How to Declutter When Your Spouse or Roommate Doesn't Want To

decluttering relationships May 10, 2024
Cluttered Bedside Table: How Clear Your Husband's Clutter.

Updated Post

How to get your spouse, partner, or roommate on board when clearing clutter with our five tips!

One of the questions we are asked most often is, “what do I do if my spouse/partner/roommate has lots of clutter?”

And we get it. It can be frustrating to live with someone else’s clutter, especially if you are committed to living clutter-free.

Clutter can be a source of conflict in any relationship. Think of how many arguments center around our stuff… should we buy it? Who gets to use it and when? Who is going to take care of it, clean it, put it away, etc…

One of the benefits of clearing our clutter is to bring more joy and love into your home and life. When we choose to surround ourselves with only the things we love and use, we have more time, energy, and presence of mind to enjoy the people and things we love. The question is, how do we get to this place if your partner isn’t on board?

Here are 5 ways to handle living with someone else’s clutter:

1. Inspire by example: Take care of your own clutter first! You may think you are clutter-free but it is easy to have blind spots. Maybe your clutter is emotional clutter or digital clutter? Make sure you have taken 100% responsibility for your clutter before focusing on your partner’s. When your partner sees you experience the benefits of a clutter-free life, he or she may want the same.

2. Divide up spaces: As much as possible claim space as your own. Have your own closet–or side of the closet–your own bedside table, desk, etc. When areas that are essential to your day-to-day productivity and well-being are clutter-free, you will find that you can live clutter-free and organized with or without your partner buy-in.

3. Offer support: Your partner may not have had the experience or enjoyed the benefits of living clutter-free. Or they may want to live clutter-free but simply not know how to begin. We do not suggest that you coach your partner, as taking on that role is often not beneficial for your relationship. And you can't do it for them as decluttering–choosing what to keep and what to let go of–is personal. Only each person knows what is loved and useful for him or herself. Instead, give your partner a book on decluttering, showing them a video, send them to a blog, or even hire a professional.

4. Come to an agreement about common spaces: You will need to reach a compromise when it comes to common space. You may need to let things be a little messier than you would like and your partner may need to pare down, store a few things, and/or pick up more than they would like. It can be helpful for both of you to make a list of what you desire from your home or a certain room. How do you want the space to function and serve you? How do you want to feel in the space?

When you discuss how the room will be used and what you want it to be like, you might find you are more aligned than you thought in terms of outcomes. And when you are aligned with a shared vision or value, chances are the process of getting to your goal will unfold in an easier and more magical way than you might expect.

5. Appreciate: Appreciation is the path to loving your home and partner more! When you find yourself wanting to criticize or nag, instead choose to appreciate something about your partner or your home. When you walk into a room, instead of focusing on the clutter, or what you don’t want, turn your attention to something you love in the room.

Make sure you have one object, work of art, clutter-free area, book, fresh flowers–something that you love that inspires you and lifts you up in every room. It takes discipline but consistently turning your attention to what you do want–such as what you appreciate in the space or about your partner–will transform your relationship with your home and partner!

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