Simplify Your Life Without Losing Your Marriage

yard sale sign photo

Image credit: Paul Swansen, used under Creative Commons license

We TreeHugger's are big fans of living simply and whittling down your material possessions. Yet—like so many green things—while it might be a relatively simple thing to make changes in your own life, how do you deal with partners, spouses or family members who have an entirely different set of priorities? Over at Zenhabits, Jennifer Gresham has been musing over exactly this question—asking whether it is possible to lose your stuff without losing your marriage. As an avid fan of minimalism and dematerialization, Jennifer was apparently perfectly content to get rid of even her most cherished possessions. Unfortunately, her husband was more of a sentimentalist when it came to the things he'd collected during his life:

"I came to minimalism late in life and goodness knows I still have a long way to go. But as the girl who consigned her wedding gown, I thought I could help him see the benefit of reducing our material burden. I reminded him of all the clutter we never used, yet found ourselves trapped into keeping; I hinted at the money we could earn by selling those things on Craigslist. At times, I'm ashamed to admit, I called his reluctance silly."

Expressing the Joy of Less
Apparently this confrontational approach didn't go down well. But Gresham has since adopted a more constructive tone—and lays out a set of principles for dematerializing your life without vaporizing your relatioship. From leading by example to hiring outside help, there's some good stuff here. Perhaps my favorite piece of advice is simply to be happy:

"Expressing the joy of less is the secret weapon in your efforts to share minimalism. You can approach it directly by putting your happiness into words, or you can demonstrate your improved mood in more subtle ways. For example, you could invite your spouse to an impromptu dance in the living room, explaining "Look at all this room!""

More on Minimalism, Living Simply and Buying Less
The 100 Thing Challenge
Living Simply: An Alternative American Dream?
When Does Reuse Become Hoarding?

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