Today’s Question: What do you do when you’re ready to take the purging plunge and your husband either a.) doesn’t get it or b.) is vehemently opposed to you getting rid of anything?
Eek! This is such a tough one.
For starters, let me say that I’m passionate about marriages. I so want all of my friends and family members (and people I don’t even know) to be one-half of a happy, committed couple. I want to see husbands and wives loving each other, loving God, loving and serving others together, and living in unity.
And just about every day I hear from someone (mostly women) whose reality is far from this.
What does all of that have to do with purging? I’m not sure, but I think I’m trying to say that no amount of purging is worth ruining your marriage over. And differences in purging philosophies may (but not always) indicate some other things you need to work on first. In other words, some conditions need to be right before purging is even an option.
1. Your husband needs to feel respected, loved, and confident that you’re enthusiastic about meeting his basic needs (sex, among other things).
2. You need to have a deeper reason for purging, and it has to be a reason you’re both on board with.
Let’s unpack #1. I’ve had the opportunity to hear from lots of husbands about what they want and need from their wives. And many of them feel like they already have to compete with their children and God and a ton of other ministries and projects for their wife’s attention. Purging the house might just seem like one more thing that’s going to take up your time and leave him high and dry.
Bottom line: A husband with a full love tank will most likely be more open to purging.
And #2? It certainly helps if you and your husband are both believers. If your reasons for purging involve freeing up time and money to give to the poor and share the gospel, an unbelieving husband probably isn’t going to see eye to eye with you. But faith in Christ isn’t a prerequisite for getting rid of junk and curbing materialism.
I just “interviewed” Gabe five minutes ago during halftime of the Dallas/NY soccer game. Very enlightening. Like I shared at the men’s retreat I spoke at a few weeks ago, this year has been a breakthrough one in terms of how much Gabe knows me, like inside-and-out knows me. It’s freaky really.
Me: How do you honestly feel about my purging?
Gabe: I’m fine with it for the most part, but I do wonder if there’s any end in sight. I feel like we’re in this cave and might never get out.
Me: Awesome. What would you say are my biggest reasons for purging? Why do I do it?
Gabe: For one, you’re easily overwhelmed. You need to have less stuff around you so you can function.
Gabe: And you eventually want to live overseas, so you want to get rid of all you can, and when it’s time to go, you’ll be ready. All you’ll have to sell is the house. And maybe give a couple things away.
Me: (stunned. speechless.)
Gabe: Am I right? I know I’m right. You’ve got this silly grin on your face like I just discovered your biggest secret. You’re up to something, you have a…what’s it called… an ulterior motive.
Me: (grinning. blushing)
Gabe: It helps to have an ulterior motive if you’re going to be a purger. You need a reason to do it.
Me: (changing the subject) So, any words of warning or wisdom?
Gabe: You have to know that what you’re doing lines up with what God is telling you.
Me: Is there anything I’ve purged that you miss? Or do you ever wish there were things we had that we don’t have?
Gabe: Not really. I don’t think I miss anything. Although I wouldn’t mind having a better television…
Not sure if that conversation was helpful or not, but it is what it is.
So, here’s my advice:
1. Work on your marriage relationship first. Meet your husband’s needs (and “needs”).
2. Pray that God will work in your husband’s heart. If you’re passionate (for whatever reason) about simplifying your home and life, ask God to nudge your husband in the same direction. Ask God to change your heart if need be.
3. List your reasons for purging and your goals for your family’s future. Think of specific ways this will be beneficial to your husband. Share them as you feel led (and after much prayer). Ask him for his input. Respect it.
4. Purge your own stuff and don’t pester him about his. Leave the hotspots (3-foot stuffed ladybug he gave you while you were dating) alone for now. This kind of fight isn’t worth it.
5. Show him through actions, not words, the positive results of purging (more time to spend as a family, more room to walk through your bedroom, a bathtub you can actually bathe in that was previously used to store junk).
6. Be patient. This will take time.
I want to help. I’d love to pray for you and your husband if you’d like (leave a comment or e-mail me). And I’d love to share some marriage resources with you for as cheap (or free) as I can give them.
If you’d like a free copy of From Blushing Bride to Wedded Wife (some good, fun marriage advice), just paypal me $3 for shipping, and I’ll send it to you.
If you’d like a copy of Blushing Bride + Is That All He Thinks About? for $10.01 (including shipping), paypal me, and I’ll send them both to you.
They can’t solve all your marriage problems, but they can definitely give you some new perspective and some ideas to implement.
Any concerns you have with what I’ve said or other tips you’d like to share? (I’ll randomly choose one commenter to receive a free copy of all 3 books + $0 shipping.)