How to Inspire Your Spouse to Declutter

How to Inspire Your Spouse to Declutter

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.



Need Some Inspiration For Your Home?

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26 thoughts on “How to Inspire Your Spouse to Declutter”

  • Great tips! I’ve tried to declutter my husband so many times, we ended up deciding to move into our camper full time (next year) so now he has no choice but to declutter! 😀 Hopefully it sticks! hahaha

  • Glad I stumbled on this. I agree with you that you cannot force someone to change to or do what you wish of them Showing them the true difference it makes in your life may inspire them to do the same in theirs. Great read.

  • So many great tips here…and all so simple! My spouse comes from a background of growing up with not much at all, unfortunately as an adult it has created him to grasp on to everything that becomes his. It has been so difficult for me to adjust to this since meeting him, yet over the years we have accumulated so much “stuff”…..I am going to implement these tips to helps him feel motivated ♡

  • Great post! These tips are great! I need to send this to my husband! He’s always stopping me from throwing away toys the kids don’t play with or even touch! He claims they do or that he’s going to donate them and never does lol 🤦🏻‍♀️

    • There are a few other posts about the play room and decluttering that may be a good thing to pass on! Feel free to reach out if you need any specific tips 🙂

  • What a great article! I embrace minimalism and luckily my boyfriend as well. But I see many couples arguing because one of them just doesn’t get the idea behind. Your post is very inspiring and helpful for them. Thanks a lot!

  • We are such a messy family it’s frustrating :-s – Kon Marie has helped loads and I have just received her other book to give us a boost again. My husband isn’t too bad actually when he’s clearing stuff out and has less of an emotional attachment to things x

  • I was almost to giving up on trying to get my husband to declutter… but after reading this, its worth one last try 🙂 Thanks for the tips!

    • It is definitely worth it! You do your stuff and find a thoughtful way to show him how much you need this and why… fingers crossed he comes around!

  • Love the easy to follow steps. To enlist others, you’ve got to engage them (thats what I got :-). Breaking it down makes it easy and simple to inspire, model and enroll them emotionally as to why you wish to declutter, making it a team effort as rather than a management job. Thank you for this!

  • This is so true, if we model the behaviour and be consistent in our own decluttering, the people in our lives pick up the same habit. For instance, I regularly go thru my closet and donate clothes if I didn’t wear them that season and now my husband often does the same with his own clothes without me mentioning anything at all. He is starting to see all the benefits to having less and keeping life simple. It’s great!

  • LOL this is totally my life this week. You should see the wall beside my front door. It’s packed floor to ceiling with junk for my husband to go through that I want to get rid of!!!!

  • I modeled and tried to inspire, and my husband was even supportive, but he just didn’t know how to take the step of applying it to his own stuff.

    One example: he told me many times that he needed to buy new socks. I said, that can’t be! You have a big drawer full of socks. Either wear those or go through the drawer and get rid of the socks you can’t/won’t wear. He just acted frustrated. So one day, I emptied the drawer full of socks onto the bed and sorted through them. One big pile for all the holey, worn out socks, a small pile for ones with no match, and a nice little area with good pairs matched up and folded together. Then I called him into the room, explained what I had done, and asked for his permission to throw out the holey socks. He said yes, and I asked again, for the “no match” socks. He said yes. So both were put in the trash. Then we looked at the remaining good socks, and I asked him which type of socks, and how many, did he want to buy new? That’s when he understood the process. Since then, he has, on his own, done a pretty good job of going through his stuff and getting rid of stuff on his own.

    • Darlene! This is so awesome. People have different strengths, especially partners where we tend to play the opposite side and bring balance as a couple. Walking him through it to solve his problem was such an inspiring way to handle it. We don’t all naturally think this way so it’s just not obvious to everyone. So glad the sock dilemma was solved but even more that you were able to open his eyes to this new way of seeing which should hopefully help you keep things more streamlined in your home and life together. Congrats!

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