This is part nine of what seems to be an endless saga.
In this part, I’m sharing Hubby’s role in this process. I’m often asked how to motivate a husband to declutter. While I can’t let myself worry about that too much, I have seen my own husband become more and more willing to declutter over the past three years.
This one insanely-focused master bedroom project helped me identify what seems to work best with him.
From my journal:
Talking About It
Hubby and I had more of “the talk” on our drive tonight. The difference in our master bedroom is so significant and so appealing to us (who’ve basically lived in a storage unit for a very long time), that we’re very motivated to do the Decluttering Thing right.
Hubbies (not just mine) sometimes need to be warned. Gently and gradually warned. The most successful decluttering happens when the declutterer feels in on it.
The gradual sparsifying of this room has helped motivate him.
I explained, as gently and clearly as possible, how my goal is to not see how much we can fit back into the space, but to create the room we really want. It’s a concept to grasp. As a woman who has taken three years to be ready to tackle something like this, I am trying to be understanding that it might be harder for the (unbelievably good-natured) man who’s along for my ride.
To make him feel better, I let him know that I had designated the now-empty storage crate-that’s-really-a-table as his. It was all his to store whatever he wanted to keep.
Actually Doing It
On Labor Day, Hubby did a great job purging his stuff. He was ready, after our multiple conversations about how nice the master bedroom felt being empty. But it was still hard.
And I think in these situations he might be a teeny bit scared of me.
So I tried my best to be supportive. I reminded him that I had designated the storage table in our room for him to store whatever he wanted. There was also an empty under-the-bed storage container for him to use.
No judgement from me on what he was keeping.
I knew that those two storage containers already had designated space in the room, so whatever he wanted to put in them was fine with me.
I even gave up my magazine basket. (The one I completely emptied when I realized I hadn’t looked at a single one of the magazines that I stuffed in there a year before.)
He was feeling blue about what to do with his favorite magazines. So I gave it to him and casually said maybe he could keep as many as would fit in there. The ones he kept didn’t even fill it up. Maybe next year when we do another purge he’ll decide whether he really needs them.
This stuff takes time, people!
So what did I learn about motivating him to declutter? Well, it’s pretty much the same thing I’ve been learning for the past three years. I need to declutter first. When he sees the difference decluttering makes, and when he sees that the stuff left is his, it’s much easier for him to see the purpose in decluttering his stuff. Make sense?
I also think it’s very important to not simply urge him to declutter, but to give him solutions. Knowing that he had two good-sized storage spots made him more willing to tackle the daunting task.
Have you read the other posts in the Master Bedroom Saga? We’re getting close to the end. I promise!
Be sure to catch up on parts one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven and eight if you haven’t read/watched them yet!
Oh. And I did shoot an interview with him about this, but it’s going to have to wait. I just don’t have the time to edit it!
Love how you’re handling this! Not nagging, not prodding – and helping him on his own way, rather than pushing him onto yours.
I am reminded of the aphorism I wrote onto a piece of paper and stuck to my pinboard some time ago (Don’t remember where I read it):
“It’s one of the great paradoxes in therapy that people don’t change unless they feel accepted as they are.”
Now I have to go work on being more accepting of myself, so that I can se some change!
Thank you so much for that quote, Katha! I must use it somewhere. It is just so true.
I googled some and now know where I read that quote and apparently it’s from John Gottman’s “How Marriages Succeed or Fail” – makes sense, I read that book in 2007.
(And loved it! And I didn’t even have a boyfriend then! Definitely a keeper.)
What a great word: “sparsifying”! From now on, I’m not de-cluttering my house, I’m sparsifying it.
This is very helpful. Both my husbad & I have slob vision, so it’s been very frustrating to start cleaning enthusiastically, only to still have piles of clutter that I don’t feel comfortable getting rid of because they’re his. I’ll try to let go of that frustration and focus on setting an example, since I have a long way to go myself. When the time is right, I’ll give this solution a try. Thank you!
I am going back through and reading your blog from the beginning, and I got to this post at a very opportune moment! I have been working on “sparsifying” our 2 bedroom apartment (the spare room has always been massive piles of storage/clutter to the point where you often can’t walk into it). Because hubby is a “what-if” saver, and also sentimental about items, it has been difficult to get him to let go of anything.
I have been primarily focused on my things and any “household goods” that aren’t directly related to him, but I am getting to the point where I am starting to run out of stuff to declutter that isn’t his! This an excellent reminder to lead by example and not push him. Because just because I don’t think he needs his school project from middle school doesn’t mean it isn’t important to him.
Luckily, we are looking at moving into a house within the next year, so if I am unable to make headway by then, I am just going to have HIM pack all of his own belongings. Nothing like having to put everything in boxes to motivate you to declutter!! lol