While perusing Netflix one day, my husband stumbled upon a documentary about minimalism. The idea intrigued him, and he started talking to me about it. He told me how minimalism is supposed to add joy to your life by removing things that do not bring you joy. It’s supposed to help you keep your house cleaner and lower your stress. Well, my house is always a mess and I’m always stressed, so that sounded like a great idea. I jumped onboard faster than he thought I would (he had asked a packrat if she would be willing to get rid of her stuff, so he was pretty surprised that I agreed at all).
We started with our clothes, and we continued with our office. With our momentum rising, we vanquished our kitchen, got rid of a ton of furniture (we came to realize that it just gave us more surfaces to clutter), and threw a garage sale. Whatever we didn’t sell, we donated. We are down so much stuff, but we are much better off without it. You know the saying, “Less is more”? I never realized how true it was.
The ball has kept rolling. We’ve gotten rid of time-wasting games on our phones, and replaced that wasted time with learning new languages (We are both learning Spanish, he is also learning Italian, and I am also learning French). In fact, he elected to give up his phone for a whole month. We’ve decided to cut our cellular data plan from 10GB to 3GB per month — if that goes well, we’ll cut it again down to 1GB.
So, how has all this affected our marriage?
Without a doubt, I can say that this is one of the best things we’ve ever done for our relationship!
Less Stuff = Less Mess
Fewer possessions means less clutter! Since we have our house more organized, I don’t stress about the mess every time I come home. I’m a snappy person when I’m stressed, and removing stress has made me a more pleasant person to be around. My husband is amazing, and he has elected to help remove stress from my life by doing the thing I hate the most: washing dishes. When I see him doing a chore because he loves me instead of because I harassed him into doing it, it does my heart a world of good. It makes me realize that I’m not fighting the battle of having a clean house alone, and it gives me the energy to do whatever else needs to be done. I try to find things to do for him that make him feel the same way. With less of a mess to clean and more help cleaning what little there is, our lives are significantly less stressful.
Fewer Distractions = More Fun Time
Since we got rid of our clutter, we spend less time cleaning. We spend less time folding and going through clothes, less time on our phones, and less time with TV, we have more time to pursue things we’ve always said we’d do “some day.” We go hiking, we practice our musical instruments, we work out, we go to southern gospel singing conventions, we write songs, we write stories, we’re blogging… the list goes on!
With fewer distractions, we have more time to focus on one another. We talk more (we’re trying to talk to each other in Spanish… it’s slow going) and we share more hobbies. Possibly most significantly, we put away our phones and we truly focus on each other. When was the last time someone put aside all distractions and gave 100% of their undivided focus to you? It feels good, doesn’t it? Now, when was the last time YOU put aside all distractions and gave 100% of your undivided focus to someone else?
Eliminate the Excess = Focus on What Matters
When you take a good, hard look at your life, and get rid of all but what you need and a few things that really bring you joy, you start to appreciate those things more. The fact that my husband and I are taking this journey together has helped us focus on each other. More now than ever, we are finding joy in our relationship. Before, we were both busy during the day, and we spend the evenings on our phones or watching television until we went to sleep. We didn’t really communicate much, and we didn’t spend time together intentionally — it was more like each of us doing our own thing, just in the same room. Now that there are fewer distractions, we are able to focus on what matters: our relationship. We talk, we cuddle, we encourage one another, we reminisce, and we plan for the future. We’ve been best friends since we met seven years ago, and this is only strengthening our relationship.
The longer we follow this new lifestyle, the more we enjoy it. We’re seeing new benefits all the time. This is one of the best choices we’ve made in the two years we’ve been married. Looking at where we were just a few short months ago, and all the work we had to put in since then to get where we are now, I can honestly say that I don’t miss what we’ve eliminated. In fact, I’m glad it’s gone. I haven’t lost memories, only material objects. Now, I can truly say that I can focus on what matters, now that we’ve eliminated the extra — and this applies to our marriage as much as to anything else.