6 tips for hoarders married to minimalists
When I first started dating my husband, he had his own three-story townhouse and there was not a single thing hung on a single wall. His living room was barely half filled with one couch, a coffee table and side table. It was my nightmare, but it didn’t bother him a bit. There’s something about all the stuff you put in a room over time that can be mentally cluttering. Sometimes walking into a clean and clutter-free space is more relaxing and less mentally-taxing, but that’s not how I roll, so here is how I cope with being a borderline hoarder married to a minimalist.
1. Organize everything
I think this one speaks for itself. If there’s not as much mess and disorganization, the minimalist in the relationship is less likely to notice that their life is being overrun by stuff. Keep things in a designated, easy to find space.
2. Make letting go a habit
Every relationship has a little bit of compromise. Being married to Seb has taught me there’s value in having less stuff. It does actually save you some time when you’re not searching through 3 piles of stuff to find the one thing you’re looking for. I love to do a big purge, especially of a closet, to jumpstart this process, but my biggest takeaway is to keep a space in your home that’s devoted to things that need to be donated. Our guest closet always has a pile of things that need to go to goodwill. I can’t tell you how helpful this is to me because if I see something that we’re not using or loving, I will put it in that pile by default and then by the time I get around to making my monthly run to donate, if I haven’t thought about or needed that thing, it gets rehomed like the rest of the pile. I’ve been able to easily give things away with this method and it’s definitely become a healthy habit (and one that reminds my husband that I’m trying not to hoard!)
3. Keep things that are in sight clear of clutter
There’s a fine line between décor and clutter but keeping tables free of extra stuff like junk mail that’s been sitting around for a week or that book that you need to return to your neighbor is wildly helpful. It keeps the stuff that you choose to be on the table like candles and ‘cute stuff’ from becoming the last straw for the minimalist you’re living with. No one wants their favorite candle under attack.
4. Look for cues as to when the ‘stuff’ is becoming overwhelming
This goes hand in hand with number 3 above. I try to preempt the overwhelm by keeping things clear and organized, but it’s also important to keep an eye out for anything that’s triggering to your minimalist. Seb will occasionally make a comment about my ‘stuff’ and when that happens, I make a concerted effort to clean and declutter, especially in the living room and kitchen. For some reason, I think those common spaces affect people more than private spaces. My go-to tidying is getting dishes out of the sink, clearing the kitchen table and coffee table, folding blankets, and putting pillows in their rightful place. It’s not just for him (and he’s more than willing to help if I ask) - it honestly makes me feel better too.
5. Have designated spaces for their junk vs your junk
Everyone holds on to at least a few things that they don’t need. In my husband’s case, it’s usually things like specialty knives or wood scraps or trinkets he doesn’t ever use, but I don’t mind. If I were to insist on him getting rid of his random stuff, then I might have to get rid of the 12 different colors of construction paper I’ve been holding onto since college and I just don’t want to do that. Understand that everyone has their thing and while it might not make any sense to you as to why they want to keep it, it’s not actually hurting you if it’s out of sight and organized. We have large bedside table drawers that house most of our individual random stuff and we have designated his/hers storage in the bathroom. Seb also has ownership over our outdoor closet that I organized for him to fit all his tools and I hope that makes him feel like he’s got a space that’s just his.
6. Recognize that you can learn from a minimalist even if you don’t want to be one
Even as a ‘collector of things’, I find getting rid of stuff makes me feel a little lighter. Maybe that’s why The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up has been so popular. A clean, organized house with juuuuuuust enough stuff is probably the best thing in the world. If not the best, it’s up there with bubble baths and clumsy puppies and baby laughs. So just know that the whole world will not come crashing down if you get rid of that one dress that you loved ten years ago and plan to someday make into a pillow.
Give it a try – start with something reasonable to organize, tidy up your common spaces, and create a space for a donation pile in your house. Freeing up some space in your home might just free up some space in your mind – and your minimalist will thank you.