the purge-resistant spouse {day 27 of 31}

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.

Me: Yes.

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 free copy of The Husband’s Guide to Getting Lucky, e-mail me, and I’ll send you a link.

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.)

30 thoughts on “the purge-resistant spouse {day 27 of 31}

  1. Pingback: operation: use it up! | Marla Taviano

  2. kim stewart

    You are right on with #1!
    A few summers ago, our womens stody was Creative Counterpart by Linda Dillow. As we read the book I was convicted of the fact that I had not truly forgiven my husband for some choices he had made a few years before. These choices were of an addictive natire and caused us to lose my business, incur incredible debt and almost lose our home. We had 2 preschoolers to care for and I was left with no income or insurance. These things caused me to pull away emotionally and physically and go into survival mode.

    Several years go by, my husband is clean and sober but I was still in self protection mode and sex was not high on my list. During this study God showed me I was wrong. My husband’s love language is physical touch and I was convicted that for my husband and I to heal I had to forgive him and love him physically. Let’s just say it was a summer he’ll never forget. He was never so happy for me to go to Bible study! LOL!

    So how does this relate to purging? My love language is Acts of Service. The more I loved him the more he loved me back. He was never so happy to cross things off on the to do list and purge papers from the business that I still could not deal with. He knew these things were important to me and he made them a priority AFTER I made his needs a priority.

  3. beth lehman

    My husband swears that I often throw his things away (which I do NOT – he just can’t find them). To me this is exactly why I can say we have too much stuff!! But, I can only work on my end and hope that eventually he comes around. My parents are about to retire and will be moving….again. Yowza – both my sister and I will be happy to help them purge. I think when you see the accumlation of so many years you realize you can’t save it all. I keep thinking about the BIG picture… our life on earth being so transient.

    1. Brooke

      you sound like me! hubby has no filing system yet is convinced i threw away important paper work if he can’t find something.

      good luck with helping your parents w/their purge!!

      1. Ben

        you may not be able to purge his stuff, but have you considered offering to organize it for him (and promising not to throw anything out in the process). At least then you can say ‘no, I didn’t throw it out, it should be right… here it is!’

        most people like purging as it’s a form of organising and cleaning. If one can’t purge, maybe organising into a filing cabinet (or even a set of piles somewhere) may be the next best thing.

        Somebody please constructively shoot me down if this is a silly idea, as (if that’s the case) I’d like to know ‘why’!

        1. Brooke

          not silly at all! just overwhelming. he’s a realtor with 3 years worth of contracts, listing sheets, and other random print outs.

          perfect idea had i started it when we first got married (before he was doing well in the business!!)

          definitely could set aside a “file day” where we pulled it all out and went thru it together

  4. jess

    #3 is my favorite. i’ve learned that (the hard way? kinda.). I’ve never thrown anything away that was his, but i’ve reorganized in a way that i think it works better. i shouldn’t do that & i don’t anymore. he has designated places that are all his (the garage, a basket in the living room, a hunting closet, etc.) and he’s totally content with that. thankfully, though he SAVES EVERYTHING, he doesn’t HAVE a lot. So it works okay. I’ve stopped trying to make him me.

    Now. would you mind writing a post about : What do you do when your husband decides to chatter your ear off for the first time all week when you finally have a chance to sit & read some bloggage?” I’m kidding. I’ll take as much chit-chat from him as I can get. 🙂 (he’s in the garage right now…probably tripping over some junk that should be thrown out…. ;-))

      1. Ben

        Marla’s right… it’s very rare for us guys to freely talk about stuff ‘just for the sake of it’ — there’s always a hidden agenda, and when we listen to others, we always want to fix their issues. That’s something I need to work on, just listening without agenda, and not feeling as though I’ve failed if I can’t fix their issues.

        Sometimes people just want someone to listen. [sigh]

  5. Sharon W

    I can relate to this. I am in purge mode and my husband wants to hold on to everything, just in case. (Truth be told, I can be guilty of this mindset, too). I was shocked recently when I was getting rid of some shoes that no longer fit me and my husband asked why! He has commented on how many shoes I have in the past and I figured he only cared about his stuff not being purged. Guess that’s not the case.

    When we were packing to move to our current home, I suggested we help each other go through all our stuff and decide what to purge. It was a terrible idea. We could never agree on what should be kept or purged. I have to agree with Marla, “no amount of purging is worth ruining your marriage over.”

    Now, for a success story. My Mom is a minimalist and my Dad is a pack rat. My Mom told me just today that my Dad has started going through his stuff, getting rid of some of it, throwing some of it away and organizing some of it. This is seriously a miracle. I asked her what was with his sudden motivation. The only thing she could think of was that he is in a Bible Study and they are studying “self care” type stuff. I mention this to encourage those of you who have a spouse that has no interest in purging. Things certainly can change!

    1. Marla Taviano

      My dad just told me a couple weeks ago that when he retires (in 2-3 years), I can come help him purge his whole house. This is a DREAM COME TRUE for me. And pretty much a miracle. 🙂

      1. Sharon W

        That is awesome! I think it would be so fun to help others purge their stuff. I have heard about people who can’t find anything in their house, so they just keep buying multiples of things that are already buried somewhere in the house. Maybe there will be cluttered areas in heaven that you and I will get to purge??? 😉

  6. Rachelle

    This conversation just really made my day!

    And I wanted to click “like” on Daniells’s comment.

    After 18 years, 5 months and 12 days of marriage I have become better practiced at not getting hung up on what my man wants to keep! My sweetie has a mama that is a big time keeper. Think a drawer full of milk lids, which was next to the chapstick lid drawer. Seriously.

    I have learned that his keeping, which is not too far out of hand, is more about my attitude and heart than anything. Only yesterday he brought home a new box of plastic containers, trying to be helpful. I just cleaned out that cabinet a couple weeks ago and apparently we were low…so I just thanked him and asked him to put them away. In the past there would have been ugly words exchanged. Progress in purging? I think so.

      1. Rachelle

        yep. And a trunk full of dresses from the 1930s among other sundry. She was a teen during WWII and the depression. So, everything could be valuable. This gladly has resulted in my owning of some very nice expensive diamond jewelry saved from a deceased aunt. However, I don’t wear much jewlery. It’s really all kind of humorous!

  7. Tonia

    Love that conversation. My husband’s motto is “pitch it”. And, since we move across the country about every two years and always get a moving truck that’s too small, we really don’t have options. Of course, I don’t throw it away. The few “nice” (i.e. expensive) things that we do have are electronics though…..hmm wonder why?

  8. Suzanne

    Thanks for sharing, Marla. The Lord has been pushing ME for several months (years?) in this area. I have come a very long way, but am still not the minimalist my husband is. He loves it when I purge – which I have been doing regularly – but I have this desire to get really serious about it. Praying that I will learn to let go…

  9. Danielle

    Have you been spying on our house for the last year?! Seriously, your 6 points are exactly the process that has worked out in our lives over the last year. I was totally cheering you on this entire post!

    The only thing I would add is that wives need to deal with their hearts first, before they ever attempt to do anything else. We are made to be helpers, and our sinful inclination is to be selfish hinderers. It’s easy to see our husband as the source of the issue in any problem in our home. We need to be willing to deal with our plank before we can help with his splinter, even if the splinter is big, ugly, and obvious to us.

      1. Danielle

        You blessed my weary heart more than you could know by that one little comment. I am so thankful for you.

        BTW, I just started a James read along with my HS girls now that we finished Ephesians and they are loving it. Thanks for doing that so that I would be inspired to jump into it with my girlies.

          1. Danielle

            Woooohooo! JJ went on a bit of a shopping spree ’cause your family is so dear to us. I had to set a limit on the size of the box so that he would be restricted on what he wanted to buy.

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