Minimalism Simple Living

6 Tips for Living with Someone Who Isn’t a Minimalist

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Living with someone is not always a walk in the park, and when you make a life change, this person may not be on board. It can be difficult to understand, because you may believe you are embarking on the greatest thing of your life. However, they may think you are absolutely crazy!

At least, that was the case for me, sort of…

Through many different approaches, my husband and I had to work to get on the same page once I transitioned into the minimalist lifestyle.

New boundaries were set to keep the peace, and over time, the adjustments became our new normal. Sure it wasn’t easy, but we navigated it well.

After several years into this transition, you better believe I have some tips to help you if you find you are experiencing the same resistance.

When you make a life change, the people living with you may not be on board. It can be difficult to understand, because you may believe you are embarking on the greatest thing of your life. However, they may think you are absolutely crazy! At least, that was the case for me, sort of... Living with someone is not always a walk in the park.

6 Tips for Living with Someone Who isn’t a Minimalist

When I decided to start my minimalist journey, I was so excited! I started purging all of my possessions to what I thought was comfortable for me. My husband thought it was great, especially because it was happening right as we were putting our house on the market and moving.

However, he did not think a minimalist lifestyle is necessarily for him, and still doesn’t today.

He likes having a clean and tidy room, but this is as far as he will go towards this lifestyle. He doesn’t like to downsize his possessions, and certainly doesn’t believe in letting go of things.

My husband isn’t a hoarder, but he does hold onto things just in case he needs them one day. 

So living with someone who isn’t a minimalist… How do you do it?

Here are 6 tips based on personal experience, and I hope they can help you in your minimalist journey!

Tip #1

Respect their decision. You cannot force a lifestyle on someone who doesn’t want it. It only creates tension within the relationship. Just let it be.

Tip #2

Know if you are having positive changes occur due to your lifestyle, this person will take notice. If you are happier than you used to be, this person will not only see it, but also benefit from it.

It may help them see a minimalist lifestyle in a new light. Who knows, they may even give it a try.

Tip #3

Do not be defensive if you are critiqued. As a minimalist, I’ve had to make some pretty hard decisions regarding my possessions, and my husband questioned some of them.

Instead of getting all bent out of proportion to his questioning, I explained as to why I only needed X amount of this or that in an informative way. He appreciated my reply and let me continue.

Tip #4

Have a discussion. Explain to this person how you are wanting to live and find a common ground. Compromise is a huge part of relationships, regardless if it is a house mate or significant other. Work together to help both of you be happy.

Remember, not everyone will be on the same page or have the same ideas about how to live. The important thing is learning how to do it together. Life is a journey, and should be enjoyed with others.

Tip #5

Discuss your progress. As you declutter your possessions, it maybe necessary to explain where you are in the process.

My husband allows me to organize our house, so it is necessary for me to explain what I am about to do when it comes to common space. Once he agrees, I continue with my progress, and everyone is happy.

Tip #6

If the person you live with is a collector, create an organized space to show off the collection. Your wanting of a minimalist lifestyle doesn’t mean it cannot contain collections. This is your journey, and you decide what stays or leaves.

I personally have a bookshelf full of books. It brings me joy to be able to display my books. This is also the only place I keep books.


I hope this post helps you in your situation. It is not easy living with someone else’s mess, habits, and ideas. However, it can be simpler with these tips.

The biggest thing is to communicate effectively with one another. When you communicate, problems can be solved and modifications can be made.

Something may bother you to no end, but how will the person you live with know unless you tell them?

Remember that you cannot force your ideals onto anyone else. Sometimes it is best to lead by example and let the pieces fall into place.

My husband learned how beneficial living a minimalist lifestyle was for our home once we downsized, and now he is pretty much on board. While he would not proclaim himself a minimalist, he is at least tidy enough to please the both of us.

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Terryn Winfield
    July 13, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    Hmm, I like and appreciate number 2…I suppose I should get better and keeping quiet and just be an example.

    • Reply
      erin@thetannehillhomestead.com
      July 14, 2016 at 5:02 pm

      I found that works best for me. I still have to nudge in a few areas, but he has jumped on board for most of it. I think he likes how easy it is to clean up, and how everything has a place. He has learned to stop asking where something is, because everything is usually where it is supposed to be.

  • Reply
    caren
    March 12, 2018 at 8:25 pm

    Yep, when I started my minimalist journey, my husband was super defensive because he wanted to protect his own “stuff”. I was very clear that I wouldn’t touch his things, but he has watched my journey and I believe it’s had an impact on him (although he’d never admit it).

    • Reply
      Erin | A Welder's Wife
      March 13, 2018 at 1:59 pm

      Your husband sounds an awful lot like mine, Caren! So glad to hear that your passive influence has changed his nature towards simplifying and seeing the benefits within it.

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