My husband and I have different tastes and interests and hobbies. It’s part of what makes our relationship tick along: we’re often introducing each other to new things. He’s the night owl musician, I’m the early morning athlete. Over the years we’ve both taken a stab at the others hobbies and now he is a runner (first half marathon completed in the fall!) and I have learned (and now mostly forgotten) how to play a song on the guitar. He’s taken me to some great concerts – Springsteen in Seattle, Paul Simon in Vancouver – and I’ve gifted him workout clothes.
My night owl musician, now runner, is not a minimalist. He’s not an avid consumer either but the paring down of our possessions has been driven by, and executed by, me. He’s been supportive, extremely supportive, but he’s quite content to own five sweatshirts and I’ve been unable to get him to part with a few. Probably because of the shirt incident. We still have a large DVD collection and added a few titles over Christmas. I’d like to sell the entire collection, start fresh and just purchase digital copies from iTunes. I respect that, while he is supportive of my simplifying, he’s got his own will and vision. That vision includes a DVD collection and some books and five sweatshirts.
So how do we make it work? I’ve left his office to be what he makes it. We’ve done one purge of books and electronics but it’s slowly molting back into its former self. For Christmas my husband was gifted a beautiful and ergonomic Aeron chair from his mother. I was very supportive of this gift. Chris works at a desk for 8+ hours, five days a week. A chair that helps him keep good posture would be good for his back and neck. He’s been using the chair for three weeks now and his former chair is still in the office. It’s now being used as a business mail receptacle. I’ve hinted several times that it could be quickly sold on Craigslist or given away.
So I avoid going in the office. I avoid looking around too much. I’m not the one working in it 40+ hours a week so if he is successfully handling the clutter piles, which he is, I let it be. I think this is a good lesson in patience for when my son is a bit older and wants to have his room be his own domain. You can’t control other people, just yourself.
There is a lot of good that comes from not being married to a minimalist. Despite Chris advising me otherwise, I put a sweatshirt in the donation pile because it was large an unattractive. The one sweatshirt I did keep was a Lululemon hoodie: comfortable and mildly fashionable. Henry has had a series of colds that leave my wardrobe with shiny snot epaulettes on all of my clothing. With my small wardrobe, I was getting tired of constantly changing shirts. I rescued the donation sweatshirt and have been using it as my version of the modern woman’s housecoat. Thanks honey!
If you’re leading the minimalist charge and have a partner you are dragging – possibly kicking and screaming – into it, here is the One Room strategy:
My partner/spouse/roommate is an avid shopper/collector and prefers packed rooms to open spaces. This will be a tough road for you. Ask for one room that you can make your own. Take out half the furniture. You should be able to do a cartwheel in the available floor space. Unleash your inner minimalist and go bare bones, simple artwork, not a lot of furnishings. While some of us think we can’t live with less, everyone is attracted to tranquil spaces. You’ll probably find your rommate/spouse/partner sneaking a few quiet moments in your space.
My partner/spouse/roommate isn’t a pack rat but is wary of the whole minimalist thing. Leave them one room as their untouched space. As you pare down the rest of the rooms they’ll come around.
There is a reason show homes look the way they do. We’re attracted to clean lines and open spaces. No one sets out to have overstuffed rooms and drawers full of old bills and pennies.
I spent the weekend moving furniture out of our bedroom. We have a home sized bedroom set that we have crammed into our condo sized bedroom. As we have a lot less clothing now, we no longer need all that drawer space. With less furniture we can now see the southwest view of False Creek – no more tall dresser blocking it. We’ve doubled the amount of visible floor space. I could tell my husband was excited about the new space, and on-board with the plan, when he started asking about smaller bed side tables.
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