In starting my journey to a more minimalist lifestyle, I lived alone. It was easy for me to go through this process. I was the only one making decisions on what my routine was like, what I kept in the space around me, and what I brought into my life. I followed many books, Youtube channels, and blogs that made this straightforward. My life quickly became more simple. I didn’t have a TV, car, or microwave. I lived in a duplex that was about 450 sq feet. Having been through a hard time in my life, it allowed me to heal. It was a mindset I fell in love with and wanted to take with me throughout the rest of my life.
Soon after I felt I had solidified this lifestyle, I began dating my soon-to-be husband.
Maybe you can relate. You see a lot of helpful resources online, but how many of these mention dealing with significant others or trying to raise a family? It throws a wrench in the system.
Here’s the truth. You can’t change your wife, husband, or family. This is probably a new way of thinking for them. They might even think you’ve lost your mind when you start suggesting some of the strategies you’re trying to implement, or get upset when they see you decluttering items. You can’t tell them that this is your lifestyle now — that they have no choice but to adapt to you.
Here’s what you can do. You can lead by example. You can inspire them. You can bring these positive changes into your life and in turn into theirs.
This might sound unrealistic. Maybe you feel upset because you’re excited about this. You want your loved ones onboard with you right away.
This is a time for patience.
If you’re just starting this journey, start with your own personal items. This is how you can introduce this concept to your loved ones. Watch your videos for inspiration while they’re around so that they can overhear what you care about and why you’re doing this. Read your books on simplifying around them. Maybe talk to them about why you find it intersting and what you hope to gain out of this. Then start doing — but don’t ask them to join you quite yet.
Give it some time and you might find them asking questions, looking up things on their own, and eventually joining you by decluttering. After they’ve become more accustom to this start asking questions like, “How do you think can we simplify our kitchen? I was thinking about narrowing down our utensil drawer. I can never seem to find the vegetable peeler,” or, “It would be much easier to reach for my favorite mug in this cabinet if I didn’t have to go through all of these others each time. I think I’m going to donate a few of these. Are there any in here you like more than others?” The key here is asking them and giving them a level of control while also mentioning the reason why.
Getting rid of things that don’t have meaning to you feels great for most people. The sense of accomplishment is quite addictive. I would bet that in most scenarios, if approached this way, you’ll suddenly find that your loved ones are doing this with you. And you never technically asked them to.
In my situation, my boyfriend at the time also lived alone in a bigger apartment. He actually didn’t have too many things. He lived without TV or internet and enjoyed a more simple lifestyle. Our first dates were often getting together to play cards or board games while making food and drinking together. He loved bikes. We went on a lot of bike rides together. In this case, he seemed to hang on to only things that mattered a lot to him — but he hung on to a lot of those things. I believe he had about 6 bikes scattered around the floor of his apartment. He had a lot of records and musical instruments. A lot.
After a few years, I moved in. (Here’s an additional plus to living simply — moving your stuff is quick and easy!) Over the years he has seen me watching advice and reading about simplifying. Before I new it, he was donating and selling a lot of his things without me even asking.
This comes with compromises. This did not happen over night but in a period of a few months. It can be expected in any relationship and in any family. I now have a TV and microwave. We have internet. We have a car. Our apartment still has bikes and records. However, the collection has thinned drastically to what we love and use most. He sold his bikes and bought a foldable city bike to store in the closet while mine hangs on the wall. The records take up one shelf in the living room and consist mostly of unique finds and family hand-me-downs. We sold most of our furniture and he built us custom, simple pieces that work for our space. His instruments are now featured on a wall, giving them their own attention and love.
This journey will likely never end. We are always thinking critically of what we have in our home. They key is being positive, open, and nonjudgemental. You will get there together. Be a driving force for your loved ones — they’ll likely tag along for the ride.