If you’re living with someone who doesn’t share your values for minimalism, you have my sympathies. I’ve been there and it is so frustrating. You’ve seen the light but they won’t listen, they won’t respect our new found ways, they even make fun and tell us we’re ridiculous. The last thing we need on this endeavour is another barrier, right?
When I began decluttering two years ago, my husband was not on board. He thought it was one of my phases – I have a lot of phases. As the black bin liners full of our stuff started to fill the conservatory ready for donation or the car boot sale, I’m sure he thought I’d lost my mind. It was a big transition and it wasn’t always easy, but it was worth it.
Having been through this experience, I wanted to share what worked for me in the hope that it will inspire you to keep going if you’re experiencing set backs.
Don’t use it as an excuse
So many people love the idea of minimalism but because they think the person they live with wouldn’t get on board or because they have children, they feel they can’t bring it into their life . This is an excuse. I know that sounds harsh but it’s true. There is nothing stopping you but you. People all over the world are living with less, many have children or partner’s who don’t share their values. It can be done. Google them and you’ll see.
It’s really important to think about why you want to simplify your life and have less stuff around you. Once you understand your specific reasons, it makes them easier to explain. It can seem alien, as traditionally, not many of us like change. Explaining why you’re doing what you’re doing with practical examples like ‘I want to feel calmer’ or ‘I want to spend less time cleaning and more time doing something I love’, can go a long way.
See it from their perspective
Have some empathy and try to put yourself in their shoes. It will make things a little less frustrating for you. We are programmed to have stuff and believe that more is more so flipping this norm upside down can be difficult to grasp.
Be an example
If people can see what you’re doing and the benefits it’s having on your life, chances are they will want to get on board. Who doesn’t want to feel happier, calmer and have more free time to do the things they love? Be the best example you can. They need someone to look up to.
Don’t try to change them
I’m the worst one for this. I can happily throw other people’s things away without batting an eyelid, I’m doing them a favour as far as I’m concerned. But this isn’t right and I constantly have to stop myself from doing it. People have to do it for themselves and taking control of their items will only cause conflict – trust me. Surprise surprise, people can get really angry when you secretly throw their things away. Resist this urge and focus on yourself and your own clutter only.
You are only responsible for your own stuff
Once I let go of feeling responsible for every item in the house, it was a relief. I focused on my own things and made it clear that was the case. When we’re responsible for something we soon realise the real cost of it. Don’t be a slave to the things other people choose to surround themselves with.
It is contagious
They will come around. As soon as I made a start I was laughed at, questioned and ridiculed. I carried on because I felt better and I knew I was onto something and sure enough the people around me started following suit. It doesn’t happen straight away and you need to be patient but it does happen. They see the benefits like you have much less laundry than they do or you have more free time and they want in on it.
Fast forward to now and said husband who thought I’d lost my mind, has a wardrobe a third of the size it was, spends less in a month than he used to in a week and when I told him I was writing this article he replied with ‘minimalism was all my idea anyway’. Just yesterday, I watched him discarding the box his new pair of running shoes had arrived in – and I didn’t even have to remind him to do so.
If you’re going through this or you’ve been through it, I really want to hear about it. Got any more advice?