Maintaining a clutter-free and nicely organized home can be a daily challenge, particularly when your partner isn’t on board. But honestly, how often is this the case. I hardly ever met a couple who share the same values when it comes to decluttering. And most of the time, this causes frustration – on both sides.
When you’re the one who loves a tidy home but your partner doesn’t care about it so much, there are basically three roads you can take. One is you give up on your dream of a beautiful, tidy home. Really? Or you try to change your partner, which most likely won’t work. The third option is to meet somewhere in the middle. And this is, if both commit to following a few rules, the best option I know.
Why Do I know?
My husband and I see clutter through a very different lens. It’s not that he’s collecting anything on purpose. Things just keep accumulating around him. When I look at all those things, I hear “take care of me” (not literally, don’t worry). At the same time, my husband doesn’t even notice them.
Still, I want to live in a beautiful home. That’s why I took on the responsibility to declutter and keep our place tidy. But I also know that there always will be spaces beyond my influence.
In this post, I share what I learned on my journey. Hopefully, my tips can help you live your best clutter-free and organized life – even when your partner isn’t on board.
Tips to Maintain a Clutter-Free Home When Your Partner Isn’t on Board
- Always start with your own things.
- Don’t force your partner to declutter their stuff.
- Establish clutter-free and declutter-safe zones.
- Give them a say when decluttering shared items.
- Accept that you have to do most of the work.
- Make daily tidying easy for both of you.
- Let results speak for themselves.
Always Start With Your Own Things
Downsize your wardrobe, declutter your paperwork, get rid of those boxes filled with childhood memories. Change your buying habits and become a mindful shopper. Start first. Even if they don’t admit it, your partner will notice the change. And maybe, they get inspired and motivated when they see how liberating having less can be.
Don’t Force Your Partner to Declutter Their Stuff
Honestly, this is the rule I struggle most with. Of course, I see all those old, damaged, unused, or unloved things that just sit there for days, months, or even years. But I also learned that nagging or urging your partner to get rid of some of their stuff isn’t a good idea. It only leads to tension and your partner being probably even more protective about and attached to their personal belongings. The only thing you can do is to inspire and support them.
Establish Clutter-Free and Declutter-Safe Zones
When you wonder how to maintain a clutter-free home when your partner isn’t on board – this is what I meant exactly by “meet somewhere in the middle”. Here’s an example to explain. I keep my own and all shared spaces tidy. They are clutter-free zones. My husband’s study, the DIY corner in the basement, a few drawers here and there – these are declutter-safe zones. I don’t touch anything that’s in there.
From my experience, the fewer spaces we share, the more separated our belongings are, the better. I’m so glad that my husband has a room to himself. And I’m grateful for every cupboard and drawer that I can call my own.
Give Them a Say When Decluttering Shared Items
I see two options here. Either you involve your partner in every decision. Or, you agree on categories and how to deal with them. Here’s an example. As I am the one who does all the cooking and baking, I decide when it comes to decluttering kitchen stuff. But I would always ask my husband before throwing out any of our barbeque equipment.
Accept That You Have to Do Most of the Work
Yes I know, this is a tough one. It can be a huge challenge to maintain a clutter-free home when your partner isn’t on the same page. On many days it feels like a never-ending task. However, when you and your partner aren’t on the same page when it comes to decluttering and daily tidying, you’ll most likely don’t get the results you want unless you create them yourself. The truth is, the bit of clutter here and there that drives you crazy probably has zero effect on your partner’s wellbeing. And it likely never will. You just look at the same thing and see something very different. Consequently, when you aim for another level of tidiness, you’ll have to do the work.
Make Daily Tidying Easy For Both of You
When you’ve read Marie Kondo’s books (or my ‘all you need to know’ post), you probably know that the main decluttering event and daily tidying are two different things. The beauty of decluttering a la Marie Kondo is that you significantly reduce the number of things you own, making it a lot easier to find a decent home for all your belongings. When cupboards and drawers are nicely organized instead of crammed, it takes less effort to put everything away after you or your partner have used it. The easier daily tidying becomes, the more relaxed both of you can be.
Let Results Speak for Themselves
A conversation about decluttering with a partner who doesn’t really care about this topic? Impossible, you may say. And I agree. But we can always talk about the positive effects a clutter-free life has. We can say that we save so much time on daily chores just because our home is perfectly organized. They will notice that we get dressed in an instant since we have a downsized, well-curated wardrobe. It’s hard to talk about dreams and plans for a clutter-free home and life. But it’s absolutely possible to speak of results and let them speak for themselves. And who knows, maybe the seed we plant will grow one day. Never give up hope 🙂
And there you have it. These are my best tips and learnings on how to maintain a clutter-free home when your partner isn’t on board.
but before you go …
If you want to get decluttering (finally!) off your mental to-do list once and for all, don’t miss my post on how to live a decluttered life. This comprehensive guide explains 5 reasons why it’s worth it to declutter and shows 5 different ways to do so (KonMari plus 4 other decluttering methods). The article also dives deeper into decluttering specific areas like your personal belongings, home, and workplace. And I added tips on how to deal with mental clutter and which new habits can help maintain a decluttered life over the long run.
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Are you facing a similar challenge? How do you maintain a clutter-free home although your partner isn’t on board? Share your thoughts and learnings. I’d love to hear from you!