Dealing with a spouse who just doesn’t care about going green? This is the most frequently asked question I receive … and here’s my insight on the issue:
I’ve learned – both from my own marriage and observing plenty of others – that spouses change throughout the duration of a marriage. The changes may be minor or drastic, and they may be good or bad – but they happen. (Sorry, but if you’re thinking “I’ll be able to change my husband!” or “I can finally change my wife!” that’s not the kind of change I’m talking about.)
Take me, for example. When I said “I do” eleven years ago, my life didn’t look remotely green or healthy. But because of life experiences, over time I’ve turned into a much healthier, greener woman.
What is my husband supposed to do about my changes? He didn’t enter into marriage with a healthy, green wife. Should I expect him to make healthier, greener choices just because I do?
No. I don’t expect him to see a need to change. But fortunately, because we communicate a lot, he’s been able to understand why I’ve made gradual changes over the years.
Image courtesy of Ambro/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
What works for us
Deep down, I know my husband doesn’t care if our shampoo is safe or contains toxins. Our laundry detergent choice will never be a blip on his radar. He’d be happy to slather on a convenient yet hazardous variety of sunscreen or bug repellent instead of researching and buying safer products.
But here’s the important thing: he goes along with – and largely supports – the healthier choices I make for our family.
My husband trusts me to make the vast majority of product purchases for our family, so I choose healthy foods, drinks, cleaning products and personal care products. And he uses them without complaint.
As long as a change isn’t radical for our family (like family cloth) my husband doesn’t find fault with healthy or green lifestyle changes, even if they seem a little – or a lot – different. He may question why certain buying habits have changed just because he’s curious, but he trusts me to make wise choices when it comes to our health and finances. Because of this, I have a lot of freedom to be as green as I’d like.
I don’t have complete green authority in our home, though. For instance, my husband still wants to own a microwave oven. I don’t. He wants to continue to use it in the kitchen, instead of moving it into the garage like my suggested compromise. Since I choose to submit to my husband’s leadership, the microwave has stayed in our kitchen and he continues to use it while I use our oven instead.
Making green choices isn’t always about product selection. It may mean turning off lights when a family member leaves an empty room – over and over again. Or it may mean being willing to do certain chores like washing the dishes because you’re the only one in your home to conserve water or electricity during the chore.
In my home I’m responsible for all the recycling – and sometimes I find aluminum cans thrown away in our trash can. Depending on my mood, either I can get really annoyed – or I can simply pick the recyclable out of the trash, quickly rinse it off and toss it in the recycling bin.
Here’s the thing – green choices aren’t so important that you should wreck your marriage over it. Relationships are so much more important.
If your spouse isn’t interested at all about going green, be prepared for a long journey with plenty of obstacles in the way. You may need to do extra work. Most likely you will need to get used to holding your tongue instead of nagging. I encourage you to quietly live a green life by example and slowly you should start to see changes in your home.
Who knows? You may even start to notice greener changes in your spouse.
Do you and your spouse have similar green outlooks or concerns? If not, how do you reconcile your differences?
Today I’m linking up with:
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