This is it. This is the one.
This is the thing that I hear the most (alongside of how to get say goodbye to children’s artwork and sentimental items and just-in-case items) – it’s this one: How do you get your partner on board with decluttering? You have seen the possibility of how FREE you could feel in your space and you want to declutter, but you partner is filled with fear, hesitancy and resistance. Why can’t they envision the freedom that you see so clearly ahead through this journey of decluttering?
This is VERY COMMON… and there are literally thousands of couples out there who just can not get on the same page in regards to how they want their physical space to look and feel but the very least we can do is try. So, if you’re one of the many people who can’t seem to get a partner on board with simplifying the space you share together, let’s talk about some things you can do to hopefully move forward together.
1. Lead by example. Sometimes we get so inspired and motivated by journeys we partake in that we can’t believe other people aren’t seeing the benefits and the possibilities the same way we are… so instead of forcing them to get on board with it, we can instead lead by example by showing all of the benefits and taking our journeys as an individual first! For example.. if you want to declutter your ENTIRE house, but your partner is hesitant, show them how joyful, relieved and FREE you feel after YOU declutter some personal items of your own. And then, take that to another area of the house and repeat the process, and be SURE to announce the benefits! Are you the person who cooks and spends the most time in the kitchen? Show them what a huge difference it makes in the kitchen space to have it decluttered. Are you the person who spends the most time in the garage? Do a big declutter and show them how much additional space is available now and WHY this makes a big difference. We can’t force people to declutter but we can lead by example in an encouraging and inspiring way!
2. Have a clear conversation about how the clutter is affecting your mental health. Some people have a very, very hard time functioning around too much STUFF (me!) and that’s very understandable because often times, physical clutter=mental clutter. For some people, an environment that is overrun with stuff can even lead to depression. When starting this conversation, it’s great to acknowledge that you understand that clutter may not be a big deal for them… but then clearly and kindly explain how it’s having a negative impact on your mental health. Admitting that you are overwhelmed is important to someone that you are sharing a space with and then highlight to them the best part of all of this… this is FIXABLE! You aren’t asking to clear the entire house out – you are just letting them know that you need a more breathable place to spend your time in.
3. Set boundaries with clutter. Okay… if you are having a REALLY HARD TIME getting someone to get on board with you but you are just overwhelmed to the max with clutter, it’s time to consider setting boundaries around it starting with this: “Hi, okay, if we can’t declutter then we can’t bring anything else into the house UNLESS we are getting rid of something else.” Ultimately, this is a SHARED space so there has to be some level of mutual respect there and if you’re not finding that via someone decluttering what you already own with you, it may be time to suggest that you all not let anything else make it’s way in while the piles continue to mount and the closets and drawers are bursting at the seams.
4. Make small decluttering compromises together. Maybe you really want to declutter the entire house – every drawer, every closet, everything you can think of… but this is too overwhelming for your partner to comprehend and they need to do things a little more slowly. Room by room, you can go through once a day, once a week even, and just declutter ONE thing together. As much as people resist doing this, when they FINALLY move forward and declutter one space… many of them instantly see the benefit, feel BETTER and even start to get motivated to move on to another space! It’s the thought of decluttering a TON of things or an entire house that overwhelms them, but if you take it slowly with them and let them soak in the joy of decluttering a little at a time… they may surprise you with getting on board to move on to more and more places in your home!
5. Ask them this one question, “what are you worried will happen if we declutter?” Sometimes, people are very hesitant to declutter because they have a different idea of what will happen than you do, you aren’t seeing this through the same lens and if you dig a little deeper through what the fear or worry is behind the hesitancy, you can understand one another better. If they name the fear of what they don’t want to happen during decluttering, you can work TOGETHER to be sure that whatever it is doesn’t happen! Some people have deep-rooted issues with decluttering or letting go of things and therapy can also be incredibly helpful for this. This conversation requires depth and you have to do your best not to pass judgment on some of the fears the person is having or they will be less likely to TRULY open up to you and trust you. Sometimes, what they’re worried about has nothing to do with the actual stuff, but what holding on to it does for them. It’s okay to dig deep together. Who knows how you’ll be able to help each other when you ask the harder questions!
I know.. this isn’t easy. When you’re SO ready for this change but someone else isn’t, it can be very discouraging. What’s important though, is that you work toward making this a team effort as much as possible. I pray that you will BOTH be on the same page so you can live clutter-free and get control of your space back! XOXO