5 Ways to Lose Your Stuff (Not Your Lover)
You feel like you’ve tried everything. You set something outside with the garbage, but find it back inside the house because your spouse couldn’t bear parting with it. Or you plead for help with clearing the clutter, only to have what was supposed to be a guest room transform into a storage area.
You crave a more minimalist home, but not at the expense of your marriage. You’ve resigned yourself that living with all that stuff is simply the price you pay for love.
Or maybe convincing them to part with it is easier than you think …
I came to minimalism late in life and goodness knows I still have a long way to go. But as the girl who consigned her wedding gown, I thought I could help him see the benefit of reducing our material burden. I reminded him of all the clutter we never used, yet found ourselves trapped into keeping; I hinted at the money we could earn by selling those things on Craigslist. At times, I’m ashamed to admit, I called his reluctance silly.
Not surprisingly, those somewhat confrontational introductions to minimalism didn’t go well. The key wasn’t just being more delicate, though that certainly helped. As Chip and Dan Heath explain in their book Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, to persuade your family or anyone else to embrace a new idea, you must appeal to both their minds and their hearts.
5 strategies to make minimalism a joint venture
1. Bring in an outside expert. Maybe this has happened to you: your spouse gives you some advice, about your job or your family, but you don’t believe it until someone else tells you the same thing. I don’t quite know why this happens, but this phenomena can complicate your family efforts with minimalism as well.
In the spirit of leveraging this built-in bias, I let my husband borrow my copy of Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Nonconformity. I didn’t introduce it as a text on minimalism (it isn’t), just an inspiring read. Before I knew it, my husband was telling me how reducing our material footprint would give us more flexibility in everything from housing choices to travel plans.
Find a book on a subject your spouse already wants to read, but also speaks to the general principles of minimalism. For example, if your spouse loves sailing, try a true story about someone who sold all their belongings to sail around the world.
2. Create a purgatory for your stuff. For you, probably nothing’s quite as joyful as watching the garbage truck turn the corner with ten bags of your former possessions. But if your spouse is still on the fence, that scenario sounds more like a nightmare.
Decluttering in steps takes the edge off. In our case, we designated our garage as our “purgatory.” Anything that stayed there without being missed for more than 3 months could safely be removed. If someone really wanted it, the item could move back in.
If you’re short on storage space, try finding a “foster home” for your things. Maybe a friend needs a stereo or a frying pan–let him borrow yours until your spouse feels comfortable making it a gift. The point is to make the first decision reversible, which reduces the fear factor and allows the emotional side of the brain to ease into the decision (while still removing the item from the house).
3. Lead by example. I’m a modest person and have never been a fan of “I love me” walls boasting diplomas or awards. But the Outstanding Educator award I earned at the Air Force Academy is special–I actually cried when I won it. So when I decided to toss the bust and plaque, that got my husband’s attention.
Determine what truly motivates your spouse’s hoarding. Is it guilt, nostalgia, or just laziness? Demonstrate how your spouse might bypass those issues without making a big deal of it. In my case, I told him I realized I didn’t need the physical object to feel the pride it represented, which triggered my husband’s own revelation that clinging to his childhood memorabilia was likewise unrelated to the happy memories they held for him.
4. Be happy. I’m a lucky woman; making me happy seems to be one of my husband’s life goals. And without a doubt, eliminating items from our house makes me happy–for several minutes at least. Too often, however, I focused on everything we still had to sort and discard instead of celebrating our steady success.
Expressing the joy of less is the secret weapon in your efforts to share minimalism. You can approach it directly by putting your happiness into words, or you can demonstrate your improved mood in more subtle ways. For example, you could invite your spouse to an impromptu dance in the living room, explaining “Look at all this room!”
5. Believe. Addressing our extensive CD collection was the hardest for us. We admitted we almost always listened to music from our iPod. The problem was that we had hundreds of CDs that weren’t yet in our online library.
Although we primarily volunteered to tackle a daunting project of converting a music, we never found a appetite to begin. we referred to we possibly give away a discs as great as lose a uncataloged music, or resign ourselves to keeping a collection. To my warn as great as delight, my father supposing a best alternative: hed rip CDs every night ! as he su rfed a internet.
I told him how proud we was of his initiative. Dont be as well proud, he warned. All Ive finished is put them upon a computer. We havent gotten rid of those CDs yet. But with a stereo system already in limbo as great as over 100 CDs captured, we felt good. we hugged him as great as said, we believe in you. And we do.
Take a evidence from alternative shift government programs, similar to Weight Watchers as great as Alcoholics Anonymous, as great as be which base of await for your spouse. Sometimes, having someone who believes in your ability to succeed can be inspirational sufficient to have it happen.
At a little point, we had an epiphany. Maybe when we had to move as great as we only couldnt believe how many boxes your things required. Or may be we woke up a single day as great as said, Enough is enough. And once we knew what we wanted, or in this box didnt want, we were fervent to have it happen.
But we cant remonstrate someone else to have an epiphany. They have to come to it upon their own. The some-more we push, a some-more insurgency we create. Enticing your associate to follow we to a happier life, not escape an unpleasant one, is a goal.
Remember how we felt when a dual of we initial met? You substantially suspicion we could maintain upon adore alone. Heres a secret: we can. You only have to remember how.
Now hurry.Go purify house.