How to Get Your Spouse to Tidy Up

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I recently had a reader ask me a question that I’ve received from many, many people over the years: How do I get my spouse on board the minimalism train?

This reader was specifically asking in response to a post I’d written about 2-minute rule. If you aren’t familiar, the 2-minute rule states that if a task takes 2 minutes or less to complete–for example, putting things away as soon as you come home–you should just do it. Otherwise, all those little 2-minute tasks build up and you’ll eventually spend two hours (or more!) putting it all away.

This reader saw the logic in this post, but struggled to get her partner on board.

Here’s her original question, along with my answer. I hope it helps some of you who are struggling to get your partners on board with decluttering!

Dear Rose,

This makes great sense. But how do you deal with it when the said stuff isn’t yours but your partner’s?

I tend to create boxes of randomness when trying to tidy ahead of my cleaner arriving. And they contain all the stuff my husband is “too busy” to deal with. Boxes then sit around as you describe…

Would love to break this cycle but my husband isn’t so keen to tidy on demand.


Feeling Boxed In

Dear Boxed,

Great question!

First off, my #1 rule when you live with other people is…

Deal with your own stuff first.

So I must ask… is all your stuff minimized and tidied and put away neatly? If not, I’d address this first before talking to your hubby. If he sees your example, he may just monkey see-monkey do and clean up his act.

If you have all your own stuff under control, then I’d ask him (note that I said “ask”) if he’d like your help dealing with these boxes. If you are modeling the behavior you want to see and you approach him with an offer, not a demand, then you might have more luck getting him on board. Realize he may say “Nah, I’m good.” In that case, I’d ask him (again “ask”) what he’d like done with all the boxes of his stuff.

I’m also wondering why YOU are picking up his stuff before the cleaners arrive? He is an adult (I assume…) and this seems like something an adult should be doing for himself. Perhaps your frustration with this issue points more to the need to have a discussion about division of labor in your household. You might start a conversation like, “I value having our house clean and I love that we can delegate this task to a professional. But I’m struggling with feeling like I need to pick up so much before the cleaner arrives. Is there some way we can share this duty?”

One last thing….

It’s good practice to carve out spaces so that everyone in your family has places for their random stuff.

My husband has a box in the main living area just for this kind of stuff. I don’t care what goes in it or what it looks like. This is his space. He also has a man cave in the basement that he can do with as he likes. This gives him a spot that he can leave “as is” if he wants to, and it alleviates the urge for me to nag him about his things. 🙂

I hope that helps some of you who are struggling with getting your spouse on board! I’d love to hear any suggestions or ideas you have for encouraging those you live with to tidy up. 🙂

Cheers to less stuff, more peace of mind, and getting your loved ones on board the minimalism train!

PS Need some inspiration to tidy up your own spaces? Grab my FREE minimalism starter guide and get started decluttering and minimizing today!


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