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One way to increase passion In marriage: live simply

This time last year, my wife and I were making preparations to place our house on the market. We weren’t looking to move to an enormous house, but since we now had two kids, we were looking to gain another bedroom and a bit more storage space.

After several weeks of preparation and organization, a couple of things became clear:

We had a lot of junk in our house.

No wonder we were tight on storage space; we had too much stuff. As part of the organizing, we got rid of two pickup truck loads of stuff, and we still had too much left. The garage housed most of this until we did more purging.

The houses that would be a “move up” in space and amenities were more than we wanted to spend.

For the past several years, my wife and I have been working to live below our means. To move would stretch us a little beyond where we wanted to be – not that we couldn’t afford it, but why try to afford it? Part of having a simple marriage is living simply.

After deciding not to go through with the process, a tremendous weight was lifted off both our shoulders. We began making plans to get out of debt and travel more with the kids.

In other words, living life more alive and less tied to things and stuff.

This process has made us realize how easily you can be trapped into living according to a perceived expectation of society.

How did society evolve to the point that when you have x number of kids living in an x number of bedroom house, you must get a bigger house in order for everyone to have their own room, and an office, and a playroom, and on and on?

Didn’t our parents grow up with two or more kids in the same room? Plus, I heard that they walked to school through snow uphill both ways.

We feel entitled to a certain lifestyle. A certain amount of luxuries. But at what cost?

Since my wife and I decided not to move, there was a new level of passion and love in the house. We were less worried about the finances. Spent more time with the kids. Planned future trips and excursions. Plus, we got away on the weekends for fun.

I think there is a correlation between living within or below your means and passion in marriage. There is less stress. Less worry. More room for more adventure.

Try it. Spend some time organizing the house – Tsh has an upcoming series on this. De-clutter. Then spend the time planning an adventure together. Spend time with friends. Serve others.

In other words, live and enjoy life.

If you are interested in applying these ideas to your marriage and family, check out my new marriage book.*  It’s available as of today!

*A note from Tsh – I haven’t had time to read Corey’s book deeply yet, but from the little bit my husband and I flipped through it this weekend, it looks fantastic!  A lot of depth, good exercises for couples, and quality stuff to think about.  I recommend it.

Have you seen a correlation between deciding to live more simply and watching your marriage improve?

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  1. Tammy

    Living in Albania with my husband we are compelled to live simply in many regards. Situations out of our control, like the electricity being cut off for no rhyme or reason, have caused us to be more creative in spending time together– we can go for walks, play board games by candlelight, spend time in prayer, go out for a coffee, visit friends, etc.
    I agree with your correlation on ‘living simply’ and passion in marriage. I think living simply encourages more creativity in a marriage relationship, which brings added fun and joy. Certainly there’s less stress when you’re living within your means. Trying to live up to ‘society’s’ standards or other people’s expectations of comfort and commodity adds undue pressure to a marriage relationship. Thanks for a great reminder.

  2. Dominique

    Living simply and within ones mean does prevent quarrelling and bickering in a relationship. It certainly helps when both parties are not at loggerheads at each other to work on strengthening their marriage.
    Will be hopping over to check the marriage book shortly.

    • Corey - Simple Marriage

      @Dominique- You are correct that living simply does not prevent arguments in marriage, but if you think about it, nothing will prevent all quarrels in marriage. When there are 2 individuals involved, there will be difference of belief and opinions. That’s natural.

      Living simply allows for the important to less likely be replaced by the immediate. And if you can both focus on the important, you can experience more in marriage and life.

      Corey – Simple Marriage´s last blog post…“A Simple Marriage” Launches Today!

  3. Nicole

    My husband and I have recently started clearing things, selling used things online and getting ready for a yard sale. It’s amazing how much better the house feels and how much more clear-headed we feel when there is less ‘stuff’ around.

    This week I’m writing about how God’s Word can be food and wealth and home to us.

    I think that the longings we have are real and good, it’s just that we often misplace their fulfillment and end up ‘too full’ on stuff and starving in relationships and other ways.

    Hope you’ll join me this week in my series, Open My Eyes at:

  4. Aimee

    Excellent post, Corey. We too are going through all our ‘junk’ and getting ready for a spring yard sale!
    Congratulations on your book! That is very exciting.

  5. Allyson

    I couldn’t agree more. Financial stress can place a huge strain on your marriage. We live in a house that many would say is way too small for our family of four. However, there are at least 5 Reasons I Love Our Little House.

    We’ve also found that limiting outside activities can be such a blessing to our relationship.

    Here’s a post on how I’m Saying “No” to More so I Can Say “Yes” to Less

    Thanks again for this reminder to put the first things first!
    A Heart for Home

  6. Shannon

    We were just talking about this yesterday. I read a book about a newly married couple who moves into an amish community. They live off-grid, only outhouses and close, supportive neighbors. They grow all of their own food including harvesting grain from fields by hand.

    His conclusion? While they spent a lot of time “working” it was much more enjoyable than what we now know as work and it cultivated much deeper relationships.

    I am seeing this in our own family. Every night after dinner we all head out to the garden to plant, weed, work, etc. We have a 2 1/2 year old and an 8 month old, but everyone is enjoying it, we are teaching them where their food comes from and enjoying the fruits of our labors together.

  7. remee @ Adventure in Progress

    Wow what a great post. I can totally identify with this. Living below our means enables us to spend more time together, lots of time.
    With our time (& the extra money not going to pay debts) we’ve decided to pursue adventure as a family. Not expensive adventures mind you but the kind where you carry a tent on your back and hike into a beautiful spot that you share only with the animals living there.

    We want to encourage other families to do the same: AdventureinProgress.

    I agree with Dominique- living simply does not prevent quarrels but since deciding to pursue a common life path together (which includes simplicity and the outdoors) we have guiding goals that help us navigate through those quarrels.

    Life is good & sweet when you are not keeping up with the proverbial Jones’.

  8. Amanda @ Mommy's Idea Book

    I totally agree that living simply can improve your relationship. It’s really about choosing to be content with less. When you’re content you can enjoy and appreciate your life, marriage and family more because you’re not worried about trying to “get ahead” or get more stuff.

  9. kirwin

    This was a wonderful post, Corey. My husband and I have short-term plans to finish fixing up this house, sell it, and re-locate to our college town for a slower pace of life. I know there are The Joneses in every town, but we working hard not to get caught up in it. (I can’t say we’re 100% successful, but we’re trying.)

    I have to mention this one thing though: Since the beginning of the year, I have been working aggressively to cut our spending, increase our saving, and overall becoming much for financially responsible. After I had completed several strong tasks in the right direction, I explained to my husband my new philosophy and things that I was doing. He turned to me, with tears in his eyes and thanked me. Until that moment, I didn’t realize what a heavy burden he was carrying on his shoulders, day after day.

    It only made my determination even stronger! Here’s to passion.

    kirwin´s last blog post…Edit, Add, Appreciate

  10. jms

    Love the angle about simplifying your life to improve the passion in your marriage. When you’re ready to get out of the house for some couple time, there’s a great website that I know of,, where you can put together simple vacations / staycations / 3-day weekends or just a night out…all on a budget.

  11. Heather @ alis grave nil

    Great post! I was feeling inspired last week after Tsh posted about getting organized, so I set to work on the junk one room at a time. I had a much better weekend with the husband and the fam! It’s amazing how life is better when there’s less clutter. So true.

    Heather @ alis grave nil´s last blog post…Dear Target,

  12. Katie ~ This Natural Life

    This is a great post – I forwarded it to my husband to read and he thought so, too. We are beginning to work towards simplifying in this way and have been very challenged by the things we’ve been reading here lately. Money issues can be such a source of stress in a marriage, and really, it’s unnecessary! Thanks for the inspiration.

    Katie ~ This Natural Life´s last blog post…Using a Neti Pot to Combat Seasonal Allergies

  13. Scott

    Great post. I agree that it’s easy to get caught up in the vicious cycle of buying bigger and better. Also, at at least for myself, what I view as living simply is so much more than the majority of the people in the world could ever hope for. As my wife and I realize this more and more, it makes it easier to be content with less and less.

    Scott´s last blog post…Tales Of Potty Training (Part 1)

  14. Lisa

    I couldn’t agree more. My husband and I bought a house three years ago that was well within – even under – our price range. We started to hear “How in the world are you going to raise a family in such a small house with (gasp!) ONE BATHROOM?!” During the process of buying it we had the privilege of meeting the four adult children of the couple who owned the house previously. We walked through it with them and heard their precious memories of growing up here. I am reminded every day that if they could raise four kids in this house, surely we can raise two! I love that our small house forces us to regularly purge our junk and live simply. And the freedom we feel each month not having to stress about our mortgage is priceless!

    • laurie

      That is us, too! We have a 3 bedroom, 1 bath house and although we miss the extra 1/2 bath we had in our old house, we are fine. We can’t buy more, we simply don’t need it nor do we have room. Our house was built in 1920, I am pretty sure it was fine for many families before us!

  15. wesleyjeanne (mountain mama)

    Five years ago, my husband and I were living in a metropolitan area of NC and spent our weekends driving around looking at all the big houses going up. There was a major building boom and lots of money around (we were in a high tech area and in the tech industry). We finally bought a lot and began looking at builders and house plans to build our dream home. Visitng the Parade of Homes was our favorite event of the year. Somehow in all of this we convinced ourselves that a 3400 sq ft home would not be big enough for the family of four we hoped to be someday (we did not have children yet). After all, each child would need a room, plus a play room, plus an adult TV watching room, plus an eat-in kitchen, plus a dining room, plus an office, plus storage, plus plus plus…

    Then we had our first child and my husband became ill for about 9 months. He nearly died. During that time, we were in survival mode: we hunkered down, saved our money, stayed in our (we thought) modest 1980’s 2000sq ft house, sold the lot in the fancy neighborhood. We also reassessed our priorities. When we came out of the land of sickness, we were different people. We changed careers, moved to a small mountain town close to family, bought a small cabin in “the country”.

    Now we have two children who share a room. We live in a house that has essentially one big room for a kitchen, dining, and living rooms. We have a big wraparound porch where we spend most every day of three seasons. We do have a basement guest/office room and an unfinished space we hope someday will be an art studo/play
    room/office/winter living room. But we’re in no hurry to make that happen, because we are perfectly happy to all be together as much as possible.

    We love our work, we love our life, we love our less than 1800sq ft house.

    We actually feel like we dodged a bullet by getting out of the life we were headed toward…and we couldn’t be happier for it.

    wesleyjeanne (mountain mama)´s last blog post…Owen Jane

  16. Kika

    Also on the topic of house sizes, my parents raised a family of 12 kids in a 1250 sq.ft bungalow (I think no more than 8 kids lived there at the same time b/c of big age range). We shared bedrooms but were a happy & well-loved family. I cannot understand why families with a couple kids feel they need huge homes in order to be content. My husband and I are also much happier when living within our means. Our “date” night recently consisted of spending $6 at Tim Hortons and then heading to the grocery store together. Sounds silly perhaps but we enjoyed just being together without the kids for a bit – a walk holding hands is another simple, inexpensive (free) and enjoyable date for us.

  17. Caroline

    Excellent article! I can’t believe the amount of pressure there seems to be with how big a house can be. We only have two bedrooms so our daughter and son share a room. There have been nights and wee hours of the morning that I really wish the kids had their own rooms when our youngest wakes up crying because of his Eczema and itchy skin. (He is on the upswing now with the help of a special probiotic),,. BUT, he through all of this, it can work. I just love the way you related this story to how your spirit feels in a simplified home, and how it benefits your marriage and all family members. We too have been clearing out for a garage sale and it just has such a peaceful feeling to rid the clutter.

  18. Kristen

    Great reminder to live and love simply. When things are put in perspective who wouldn’t want to stay put in their home, make it a little more comfy by getting rid of stuff you don’t need and instead spending that extra $$ on family fun and getaways! Thanks Corey. Congrats on your book and good luck.

    Kristen´s last blog post…reflective friday

  19. Heather

    I can’t rid this lump in my throat that formed while reading your post. Thank you for spreading your wisdom, and may those who read it be touched as you’ve touched me.

    I now start the process of simplifying… to better my marriage… to better quality of life for my children… to increase the joy of my journey.

    Heather´s last blog post…Be strengthened –

  20. Rona

    I’ve been guilty in the past of wanting stuff and more stuff. After we lost our home, in 2007, my husband and I decided we would not be a slave to stuff anymore.
    We’re actually planning on downsizing when our teen goes into the military next January.
    A small apartment or studio will be just what we need.

  21. jmbmommy

    Great post. Contentment — it really does make a difference. I can’t say I am always there but when I am it makes a huge, huge difference in my marriage!

    jmbmommy´s last blog post…When the Boys Go to Mimi’s…..

  22. Valerie

    I am so happy for you regarding your book deal. WAY TO GO GIRL. You inspire me lots.

  23. Jenn @ Beautiful Calling

    Our garage houses a whole lot of stuff and we are in the process of trying to declutter and hopefully downsize our house. When did our lives become so cluttered with stuff?

    Jenn @ Beautiful Calling´s last blog post…TT: Thinking the Best!

  24. Rachel

    Great Post!! Thanks! This is so true. I am always organizing and decluttering and we still have way more stuff than we need. About 4 months ago there was a big earthquake in Costa Rica where we live and many families lost all they had. Today they are still living in temporary housing (one box trailer houses 2 or 3 famlies) with things that have been given to them or that are borrowed. That really makes me thankful.

  25. Noelle

    I agree completely about a simplified, and decluttered, life making for a smoother marriage. I cleaned out about half the furniture and miscellanous stuff I had (I enjoyed it, I’m a “thrower,” not a “keeper’) before my new husband moved in with me and my 2 kids 2 years ago and it was a much easier time combining our two households when he had plenty of room to bring in his possessions and meld them with ours. We actually gotten rid of even more since then as we realized we didn’t need duplicates of many things.

    Noelle´s last blog post…Back to blogging

  26. Vanderbilt Wife

    I love, love, love this. We have a six-month old and live in a 1200 square foot condo. It fits for now, but I often wonder, What if we had another child? You know what? My mom shared a room with at least 3 of her sisters. Probably the same-sized room as our baby’s nursery. If we need to purge to make room, we will! Sure, I’d love to have space for a playroom, but is it a necessity? Absolutely not.

    Vanderbilt Wife´s last blog post…Publix Bargain Meal 5/6-5/12

  27. Laura

    This is what we have found too. I write a whole blog on living simply in order to spend more time with our family. Family is priceless.
    .-= Laura´s last blog ..An Afternoon Together =-.

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  29. Susan

    It’s so true that living simply and within your means makes for a calmer happier life. It’s nice to not have to work extra long hours to make enough money to buy things that the adverts tell you you must have. When you let go of all the ‘must have’ items you can be free of the materialistic consumerism of modern life.
    One point I’ll make about house size. America’s idea of a small house is quite different to that in the UK. My house is around 600 sq meters and four of us live here fairly comfortably. It just means we spend a lot of time together as we don’t have enough space to all spread out in different rooms. This improves family life and teaches my daughters how to share and get on together.
    Minimalism and simple living are the future. They are definitely my future.

  30. Maggie

    We downsized to a 250 sq ft boat with our 2 kids exactly two years ago. We did it, like you, to save money so we could travel full time with our kids. We are now down to 45 days before we leave for our trip! Before we changed our lives, we lived in a 2,000 square foot house, 2 whole rooms were entirely filled with boxes of stuff that I couldn’t figure out what to do with. I could never completely clean the house because of all our stuff! When the purging really began, I saw that we had been trapped beneath it all. Now, with little room and less stuff, we are happier then ever. There is so much more time to play games, cook together, hike together…whatever we want. (it doesn’t hurt that we ditched television too). Our relationship with each other and with our children is so much deeper, so much more honest, so much more understanding and so much more respectful. Love grows best in tiny houses, with fewer walls to separate.

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