My lovely husband, partner, & best friend has been so patient in this journey to eco-minimalism. We have figured out a few compromises and shared a few choice words, but overall he has been supportive of changes.
Here are some tips that I have learned while switching to minimalist living during our first years of marriage:
1. Take change slow
Adjustment is necessary for long lasting change. For instance, reducing meat and dairy in our diet is an ongoing journey that is always ongoing. But, one area of tension is the paper towels. Daniel finds them necessary and I find them wasteful. And that’s OKAY. We use Reel Paper which is an ethical, sustainable brand and we don’t argue over running out of reusable rags. Maybe one day, we will go without. But, for now this is an agreed upon solution that we both can handle.
2. Some things are uniquely YOU
You have to choose your battles, model changes and appreciate the willingness toward change that those who live with you make. Maybe YOU are willing to switch to having three pairs of shoes, but your partner still collects them as a hobby. Remember, there are some things that you will keep that confuse your loved ones. One the other hand, some of the willingness to change might suprise you. For example, Daniel doesn’t use any shampoo or conditioner often which is incredible progress and reduces our plastic use! Don’t worry friends, his hair is still clean and lovely.
As humans we all have our preferences. Part of the beauty of being in a relationship is celebrating how uniquely you fit together in your differences.
3. Invest in Listening Moments
This point speaks more to minimalism. I’ve started engaging with and learning about minimalism as a way to lower our consumption. Everything we consume has an environmental impact. So, I’m buying less of it! In leaning into less, I’ve also discovered I love a clean and mess-free home. Additionally, I’ve become more aware of the clutter around me. Some of that mess is not my own and it drove me crazy at first how Daniel was not moving toward minimalism with me.
Instead of going crazy every time there is new “stuff” in my space, I take a moment to use tactics that we agreed upon together. I added a basket to the top of our dresser for random bits that I find on the floor or in Daniel’s pockets when I’m doing laundry. They sit there for 1-2 weeks and then he organizes those things when I remind him. Learning strategies and approaches together and listening to desires for our living environment can really make an impact in how we can approach sustainable living together.
Also, I’d love some recommendations for how to organize our tech cords…Daniel has too many and they often aren’t easy to hide from sight unless I shove them under the bed!
As humans we all have our preferences. Part of the beauty of being in relationship is celebrating how uniquely you fit together in your difference.a. pelyhes
4. Explain your “why”
If your partner doesn’t understand why you’re doing something, why would they also do it? Sometimes, sharing why something is important to you sparks someone to care about it to. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and studying up on compost preparing for when I ask Daniel to start throwing his scraps in the bin. I know that he cares about food justice and I see this as a contribution to soil that is important and valuable to his passions.
Daniel does the cooking in our family and asking him to change his habits could be frustrating. By adding the why and taking ownership of the compost, he seems more excited to compost than burdened by it.
5. You don’t have to try so hard
Take a tip from Colbie Caillat and remember “you don’t have to try so hard.” Essentially, doing something instead of just talking about it is what it truly takes for things to change. If you start to shift or transition to something new, your actions will get noticed. Sometimes, this has created a bit of tension for us. Like the time I tried to reduce our clutter by hiding Daniel’s video games…
And YET we have truly changed our habits and made major steps toward sustainable living and engaging in minimalism.