My husband and I have been together for 14 years, married for 5 years this year. Over that time we’ve both changed a lot, me pursuing management then minimalism, him pursuing bioscience and photography. I’m fiery, scatterbrained, impatient, love big thinking and hate minute details. He is calm, positive, supportive, looks at every single option before buying any item, and can build pretty much anything out of wood and something he’s found in the shed.
In short, we’re kind of chalk and cheese and we get along brilliantly.
And as you’ve probably gathered, he is most definitely not a minimalist. I’ve long since made my peace with this, but recently another question has been playing on my mind. A minimalism quandary. If I’m a minimalist, should I be taking advantage of the possessions that aren’t mine in our home?
Can I even call myself a minimalist if I live in a home where there are more possessions than I’d choose to have if I lived alone?
When I look around our home, sometimes I can’t see past the possessions. I find myself thinking ‘ this isn’t the house of a minimalist’, and I admit to getting frustrated every now and again. But then I shake my head and come back to reality and realise that actually, no, it isn’t the house of a minimalist. It’s the house of a husband and a wife and a senile cat, a house filled with love, and it’s made up of equal parts of us all.
So many things that we own I could live without. The TV that we hardly ever watch, an extensive collection of T-shirts in varying stages of vintage, 798 drill bits. But that’s not the point. Yes, sometimes I feel I’m cheating, having access to that telly, a pile of nice camera equipment, tools, utensils, and all of that jazz. And I don’t know where the line is. I’m not going to say no to a night snuggled on the sofa watching an old film on that TV. I’m not going to refuse a meal cooked with a plethora of pots, pans and happiness.
I think the key is to focus on my own journey. Being more conscious of the things I buy myself, leading by example, discussing the pros and cons of any future purchases. My husband cares a lot about reusing and fixing broken items, about sourcing reusable products, about hand-making much of what we use. Staircases, bannisters, chairs, log stores, decking…
So yes, our household contains many, many more items than the traditional image of the minimalist loft apartment, or mobile home, or RV, or tiny house. But it’s also an increasingly ethical house, and as a couple we’re focusing more on how we can reduce waste and make a lot more of our own things, whether it’s making furniture or growing our own food.
And I feel my minimalism slots nicely into that kind of atmosphere. Well-intentioned, with the possibility to grow into something more, and as a focus for my own self-development this year and into the future.