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How to Tidy Up Your Relationships Marie-Kondo-Style

Two women sitting on a couch, one looking at the other with concern.
GaudiLab/Shutterstock

The “Tidy your space, transform your life,” mantra from the Netflix show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, has everyone reorganizing their closets and throwing out anything that doesn’t “bring them joy.” Should you also apply this to your relationships?

The KonMari Method is about letting go of anything that doesn’t bring you joy. Whether it’s a dress you’ve only worn once, a book you never got around to reading, or a life situation that no longer serves you, they’ve all gotta go!

If you apply this same philosophy to your relationships, you can gain clarity and rid yourself of any negative emotions that might prevent you from meeting your true potential.

Friendships

Think about the relationship you have with one of your friends. When you think about seeing this person, does it make you happy? Does time seem to fly by whenever you’re together?

Or do you ignore this person’s texts until the last minute? Do you dread spending time with him or her? Do you feel energetic and positive after you spend time with this person, or drained and negative?

To preserve your sanity and overall health, it’s crucial that you stand up for yourself and create boundaries in relationships. This doesn’t mean you have to pick a fight with someone or never speak to her again—you can let her down lightly. Tell her your schedule has changed, and you aren’t going to be able to see her as often.

Unless someone’s actually causing you harm, you don’t have to end the friendship. Simply minimizing your social interactions with that person should help you protect yourself from energy drain or negativity. Sure, this might make some people angry, but you have to put yourself first.

On the other hand, if someone is purposely hurting or bullying you, you have every right to end that “friendship” and wish them luck. Ain’t nobody got the time or energy for that nonsense!

Family

Half a woman's face, as she sits at a kitchen table, resting her chin on her hand.
Lolostock/Shutterstock

Family relationships are a bit harder to navigate because, after all, “you can’t choose your family.” Still, it’s important to set boundaries, let your voice be heard, manage expectations, and communicate without biting anyone’s head off.

Does every Christmas end up with you and your mom not speaking? Does your sister judge every decision you make? It’s time to let all of that go! Release the negative emotions, and let the love you have for one another guide you. It might sound cheesy, but families should stick together! Unless there are serious obstacles (every family has its own story), eliminating the small, insignificant (or even petty) differences can improve your family relationships and bring more joy to your life.

Next time you’re all together, let your family know how you feel. It might not be easy, and there could be some tears or raised voices, but just keep in mind you’re doing this to make things better. Your goal is to improve future communication and get-togethers, not ruin them.

Share what brings you joy and what doesn’t, and let them know how you think things could change. Be prepared, but allow them to share their side, as well. You never know what another person might be thinking or feeling. Plus, you might be surprised what someone will share when given the opportunity.

Marriage and Romantic Relationships

These are the “make it or break it” relationships. If your relationship with your partner doesn’t bring you joy and happiness (at least most of the time), you have to take action to fix it—and if that doesn’t work, they gotta go!

Based on that philosophy, romantic relationships should be the easiest to navigate, but they always end up being the hardest and most hurtful. When you set boundaries with your spouse, partner, or significant other, it has to work both ways because that’s the only way it will yield positive results.

If it seems like the two of you are always complaining, yelling—or, even worse—sweeping everything under the carpet and not addressing the issues—it’s time to take some action. Make a conscious effort to figure out what each of you is doing wrong, and how you can both change your behavior to make things better.

If going out to dinner or watching movies together brings you joy, schedule a date night every week, or binge some Netflix. Make whatever the two of you like part of your “happy routine.”

On the other hand, if going to his best friend’s house makes you miserable, say you’d like to be excluded from those visits moving forward. Likewise, if going to the movies makes you cringe, suggest the two of you spend your evening doing something else.

All successful relationships require compromises. However, it’s also important to let the other person know if a particular compromise hurts you more than you’ve indicated. If you don’t tell your partner, she’ll never know, and there’s a good chance you’ll start resenting her for it.

Every relationship has problems—some small and some large. However, those small issues can pile up and easily turn into something big if you’re not paying attention.

Dive deep and ask yourself how you really feel about any relationship issues you’re experiencing. Are the problems fixable or not? If they are, speak up and try to find a solution.

On the other hand, if you can’t seem to find common ground and feel miserable every day, it might be the time to tidy it all up and let go.


Tidying up and letting go of things, situations, and people who bring a cloud of negativity into your life is something we should all do to protect ourselves. When you cultivate only relationships that bring you joy, you’ll be happier and healthier!

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »

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