Getting a Spouse on Board with Natural Living

Sometimes, married couples journey towards a greener lifestyle together, and I think that’s wonderful. I’m not sure how common it is though. In many cases, one spouse begins learning, researching, and implementing changes that the other spouse may or may not agree with, or maybe they just don’t care that much about it.

In my own case, it definitely started out as a more personal journey.

Overall, my husband is thankful that I’m making efforts to raise our family in the safest, healthiest way possible, although I can guarantee he never would have started cloth diapering or trying to eat real, whole foods on his own. And he’d be the first to tell you that.

My husband, David, definitely doesn’t have the environmental convictions that I have either, but I will say that he is a really good sport. In recent time he has even come to appreciate some of my “hippie” methods (although he will never let me live down my quasi-ban of paper towels).

One thing my husband has gotten completely on board with is the desire for simpler living– less clutter, more intentionality with our stuff, and striving to live debt-free, for example. So for us, finding a common ground to use as a basis for our family choices has been really helpful.

 Photo by The Welsh Poppy

Convince with Experience

One of the best methods that has helped me “evangelize” to my husband about a more natural lifestyle is simply showing him how things work and how they benefit us.

Through experience, David has learned

  • how much better micro-fiber cloths work than paper towels for simple spills and cleaning.
  • how easy using cloth napkins is (and that it saves us money and feels softer than paper).
  • that composting doesn’t take much more effort than throwing food scraps in the garbage.
  • that using a push mower on our small lawn is not only “green” but also enjoyable.
  • that certain whole/organic foods taste better and benefit our family.
  • that buying local is a sensible, advantageous choice for all parties involved.
  • that using castille soap is just as effective as mainstream soap.

Small Changes Often Go Unnoticed

Aside from his own experience, the other way I’ve implemented more natural methods around the house and into our lifestyle is just by making small changes. And to be honest, they haven’t bothered him because he hasn’t noticed.

David pointed out that switching to soap nuts for laundry, for example, was something small that didn’t inconvenience him that much (and yes, he does help out with the laundry sometimes). It gets his clothes clean and doesn’t cost a lot so he told me he barely even noticed to switch away from conventional.

As long as my changes aren’t costing us too much (many times they are more frugal in fact) or inconveniencing my husband, I’ve found him to be a great sport, even though these are not changes he would have ever made on his own.

And as with other friends and family members, I’ve found that the best way to convince our spouses of our “greener” preferences is not to lecture them, but to model these changes, demonstrate their benefits and ease into them gradually.

Is your spouse on board with all your choices? Has it been a gradual process? If there have been difficulties, how have you “convinced” him/her of your choices? What have been the areas that your spouse was easiest/hardest to get on board with?

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26 Comments

  1. Heather

    I don’t think my husband would ever take the lead on green living changes. But, as I am a stay at home wife and mama, he doesn’t really have any choice in the matter 🙂 I think the biggest change that he thought he would hate was going to cloth toilet paper. We already cloth diaper both of our babes, so getting rid of the toilet paper was easy for me, and surprise surprise, he didn’t mind it, and now prefers it. Funny how that works out.

    • Nicole

      That’s funny, Heather. That’s one thing I’m scared to attempt in our house… I’m thinking of doing it for my daughter and I for starters and leaving it up to him. 🙂

  2. Rebekah from Simply Rebekah

    I’ve gotta hear about this quasi-ban on paper towels! I rarely use paper towels anymore except for when I cover food in the microwave. However, my husband is addicted to the things!! He LOVES them! I’m not sure what to do about that. 🙂

    • Nicole

      By “quasi” I mean, I only use them for bacon or really crazy messy spills but I “allow” my husband to keep one on hand in the garage for whatever he needs. I usually give him a roll in his christmas stocking just to be silly. But really, he’s totally gotten used to not using them in the house! And I don’t even cover food anymore, I just try to be better about cleaning the microwave if something splatters. 😉

      • Katrina

        I sometimes drain or soak up oily food/pans onto bread ends and give them to the dog (he goes crazy over it) and it takes me a ‘step closer’ to loosening the paper towel addiction.

  3. Kelly S

    This is so weird because I was seriously JUST thinking about this topic about 15 minutes before I read it! (And it’s not something I think about much). I started using baking soda for shampoo and my husband likes to (jokingly) mock me for it – between the oil face wash, baking soda shampoo, and vinegar conditioner, it’s tough to know whether we’re in the bathroom or the kitchen! 🙂

    Anyways, thanks for the ideas and thoughts! Overall, my husband is GREAT about going along with my “natural” ideas, but I’d love for us to be on the same page as much as possible, rather than him just going along with my antics.

    One other idea I have to add is to help our husbands read some of the information we get to read and think about. My husband doesn’t have the luxury (nor does he care to) read 10 different blog posts on organic food, or recycling, or clean water, or whatever… so he doesn’t really have reason or inspiration to make these choices!

    I’m not sure the best method for this – maybe just occasionally emailing him links to the very best blog posts, or even putting together a little booklet or something with some of the facts or ideas that have impressed me most… whatever it is, I think a *simple* way to help him understand and learn and be inspired himself would be great!

    • Nicole

      Great idea! I agree. I email posts to my husband occasionally or just give him a recap of important things I’ve learned from all my reading. 🙂

  4. Rebecca

    Nicole I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your recent posts. I am learning a lot from them so thank you.

    • Nicole

      Thanks so much, Rebecca!

  5. karen

    Hubs is on board with no paper towels, cloth diapers, and homemade cleaners. It’s when I break out the coconut oil, lentils, and lacto-fermented veggies that he gets twitchy. Sometimes I just stretch the truth a bit and tell him “oh that? I’ve been using that for months. You really liked it.”

  6. Marixa

    Since I spend more time reading blogs and learning about more responsable ways I had to convence my hubby to make changes. Usually after showing him they are either better, cheaper and healthier he gets on board. I usually just have to explain why and he’s good with it. We cloth diapered, I make our cleaners, laundry soap and some of my personal products, have a garden, compost and eat healthier. He loves some of them and tells me that he’s proud of who I am and what I do.

  7. Successful Woman's Resource Center

    I think in many ways it is up to the women as the homemaker to make some changes towards being more natural. It is a process of trial and error as to what works for your home and family.
    Great post!

  8. Krissa

    No way! I seriously was just thinking about writing a post about this! Although I must say, you did a much better job than I would have! 🙂 I too, tried to ban paper towels and it just didn’t work out well. But I have mainly just been using the make small changes technique or just focus on the things I can do and not try to push them on my husband. I think that as a mostly stay at home mom that is in charge of more of the household tasks I am able to have more of a say in some things, so I just do what I can and try not to worry about the rest…and try not to nag too much! 😉

    • Nicole

      Krissa, don’t give up on the paper towels! As I mentioned in a previous reply, I like to play it down by giving David a roll in his Christmas stocking and “allowing” him one to keep in the garage to do as he wants. 🙂 Surprisingly, he’s gotten used to microfibers and now we probably only go through 1-2 rolls a year!!

    • Shannon

      I’ve found that the easiest way to “ban” paper towels is to just not buy them. By “accidentally” not having them around, my husband is forced to use cloth towels to clean up messes (or be more careful about not making them).

  9. Jennifer Merriss

    Nichole,
    I love your blog. I’m going through some of the same things with my family and trying hard to get some small and some big changes to help the enviornment and our family. Nice to get ideas and tips from others going through it too.

    Thanks,
    Jennifer

  10. Kathy S.

    Hi, great post. Looking into micro-fiber cloths. Where do you get them? Thanks.

    • Nicole

      years ago, I just bought a package at walmart, but I also have a couple of thicker ones I got from Pampered Chef. Probably any kitchen store or even Target would also have them. (or amazon!)

  11. Amy Akers

    My husband and I learned our son had food allergies among other health issues which he is medically treated for and now after 11 months is showing huge improvements. We slowly started. Honestly in order to save $$$. It doesn’t exactly always work that way, but it was fundamentally a way for me that we could cut corners and save $$$. We recycle, cloth diaper, make all our own breads (anything carb) that we need because I can guarantee that it won’t have anything in it that my son can’t have. We make everything from scratch. I can, make all our own jams/preserves. Fresh freeze all fruit and produce.
    We are making a needed effort to “green” our home, but its hard. I am learning as much as I can, my husband is very very supportive of this, thank goodness. Thank you for sharing, loved reading your thoughts!

    • Nicole

      Thanks for sharing how it works out for your family, Amy!

  12. Susan@improvamama

    Such a great post and good food for thought for our triangulated relationship with trying-to-go-green me and my-but-I’m-used-to-this husband. I have a bad habit of getting preachy/superior instead of convincing thru experience or having conversations about how green habits reflect our common values. He does love his paper towels (what is it about the paper towels?) but I’ve mostly woo’d him away to cloth napkins.

  13. Alissa

    This is an interesting topic to ponder. I mostly approach new changes as, “something I’d like to try.” like cloth napkins… Let’s just try for a few weeks just naturally became permanent. other times, the trial doesn’t work, but at least it gives us a reason to discuss. We’re back to standard dish detergent, for example. It makes me cringe every load, but my husband just couldn’t take the residue the “green” ones were leaving behind.

    Overall, my husband has been more than willing… even telling new dads how easy cloth diapers are! I do think that it’s good for us to “convince” our spouses on some of these changes (especially when there’s a big up front cost). It keeps us from just jumping on the bandwagon and forces us to make thoughtful, informed decisions.

  14. Tomek

    Hi, Nicole! I think that if something becomes important for us, it is so much better if we manage to get our significant other on-board….I definitely agree with the “no lecturing” ideas, as I found out from experience that it doesn’t work 🙂 I’ve also had success with making the other experience the benefits. Very powerful….Thanks for the inspiring post! Tomek

  15. Erica

    Thanks for the tips, Nicole! I’m dying to get my husband passionate about this, or at least be moderately into it. I want my baby to grow protected from all these harmful chemicals, as much as possible…

  16. Jackie Hubbart

    Same here…my hubby is really supportive of my “greener” choices and most times doesn’t even notice. As long as they are not costing an arm and a leg and are actually easier for us as a family in the long run he is always on board! Yay for great husbands!

  17. Jeanette

    Great post, thanks!! I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, as I feel I’ve gotten to the point where I really need his help in creating the green lifestyle I’m wanting. Cloth diapering and home made cleaners was the easy part, now I need him to put together a compost and some vegetable beds for me (or I should rather say “us”). Yeah, and not to mention the hen house I need him to build and the hens I need him to chop the heads off…. He can assure me; that is sooo not happening, hehe. Oh well. 🙂

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