Over the last few days, I have had a handful of people reach out saying how inspired they are to start decluttering their home. Seeing the before and after pictures come via text, email and messenger has been such a treat. I am astounded that I am getting notes like this, week after week. SimplyOnEden was intended to inspire and it seems like it just may be. If you are curious about how to get started in your home, check out this recent post on decluttering!
With many weekly messages, there is a common hiccup for many people that are determined to declutter their home. This is a hurdle I hear about from men and women. In fact, it’s arguably one of the top 2 questions people come to me about. Any guesses? Ok, picture this…
Maybe you read Marie Kondo’s book or you saw before and after photos on Instagram. Somehow, you have been inspired to make a change for yourself and your family. No one in your house seems to understand why you keep talking about getting rid of items. Some maybe even think you are being a little odd, you know, getting excited about cleaning. Sound familiar?
So you ignore that and set out to get started. Then one day you look around and realize a huge portion of this stuff belongs to your spouse. They aren’t really yours to purge so you’ll need their support. The aforementioned hiccup, you see, is that many have spouses or roommates who don’t understand the process, and even worse, some even flat out object to it. They get upset when they realize you threw away the potholder with the hole in it or cant find their jacket that was “right here on the floor a few days ago.” Many souses don’t have issues with this but many do.
I’m routinely asked, “how do I get my spouse to #konmari his/her things when he/she objects?” The answer is very simple but difficult to hear. Unfortunately, guys, you can’t. People don’t often change a habit quickly; nor do they change their life on a whim. Would you stop sending your kids to school and homeschool them because your neighbor said you need to? No. We just don’t work that way.
What you can do, and need to do, is start working with your things. Do your clothes, your bathroom items. Lead your children through their areas but you can not get rid of your spouse’s things and you can’t make him/her.
I am often met with a wide-eyed, “What!?” People have a hard time understanding why there isn’t an easy way to make someone simplify since, after all, the person who is desperate to declutter is 100% eyes on the prize and ready for the change to a simpler space. But there lies the problem, you are inspired, they are not. When trying to explain the Marie Kondo method to her husband, a friend recently quoted her spouse as saying, “what is wrong with our home all of the sudden”?. He didn’t understand why this was necessary and so, he objected. The only way to get someone to change their mind and agree to join you is to inspire them.
Inspire Your Spouse
So how exactly do we do this? Humans all learn and process things differently so there is no right answer. There are, however, some tip here to help you get your spouse’s support in decluttering your home. Try one or try them all… many people find success eventually unless there are serious emotional or even clinical reasons that their spouse can’t proceed with the process.
Show them what simplifying does.
They may not have read that book you did or have seen those photos. You should certainly show them! Find pictures that show before and after and print them out. Find articles that speak to the benefits of having less clutter around. Some may visually get hooked and others, like my husband, absorb best from reading things. Maybe your’s needs a podcast, he or she may absorb best when they hear something. You know your spouse, how do they think? Get the resources front of them!
Let them live the change.
Taking that one step further, start decluttering your space and let them see for their own eyes the changes that occur as a result. You’ll likely feel more confident in your clothes because you’ll have only things you love or need in your closet, spouses generally love the confident you. Additionally, you will have less to trip over in your room because your things will be done and he/she will see this. It is amazing how many spouses jump on the bandwagon once they feel the change for themselves even if it is your items only.
You should also explain to them your WHY.
Why are you hoping for a decluttered home? How is the clutter impacting you on an emotional level? Physically? Mentally? Some of these reasons must inadvertently impact your spouse too. Explain this to them, point out why you want it and what changes you hope to see as a result. Wanting a pretty, Instagram worthy living room is likely not going to convert this spouse to give in and agree to declutter all of their items. Knowing you are losing sleep over the mess and feeling stressed? Well, that might. Explaining you have been irritable because you feel trapped in a cycle of cleanup-and-turn around-to-a-new-mess, surely impacts them. Sit down and discuss your why, as vulnerable as it may be for some, because this piece is vital.
I imagine it must feel frustrating to need a simpler space desperately (I certainly was desperate for it 10 months ago) and then have a large portion of the home cluttered with items you can’t declutter. I think this was an important topic to discuss because it seems to be very widespread and people often stand still at this point of friction. Don’t stand still. Start working for your happiness and health and feel good about even the smallest steps. Odds are, with these few little tips, you’ll end up with a spouse supporting you to a simpler home.