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Throw. It. AWAY!!! (venting/could use advice)

post #1 of 49
Thread Starter 
I am just about ready to tear my hair out over the situation in this house.

I moved in with my fiance a little over a year ago and I basically have never gotten unpacked. The house was FULL of crap when I met him. It wasn't like, stacks of newspapers all over the place or anything crazy like that, just rooms with boxes of stuff he never unpacked when he bought the house, furniture he didn't know what to do with, gaming systems, etc. Then when I started helping him unpack the boxes, they were full of random crap like old toiletries, college papers and notebooks from years ago, old mail he never opened, stuff like that.

He has a pack rat problem which he describes as a combination of laziness and not wanting to throw things away if he thinks they're valuable. I have slowly managed to pare away at the junk, old bills, old junk mail, broken furniture, etc. to the point where I almost feel like I could unpack some of my stuff now (it's all been out in my van or in the basement in boxes and crates all this time), but I don't want to do it without definite places to put everything. We have one small dresser in the bedroom which he uses for his clothes, and one reasonably good-sized closet which we both hang our clothes in. There's an office which is still pretty much full of his stuff, and a closet in the office full of old clothes of his.

In the meantime, however, we keep accumulating crap. Well-meaning relatives give him a lot of stuff and it then becomes my job to find a place for it or get rid of it. Getting rid of it usually entails going through a discussion with him about why I don't want to keep the knickknack or whatever it is, then going back and forth about whether to recycle, freecycle, or throw it away. He says he's going to freecycle stuff and then it sits around here for a month. I don't want freecycling random crap his family gives us to become my job. I feel like at least one job that has to do with decluttering should be his responsibility since I get very little help from him in this area. I'd rather throw it away than deal with Freecycle on top of everything else that's going on right now.

Now, to add to the pile of chaos, I am pregnant and having a really hard time with this pregnancy- tired all the time, dizzy, out of breath and can't do a lot of basic tasks without having to take a lot of breaks or throw up. I'm five months along with little improvement over my first trimester, so I'm not anticipating feeling better before the birth at this point.

I really want to get the house organized, necessary repairs done, etc. before the baby comes. But I feel like DF is fighting me at every turn when I want to get rid of things. He always has some reason why he wants to hang onto something, it can be repurposed, reused, he knows someone who might want it, etc.

Today it was an old black t-shirt of mine that came out of the laundry with a giant bleach stain on the front of it. Now, in principle I know it could be cut up for rags or something, but we don't even have a place to keep rags right now. I have told him MANY times that I just don't feel like we can afford to be super-frugal/eco-conscious when it comes to getting rid of crap right now because I feel that the clutter in this house has been at emergency level since the day I moved in and we need to put our energy toward getting the crap out of here before we start thinking about a million uses for every little broken, mismatched, out-of-date, useless, unused, or unwanted object we find lying around, but I can't even tell him to throw away a ruined t-shirt without it turning into a discussion with him standing there holding the shirt over the trash can like he's trying to buy it a stay of execution. It's like when he gets to the trash can there's a force field preventing him from just dropping the object into the freaking bin.

Are there some magic words I can say that will get him to just let things go? I don't feel like he has a severe hoarding problem. He will let me throw things away once I explain why they shouldn't be taking up space in our house or he doesn't notice when I throw things out when he's not here, but I really feel like he was just raised to never want to throw anything away. His family is the same way and we have gotten into some pretty major arguments over my not wanting to take everything they try to give us- some of the stuff is useful but I feel like, for example, taking a secondhand white painted dresser and painting it black to match our black bedroom set is just not a good use of our time right now. If we were settled and the house was organized I would totally be willing to do this kind of stuff, but I just feel like the more crap we take in, the more the house gets away from us and I don't see any resolution as long as things are still coming in and he's still resisting me about things going out.

So, to sum up :
post #2 of 49
Get the book It's All Too Much. There's a section to have significant others read.

(And honestly, I just make stuff "leave" when dh isn't home.)
post #3 of 49
Goodwill is your friend. I'm way too lazy to freecycle, so I take stuff we don't want/need but is still usable to the goodwill. Its so easy to load up a bag full of stuff you don't want and just drop it off.... we do probably at least one bag a month if not more - theres a more-or-less constant pile of stuff at the top of our stairs which is the defacto 'next time you take stuff to goodwill take this!!' And your still being 'green' about it - its not going to the landfill!!!
post #4 of 49
My dh and I both have some saver tendencies.

Two things have worked:
1. Let's go through our stuff so we can actually take care of the things that matter. Important stuff is being neglected because we don't have enough time/energy to care for it all.
2. How much would it cost to replace it? Do we ever expect to be without the $2 that this item sells for on ebay? So, if we never expect to need it again, and it sells for $2, and we never expect to not have the $2, we can let it go. Part of that is letting go of being poor, when we/he did need to keep that crap because we had more space than money. Now that we have more money than space...
post #5 of 49
Thread Starter 
Thanks, A&A, I added that book to our wedding registry

Mamadelbosque, I would honestly have trouble taking most of this stuff to Goodwill. The last box of stuff that came to our house consisted of things like a wall calendar for this year which we all know is pretty close to over, a gag lighter with a plastic snake that pops out of it when you press the button, a glow necklace that doesn't glow anymore...it's stuff that I'm pretty sure Goodwill would just throw away and I don't want to treat a charity like my personal disposal service. I've shopped at a lot of Goodwills and Salvation Army stores and I can honestly say I've never seen that kind of stuff on the shelves.
post #6 of 49
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apricot View Post
2. How much would it cost to replace it? Do we ever expect to be without the $2 that this item sells for on ebay? So, if we never expect to need it again, and it sells for $2, and we never expect to not have the $2, we can let it go. Part of that is letting go of being poor, when we/he did need to keep that crap because we had more space than money. Now that we have more money than space...
This is a huge issue for him. We are about to get married and have a baby, and he is constantly worried that we are about to run out of money. He seems to have a deep belief that we won't be able to afford to replace anything we throw away in the future, even if it's a cheap and easily replaceable item.
post #7 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by lynsage View Post
Today it was an old black t-shirt of mine that came out of the laundry with a giant bleach stain on the front of it...but I can't even tell him to throw away a ruined t-shirt without it turning into a discussion with him standing there holding the shirt over the trash can like he's trying to buy it a stay of execution.
This in particular worries me. My SO and I have some conflicts about throwing away stuff, but I absolutely hold to the right to unilaterally throw out _my_ stuff without consultation or discussion. He does not control that.

Hoarding is often about control - control of the stuff, control of the household through the stuff - all the stuff controls what you can do in the household, and the hoarder controls the stuff, so he/she controls the household.

So my usual advice is to take back control. This is half your home - I don't care that it was his home first; now that you're there, it's half yours. So half the bureau should be yours, half the closets should be yours, half the shelves should be yours, half the office should be yours. You should be able to unpack into those spaces, and _his_ excess stuff should be in those boxes and crates in the basement, if he won't throw it out. And if he won't pack his stuff and move it to the basement after being given reasonable notice (I'd say that two weeks is reasonable notice), he comes home to find that that's been done for him. (By hired help, if your pregnancy means that you can't do it.)

With a hoarder, this idea can seem like sacrelige - somebody _other than the hoarder_ is entitled to space?! Your ability to find your clothes is more important than his ability to conveniently store his high school algebra tests? The very idea!

One possible long-term strategy could be to cede the office and perhaps half the basement to him as the space where he can hoard at will, and declare that the whole rest of the house _will_ become non-hoard space. If he leaves junk in those spaces, you will deposit the junk in the office or basement. Whether he likes it or not.

I know that this sounds unreasonable, and that what you want is a meeting of minds and an agreement that a tidy house is better for everyone. But it's very, _very_ rare for a hoarder to cooperate in cleaning up the house. It's rare that they will agree to the work being done, and even rarer for them to do any of the work. They'll make plans, make promises, have excuses, sometimes convince you that they're serious this time, but in the end, week after week, month after month, year after year, it doesn't happen.

I predict that you're going to have to do all the work, and you're going to have to do it against his opposition. It's horrible, but if he's a hoarder, it's just the way it is. When you live with a hoarder, you seize your share of control against their opposition, or you choose to stop living with a hoarder. And even the threat of that "stop living with" is rarely enough to change the hoarder's behavior for more than a day or two. I don't know if they can't or they won't, but whichever it is, it's not going to happen.

Crayfish
post #8 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by lynsage View Post
Thanks, A&A, I added that book to our wedding registry

Mamadelbosque, I would honestly have trouble taking most of this stuff to Goodwill. The last box of stuff that came to our house consisted of things like a wall calendar for this year which we all know is pretty close to over, a gag lighter with a plastic snake that pops out of it when you press the button, a glow necklace that doesn't glow anymore...it's stuff that I'm pretty sure Goodwill would just throw away and I don't want to treat a charity like my personal disposal service. I've shopped at a lot of Goodwills and Salvation Army stores and I can honestly say I've never seen that kind of stuff on the shelves.
well Im going to give you my non-green opinion...chuck it! If people are giving these items to you they are using your house as their personal disposal and really if these things are his just still packed then its time to throw it away.
post #9 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by lynsage View Post
Thanks, A&A, I added that book to our wedding registry

Mamadelbosque, I would honestly have trouble taking most of this stuff to Goodwill. The last box of stuff that came to our house consisted of things like a wall calendar for this year which we all know is pretty close to over, a gag lighter with a plastic snake that pops out of it when you press the button, a glow necklace that doesn't glow anymore...it's stuff that I'm pretty sure Goodwill would just throw away and I don't want to treat a charity like my personal disposal service. I've shopped at a lot of Goodwills and Salvation Army stores and I can honestly say I've never seen that kind of stuff on the shelves.
I totally understand not wanting to force them to do the sorting and pitching for you.....but which is better? Letting it sit around waiting for him to freecycle/throw it out, or letting someone else do the throwing away for you?

The people that work at Goodwill get paid to decide what to put on the shelves. And you never know what they might put on the shelf. Gag lighters and old calendars have made it out on the shelves at my Salvation Army. Sure they are likely to throw it away, but does it REALLY matter if it's you throwing it away with fights and arguements from your SO, or them getting paid to throw it away?
post #10 of 49
Although you may feel he does not have a severe hoarding problem, he obviously has a hoarding problem, which is impacting more than likely on your health which is bad when you are pregnant.

With a baby on the way, perhaps you could try some scare tactics to make him open his eyes, to what sort of environment does he want his child growing up in? Perhaps show him this link?:

http://www.childrenofhoarders.com/bindex.php
post #11 of 49
I am married to a horder and I just make stuff go bye bye when he isn't home. The thing with most horders is they have so much crap they never notice when stuff vanishes.
post #12 of 49
Does your city have more than one Goodwill or is it near a larger city with several? Cause both in PDX and Indy they had a Goodwill that was presorted. Not quite sure how it works, but basically one Goodwill is a LOT cheaper and things are just in giant bins. You buy clothes by the pound, for instance.

Anyway, give Goodwill whatever you want because it's likely to go to the Goodwill warehouse if they don't want it right in their store.

Okay yeah, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodwill_Industries it's a "Goodwill Outlet" or "As Is" store. So basically, your store will have first dibs, and anything they don't want will go on to another chance for someone to decide that the calendar has the bestest pictures ever for a collage.

(I found settlers of catan at the GW outlet in Indy)
post #13 of 49
i'm with crayfish on this one.
post #14 of 49
My husband is like this.

I give him time limits. "We're partners and I can't do my PART of PARTner unless you do yours. You have until dd mmm yyyy to use this or store it with similar things in such a way that we can get it out without taking anything else out, or I will do that for you."

And yes, I tossed some of his stuff, and yes, he was pissed, but guess what. I had to.

Mark the date on the calendar, remind him ONLY ONCE two days before--"Hon, I thought you wanted to get this stuff organized before I got rid of it? That's in this Friday," and don't nag.

Then just do it.

He might not even notice!
post #15 of 49
I have a bag in my closet that is "goodwill" stuff too, that helps a ton. i have another one in the laundry room.

There are lots of tips on these boards too. A great one for a hubby was to do ALL the laundry, then show him that he has 50 t-shirts. Ask him to get rid of 10. Or ten blue t-shirts, ask him to get rid of 3. Things like that.

He has to share the house with you, so ask him if you can have a couple drawers for your socks and underwear. I bet there are two drawers of stuff in that dresser that can go in the donate pile.

We have a hard time with giving away valuable stuff. But we designated a section of the garage for collecting garage sale stuff. I try to look in each kitchen cabinet and dresser drawer and pick a couple things for the pile.

My hubby go SO excited about garage sale-ing .... getting a clean man-town ... making some money! The night before, he got really aggressive and put tons of stuff in the pile. He just had a blast talking to all the neighbors. And we made $500!!!

Any leftovers .... okay, I am lying .... the "non-valuable" leftovers were left on our lawn with a FREE sign. I also posted about the free leftovers on CL. People will take ANYTHING that is free!! Our yard was clean by 9 am the next day!! (But now our pile is ready for the end-of-summer yard sale we need to have too.)

Maybe your DH would be happier to earn a few bucks on those "useful" (not) things like bleached t-shirts. Craiglist makes successful garage sales easy. You don't have to plan early. We planned the night before, and just did it! I made 12 signs with kid's markers, and dh posted them in the morning.

It might be too risky for you .... but consider telling the family about it, and let them donate to your pile too. (with the knowledge of you keeping the cash, of course!!)

We had a little vacation with our money, so it was great incentive. Does your DH want a gadget or a vacation badly??
post #16 of 49
I just noticed you also have a 5yr old daughter. how is she living with this??
post #17 of 49
If he realizes he has a hoarding problem rather than finding you the only one with a problem in that, you could buy the following book:

"Compulsive Hoarding and Acquiring Workbook" by STeketee and Frost

I can really recommend it for people who want to change their behaviour and overcome their hoarding problem.
post #18 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crayfish View Post

One possible long-term strategy could be to cede the office and perhaps half the basement to him as the space where he can hoard at will, and declare that the whole rest of the house _will_ become non-hoard space. If he leaves junk in those spaces, you will deposit the junk in the office or basement. Whether he likes it or not.

I know that this sounds unreasonable, and that what you want is a meeting of minds and an agreement that a tidy house is better for everyone. But it's very, _very_ rare for a hoarder to cooperate in cleaning up the house. It's rare that they will agree to the work being done, and even rarer for them to do any of the work. They'll make plans, make promises, have excuses, sometimes convince you that they're serious this time, but in the end, week after week, month after month, year after year, it doesn't happen.

I predict that you're going to have to do all the work, and you're going to have to do it against his opposition. It's horrible, but if he's a hoarder, it's just the way it is. When you live with a hoarder, you seize your share of control against their opposition, or you choose to stop living with a hoarder. And even the threat of that "stop living with" is rarely enough to change the hoarder's behavior for more than a day or two. I don't know if they can't or they won't, but whichever it is, it's not going to happen.

Crayfish
This is what my parents have done. It works. Their house looks great, they just have a bunch of Rubbermaid tubs in the garage, but so what.
post #19 of 49
Quote:
I predict that you're going to have to do all the work, and you're going to have to do it against his opposition. It's horrible, but if he's a hoarder, it's just the way it is. When you live with a hoarder, you seize your share of control against their opposition, or you choose to stop living with a hoarder. And even the threat of that "stop living with" is rarely enough to change the hoarder's behavior for more than a day or two. I don't know if they can't or they won't, but whichever it is, it's not going to happen.
Oh, yes, this is definitely true.

He will never be able to throw out that field trip brochure from the ninth grade, or that one shoelace that only fits a child's shoe. Never. You will do it or nobody will.

And my DH does have a space, too. But if something escapes... it goes in that space, even if it doesn't fit.
post #20 of 49
Thread Starter 
Thanks, everyone, for your replies and advice.

I guess I don't want to admit to myself that he's a hoarder. I've watched those shows and he's not like, I hate to use this phrase, but "those people"- he's really good about doing chores, taking care of me when I don't feel well, taking care of my daughter- the clutter doesn't have control of his life. Like I said, it's not severe IMO but the problem does exist, and if I want to stay with him (which I absolutely do) I think I need to come to terms with the fact that a) I need to stake out my territory and insist on some space in the bedroom (the office has been designated as his "man cave" once it gets cleaned up and organized, and I have my own room in the basement that I am going to use for my craft/sewing stuff) b) it's going to be my job to deal with this stuff until he changes this behavior, which might never happen. If this means I have to be the thrower-outer, Goodwiller, whatever, and makes me the driving force behind finishing the basement and getting it organized as well, I can accept that if it means us having a nice life here.

IDK if he will ever admit that he has this problem to the extent that he'd be willing to do a workbook about it, but if he ever does I'll be ready for him He just feels like he's a frugal pack rat who takes after his mom, who is also a frugal pack rat, and I've been to her house and I don't know where she's keeping it all, because the bedrooms and living room are clean and the only clutter is because she really likes knickknacks. No boxes of crap anywhere that I've ever seen! I have seen a couple of piles of old photos and stuff like that, though...

Quote:
Originally Posted by luv-my-boys View Post
well Im going to give you my non-green opinion...chuck it! If people are giving these items to you they are using your house as their personal disposal and really if these things are his just still packed then its time to throw it away.
I agree with you- unfortunately we are very close with these relatives and since they're trying to be nice by giving him/us this stuff, any time I try to talk to him about it he takes it as a personal attack on his mom, who I love to the ends of the Earth, but he feels like I'm criticizing her personally if I say I don't want the stuff or I feel like I don't understand why we are getting the stuff instead of it just being thrown out. I think I'm going to go with the "just make it disappear while he's not looking" strategy- he has NEVER asked where any of the stuff was or what happened to it after it was disposed of.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Crayfish View Post

Your ability to find your clothes is more important than his ability to conveniently store his high school algebra tests? The very idea!
I had to laugh at this because one of the many boxes I have painstakingly gone through with him an item at a time was a box full of files his mom gave us of all of his old school papers and it LITERALLY had algebra tests (and report cards, and newspaper clippings that mentioned his gifted program, and essays he wrote, and kindergarten artwork) in it! :rofl


Quote:
Originally Posted by Crayfish View Post
One possible long-term strategy could be to cede the office and perhaps half the basement to him as the space where he can hoard at will, and declare that the whole rest of the house _will_ become non-hoard space. If he leaves junk in those spaces, you will deposit the junk in the office or basement. Whether he likes it or not.
I think this is exactly what should happen. He already has the office for his "man cave",and my frustration in there is trying to get it cleaned up so he can use it the way he wants to instead of sitting at a computer desk covered in crap, surrounded by boxes of crap. There's also a room in the basement that needs new drywall that he wants to use for storage- this came up the last time we had it out about throwing things away vs. keeping things that might be useful one day, and I agreed that we can dedicate that room to storage IF he gets shelving and Rubbermaid containers so the storage will be done in an organized way. Half the basement would be a lot to give up since we have a large, finished basement with a kitchen and a living area that we want to turn into a recreation/gaming area, but I feel like giving the clutter one room with a door that closes it off from the main area is reasonable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post
(I found settlers of catan at the GW outlet in Indy)
That is just awesome. We <3 Catan!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mommaof3boz View Post
I just noticed you also have a 5yr old daughter. how is she living with this??
The clutter doesn't affect her living space at all. Her room, the living room and the kitchen are all clean and relatively organized, although there is some clutter encroaching on the half-wall in the kitchen. The main problem areas at this point are the master bedroom, the basement (which is a usable, finished basement with a working kitchen that I really don't want to lose to clutter) and the office. Her stuff got moved into her room when we moved in (and all the crap he had in there got moved into the office or the basement), it's just my stuff that's still stuck out in the van or boxed up in the basement.
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