6 Tips for Decluttering When Your Spouse Doesn’t Want to
Your husband refuses to declutter? Let’s look at tips on how to declutter when your spouse doesn’t want to and also some ways to (hopefully) win them over.
Learning to declutter can be a pain in the neck. Getting your mind around where to start, how to go about it, and actually doing it can be monumental.
But you know what is often even more challenging? Getting your spouse on board with you. People are different. They say that opposites attract, and there is no clearer demonstration of this than when one partner starts decluttering and the other resists.
The spouse who wants to declutter should encourage the reluctant spouse to start purging their excess and unused belongings. Start with small items and work up to larger items. The spouse should be consulted for mutual belongings, and their belongings should be respected.
If you feel overwhelmed by the clutter in your home and know it is time to begin the purge, you are on the cusp of decluttering greatness. While your spouse may not feel the same way, this does not need to spell the end of your decluttering days.
Read on as we spill the cluttered cans of beans on some tried-and-tested ways to declutter even when your spouse doesn’t want to.
How to Declutter When Your Spouse Doesn’t Want to – 6 Simple Tips
Okay, so you have watched as many episodes of Hoarders as you can stomach, listened to podcasts, followed Instagram accounts of decluttering goddesses, read books and magazines, and are all fired up to get your house in shape once and for all.
There’s only one problem. Your spouse… isn’t. While there are often disparities between what partners want in a relationship, it is usually about things with little consequence.
Maybe you can’t settle on what to eat or what to watch. But when one partner is inspired to declutter the home, and the other is not keen, it can cause a significant rift in the relationship.
Don’t let that be you. Turn this potential issue into a marathon rather than a sprint. If you think about it, how long did it take you to learn about decluttering, get inspired, and actually take action?
Your spouse was likely not along for the ride for every episode, article, and podcast. Now is the perfect time to bring them up to speed, keeping your end goal in mind as you go.
#1. Get Your Spouse Excited about Decluttering
There are a bunch of ways you can get your spouse on board with decluttering. Try to add episodes of your favorite decluttering series to your TV time together without becoming a nag.
Leave decluttering books or magazines in the bathroom or on the coffee table, and chat about the benefits of a clutter free home over a cluttered one.
Try not to focus on the negative emotions associated with the clutter in your home at this point.
Yes, you might be feeling overwhelmed and frustrated by the piles of stuff on every surface, but for now, the goal is to get your spouse excited about the thought of decluttering and not feeling bad about the home you are in.
If your favorite decluttering show is a competition-based one, it could be fun to suggest a similar competition between you and your partner at home. When you make decluttering a goal-oriented activity with a prize, you might be surprised by how motivated they become.
#2. Start by Decluttering Your Own Belongings and Areas
If you are keen to get started and your spouse is still not eager to join you, start by decluttering your own belongings and areas.
Start small by clearing out your closet or your side of the closet. Next, move on to your vanity, makeup area, purse, and anything else that is only yours. Once you have decluttered the things that are entirely yours, move on to the areas that are yours and your husband’s together.
Areas like the sitting room and kitchen may fall under your care but likely have items that belong to and are used by you and your spouse. As you declutter these mutual areas, ask your spouse to give input on any items you wish to donate or dispose of.
If it is too tedious to ask them about every item as you go, place all the items in a box and ask them when the container is full.
It is super important that you respect your spouse’s decision to keep belongings in the box if they decide to. The items may seem like junk to you, but your spouse has a reason for wanting to keep them, and that should be good enough for you.
The thing about decluttering your own belongings and areas first is that it works for so many reasons. Firstly, it shows your spouse that you mean business. You are walking the talk and not simply going through a phase.
It also works as an ad. Your partner may not think that they want the house decluttered, but when they are faced with the comparison between your cleared-out, minimalist, working-like-a-dream areas of the home and their cluttered ones, they won’t be able to help to want the same for their areas, too. (Even if they don’t admit it right away!)
#3. Explain Clearly and Concisely What You Want to Declutter
This one may or may not be learned directly from experience. (gulp) When you have a spouse that is not altogether keen on the idea of decluttering, it could be because you haven’t communicated precisely what you are planning to do.
We all have different definitions of clutter and different understandings of what “getting rid of clutter” could mean. For me, getting rid of clutter means purging my home of things I no longer need and walking out with a lighter heart and clearer mind.
For my ex, the memories of his father threatening to “get rid of” any toys that were left lying around in his childhood home have left him holding on to his belongings with all his might.
What I learned and think might help you with your spouse, too, whether or not they had a father-in-law like mine, is to clearly explain what you mean by decluttering. Try to include the following in your explanation:
- What do you want to take out of the home?
- How will it benefit the family?
- Which rooms or areas of a room will you be focusing on?
- What will happen to the things you purge?
- Will your spouse have a say in what goes and what stays?
Once your partner has a clear understanding that they and their belongings are respected and that you have a clear plan for your project, they might be more open to decluttering.
#4. Offer Help, and Make It Fun
If you know that your spouse recognizes the need to declutter but is resistant to start, it could mean that they are uncertain of how to begin. So many of us are unsure of how to start decluttering.
It can be a huge relief to offer your help to your spouse. They may initially refuse it, but you will have planted the seed.
Offer to help with small tasks like throwing out socks with holes in them or helping them go through their old T-shirts. Be careful not to nag, but be willing to help if they are open to it.
If your partner accepts help and begins decluttering, you have basically hit the jackpot! Now is the time to start complimenting and praising every milestone they reach and every item they purge.
You can make decluttering together extra fun by putting on music, competing with each other, and offering incentives to get certain things done by a specific time. (Use your imagination and think of fun incentives your spouse will love!)
#5. Yes, No, Maybe
There is a hard and fast rule in my house: to get rid of donations and trash bags ASAP. “Yes,” piles get re-homed in their new, cleared, and cleaned spaces. “No” items get donated, sold, or trashed immediately. This avoids having me, or anyone else, dig through the things to reclaim them.
But there is a gray area. That is the “Maybe” box. For spouses who are still a little tentative about the whole decluttering thing, the “maybe” box might be the answer.
Place items you or your spouse need clarification on in the box and seal it. Stash it somewhere, like in the garage or under your bed, and forget about it. Put a timer on your phone to go off on a specific date. The date could be a month or even three months in the future.
When the timer has gone off, go through the box with your spouse. Whatever you had completely forgotten about or not needed gets donated or sold.
#6. A Dedicated Clutter Cave
Look, some cases are hopeless. Your spouse may never come around to the idea of a decluttered home. And you know what, that is okay. You were drawn to each other for more than aesthetics in a house.
If your spouse has seen your decluttered areas and has commended you but still insists on holding on to their belongings, it is likely because they are meaningful to them. They may be sentimental, potentially helpful, or useful for him now.
In that case, it might help you to create a dedicated place for your husband’s clutter. If you have a room you can convert for your partner, it can become their “man cave.” (Although we know you call it a “clutter cave” in your mind… no judgment!)
If you don’t have an entire room to dedicate to the clutter, consider providing a cabinet with doors that can close or a spare closet.
Your partner deserves to live with their belongings in the way they enjoy as much as you do. It is helpful to communicate openly with them about your feelings and theirs and to come to an agreement that suits you both.
Final Thoughts on How to Declutter When Your Partner Doesn’t Want to
Not all spouses are made equal. Yours may never come around to the idea of decluttering, and you will have to live with it. In the end, love and respect brought you together, and they should permeate your relationship now.
Remember that as you declutter, and try to convince your spouse to declutter too. At the very least, keep your motivation up and declutter your own belongings, leaving them to enjoy theirs in their own way.
Did you find the tips on how to declutter when your spouse doesn’t want to helpful? Leave your comment below.