If you’ve been following my journey you’d know that I went into the year 2016 with the intentions of strengthening my spiritual self. This is not about religion. It’s about being completely present in moments and discovering what it is that makes me, me!
During this process I discovered that I am a minimalist. Material possessions drain me. If there are items in my home that I don’t A) use often or B) find joy in, it holds zero value to me and fogs up my mind, keeping me from focusing on things I’m passionate about.
Of course with this discovery there comes struggles — getting rid of things I’m emotionally tied to, letting go of things regardless of the monetary value, but more importantly . . . family members who don’t quite understand why I’ve made the choice to live a minimalist lifestyle.
Thankfully I have a husband who is A) understanding and B) willing to join me in purging. That being said, I’m perfectly aware that not everyone is in a similar situation. We want to get rid of anything that doesn’t add value to our lives, but our partners want to hold on to anything and everything for reasons x, y, and z.
So rather than allow this to drag on any further, I am going to list 5 things (plus a bonus thought, so make it 6!) you can do to succeed on your minimalist journey while dealing with a partner who has no desire to do the same.
When sorting through your house, focus solely on your personal belongings. You might think you’re being clever by getting rid of a jacket your partner “never wears” but the second he goes to reach for that jacket and isn’t able to find it, you’ll be the target of their disappointment. Getting rid of someone else’s belongings creates distrust and resentment, two very unhealthy components of a relationship.
Maybe you have a partner who collects shoes. Or maybe if you are like myself, you have a partner who served in the military and refuses to get rid of his memorabilia <– fyi, something I don’t blame him for. This is where you have to choose to compromise. For example, I dedicated a small space in the corner of our bedroom to display my husband’s military memorabilia in gallery form. This way, yes there are a bunch of items, but they are contained to one small area that he can look at with pride. He wins, I win, everyone wins.
You’ve decided to live a lifestyle that gets rid of the excess and frees up space for things of value. That’s great. But no matter how badly you want to, you cannot force someone else to make the same choice. As I mentioned before, start to get rid of items that are solely your own. Sometimes people will keep with old habits because they are afraid of change. They see you making new, healthy habits and it freaks them out. Give it time. Studies show that when individuals live with each other over a long period of time, two literally start to become one. If we lived to be over 800 years old we would evolve into nearly the same person. Lead by example. The positive changes will become evident, and more than likely your partner will be inspired to follow suit. Once my husband saw my stress levels start to dissipate and he was no longer the target of my outbursts, he was all about it … smart man!
Don’t freak out! You don’t have to take a break from your relationship to go minimal. I’m not that dramatic (or am I?) All jokes aside, if you are going to make it a point to up and change the entire house as your partner knows it, the least you can do is give them a space that is THEIRS. This goes hand and hand with the compromise thing. To give you an example, my husband is pretty bad about finding an empty surface and topping it with papers, change, his wallet, aka anything that he possibly can. Even though I like a very empty, minimally decorated bedroom, I put a computer desk in the corner of the room where he is free to do whatever he wants. If he wants to collect stacks of paperwork, fantastic! Just be sure it’s in your small man cave space, honey buns. Am I right, ladies? I have zero reign over this space. It’s his and his only. I don’t nag him. I don’t clean it. I leave it the heck alone! This way he has a safe place that he knows he is free to do with as he pleases. Do I love it? No. But if I can have the entire house, does it really hurt me to give him his corner? Perspective!
Allow me a moment to expand on this point. When I say joint household items, I don’t mean your partner’s favorite recliner. I am referring to joint household items that are of no value to your partner. Think, cleaning supplies. My husband works out of the home, while I work FROM home. This means that I do the majority of the cleaning because hi, I’m home. Therefor, cleaning supplies are of absolutely no value to him whatsoever. If I throw away five bottles of surface cleaner, he won’t be phased. Not in the least bit. Start to remove common household items that will make you feel better about the process but won’t freak him out.
Throughout the purging process, keep in mind that just because you feel a certain way, it doesn’t mean your partner shares the same feelings. One of the biggest reasons a person holds onto material items is because of the memory associated with it. Your partner might prefer pictures all over the home because it reminds him of his childhood. He may be holding onto a trinket because it is something that was passed down by someone who means the world to them. He may hold onto an item to remind himself that he isn’t what has happened to him in the past. Be empathetic of this. While material possessions don’t hold emotional value (memories and experiences do,) your partner has to come to that realization on his own.
Remember, no matter how strong your union is, you are still two separate people with separate beliefs and values. You can’t expect the other person to change and everything will be fine and dandy. You are only in control of yourself. And in the end, what you do typically has a way of inspiring others to make positive changes as well.
So now, for all of my minimalists out there. Care to share your tips in the comment section below? What is one way you compromise with your non-minimalist partner?