In most scenarios, offering unsolicited advice doesn’t go far. On the other hand, if you’re specifically looking for change or you’ve seen the change firsthand, you’re more likely to accept help.
Hence, if you and your partner are on different pages with decluttering, it’s important that you don’t try to force the other person to see things the way you do.
1. Lead by example
Rather than trying to convince your partner why they should get involved with decluttering the home, showing them the benefits by being an example could be more effective.
For instance, you could declutter your clothes and sell all the items you no longer want. Your more organised closet and bigger wallet may be the motivation your partner needs. It’s important that while you’re the only one decluttering, you try to focus on your own things rather than trying to declutter your partner’s things or things that you should be making a joint decision on.
This will help avoid any potential disagreements and further resistance to decluttering.
2. Find common ground
When asking your partner to help you with something, not only is it helpful to explain your own reasoning, it could be helpful to find common benefits.
For instance, you might find that when the home is messy and full of clutter, you feel stressed and overwhelmed. Being relaxed might allow you to be a better partner. Discuss what areas, rooms or items that both of you could benefit from decluttering.
For example, a clean kitchen might make cooking easier for your partner, or a clean garage might make it easier for both of you to find things when needed.
3. Declutter together
Once you and your partner have decided why and what you want to declutter, you can figure out how to work together.
If your partner isn’t used to getting rid of things, it could be helpful for you to make decisions together for shared spaces or items such as the bathroom or DVDs. Marie Kondo’s ‘spark joy’ process is a good rule of thumb to follow.
In saying this, it could also be helpful for your partner to declutter particular things on their own once they’ve gotten a feel for how to tell if things ‘spark joy’.
This could be things like their own clothes, books or files.
Inevitably, you and your partner will reach points of disagreement during the decluttering process. Maybe your partner thinks they’ll use the guitar they haven’t touched eventually or you think you need all 5 pairs of black shoes.
It’s important to for both parties to be compassionate and empathetic.
Decluttering does require you to be logical and realistic.
However, something that doesn’t mean a lot to you might mean a lot to your partner, and vice versa. If you can’t seem to reach an agreement on whether an item should stay or go, you could set the item aside for the time being and come back to it later on.
5. Reflect and evaluate
Whether you do it incrementally or after the entire decluttering process is finished, it’s important to reflect and evaluate with your partner.
Ask yourselves how it went, how you feel and how things could be done better in the future.
One of the most important things to discuss is how to keep things decluttered in the long run. This could involve putting a daily or weekly decluttering system in place so that things don’t get too out of hand.
It could also involve discussing purchasing habits and how to restrict buying items that end up being decluttered.