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What do you do when you live with a hoarder? - Page 2

post #21 of 56

Very interested in the replies. I'm in the same boat.

 

This part from Geist is really helpful to me

But if he really is a hoarder, trying to make a deal and having him limit himself to one room isn't going to work either because the stuff and getting it and having it is way more important to them than a deal with an SO

 

My DH and my 8 yo DD struggle with the same attachment to stuff and anxiety and so often I get the advice to "just limit it to X space." I kept thinking I was a failure for not making that work and enforcing it, but really, it just doesn't work too well with severe anxiety!

 

 

post #22 of 56

It is very important to give the hoarder a designated area and STICK TO IT.  Other things you can do to help yourself deal with the clutter is to be sure wrappers and empty bags are thrown away promptly. Every little bit helps.

post #23 of 56

Some sort of counseling is beneficial.  Perhaps a support group.  Support groups are very beneficial for living in the present.  ANY type of counseling will help you learn how to live with your anxiety.  If it is messy and you have a tough time dealing with that, then it is likely your issue to deal with.  If you can get the person to go to counseling with you it would be great, but highly unlikely for someone who is in denial.  BREATHING, just like getting through labor, is a great skill to practice.  Breathing, believe it or not, can get you through the physical stress phase of anxiety.  It may subside and come back, but it will help you get through periodic minutes of anxiety.

post #24 of 56

I'm the hoarder in my relationship, and my DH would prefer to have very little "stuff".  One thing that helps me is to think about whether or not my hubby would be ok with me bringing it home. I don't spend $ - for me it is free stuff I have a problem with. Since we are short of $, I do need to pick up things like clothes for the kids and such, and I use freecycle for this. The problem is, I know there is stuff we need and trying to figure out if we need something when it is posted on Freecycle is hard for me, especially when there isn't much of a description. DH and I have a "veto" rule - he can veto anything I bring in. Generally, my biggest issues are craft supplies - I'm a GS troop leader and do use a lot of it, but I take in more than what I need :/ Books are hard for me too, but I've been doing ok there. For me, the more stress I am under, the more I feel then need to get "stuff" and then (even worse) I can't keep it neat. This drives my OCD hubby nuts, and makes me feel pretty bad. Other things that help, are when he asks me to neaten and pare down a small area - a bedside table or the dining room table. Also, having a specific space for stuff and a no overflow rule helps - I would do this with books but I haven't found a good bookcase(s) yet.

 

Oh, and I think therepy woudl help me, but again it is an expense we can't spare right now and I don't want to go for meds if I can help it, although I am seriously considering it as the next school year will soon be starting.  even if someone isn't into "talking about it" it might help if the person they are working with is used to people with anxiety issues, and is willing to work more on the organizational/ holding on to it part and lay off the "feelings" part at first.
 

post #25 of 56

Buy the book It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh.  There is a chapter in there to have your spouse read.  

 

Also, if I'm not sure dh will notice something I purge, I will "hide" it for awhile.  If he doesn't notice that it is "missing," then out it goes.  

post #26 of 56

I've also come to the conclusion that hoarding (and the subsequent taking up of lots of space in the house) is a narcissistic behavior.  And narcissism at any level is very hard to combat.  

post #27 of 56
Quote:
If he's a "pack rat" - my term for people who aren't really hoarders but tend to accumulate - I'm sure some suggestions (like his own room or other space for his stuff) would work.

 

 

Quote:
I've also come to the conclusion that hoarding (and the subsequent taking up of lots of space in the house) is a narcissistic behavior.  And narcissism at any level is very hard to combat.

 

 

By this definition, my husband is a pack rat.  It makes me a little nuts... I mean, it literally gives me anxiety to see clutter of the amount he is OK with.  I have to remember that this is a learned behavior on both our parts.  Growing up my mother was very, very strict about keeping the home clutter-free and clean, but has now moved on to hoarding behavior.  Her mental processes about the home have never been healthy, I realize.  Meanwhile my husband grew up in a house that can be kindly described as "not very tidy".  Frankly, I can't stand to be inside his mother's house.  I sit outside so I can breathe.  It's dusty, it's cluttered, she smokes, there are pets, I'm always about 2 seconds away from screaming and running out like my hair is on fire when I'm there.  I refuse to sleep there anymore.  So he comes into our home and sees some crumbs on the kitchen floor, dishes on the counter, toys on the living room floor and the front porch not swept and he thinks the house looks "fine" and I am ready to cry because I'm completely certain CPS would take my daughter if they saw the state of the home.  The whole issue keeps coming to a head, and I think we're working on a solution that looks roughly like this:  The garage is his, but I get veto power.  The inside is mine, but he gets veto power. (Because I would totally make it all pink and purple and bunnies and he's not having it.)  We will have photos or a list that acts as "best practices and standards" and we are BOTH responsible for keeping the house in that state.  The devil is now in the details.  He's always amazed that the bathroom gets cleaned every week, I am always disgusted that the bathroom is only getting cleaned once a week.

But back to the stuff... having the garage lets him have some "stuff" that he can squirrel away and stroke and talk to lovingly (this is what I picture him doing with his "junk") and it allows me to not see it.  There has to be a strict limit with someone who pack rats.  I let him have the office too, and I am so, so, so sorry.  He's gotten rid of a few boxes.  Our dynamic is such that I just keep breakin' his balls about his junk, and he keeps working on not having so much junk.  But the effort, I have noticed, has to be constant on my part.  I nip clutter where I can see it.  I make him throw cards away as soon as the holiday can be called "passed".  If he says he'll use it later, I ask him "For what?" and if he has no ideas, I throw it away right there.  He screams and howls, but at the end of the day he admits it helps him.  The narcissism, that I think goes both ways.  I demand a spotless house at all times, and the poor man has nowhere for his treasures!  He wants to keep everything single that that might be useful ever, and doesn't seem to care that I am hyperventilating just looking at it.  We're a unique study on the two sides of the "stuff" issue.

post #28 of 56

I wanted to come back and add that although I thoroughly dislike supervising other adults in any capacity, yesterday we decided to start tackling the office, aka his pack-rat lair.  He said he would start, went in, and came back out about 45 minutes later announcing he had finished the closet.  Oh boy.  I poured myself a very large glass of wine, went in, and found that he had put the boxes in the closet all at right angles, so they looked nice and tidy.  Zero items had been thrown away or set in the "donate" area, aka the front hall where they will annoy me so much they will be donated within days.  So we played the "Whats in the box?" game, and while he was visibly uncomfortable, he was an awesome sport and by the time we were done we had thrown away or donated two box-fulls and consolidated two boxes into one.  And some of his "treasures" are now on display as conversation pieces!  (The conversation he has about them will go like:  "Look what I found!  Isn't that neat?" and the conversation I have will go like:  "Yeah, my husband is a pack-rat of epic proportion.")

post #29 of 56

the only way to declutter with a hoarder is to get rid of the hoarder!! :P

 

I agree with give him an area and his stuff can't come out. my ex was a horizontal surface guy. anything open and flat was fair game to having piles of clutter added within minutes. a lot of the time garbage. who needs to keep 67 EMPTY gatoraide bottles? seriously?

"we need to keep them because then I can refill them"

- "how many times in the last year have you used the empty bottles i've cleaned and put into the cabinet?"

"none"

- "and how many bottles can you POSSIBLY use at any given time?"

"well, maybe 4 or 5?"

- "uh huh, and the fact there are SIX of these things taking up space in my tupperware cabinet you've never EVER used doesn't make you stop and think?"

"well....just don't throw them away!!!"

 

yeah...that was living with my Ex. *facepalm*

post #30 of 56

There are definitely big differences between pack-rats (learned behavior) and hoarders (mental instability issue). My DH is a total pack-rat - he still has not gone through the 12 boxes of stuff from his mother's apartment, and she passed away 10+ years ago. Understandably, this was a rough issue for him to deal with; also understandably, most of what is in the boxes is pure garbage (receipts from her office drawers, keepsakes of hers that mean nothing to him). We moved about a year ago, and he has yet to unpack one box from his section of the office - I'm guessing he doesn't need anything in them, because I can see them all from where I sit, and they have not been touched.

 

Anyway - while I agree with MrsGregory about 'supervising other adults' being distasteful to me, I also know that when I have helped DH with the cleaning/sorting/purging, he is grateful. I like to think of it as supporting him, rather than supervising him. I have also, over 13 years, been very clear about where the 'crap' CANNOT be, rather than where it can. I find this has worked for us.

post #31 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsGregory View Post

I wanted to come back and add that although I thoroughly dislike supervising other adults in any capacity...

 

Oh boy.  We're moving.  Dh is a pack-rat.  I dread this inevitable encounter.

 

I can do this.  I love my husband. I can remain mostly calm. I can avoid dwelling on little resentments.

post #32 of 56

Oh hey, this topic!

 

So, my husband and I went to visit his family for the first time in a while and he came out of it admitting that his family is less-than-clean-and-tidy and that he found it a little gross.  So he's one step closer to understanding why I'm on the couch drinking when I discover that he's saved the cushions from a couch we haven't had in 3 years in the attic. 

 

segolilymama, I agree, things are much better now that we've established that junk cannot be anywhere except the garage.  When I gave him the office, he took that and some of the bedroom, and you get the idea. 

 

journeymom, I find resentment has no room to grow if I'm screaming like an opera singer and throwing soft things at him.  Just a thought. 

post #33 of 56

If the person is a true hoarder then professional help may very well be needed. Or else the underlying issues and triggers to why the person hoards won't be figured out. Therefore causing it the hoarding cycle to happen over and over. ((hugs)) I hope you get it figured out. I've known a few hoarders and intense counseling and an intervention of sorts helped immensely. However, I know some people think/work differently and the intervention may not be for everyone. Also, sorry if this has already been said or the issue has been resovled. I am having issues loading all the replies!

post #34 of 56

*hugs*  It's hard, isn't it?  I want to also say therapy/meds if necessary if he really does fit the definition of a hoarder.  Hoarding is a symptom of OCD which is extremely difficult to manage without therapy AND meds.  I'm currently in treatment for my OCD but I'm a washer/cleaner type of OCD instead of a hoarder.  I like to purge.  Chaos and "things"  make my anxiety worse.  That said, my oldest daughter is a packrat.  She gets extremely upset when anyone touches her things. She keeps things most people would call 'junk" or "garbage" and doesn't see that they could or should be purged.  She develops emotional attachments to things which makes me concerned knowing she's got the potential to turn into a hoarder.  Her ADHD also makes her have trouble with organization and sticking to projects.  So to try to combat that I'm teaching her organizational skills(without really telling her that's why) and giving her space for her "things."  Limited space.  We live in 800sqft and she shares a room with her two sisters so she needs to keep it welll-maintained in order for me and her sisters not to lose our minds.  Her personal space is limited to her bed, a 6-pocket storage  hanging bag on her wall, a long underbed storage container, and a shelf in the closet up high out of her sisters' reach.  These places are considered "out of bounds" to her sisters and I of course.  As long as there's no foul smell coming from any of those places, I leave them alone completely.winky.gif  If she goes out of the spaces given to her, we embark on a painful and drawn-out process of discussion/purging/organization.  It has gotten better over the years.  At 12 after years of trying to manage it, she's gotten a lot better than she has ever been.  I caught her voluntarily organizing one of the spaces about a month ago which is MASSIVE progress for her.  I think the key is not to be sneaky and purge behind her back but to communicate and teach her that she can trust me with her things and that I don't look down on her for developing attachments to her things.  She trusts that I will talk to her before throwing away anything and that she always has final say and control over the things but that she has to maintain her "stuff" in a certain way to be allowed to keep it. 

post #35 of 56

I don't think my husband fits the definition of a "hoarder", but I do think he is a packrat, and I think that an unsanitary and unclean and very cluttered environment was normalized for him during his childhood and young adult life.  Watching him readjust to a "new normal" is really helping me remain mindful of the fact that some things that are normal for me are, in fact, not OK, not normal, and harmful.  It reminds me to continue to create a better normal for our child(ren).

post #36 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsGregory View Post

I don't think my husband fits the definition of a "hoarder", but I do think he is a packrat, and I think that an unsanitary and unclean and very cluttered environment was normalized for him during his childhood and young adult life.  Watching him readjust to a "new normal" is really helping me remain mindful of the fact that some things that are normal for me are, in fact, not OK, not normal, and harmful.  It reminds me to continue to create a better normal for our child(ren).


I can't seem to find the post I made several years back about about this topic.. but we MDC moms were gently urging a very messy mom to clean up her act, if not for herself, for the kids. I made some profound remark, that I can't seem to find by searching just now that " your home is the literal "home base" for all your children's memories. How will your children create a peaceful, clean environment with their spouses/loved ones someday if they were brought up in mess and chaos? Naturally some moms thought this was a "guilt trip", other moms used my words to help keep themselves on track. Your kids get just one childhood. It needs to be a happy, well rounded one with the usual "come over to my house" kinda stuff.

My house is tidy. Not a showplace, but decent enough to have company over at the drop of a hat. If a neighbor or friend surprise me, the worst you are gonna see here is a sink full of dishes. My kids had lots of friends over when they were small and we still host teenagers a couple of times of month for movies or hanging out.

Back to the thread topic.. I don't live with a hoarder. All of you who do are amazing people. You must really love your spouses. Stay strong for your kids.
post #37 of 56

Something fun if the excess involves books, why not set up a little free library? www.littlefreelibrary.org then others can take them from you...

post #38 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by flightgoddess View Post

Something fun if the excess involves books, why not set up a little free library? www.littlefreelibrary.org then others can take them from you...

I love those. There's one near me and all the young adult books my college daughter doesn't want anymore are being filtered over there two or three at a time and I get to pick a new book while I'm there.
post #39 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by journeymom View Post

 

Oh boy.  We're moving.  Dh is a pack-rat.  I dread this inevitable encounter.

 

I can do this.  I love my husband. I can remain mostly calm. I can avoid dwelling on little resentments.

 

Hang in there. I'm a pack-rat and moving is hell. I'm sure it's just as bad, if not worse, for dh. We've only moved twice, but we survived both of them. smile.gif

post #40 of 56

My husband has these tendencies. He say he just doesn't see the stuff/mess. Because of this, he has bad habits about throwing stuff away. It's getting better mainly because I'm going through our house and garage like crazy decluttering. He has a few boxes out in the garage and if he doesn't get to them soon, I will go through them and toss out any obvious garbage. Then move the contents to where they belong in the house or garage or put them in another box for him. A lot of times it feels like musical boxes, but it is the only way for me to stay sane. We moved two years ago--both our home and business to one property--and it was crazy-awful! I had a six-month old and 2 1/2 year old. There was no way for me to go through everything at that time, so we took everything with us. Life has settled somewhat and it feels so freeing to get organized and get rid of stuff. My husband is happy about it too and fortunately it is not upsetting him or anything (so I don't think there are any mental health issues). He gets really excited when I find things he's been missing for awhile.
 

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