Living Simple When Your Partner Doesn’t

One of our YouTube subscribers had shared that they are more enthusiastic about living simple than their family is, which can be tough sometimes. We’re sure it can be! The clutter, the mess and the excess are all things you have to contend with when you’re more keen on living simple than your family and sometimes it can feel like you’re the lone ranger, tackling the stuff solo. For your family, you getting rid of your things might seem a little nuts! This week we’re sharing our suggestions on how to make home life a little more peaceful, for all parties involved, because life isn’t about stuff!

No opinion, belief, philosophy, or idea is universally better than another. Even our site tagline “simplicity is best” is in reference to the lifestyle that is best for us and like-minded individuals, not for everyone.


I’m not entirely sure where I learned this knowledge nugget, but: any happy and healthy relationship thrives off good communication. There’s that saying “communication is key.” Okay, so communication might be really obvious, but you’d be surprised how many couples don’t communicate, let alone well. It’s something we all know we should be doing, but not everyone actually does it. This is why communication is our number one suggestion as to how you can live simple and live happier at home.

The most important thing is to hold conversations that are gentle, safe, and effective. Don’t point blame, but rather have a back and forth. Hostile and aggressive conversation hasn’t ever gotten anyone to a happy place.

You Find Simple Living Interesting, But You Aren’t Doing It Yet

Talking with your partner isn’t good enough. You can’t really approach your relationship like a news show. “Hey, now I live simple,” or “hey, I’m getting rid of all my stuff,” isn’t really going to bode well in the long term.  The key is to be having a conversation the entire time.

Let’s say you read an article about living simple that really interests you. Share it with your partner! Send it to them in an email, on your phone, actually show them as you’re spending time together, or read it to them. Then explain why you find the article interesting and ask them for their thoughts.

You’ve Made the Transition to a Simple Lifestyle and Are Frustrated

Okay, so you’re feeling like a lone ranger and you aren’t sure how to make it better. Well, talk with your partner. Gently explain what exactly is bothering you and why, without pointing blame at them and family members. “You never pick up after yourself,” isn’t going to get you very far.

A good example of this a habit Trevor and I have had for a long time: throwing dirty clothes on the floor instead of the hamper. This isn’t something I do anymore (most of the time) and I make a huge effort to get my clothes into that hamper once they won’t be worn anymore. Trevor comes home from a long day at work and the last thing he cares about is wether or not his clothes make it into the hamper. For a while I cleaned up after him, but I for pretty sick of it pretty quick. I was short and hostile and would say things like “your clothes don’t belong on the floor,” or “can’t they just make it into the hamper?!” Of course, this doesn’t help. When I finally realized I needed to have a conversation with my husband instead of yell at him, things drastically improved. “When clothes are thrown all over the floor it means I have to clean them up, and its wasted time that I could spend doing something else,” conveys what I don’t appreciate without casting blame on Trevor, and explains why I’m unhappy. This is more of a call to action, which is way more caring than asking someone to just comply with my will.


When Trevor and I were engaged we were often told to “learn to compromise” with each other. At the time we’d thought we were really good at compromise, but we hadn’t ever lived together or talked about living in general. We really didn’t understand how important compromise in our relationship would be. Most of humanity’s conflicts can be broken down to “you aren’t me and that makes me mad,” and relationships aren’t really any different. You just can’t expect your partner to give in to your ideas and not have their own opinions; it’s just not healthy for anyone to exist that way. That’s why it’s important to effectively communicate to understand each other’s points of view, empathize, and then compromise.

Having a household with different points of view is highly advantageous, and totally normal. The key is leveling with your partner and understanding where they stand, and them doing the same for you. Of course this relies on your communications with each other, but also your willingness to work together in order to create a happier home.

You Find Simple Living Interesting, But You Aren’t Doing It Yet

Let’s say you’ve shared simple living with your partner and they think the idea is total garbage. Now you’ve got to work out some kind of a compromise so you can lead the lifestyle you’d like to, and your partner can lead theirs.

Propose looking at your home together and find shared areas where you both think you have too much stuff: maybe a garage, storage closet, attic, or basement. See if your partner would be willing to let you go through those areas. Just remember, don’t get rid of belongings that aren’t solely yours without talking to your partner first (like a book, or other items), that’s the quickest way to ruin your partner’s faith in you.

You’ve Made the Transition to a Simple Lifestyle and Are Frustrated

My biggest advice to you, first and foremost, is to work on areas that are yours and yours alone. Think your side of the closet. Think your side of the medicine cabinet. Think your desk, or nightstand. These areas are areas that you can keep the way you want and control the items that go inside and on top of them. You leading by example here might inspire your partner to attempt being clutter-free as well.

Let’s say your partner isn’t interested in simplifying at all, but you’ve committed. Be open with your partner about what you’d like to do in the space and get their perspective. Trevor and I have always been fairly good about communicating wether or not we wanted to get rid of something and hashing it out; this is something I suggest for you to do. Present your partner with an item you want to get rid of and make your claim, being sure to explain exactly why you don’t want the item in your home anymore. Talk it out if needed, and make sure you’re working together to come to a conclusion you’re both happy with.

If your partner isn’t as understanding, that’s okay as well. Like I said earlier, no way of living is better than another and its important to keep that in mind. Talking it out and understanding each other, then trying to sort out a way both your visions can come together–now that’s a beautiful thing. Remember that simple living comes in all sorts of different forms and what’s right for your household will look completely different to mine. Embrace who you and your family are and remember the most important thing of all: life is not about stuff.

Control Yourself

I’ve been ahead of Trevor in terms of mindset, and action, on our journey towards simple living. This has meant focusing inward rather than outward, especially in the beginning. I remember being so down and frustrated that Trevor didn’t understand, or wasn’t on the same level as me, I’d spent hours crying over it. Life is way too short to be upset about these sorts of things, and its definitely not worth crying over. I looked at myself and the things that I could do for myself, like continually sifting through my clothes. I went through my books and CDs again and again, I kept reviewing dishes and bedding on a weekly basis. Through this process I kept training my brain and honing my skill to be able to easily identify what we need and don’t need. Now? I’m a pro and can go through the entire house with a fine-tooth comb in a day.

Focus on yourself and your happiness, and how that piece fits into the larger puzzle of your household. Just because you’re family doesn’t mean everyone in it agrees with your point of view, and its important to engage with each other and have that conversation in a healthy way. Make sure you’re being courteous and doing the best you can; that’s all anyone asks of you.

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