What do you do when you live with a hoarder? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 56 Old 03-29-2011, 12:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Seriously! How do you deal, and successfully declutter, when your dh, dp, or other family member / housemate hoards?

My dh is a hoarder, and I am the only reason he doesn't have his own tv show on TLC. He loves his stuff. I can keep him in check most of the time, for example, I've stopped the trips to used bookstores (oh god), but still.

How can you get rid of stuff when (1) he's so hard to convince to let go of anything (even though he knows he has a problem), (2) sometimes he notices when stuff is missing when you purge. So frustrating!

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#2 of 56 Old 03-29-2011, 05:49 AM
 
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My advice is to give him 1 room or area (for my dh it's a section of the basement) and he can fill that area, but no more. He will probably try to push the limits, which is why a room or closet would be best. But for me, I'd rather not give up a whole room, so I nag until dh goes down and tames his crap every so often.

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#3 of 56 Old 03-29-2011, 06:28 AM
 
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Honestly? I would seek help for your DH. From a decluttering standpoint, this is a problem you're going to continue to struggle against until you treat it head-on. And I imagine from a mental health perspective, your DH would much rather be free of this problem. hug.gif
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#4 of 56 Old 03-29-2011, 08:02 AM
 
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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.

 

But if he really is a hoarder, professional help is needed. You could try all sorts of strategies and they might even help for a week, but then it will just come back, and back, and back.

 

I am friends with someone who has their own show on TLC.


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#5 of 56 Old 03-29-2011, 10:06 AM
 
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any suggestions for useful reading on the matter and some sort of self-help manual ?

I need help but where I live, I would'nt know where to turn for advice ...

tia

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#6 of 56 Old 03-29-2011, 12:57 PM
 
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I agree with PP... get him in therapy.


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#7 of 56 Old 03-29-2011, 01:41 PM
 
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Hmm, I see you're in Europe. That could indeed be a little trickier.

 

I will try to think if my friend had any books she thought were useful.


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#8 of 56 Old 03-30-2011, 12:32 AM
 
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Laohaire thank you for trying, I read english and can order books online, usually from the UK .... USA as well actually but it takes longer to arrive !

 

when you say professional help, what kind of training have done the people who can help ?

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#9 of 56 Old 03-30-2011, 06:18 AM
 
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That's the problem, professionals specializing in helping hoarders is a new thing even in the US. There's only a handful of real experts. And even they haven't totally figured it out.

 

I am still trying to remember the name of an expert that seemed to really get it with my friend, and I was going to look to see if he had a book.

 

I have not read this and have no idea if it's good, but it could be a start:

http://www.amazon.com/Overcoming-Compulsive-Hoarding-Save-Stop/dp/157224349X

And look at the titles in the "Customers who bought this also bought..." area too. (I realize you might not be able to order from Amazon; it's just a good place to browse).

 

 


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#10 of 56 Old 03-30-2011, 06:21 AM
 
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Regardless, something like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is helpful. Hoarding is essentially an anxiety issue, so a doctor that has a firm understanding of how to treat anxiety can usually work with the person to help deal with the symptoms of that anxiety, in this case, the hoarding(though I suspect there's probably other symptoms as well). 

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#11 of 56 Old 03-30-2011, 05:14 PM
 
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DH doesn't have a ton of things, but he's pretty attached to what he has (even if he got it for free!). Thus far, I've only decluttered my things, DD's things, and community things (like the kitchen). We're still early in the process, but I'm hoping that once I get through all the stuff around the house and only his junk is left, he'll be more open to it. 


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#12 of 56 Old 03-30-2011, 08:23 PM
 
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thank you for your suggestion Laohaire ... I used ********.com to read reviews (which are more numerous that on the european websites of the same company) but ordered 3 different books from the UK website, which I think, from reading various reviews, will hopefully be a reasonably good fit for my particular needs ....

 

having people to talk about it on this sub forum is already a great help to me.

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#13 of 56 Old 04-02-2011, 10:10 AM
 
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My DH is like yours, only he doesn't purchase a lot. He's just really attached to what he has.


 

 

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#14 of 56 Old 04-02-2011, 10:10 AM
 
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What is ********.com?


 

 

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#15 of 56 Old 04-02-2011, 12:53 PM
 
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I thought we were not to mention commercial websites or something .... I meant amazon.com

I've now realised that I can order from the UK (amazon.co.uk) or from France (amazon.fr) or from the US (it's just that shipping is more)

... I can't just always ask a friend to go and buy and then trail to the post office to send it to me, even if I send them a cheque to cover costs ....

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#16 of 56 Old 04-03-2011, 12:21 AM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by IsaFrench View Post

I thought we were not to mention commercial websites or something ....

Probably only if mentioning sites that sell things which compete with mothering.com's shop?  I am guessing anyway. I can't see any books on hoarding in their shop.


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#17 of 56 Old 04-04-2011, 09:54 AM
 
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COUNSELING! Especially if he really is a hoarder. Then again, if he really is a hoarder, he might not see that it's a problem and be willing to get help. 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 mom's a hoarder and has taken over my parents' entire house and there's nothing my dad can do about it. No deals can be struck and anytime anyone mentions anything about it, they're juts being mean because the stuff is really valuable.


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#18 of 56 Old 04-04-2011, 10:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much for all of your replies! Glad to know I'm not the only one with a hoarder / messy / attached-to-his-stuff husband.

 

We have a man cave where most of his stuff goes. Problem is that I sometimes also use the man cave for tv and the couch. So I don't want it too gross in there. And his stuff still spills over into other areas like the bedroom, living room, etc etc. 

 

In my case, he does have mild to moderate anxiety in many areas of his life (oy the babies! Every little red dot that might appear on their skin is like, OMG call the doctor!) and he is cognizant of his issues. He's learned that he's a mild hoarder and that he has to control his impulses to collect, buy, and save. He will allow me to veto purchases and occasionally help him clean out a drawer or his closet (he is so attached to free t-shirts that he brings home from events!) So we have that going for us. We've talked about him getting therapy, but he is reluctant. He doesn't want someone to just give him a prescription (has tried Rx before in the past and didn't like it), and he's just kind of stubborn about using talk therapy or CBT. Hoping that sometime in the future he will reconsider and talk to someone.

 

A question I have is, do you ever just make items disappear? I do it all the time. Usually it's fine and he doesn't notice, but once in a while it will be something that he remembers or really WAS useful, and I feel so bad! But seriously, sometimes I just have to clean out his trash.


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#19 of 56 Old 04-04-2011, 04:42 PM
 
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Even though I think it is wrong, I have "disappeared" stuff.

I would hate to have my stuff thrown out, without being consulted. 

I just get tired keeping an ever growing accumulation of stuff at bay...


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#20 of 56 Old 04-05-2011, 01:41 AM
 
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having some of my stuff "disappear" would drive me nuts .... suppose I should be very grateful that DH doesn't do it ...

I think I'll get even so protective and resentful that I would slow down even more

 

the more anxious I'll get, the less likely I am to tackle the issue too ...

 

so for me... a tentative (and very slow ,unfortunately) plan of action is to make sure that some conditions that are necessary for me are met so that I can feel my mind at ease to start tackling the project of decluttering ....

by that I mean that I already have to have the flat in a minimum of cleanliness (all the water point scrubbed) + shopping done + know what I'm going to have for the next 2 or 3 meals, + no deadline to be met with the PTA + the stuff I do with the dance classes sorted out already + reasonnably good sleep + children at school or out of the way, and not all worked out by some recurring issues we have about in-laws or stress related issues with Dh's work .... etc .... so in short, I'm rarely "ready" to tackle it ....

 

+ there must be varying degree of clutter and it probably is different for males and females ?????

 

have just received the "no more clutter" by Kay .;. and am puzzled because I pass the test on page 8, no problem, yes, I can find 5 key items(passport, spare key ...)  in less than a minute (mind you my last bank statement is not in its folder, it's in a pile that's vertical near my computer but has been growing for more than 4 weeks ... and need to be sorted and put away 'in their right place" ...) so I don't have that sort of clutter problem ...

 

+ in a magazine I read recently they mentionned ... well, put the magazine aside 2 days ago and cannot find it now .... the "easy stuff" and the "weak spots" (another wording but I cannot remember, english not my mother tongue) so I suppose I have quite a few weak spots/area where I'm terribly cluttered and other where I'm fine ... or not so bad .... ?

 

=> would it help to define with a spouse which different areas or categories there are issues with ?

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#21 of 56 Old 04-05-2011, 02:43 PM
 
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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!

 

 


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#22 of 56 Old 08-05-2012, 12:20 PM
 
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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.

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#23 of 56 Old 08-05-2012, 12:25 PM
 
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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.

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#24 of 56 Old 08-06-2012, 04:41 PM
 
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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.
 

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#25 of 56 Old 08-06-2012, 05:24 PM
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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.  


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#26 of 56 Old 08-11-2012, 08:47 AM
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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.  


"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#27 of 56 Old 08-11-2012, 10:21 AM
 
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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.


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#28 of 56 Old 08-12-2012, 10:25 AM
 
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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.")

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#29 of 56 Old 09-19-2012, 09:16 AM
 
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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*

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#30 of 56 Old 09-20-2012, 08:07 AM
 
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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.


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