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How to Declutter when your Spouse Isn’t Down for It

So, you are ready to declutter but your husband isn’t so sure about it. First. Let me tell you that you are not the only one walking in those shoes. Today I am sharing the best tips and ideas to help get your spouse on board with decluttering.

husband decluttering closet

How to get your spouse on board with decluttering

We’ve all heard it before:

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

As cliche as it sounds, it’s 100% true.

In it’s most simplified version decluttering is a habit, just like exercise, healthy eating or brushing your teeth.

And just like any habit, your spouse will need to decide for themselves when they are ready to hop on board the declutter train.

That being said, there are a few things you can do to help encourage them to make that decision sooner rather than later.

How to encourage your spouse to declutter

1 Set a good example

Just because your spouse isn’t interested in decluttering (yet) doesn’t mean that you can’t go ahead and get started.

There are plenty of items, areas and spaces that you can begin to declutter without them.

In fact, doing so will help them to see how much more enjoyable your home will be when it’s not packed full of junk.

2 Focus on what you can control

While it may drive you crazy that your spouse insists on keeping their stuff (for now), that is out of your control.

If you continue to focus on that you will be left angry and frustrated. Instead, focus on decluttering the areas and items in your home that are yours or that you are in charge of like YOUR clothes, YOUR nightstand, YOUR junk drawer.

If you are lucky there may even be entire rooms in the house that you are in charge of like the kitchen, the children’s rooms or the laundry room.

If so, you can make a ton of decluttering progress in your home without needing their help or approval.

3 Respect their choice

The number one way to sabotage your desire for your spouse to help you declutter is to bother them about it.

No matter how hard it is to keep your thoughts to yourself you must. The more you nag, mention or try to convince them that they need to get rid of their stuff, the more likely they are to protest.

Instead, respect their decision and trust that they will come around eventually.

4 Establish Space Limits

Just because your spouse isn’t ready to declutter, doesn’t mean it’s fair for their stuff to take over your space. In this case, it makes sense to establish areas that they can keep their stuff however they like; their closet, their office, the garage etc.

Notice that the list did not include the living room, the kitchen table or your bedroom. These are shared spaces and shared spaces should be enjoyable to both of you, meaning that your spouse’s clutter is not welcome there.

If their clutter begins to creep into these areas, gently remind them of your agreement – in fact, it would even be ok for you to move these items into one of their designated “clutter zones”.

5 Offer to help

It could be that your spouse just feels overwhelmed by clutter and doesn’t know where to start.

This is very common and is a real barrier for many people. Maybe your spouse just needs a little help to get started.

Clear some time on your calendar and go through their items together. That way you can offer support and advice (only when asked) if they get stuck trying to decide what to do with a particular item.

Related Post: 3 Decluttering Questions you Need to Ask Yourself

6 Make things disappear

Ok, follow me on this one.

I am not saying to throw your spouse’s stuff away (as tempting as it may be).

Instead, use this technique to prove your point.

Here’s how it works:

Identify a handful of items that your spouse has held on to forever, but never uses.

Place them in a box and label it with the date (maybe even take a picture on your phone for proof).

Then, a month or so later, bring out the box and show them what’s inside.

If they didn’t know the items were even missing, there’s a good chance that this lesson will show them that it’s not something they need to keep.

7 Acknowledge every ounce of progress

If you really want your spouse to get on board with decluttering you need to praise them for any steps in the right direction.

No matter how minor it may be, if they make progress in decluttering, donating or organizing make sure they know how happy and proud you are of them.

8 Try bribery

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

And let’s face it: some people are really motivated by stuff.

My hubby is one of these, so I totally get it.

If there is a new object, tool, toy or vacation that your spouse is really interested in, try offering it in exchange for tackling their clutter.

It’s up to them to decide whether or not they want to be manipulated 😉

9 Have hope

Here’s the deal: I am a minimalist and I have been for about five year. Heck! I even have a website where I teach others how to declutter.

And guess what….my husband just recently got on board.

It has taken years of patience and persistence, but it’s finally paying off and we have spent the past few weekends going through his closet, the garage and other items together.

Can I get an Amen!?!?!

10. Make it fun

Adults are no different than children when it comes to chores.

We are all much more likely to start and finish a task if we have fun while we are doing it.

But how do you make decluttering fun?

  • Turn on some good music
  • Make it a competition to see who can get rid of more
  • Get a point for every item “tossed” into the donation bin
  • Offer a reward at the end

One more tip to encourage your spouse to declutter:

Remember that they are your spouse because you love them, no matter how much you hate looking at all of their crap all over the place.

Be careful to keep the clutter-battle in perspective when it comes to the other aspects of their personality.

Sure, they have too much stuff…but are they a good cook, handy outdoors or a great father or mother to your children?

If the clutter is really out of control and it’s to the point where it’s impacting your relationship that strongly, then pick just one aspect of the clutter to focus on and encourage them and support them as much as possible in that area.

How to convince your husband to declutter his stuff

Follow these tips with consistency and understanding and I promise you will see results eventually….hang in there!

What to do when your husband refuses to declutter

One Comment

  1. This was a very fun and helpful article! I am in the same place you are. My husband is moderately interested in simple living. For the last two weekends tho he initiated his own decluttering tasks and I was very attracted to that 🙂 it might just become a habit. I have found that mentioning how long it has been since something Was used or looked at is very effective. I like your make it disappear idea lol 😂

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