toward the same goal, anyone who’s ever taken on even the smallest home improvement project knows the devil is in the details. You’re not going to always agree on the best way to get the job done.
When it comes to living a clutter-free life, whether you’re just getting started or knee-deep in donation piles, here are 3 strategies to help you navigate the rough waters of decluttering with the person you love:
1. Choose Fewer Battles
Don’t swap your clutter for conflict. It’s just not worth it.
The people in your home are far more important than eliminating the excess stuff. The fewer battles you take on, the better. Decluttering won’t reduce the stress in your home if you’re constantly arguing about what should stay and what should go. There are moments when John feels like getting rid of those coffee mugs is a battle worth fighting, but it only takes a moment for him to remember, it’s just not worth it.
2. Circle Back
If there is an item, or more likely items, in your home you can’t agree whether to keep or donate, opt to set it aside and circle back later. Sometimes a little more experience living with less can help. Continue working through some of the simpler areas of your home, strengthening your decluttering muscles together. There’s rarely an item that needs to be eliminated emergently.
Drop the debate and keep making progress in the areas of your home you can agree on. Remember, this is about creating a space where you can relax and enjoy, and that often takes time, patience and a whole lot of grace.
3. Move at a Pace You’re Both Comfortable With
I am a really fast walker. It’s not uncommon for me to turn around and find that my husband is twenty meters behind.
When it comes to decluttering your shared items, moving at a pace that works for both of you will reduce the number of conflicts and ensure you both have enough energy to keep moving forward.
Keep in mind, your partner may be entering into this with slightly more hesitation than you are. Work together to find a sustainable pace you can both keep up with.
If Your Significant Other Is Not Ready to Let Go of Clutter
The question of exactly how to get your significant other to get on board with decluttering comes up a lot, especially when you’re thinking of moving.
I’ll tell you this, nothing you will say will get your partner on board. You’re never going to nag your loved one into a life of less. They first need to witness the benefits and decide for themselves.
If this is something you really want to pursue, if you’re ready to eliminate the clutter in your home so that you can spend more time and energy on the things that matter most, it’s vital that you start with your own stuff first.
Don’t use your spouse’s disinterest as a scapegoat either. Leave your shared belongings alone for now and begin decluttering in the areas of your home unique to you.
In time, don’t be surprised if you find they’re more drawn to your minimized areas within the home, than their cluttered ones. Simplicity can have that effect on people.