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When your partner is a pack rat

The other night I was out with friends and the topic of decluttering came up. Some of them said they wished they could declutter their home but their spouse does not want to let go of anything. Is this you? Does someone in your home have a hard time letting go of stuff?

Let's be honest, not everyone is going to have the same want or wish to declutter. There is a spectrum of what people want to hold onto and a spectrum of what people want to let go of. There are people who want to hold onto every murder mystery they have ever read and there are people who want nothing to do with books but keep every note paper they ever got in school. And then there are people who want nothing to do with anything and people who can't let go of anything. You get the idea. So to expect everyone in your family to want to hold onto or let go of the same things is not realistic.

If you have decluttered before and noticed that the things you agreed to clear away suddenly have crept back into your home - maybe the next step isn't decluttering but having a conversation. And (most importantly) having a very open mind when listening to what your partner has to say. If you are extremely frustrated by their unwillingness to part with things, you will need to find a way to put the frustration aside so you can understand where they are coming from.

The best time for this kind of conversation would be when the two of you aren't distracted or stressed. Here are some things you can ask:

  • When we decluttered last, some of the stuff came back, was there something about the items that you wanted to hold onto?

  • How do you feel when we declutter?

  • What does owning or having the items mean to you?

  • How does removing/letting go of a lot of stuff at once make you feel?

  • How does removing/letting go of a little stuff at a time make you feel?

  • Is there something (or a group of things) you couldn't imagine letting go of? Why?

I'm going to be honest, you might not like what you hear. Your partner might not feel there is anything wrong with holding onto everything. If you come into the conversation wanting to understand where they are coming from and not from a place of wanting to make them declutter, you'll learn a lot about your partner and hopefully, the two of you can come to some agreement on letting go of some stuff and holding onto other items.

If you liked this and want more help decluttering, the "Declutter Your World: Mastering Your Space & Life" program is now open. You can find out more about it here.

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