Welcome to the second segment in our Slow Living FAQ series. In this series, I hope to address common road blocks, questions, or concerns that arise when someone pursues a slow, conscious lifestyle. Have a question to submit or a post you'd like to contribute? Email me or comment below! To read the first post in the series, click here.
Neither my husband or I are minimalists by nature. I tend towards disorganization and am a "recovering shopaholic" and my husband, although he likes a clean house, doesn't have the same drive to simplify and streamline our life like I do.
One of the most common struggles I hear from people trying to simplify their life is that they feel like their spouse or significant other will slow down the process of minimizing — and not in a good way.
If there's one thing marriage has taught me is that you can't force your partner to do something they don't want to do, and even if they do bend their lifestyle to accommodate yours, the changes (if they're not genuinely from the heart) won't stick around for long.
Before we dive into ways to "handle" living with a non-minimalist, let me preface this post by saying that relationships, like all of life, is messy. My husband and I are navigating life together, and even though we don't always agree on ways we should minimize or how we should shop, a good marriage is built on more than whether or not you can convince your husband to do a capsule wardrobe or not.
1. It's Ok if you don't agree
One of the hardest parts about married life for me is having realistic expectations of my husband. He and I have very different personalities and interests, and the fact that he has made efforts to simplify and values the fact that it's important to me is huge even though it might not be his immediate priority.
Even if your spouse is as far away from a minimalist as possible, don't feel like you can't pursue that lifestyle as far as you can on your own. Relationships aren't about agreeing on everything 100% of the time. It's ok to have your own goals and passions, even if they aren't totally on board.
2. Minimalism is meant to unify, not divide
On the other hand, don't let your pursuit of less drive a wedge between you and your partner. For example, if certain objects in your house are particularly important to your SO, don't lump them in with your pile of things to de-clutter, or don't expect them to follow a set of "rule" about what they can and can't buy. It won't work.
Minimalism can be an amazingly freeing and unifying lifestyle, but forcing it on someone definitely won't make it appealing or effective.
3. Focus on personal development
The beauty of a slow lifestyle is that it's a personal journey. Sure, it may be a lot easier to move towards simplicity together, but that doesn't mean that there aren't areas of your life that you can't downsize and be more intentional in by yourself. Set goals that are specific to YOU, and as you grow and change, your SO will notice the positive change and more than likely make some changes themselves.
4. Minimize your stuff, not their's
Last year, in one of my de-cluttering sprees, I accidentally "lost" the entirety of my husband's Winter wardrobe. Our space looked a lot cleaner, but when colder weather rolled around and the hubby only had t-shirts to wear, he wasn't very happy about it.
It turns out that I actually just moved the box somewhere else and didn't actually get rid of it (we found it almost a year later...oops). But it goes to show that downsizing your partner's things (without their permission, of course) is usually a slippery slope.
Start with the things that are yours, or that you know your partner has no attachment to, like your closet, your books, kitchen items, office supplies, etc. The rest will eventually follow.
5. Find something you can minimize together
Letting your partner take charge in simplifying something can help them see just how freeing it can be. Maybe you spend a weekend going through your pantry, or commit to a no-spend month to see how it goes.
6. Give them time
Like in most aspects of marriage, having patience is usually the best route. Don't expect them to have the same passion that you do after watching The Minimalist's documentary on Netflix. It might take years or it might take months, but eventually you'll be able to work out a system that works well for both of you.