Image by Rowdy Kittens on Flickr
A few years ago, I found my first intentional living blog. I stayed up way too late, poring over every post, soaking in the natural, simple living goodness. I was hooked.
And I really wanted to live in an RV.
I told my husband about this awesome blog and my new desire to get rid of our stuff and live in a tiny space. He, of course, thought I’d lost my mind.
But, being the stubborn person that I am, I kept this vision in my mind. And, being the stubborn person he is, he kept on resisting. (Our children are also incredibly stubborn – lucky us!) So how is it that we’re now prepping our tiny house so we can move in this summer?
I have an evil cat mind. (This is Ian’s term for my tendency to
I know my husband. I know he hates being nagged (even though I’m very good at it) and he has to experience the benefits of a new idea before he’s willing to commit to it.
So I decided that the only way to get him on board with the idea was to do it myself and show him how awesome it really is (and to be willing to hear “I told you so” and do something else if it didn’t turn out so great):
Start with your own territory
When Ian told me that there was no way he was going to live in a tiny house, I decided that just because we were living in a big house, didn’t mean we needed to have a lot of stuff. So I started purging.
I started with household stuff that I spent a lot of time cleaning and knew we didn’t need (which was about half of it). Then I got rid of a lot of my own stuff – clothes, shoes, personal care items. Finally, I moved on to kids’ stuff, like clothing and toys.
If there was something of Ian’s that I wanted to get rid of, but he didn’t, I’d leave it alone. And every few months, I’d purge again. (Which meant, I also needed to address why I had to keep purging so I could stop the cycle).
You’ve got to be willing to get rid of your stuff, even if they won’t get rid of theirs. This can’t just be a scheme to get rid of the hideous t-shirts his dad sends him.
Have more fun now that you’re not cleaning so much
Pretty soon, I was spending a lot less time cleaning, but still had a clutter-free house. Which meant there was time to have more fun. Show your spouse the benefits of having less by spending more time with them.
Do things that line up with your values that you didn’t have time for before, like service projects or practicing hospitality. Or save up the money you get from the crap you sell to go on a special date.
Camp in small spaces
After deciding I wanted to live in a small house, I suddenly became very interested in camping, particularly in yurts or small cabins. Why? I wanted to try it out and see what it was really like. I also wanted to see how the kids reacted. Did they love it? Hate it? Did they sleep well?
We really did have a great time in small spaces and the kids slept awesome when we were so nearby. Those experiences are helping us now as we draw up the layout of our bus. We know what worked well for us and what we really need to have in our tiny space to make it more enjoyable.
After awhile, Ian said yes to living in a smaller house. He also started to get rid of his stuff that he didn’t use (after moving and realizing we still had a lot of stuff). Was it a tiny house? No. Did he get rid of all the stuff that I knew he wasn’t using? No. But it was a step in the right direction.
If you want to live simpler with a spouse who’s resistant to the idea, be flexible. If they agree to something that isn’t exactly in line with your vision, but is closer than you are now, go for it. Some people need more time to warm up to simple living than others (and some will only go so far).
I’m pretty all or nothing. When I learned about simple living, I wanted to be all in. The next day. But when you’re married (and/or have kids) it takes some time to transition to that lifestyle. And that’s ok.
I think if I’d have gone straight to living in an RV, I wouldn’t have liked it. I still would have had too much stuff. I still would have had a shopping problem. And I would have been happy for a bit, but Ian would have been miserable.
Part of living more simply means building patience and practicing contentment no matter where you are on the journey. Because if you don’t, no house will be small enough, you’ll never have few enough possessions and you’ll always be anxious to do something more drastic.
It’s a journey.
Do you have a spouse who isn’t as enthused about living simply as you are? How do live more simply even though they aren’t on board?