Rita Wilkins, author of the new book Downsize Your Life, Upgrade Your Lifestyle: Secrets to More Time, Money and Freedom says there are ways to break the log jam.

Throughout her career, Rita Wilkins, “The Downsizing Designer,” has many times found herself in the middle of husbands and wives who couldn’t agree on whether to sell their family home for something smaller – an apartment, condo, or cottage perhaps, in the city, near grandchildren or somewhere else.  Wilkins says she has learned to embrace this role of middleman helping couples reconcile what they both want so everyone wins.

“I tell couples they can have it all,” Wilkins says.  “All they have to do is figure out what having it all means to them and what compromises they are willing to make.  Couples may find themselves in discussions that are funny, serious or scary and they are often helped by having a third party to bounce ideas off of.”

One couple she knows found themselves quarreling about downsizing after 48 years of marriage.  The wife wanted to sell their large suburban home and move to the city.  The husband was insisting that they stay in the home in which they raised their children, partly out of fear of what moving might mean.  Finally, after the wife convinced him that their marriage would end if he didn’t move with her, he came around.  Now they are happily ensconced in an apartment in the city with no hard feelings.  But clearly, threatening divorce is an extreme method for getting one’s way.

For couples who find themselves on opposite sides of the downsizing war, Wilkins suggests:

3 tips when you want to downsize but your spouse doesn’t

  • Coming up with a firm idea of what your downsizing vision is: a two-bedroom apartment, a condo, a townhome?  Then do a reality check on which items you could realistically take with you.
  • Sticking your toe in the water.  If you always wanted to live in Charleston, SC but have never visited, plan a several-week vacation there to see if you like it.
  • Consider renting in the new place to keep your options open and tamp down the fear of making a change one or both of you will regret.