My husband is not a minimalist.
I repeat, my husband is not a minimalist.
So how on earth do I navigate my minimalist lifestyle around his non-minimalist self?
I often see people leave comments on the various YouTube channels that I watch asking things like:
“What if my partner is not a minimalist?”
“What if my wife won’t stop shopping?”
“What if my husband refuses to join me on my minimalist journey?”
And these are all very good questions. I’ve shared with you that my husband uses minimalism as a tool during certain seasons of life, but he is in no way an actual minimalist. So if you are wondering how that works out, well, I have three things that help.
The first thing that helps with a non-minimalist significant other is love. I believe that love is a verb, meaning it is something you do. We feel all kinds of things, but love takes action.
As I go about my decluttering/minimizing process, and as I seek to reduce the amount of things brought into my home, I try to remember to love my husband. I make it a priority to show him I care. I make sure that he always knows that despite his desire for stuff, I will always love him for who he is. I don’t want to change him. I don’t work to control what he does. Rather, I choose to love him right where he is at, piles of junk or not.
To honor someone means to respect them. The second thing that helps with a non-minimalist significant other is to honor them. We all have our reasons for doing what we do, believing what we believe, and living how we live.
Honoring my husband means that I will respect his choices. I don’t have to agree with him (no two people will always agree), but I do need to appreciate him for who he is. I need to regard his feelings in both our marriage and household. And I need to show him that his opinions matter. It is never ok to just start throwing out his things because I want to downsize an area. That would be completely disrespectful and rude. I need to ask him how he feels, talk to him about how I feel, and listen to how he responds.
And the third thing that helps with a non-minimalist significant other is to stop nagging them. Nagging a person is that constant telling them what they need to do or what they should be doing. Nagging is a really great way to cause anger, division, and hurt in a relationship. It’s not a good thing.
I have a certain way I have chosen to live. I am working to minimize my life. And there is nothing wrong with that. But I can’t expect my husband to just automatically conform to my way of living simply because he lives here too. When I decide to let go of something, as I did this past weekend, it is not something I push on my husband. If I tell him over and over to go through his things and get rid of stuff, he will stop listening. He might get angry. And he most certainly will begin to tune me out.
So, I don’t nag. My approach to minimalism is to go through my things, change my way of living, and stop my excess waste. Believe it or not, sometimes just focusing on your own way of living is all the impact a spouse needs.
Take this past weekend, for example…
I was doing an end of year purge. I decided to go through some bins that had been shoved into a closet and ignored. As I went through the bins, I shared some of my thoughts with my husband. I told him why I was letting go of certain items and why I felt better about the result of it. He listened and watched, but I never once told him that he needed to do the same. A short time later, he came up to me and said that he was going to go through the garage. The garage is an area that I don’t touch because it really is his area. Usually, when he says he is going to go through it, that just means he will move piles around and sweep the floor. I smiled and said ok.
I left him alone for a bit while I finished my own project.
After a while, I went to the garage. And what I found was my husband creating a pile of things to actually get rid of. No prompting by me necessary! We joked around a bit about it all and just laughed, but the fact was that he was decluttering his space.
I could think of a lot more to get rid of in our garage, but I kept those thoughts to myself. The last thing my husband needed was me nagging him about what else to let go of. As it happened, he filled an entire bag of stuff. And that is huge for him!
After he had been at it for some time, I said to him, “I think you’ve done a lot. I’m proud of you. Maybe you should take a break for now.”
And when he came back into the house, I continued to tell him what a great job he did, I gave him a kiss, and I let him know that I love him.
He didn’t do it my way, and he didn’t do as much as I would do. But he did it. And because I love and honor him, that’s enough for me.
Love, Honor, and Stop Nagging
It’s ok if your significant other isn’t on board with minimalism. Being in a relationship doesn’t mean that two people need to be exactly the same. It is the differences we have that keep things fresh and exciting. Always remember why you chose to be with that person to begin with. I really doubt it was because you felt you could turn them into a minimalist. Choose to love them where they are at, respect who they are, and allow that to be enough. They rest eventually falls into place. Maybe it won’t be Pinterest perfect, but it will be your life and it will be well lived.