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How To Get Your Husband On Board With Decluttering

How To Convince Your Husband To Declutter


One of the most common questions I get in my email is:

How do I convince my husband to declutter his stuff?

The answer, however simple, is not an easy one.


Before I give you that answer, I want you to consider:

Have you ever changed your political stance because of a Facebook post?

Have you ever changed the way you discipline your children because someone gave unsolicited advice?

Have you changed your eating and/or cooking habits because a friend convinced you to?

Those scenarios all have one thing in common: someone was trying to convince you. Those cases where someone does take unsolicited advice to heart are few and far between.

However, many of us have changed many things in our lives because we were seeking the change or saw the evidence supporting the change with our own eyes.

Many political viewpoints have been changed because someone met a person and saw with their own eyes how law will or currently does affect that person.

Many have changed the way they disciplined their children because they observed a healthy family life and want to replicate that in their own home.

Many have changed their eating and cooking habits because they saw a friend be healed by food.

…So, how do you convince your husband to declutter his stuff?

The answer: You don’t.

I know that by reading that, you feel like all the clutter is suffocating you. I know it’s stressful working around your husband’s things. I know his stuff impacts your life.

But there is hope!!

You see, when we start asking how to get someone else to change, it’s because we don’t want to face our own obstacles. Perhaps we don’t want to address the sentimental items and family heirlooms that we dislike, but don’t feel like we have permission to get rid of. Perhaps we don’t want to feel the shame of how much money we spent on clothes we never wear or craft projects we never completed.

Take a step back and ask yourself:

What am I trying to avoid, by focusing on my husband’s stuff?

What came to mind just then? Consider it, my friend. I know it’s not easy. Decluttering is an emotional process and it can be very difficult. It is very healing though! When you get to the point where you are willing to face those very difficult emotions, you have grown as a person. When you walk through those feelings, acknowledge them, and do what you need to bring closure to them, you will be more free than you have ever been.

Ok, but is there any hope for my husband?

Yes! Here are some healthy ways to approach this in your marriage:

Before anything else: talk. I love what Sandy Kreps shared:

Find Common Ground. It is rare that a spouse or family member is completely inflexible about simplifying. Often times, it is the fear of what they might say that hinders progress. This is why an honest, open discussion about your household’s possessions, needs, schedule, and goals is so important. Focusing on what you as a couple or as a family want out of life can take the stress off of the decision to get rid of that old VCR or stack of unread books. From: Simplicity When Your Spouse Doesn’t Get It

  1. Work on your own stuff. Sort through everything you have control over. Declutter all the spaces that you generally claim as “your space”. This is anything that is your actual possessions, or your husband doesn’t care about in the least. And like I mentioned above, address the clutter that you are avoiding.
  2. Keep going. Decluttering is a long process. Somethings can be sorted and changed quickly, but most of us will sort a drawer 3-4 times before it’s completely decluttered. You are the living proof, the example. Keep at it, each item decluttered is a success and a step in the right direction.
  3. Keep common areas free of personal possessions. Everything in the main living spaces should be communal- used by all members of the house. It’s not a place to store individual’s personal items. If you have children, think about where you want the toys. If toys are in different boxes and baskets in each room of the house, it’s going to be difficult to teach the children to pick up. Keeping common areas free of personal items, means there is less clutter. When you can keep these spaces clean and organized, you can sit and relax in these spaces without being bombarded with someone else’s stuff (even your own!)
  4. Be trustworthy. I know it’s tempting to toss things that you know he hasn’t used in at least 10 years, but if he has asked you to leave his stuff alone, then leave it alone. This goes for your children as well. Don’t get rid of someone else’s belonging without their permission.

There is no guarantee that your husband will change. Some may never change. But many do! My husband began decluttering his things 5 years after I started.

Purpose in your heart not to allow stuff to divide your relationship. Most people are drawn to simplicity because they are tired of the focus being on material possessions. Embracing minimalism is removing the control your material possessions have had in your life. Instead of owning material things, those material things have come to own you. However, don’t allow the opposite to happen: minimalism should not control your life or cause dissatisfaction with your husband.


About the author, Rachel

Hi there! I’m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, I go live in my FREE Facebook Groups every weekday- feel free to join me there: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group


  1. Linda Sand on 05/20/2016 at 8:21 PM

    Sometimes moving can help. If there is a place your husband would like to live but feels you cannot afford, ask him how much of his stuff he would give up to move to the smallest place there? Giving up that stuff now can help you save money to move. What other goals does he have you think minimalizing can help him move towards? It can be hard but rewarding to look through his eyes.

    • Rachel on 05/21/2016 at 3:53 PM

      Excellent point! Thanks Linda!

  2. Dan on 05/24/2016 at 9:23 AM

    It’s not just husbands that need convincing. In my family, I’m the only one that seems to want to declutter. It’s my wife and kids who I’m trying to convince.

    Thanks for the good advice!

  3. Ari on 05/25/2016 at 10:08 AM

    I’ve been living apart from my husband for almost a year while he’s worked interstate and I dealt with the ‘things I don’t want to keep but he does’ by piling them all in a corner and the removalists just packed em up and took em away! Of course, I’m moving to join him at the end of this year and it’s all waiting there…

    But in the meantime I’ve done some serious work for myself. MY wardrobe, MY sentimental stuff, MY time and happiness and sense of purpose (there’s been a /lot/ of free time) and it’s been satisfying to keep refining what the eventual point of decluttering is.

    It’s contentment and happiness, that feeling of achieving something worthwhile because I’ve done something during my day that has value for me. Might not be how anyone else wants to spend their day, but it’s my day. Decluttering is removing the extraneous crap so I can find that, do that, and like you’ve said, living that is the best way to inspire someone else to consider it.

    He’s much more open now to the varied ‘Do we need this?’ texts, with photos, as I get the house and garage (and shed, OMG the shed) ready to be packed up and moved again. He trusts me though, to ask, and to abide by his opinion. And is all the more likely to agree that no, we really don’t need the thing. (some texts are just a photo and ‘what is this? Does it have more pieces?’ Sheds, bleh.)

    • Rachel on 05/25/2016 at 12:15 PM

      That is so awesome Ari! It’s great to get a view of what it should look like when couples work together.

  4. Karen on 05/26/2016 at 2:20 PM

    I have been the declutterer in our family for years. Sure I would thin out my own things, but I would look at his stuff or the kids’ stuff and go mad. When he left for business trips I would get boxes and bags and get rid of as many of his belongings that I thought I could get away with. So far he hasn’t noticed or has chosen not to mention it.

    I don’t feel bad about lightening our load, but I do kind of feel bad about going behind his back. So this year I decided I wouldn’t focus on his things anymore. Well, lo and behold guess who has a TON of items she doesn’t need?

    It has been amazing to me to realize that all the while I was focusing on a few of my things and a lot of his things I wasn’t looking in my own backyard so to speak. This spring I have taken three loads of excess to charity and I can see at least another three loads that can go as well … all mine. Yikes!

    I guess the moral of my story is it was easier to pick on someone else rather than to look at my own mess.

    Hopefully someday my husband will see the freedom that can come from owning less, but in the meantime I will help him find a place for it and take care of my own never ending piles of stuff.

    • Rachel on 05/26/2016 at 3:19 PM

      Thank you for sharing that Karen! <3

  5. Christine on 01/29/2018 at 4:03 PM

    I’m annoyed at your assumption that husbands are the packrats. I think both sexes have their share of hoarders and minimalists.

    • Ree on 03/20/2018 at 8:46 PM

      Individual experiences. I thought my mother and MIL were the pack rats, until their spouses passed away.

  6. Noey on 08/26/2018 at 6:21 PM

    So where do i start. I‘ve started with my decluttering two month ago i read the book of Karen Kingston that inspired me so much i could‘nt wait for the sun to come up just to get goin. I threw away so many things, things i would not even dreamed of doin a year ago. Then after i started with a few stuff ofmy husband and u could imagine what happened. I understand that its really sentimental and overwhelming then again the end results ITS worth a million. I just wish my husband would join me!!!!

  7. Anne on 03/22/2019 at 5:02 AM

    Hi! Thank you for your advice. It helps to read about others with the same problem. What annoys me about me husband is that he SAYS that he wants to declutter, be he never wants to part with ANYTHING. It is like an alcoholic who cannot see the addiction. It is SO frustrating. Now we got a load of stuff after his mom and grandma. But instead of keeping the things we like we have to keep everything and do not have the space and order we need to enjoy for instance our garage. I know I should feel love and patience, but I get so frustrated I cannot be in there with him.

  8. Maggie on 08/27/2019 at 10:49 PM

    My husband is changing medical offices and is bringing everything there from the past 34 years HOME. On top of that, we have stuff from his 3 grown kids and ex-wife that no one seems to want to take (they say they don’t want it) but he feels obligated to save for them for whatever reason. Then there’s the fact he’s taken over 3 closets, 4 cedar chests plus the basement cedar closet. He’s never thrown away ANY clothing in his life and has stuff from when he was 16 (he’s nearly 63 now.) I moved in with him in 2016. It’s 2019 and my stuff is still in boxes because there’s no room. The living room is a catch all with walking paths, same with 3 upstairs bedrooms and the dining room table is covered. There’s piles of boxes of I don’t even know what he claims he will “sort through when he gets time” but I’ve never seen that time come. I would move it all to the basement but guess what’s down there? Every piece of clothing, toy, book, piece of decor, furniture and cardboard box that the aforementioned arrived in is packed in the basement, you can’t walk down there. His idea of “decluttering” means RELOCATE IT TO ANOTHER ROOM but never throw it away. I am getting claustrophobic. He’s not stupid, he’s highly educated and I just don’t understand why he’s wanting to hold onto all this clutter for himself and for everyone else. It’s humiliating when guests come. I’m seriously on the verge of leaving if these 3 foot high piles next to every single wall don’t go away. I shouldn’t have to live in a house that is a tripping hazard.

    • Rachel Jones on 08/28/2019 at 3:31 PM

      Hi Maggie! That would be so challenging. I’m sorry. Sounds like it might be helpful for both of you to see a counselor and get some suggestions on how to address it. Keeping things the way he is, isn’t a typical clutter problem, it’s normally an emotional response to something. So having a professional help you navigate it can be very helpful.

  9. Marelize on 08/30/2020 at 10:46 AM

    Thanks for this!
    My challenge is: when I cleared a space, my side of the bedroom, dining-room, lounge, he fills the space again within days!!! His stuff overflows his own spaces and when I cleared it looks inviting to his stuff.

    Thus, I need to maintain a clear space for months so that he can grow accustomed to it being a clutterfree space. Oh patience!!

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