Friday, December 30, 2016

Married to a Minimalist: How to Talk to the Minimalist in Your Life

There are plenty of articles out there on how to deal with being a minimalist in a relationship with a non-minimalist.  Mostly, they focus around tolerance and small steps.

Since there are a lot more of "you" than of "us," I am going to take the opposite approach.  If you are in a relationship with a minimalist, here are some ways you can work to keep the peace:
I wish I really thought these old guys were talking about
minimalism.  I doubt they are.
  • Understand that you don’t have to change anything.  You might feel like your minimalist is hinging their approval on the number of items you own.  If you are in a healthy relationship, your minimalist loves you whether or not you let go of any possessions.
  • Thank your minimalist for their suggestions, and move on.  It’s okay to say, “That sounds like an interesting idea, but I’m not willing to do that right now.”  Often, your minimalist is trying to help and needs to know you have heard their suggestion, even if you don’t follow through with it.
  • If your minimalist presses an issue, you can reply with, “Can we please drop the subject for now?  I would rather talk about something else.”  This is just good conversation skills and can be applied to any repetitive topic.
  • Try to keep your things tidy.  Minimalism flare-ups often occur in two situations: something is missing or something is in the way.  If you can keep your possessions tidy, it will avoid these two situations.  Out of sight, out of mind.
  • Let your minimalist know you aren’t relying on them to care for your stuff.  If you manage packing and moving your things, pitching in with laundry and cleaning, and keeping your things in good repair, it is reasonable to expect your minimalist to respect your desire to keep your things.
  • Check your motives.  If you are resisting because your minimalist has an “I’m-right-and-you’re-wrong” attitude, try addressing the source of your resistance.  You can say something like, “I am open to letting go of some things, but I’m concerned that if I do, you will become over-zealous and insist on my doing more than I’m comfortable with.”  Be honest, but gentle.
  • Remember that your minimalist wants the best for you.  Nagging is often a poor communication tactic for caring.  Ask your minimalist to explain how they think letting go of possessions will help you.  Most likely, their response will surprise you.

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