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#1 of 34 Old 07-17-2005, 12:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Has anyone gone through a similar situation and their DH been okay with it? I worry about starting a minor war in our household...DH can be really stubborn.
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#2 of 34 Old 07-17-2005, 02:22 AM
 
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I'm sorry to say I'm pretty much in the same boat as you. My husband won't let go of anything. He saves: ALL magazines, tons of old junky toys that my son can't even play with, "magic, the gathering" cards, piles scraps of drawings, out-dated clothes that don't fit anymore, VHS tapes of things he doesn't remember (nevermind the rapidly growing DVD collection we don't have room for), movie tickets, comics....just lots of JUNK. If you looked at all of his stuff you wouldn't believe they belonged to a 31-year-old. I understand his desire to keep for example the comics, but let's organize them and keep them in one place!! Then, his Mother recently passed..... I had to fight tooth and nail for him to not bring all of her stuff home. We pulled 3 forty-foot long dumpsters of her junk from her house (and that wasn't even all of it : ). And to think his Dad is much much worse......ugh .

I've been sorting through and eliminating my junk in hopes to set an example. Well, when DH saw all of the stuff I was getting rid of, instead of being proud that I've let go of so much, he became upset!! He was like "you are throwing out your history!!! How are you going to remember anything?!" (he hangs onto things for memory purposes). Well, there is no way I can ever remember anything. Here is an example: my Aunt just found a whole bag full of art projects I did in kindergarden and first grade. When she showed me them, I honestly only remember three things out of all of them, and I don't even have a memory of actually working on them. So, most likely I will throw those items out. However, an item such as my toy racoon that I dragged everywhere as a child I will keep because it does hold a lot of memories for me. DH however is the type that cannot single out those items of his that mean the most, so he just would rather keep it all. It's like trying to make room for a future with someone stuck in the past.

Sorry for the vent , but just know you are not the only one!!!!
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#3 of 34 Old 07-17-2005, 04:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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LOL Zamber...all that sounds familiar. My DH went a little crazy with the DVDs too and now we have an entire bookcase full of them. We are set for family movie night for many moons to come.

Plus, we have a wide assortment of computer parts and accessories that he refuses to get rid of...says he wants to use the parts when he teaches our DD how to build a computer. Nevermind that they're already obsolete and of course, he'd never ever actually use them -- he'd buy the latest greatest just like he does now. Heavy sigh.

I think I'm just going to risk it and hopefully he'll be so pleased with the result that he'll forgive me.
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#4 of 34 Old 07-17-2005, 09:19 AM
 
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Originally Posted by chisaomom
Oh, and I should mention that I've been after him about the garage for 5 years now. He keeps saying he'll do it, but it never happens. He has said repeatedly that it would upset him if I were to do anything with it.
I just wanted to say that it is also important how you feel. You are also upset. It's not fair that he's the only one who gets to decide.

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#5 of 34 Old 07-17-2005, 09:42 AM
 
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I would go on laundry strike until he gets it cleaned up. Once it becomes a problem for him, he'll get it taken care of. Right now, it's only a problem for you.
I would also recommend he watch a show like Missionrganization or CleanSweep to get ideas of how to get started. It may just be so overwhelming he doesn't know what to do.
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#6 of 34 Old 07-17-2005, 05:49 PM
 
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Wow, my husband surprized me today. I woke up to my DH cleaning and actually letting go of some of those old junky VHS tapes I had mentioned, along with some other things.

I don't want to jump to conclusions, but just maybe it is finally sinking in. It could also be that I really got upset ( hormones : ) yesterday because I have nowhere to put anything. Right now he is going to Office Max to pick up some of the organizational tools I need to start making some headway . He's trying!

Oh yeah, I absolutely love Clean Sweep, but that show actually riles my DH up. I think it puts it into his mind that I want a empty house or something so he panics. However, a trip to his Dad's house (who saves things like bread bags, yogurt cups, frozen dinner trays, etc. to were you can't even walk without bumping into something) also reminds him of where he doesn't want to be in a few years, and that motivates him (he just went there yesterday too).

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I think I'm just going to risk it and hopefully he'll be so pleased with the result that he'll forgive me.
Yeah, I tried to sneak things into the garbage and that usually bites me in the butt, so be careful. That's where I have to negotiate to get what I want. "I'll get rid of this thing of mine that you can't stand if you get rid of this".
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#7 of 34 Old 07-18-2005, 02:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Zamber, can your DH talk to mine please? LOL Seriously, I think getting started is the biggest obstacle to getting the job done. If my DH would just start on sorting through one box or pile of stuff, the rest would just follow. It can be so overwhelming to see a whole room of work before you. Add to it the emotional aspect and it's a daunting task indeed.

I think I am going to start reboxing and sorting for him. Maybe when he sees some progress he'll be willing to pitch in.

Boobs, I appreciate your support, but having laundry pile up would really bother me more than it would my DH. I know someone who went on a dishwashing strike for 4 months before her DH broke down and began helping with the chores. I love the idea, but with a small child in the house, I just don't have that option. And DH would NEVER watch those shows, which I love by the way. I did read him a few passages from a decluttering book I checked out at the library and have introduced the "something new in, something old out" principle with a small amount of success. At least he gets it now. The crux of the matter is it just isn't a priority to him and therein lies the real problem.

Momtwice, you're absolutely right. Unfortunately for me that means I will have to take matters into my own hands.
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#8 of 34 Old 07-18-2005, 02:30 PM
 
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f you don't mind doing the heavy lifting, I would suggest you work on the garage like you expect to keep every blessed little thing. DON'T throw anything (but empty boxes and packing paper) out, but DO arrange it neatly as you can. Make more space by using the items, or what not.

He is NOT honoring his parents by keeping them locked in little boxes in the garage and he is

NOT honoring his own family by keeping his houce clogged.

He IS attracting rats and seriously-- this is coming from someone who antagonized her dh much as your dh is antagonizing you-- by the time I got to my boxes like that, some items had molded and disintegrated beyond recognition. He is in effect destroying what he wants to preserve by leaving them all piled up like that. Spare him some of the heartbreak I experienced when I learned differently.


------
"However, a trip to his Dad's house (who saves things like bread bags, yogurt cups, frozen dinner trays, etc. to were you can't even walk without bumping into something) also reminds him of where he doesn't want to be in a few years, and that motivates him (he just went there yesterday too). "

When I met him, dh did this too. It was so nasty. You should not be microwaving old margarine (EW they eat margarine) tubs! It was crazy-making.
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#9 of 34 Old 07-18-2005, 06:40 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Wolfmeis
You should not be microwaving old margarine (EW they eat margarine) tubs! It was crazy-making.
:LOL :LOL :LOL Tell me about it!! It's insane what some people will keep.

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He IS attracting rats
He is definately attracting mice, which get into EVERYTHING. A perfect example is what happened to me. Before we moved into our current place, DH and I lived in a very small one bedroom apartment. So, unfortunately I had no choice but to store some of my things over at DH's Dad's garage. Well, much to my dismay, the friendly neighborhood mice thought my beautiful sewing machine/desk that I had just inherited from my Grandmother was a condo. They ripped up all of the thread and urinated, deficated, and raised their babies in the drawers (on the positive side they had a nice warm winter....). I was and horrified. Then, to add insult to injury, his Dad took it all apart to move it over to our new place because he thought it would break if he moved it in one piece (even though it has been moved like that several times! It's not fragile! I don't know how that man's brain works! ). Now, it is sitting in my shed not getting used right now. Everytime I see it sitting there I get . My goal is to get it back in shape before fall comes around.

Quote:
Zamber, can your DH talk to mine please?
:LOL :LOL :LOL Then my DH might realize what he's doing and stop!!! :LOL :LOL :LOL
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#10 of 34 Old 07-20-2005, 03:40 PM
 
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I've done a combo of attacks on the DH-Clutter.

1. was going through and sorting all his boxs O crap. Seriously, we had probably 15 large boxes (the entire walkin closet was filled to bursting!) and I got it down to less than 3, and 99% of what I threw out was GARBAGE. Old reciepts for video games in 95....stubby broken pencils, tiny doodles on scraps of paper, REAMS of wrinkled/damaged/folded paper...ect.

2. The sneak....throwing away stuff and hoping he doesn't notice. I tend to do this the most with clothes. I pull out the shirts that are repeatedly being pulled out and tossed back into the drawer in a ball. I've learned this means they are too small now, and need to GO. He'd still have size L shirts in there if I let him, and he hasn't work a size L since HS! he's a 2X!
I do this with undies/socks alot too. They are all pretty grimey looking after a couple years, so I toss most of them (with undies I keep some of his boxer briefs he doesn't wear as much but loves, and dresssocks which he NEVER wears) and buy a whole lot of new stuff. He generally doesn't question how the undie fairy gets in and out so quick

3. Strike deals. This is best exampled by his HUGE "this was on TV so I taped it on VHS, but the labels are so old they are peeling off and I have never once watched them" collection, mainly old startrek and such. I'm a bigger trek fan than he is, but thats just nuts. We had probably 150 once blank tapes sitting on the shelf in a big closet. *headshake*
I told him if we tossed ALL his vhs tapes (the once blank ones) and ALL his EMPTY video game boxes (i'm talking a whole bookcase full of EMPTY boxes!) he could pick any DVD boxed set off amazon, upto 100 bucks. He tossed, I bought him farscape (I can't recall which seasons) on dvd, along with the firefly box set, and he was giddy and hasn't even noticed the stuff being gone. lol.

It was the best 100 bucks i've ever spent
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#11 of 34 Old 07-20-2005, 10:02 PM
 
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What if you tacle it slowly on your own? Say, go through and fill one box with garbage, let him know that this one box is going out in the morning's trash, and that if he wants anything in it to pull it out. That might make it less overwhelming to him.

I completely disagree with sneaking stuff out without his permission. Yes, he's being irrational; no, that does not mean that you have the right to disrespect the feelings of someone you love.
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#12 of 34 Old 07-20-2005, 10:44 PM
 
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My DH also saves everything. Old magazines, old newspapers (because when he retires he is going to read them -- he retired two years ago :LOL ), non-working highlighters because someday someone might decide that they can be recycled, old toys, clothes from 30 years ago (that still fit so he wears them for working around the house -- you gotta love the bellbottoms from when he was 20!). Well you get the picture. The entire garage and basement are totally full. I cleaned out a closet once and it contained 4 large garbage bags full of used manila envelopes. 4 bags! He has not seemed to miss them, but he has started another collection in the basement! I actually no longer give him any presents that are not consumable because they just get added to the piles. One thing that helped somewhat was when he really wanted to save our kids toys for sentimental reasons I pointed out that we have been given old toys from when somebody cleans out their attic that have become mildewy and disgusting from age. If they had been passed on right away, many more children could have played them. He no longer objects when I give away their toys. (of course I do plan on keeping a few myself!). My constant and strenuous objections about unhealthy dampness from all of the paper stored in the house are also making some progress. Unfortunately, he still actually pulls things from other people's garbage so they can be "recycled" -- After gargage yesterday, we have suddenly accumulated five broken lounge chairs that someone (usually me) will eventually have to dissassemble so they can be taken to the scrap metal recycling. People also have been know to give him things they can't bear to throw away. I currently have a huge shopping bag full of cat food from someone's deceased cat because he agreed to drop it off at the animal shelter. I believe the person who will actually be doing this will be ME!

Honestly, I wish you luck. I have come to the conclusion that I need to go to graduate school, get a decent job and buy myself a house that will be a safe and comfortable home for myself and my children. It sounds extreme but 40 years of saved up junk is pretty extreme also...
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#13 of 34 Old 07-24-2005, 05:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the feedback and support everyone. It's nice to know I'm not alone.

EmsMom, I can understand the sentiment about buying a new house and leaving the mess behind. I'm a minimalist married to a packrat -- there's going to be some conflict. We rented an apartment last year while our house was being remodeled, and I was so comfortable, because we just had the things we absolutely needed and there was no clutter whatsoever. Ahhhh

srain, I get what you're saying but I guess I think of it as him disrespecting our entire family. Having an orderly house is important, especially when one has children. The things that are obviously his parents' personal belongings will get boxed up for him to never deal with (I guess our children will when we're gone), but the rest is fair game.

Basylica, yep, me too! DH's clothes that are past their prime get tossed by me. He's never missed anything. Maybe it's wrong to do that, but I think of it as saving him from himself. If I didn't declutter our living space it'd soon look like our garage. And I like the idea of striking a deal -- giving him something to look forward to. That's smart.

I bought boxes and have been going through things and sorting. It's amazing the things I've found -- for example -- two huge boxes containing receipts from DH's dad's store from 20 years ago! Also ancient phone equipment and more computers. Last count was 37 garbage bags full of old clothes, including some that are probably 40 years old (his grandmother's). And of course, nothing is in order; everything was just "thrown in" on top of the pile. The things that are ruined are getting tossed, and that's a lot, because most everything is badly molded. And it looks like we had some "guests" setting up house at one point, although I don't see any now, just lots of things that have been chewed. Great.

We have a three car garage and it is nearly full. It is going to take me a long time to finish this. DH isn't happy about it, but has agreed that he won't be handling it anytime soon (which means never).

So Operation Take Back the Garage is in full swing. Someday we may actually be able to park a care in there. Woohoo! Wish me luck.
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#14 of 34 Old 07-24-2005, 06:23 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Zamber
Oh yeah, I absolutely love Clean Sweep, but that show actually riles my DH up.
It riles my DH up too. It's because they force the people to get rid of stuff. Like, the homeowners select 2 beer steins to sell, and 24 to keep, and the show tells them they can only keep two and will play a game to determine which two mugs to keep.
That's hell to a "keeper". Perhaps if you assured him that you think that's really unfair, too, and that his criteria will be kept in mind, he might be a little more reasonable.

I have agreed to keep anything my husband wants, but it can't be in the way of things we actually use. So, we have several areas of storage in the house that are for the things he wants to keep. I get sad when items get destroyed because they are stored improperly. That's happening to his parents - because there are so many items to keep, they don't have temperature and humidity controlled storage for it all, so it's all dumped in the shed to get wet and moldy and turn into true garbage. If they only dumped the crap, they could save the "gold".
Over time, living without these items makes him realize that many items aren't really that important. We probably haul around 1/2 of what we used to.

He is also beginning to truly feel like we won't be so poor that we can't purchase those items again. We don't need to keep 100 plastic Burger King cups because we'll always have the $$ to buy 4 more glasses at IKEA for $2. I think that he has a depression era mentality - we can't dump it because we'll need it. Over time, we have worked together find a way to predict the possibility - it's it's a 5% chance of reuse, we donate it or sell it. We might have to get a replacement someday, but it's unlikely.

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#15 of 34 Old 07-25-2005, 01:00 PM
 
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My DH is like this, too, but so am I.

We have 30 boxes of comics in the basement.
If it were up to him, every single daily sheet from day care would be saved.
If it were up to him, every single gas receipt, with the mileage and the gallons recorded on it would be saved.

I've found that throwing things out behind his back only addresses the symptoms, not the problem. The space just gets cluttered and filled up again. And it pisses him off and violates his trust.

After 6 months of mental work (since January, new year) I feel like I'm ready to begin the work to declutter myself. Someday I hope that DH will come along, but I need "get my own house/head in order" first.

Somethings I want to try:
1) Pick one space and get it organzed. Make it a place of beauty and harmony. If I could get one room or even one wall of a room in order, maybe it would spark a household clean-up.
2) Hold in mind that we live an abundant life. Trust that when we need things, they will be there.
3) Try to limit things to a single box or some amount. EG - with the day care sheets, could we save 1 per month or even 1 per week instead of daily sheets.
4) Engage a friend in a support system/group.

I recognize that I have some kind of problem - also from Depression era parents and so does DH. I think I come from a place of need or emptiness and so does DH. It's not simple laziness or even being overwhelmed. It's an actual problem.

You asked what to do: I would approach it very gently and work WITH your DH. Is he able to see that the desire to keep stuff is holding him back? There's a lot of good infor on this board about the "energy" of stuff keeping.
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=290813
I'd also work to get a few rooms in order and honestly leave the junk rooms to him. You can't DO his mental work/healing work for him. You can throw shit out and box it up, but until HE comes to a place of feeling whole and abundant, the problem will start all over again.

And I think throwing it out behind his back or trying to force him to get to that place before he is ready will only make it take longer. Think of it like forcing potty training or sleeping through the night.

Good luck to you. I feel for you.

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#16 of 34 Old 07-25-2005, 02:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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"If they only dumped the crap, they could save the "gold"."

Apricot, you are so right. There are undoubtedly things worth saving in our huge pile. I've tried to explain to DH that if that stuff is so important to him it deserves to be stored properly so that it doesn't get ruined. I hope it's not too late; I haven't found anything yet that wasn't in pretty bad shape.

Ellien, you've got some good ideas there. I'm hoping once DH can see the floor of the garage, and admires DD's new playroom, he'll get with the program. The rest of our house is clutter-free because I refuse to let things pile up. When he brings home something I throw out the boxes, which drives him crazy but keeps me sane. Nevermind that we've never said, "Gosh, I wish we hadn't thrown out the box.", he just thinks it's wasteful to throw anything away. But to me, throwing things out is a very freeing feeling; I just wish DH would try it and find out for himself how good it feels to be rid of all the junk. I feel like it's keeping us from living our lives fully.
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#17 of 34 Old 07-25-2005, 02:22 PM
 
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This thread is making me really appreciate being single.

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19, Hannah, 18, and Jack, 12
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#18 of 34 Old 07-25-2005, 05:34 PM
 
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Ruth, LOL....i'm starting to feel a tad jealous
My DH took off all week last week, and I worked 12hr days and all weekend until 1am.
DH said he was gonna "do stuff around the house" on his week off. We bought things for him to do around the house (wallpaper removal tools, digital therm, lighting...ect)

DH took DS to daycare, and proceeded to spend ALL week playing video games.
He installed ONE light, and did ONE load of dishes, and I've been working for 2 weeks straight...

*grumble*

And Srain :
At this level of horde, it's not disrespectful of my DH's feelings to toss. Most of the stuff I choose to keep (and if in doubt, I keep it!) he didn't even know he HAD...
The choice becomes, do I let him keep 12 boxes of stuff he keeps piled in the closet and NEVER looks at, or do I clean through them and let him keep one box of stuff?
I mean, I found boxes of clothes from when he moved from st louis when he was 20, then moved the box (still packed!) to his apartment when he was 23, then to our apartment when he was 25, then to our new house at 28.
I think 10 years is long enough to have a box of *junk* still taped and packed, with no clue as to what is inside.

Next step?
Buying a large rubbermaid tote thing (like big enough to stick me in) and writing "doug's childhood junk" and forcing him to put EVERYTHING he's clinging to into that box. What doest fit gets tossed.

Needless to say my little packrat isn't happy about it. But, i'm *easily* able to fit all my childhood stuff into a smaller one, and his parents still have alot of his stuff...he can cut down. Darnit!
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#19 of 34 Old 07-26-2005, 02:39 AM
 
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This might sound weird, but I have a packrat husband too and I am a recovering packrat myself. I am wondering if your dh might benefit from Bach Flower Essences, the Honeysuckle? It is for "living in the past" and perhaps he would feel more in the present and not need to hold onto things from his past as if those things could keep that time alive for him. I have lost my father, brother, grandmother, sister, in that order, to cancer, a drunk driver, cancer and heartdisease. I had all their things in my tiny 1 bedroom apartment trying to hold onto them and what they meant to me (everything). Slowly I realized that this stuff is not "them" and it's so funny, because it was my dh who pointed this out gently to me! And he is a much bigger packrat than me, but I think it's so much easier to see it when it's someone else, kwim? Well, I have let a LOT of stuff go and it is very freeing because it frees up your mind to remember the wonderful times you spent with them and not feeling weighed down with their *dead* stuff. It's like a fresh, alive spirit came in to replace the funeral home of my house and now I am living in the present and still honoring my loved ones with my life. It took a long time to come around, it took many years to heal the grief of loss and each loss makes the last one even harder to take because it takes away what I had *leftover* and *holding on for dear life to*. As I let go (and continue to let go of) the clutter in my home, I am happier and actually living life again instead of being sad all the time. I haven't thrown away anything that brings happy memories, but all the *stuff* had to GO and it has. I really hope your dh heals in his grief at losing his parents and I think that Bach Flower Essences can really help him in that process in a gently, non-addictive way.
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#20 of 34 Old 07-26-2005, 04:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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BoyGirl, thank you so much for writing that and I'm sorry that you've lost so many people close to you. What you said about honoring them with your life really struck a chord with me and I'm going to share that with my DH. He is obviously having a really hard time letting go and I think he would probably benefit from some grief counseling, but he has refused to go. The Flower Essences are worth a try; have to admit I've never heard of them, but am assuming this is a type of aromatherapy?
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#21 of 34 Old 07-26-2005, 07:06 AM
 
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I'm a definate horder of things that "might comein usefull". I also find it hard to get rid of things which still have life left but which I don't like/want. DH is similar though not to quite the same extent. We've developed several stratergies

Try to find a good home for it, mostly by taking to charity shops but I've just joined my local freecycle group too, I'm hoping this will work better as I awlays end up wiht bags for the charity shops sitting round for ages.

Scan it/take photos of it. This is what we do with papers, schoolwork etc. We both have our screensavers set up to display our digital photos so we get to see them occasionaly. This worked really well when DHs grandma died, she had lots of things in her house with sentimental value but whihc nobody actually wanted, we took a digital camera and took lots of photos of her house for people to remember them by. It also gave his Dad something to do rather than wander aimlessly round the house.

We each have 1 box of oddments, it gives me somewhere to put all the little bits and bobs that I think DHs wants but I don't know what to do with.

We try and keep limits on the space thinsg take up, for example I try to keep only 1 shelf of empty jars for reuse, 1 box of coloured paper for crafts etc.

It's not perfect but it is helping
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#22 of 34 Old 07-26-2005, 10:36 AM
 
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I can completely understand your agony...I would be a bit crazy if I had to live in that situation.
My DH has also been taught to keep everything as everything has a memory. He has TRIED to instill this in my mind and give me grief about stuff I throw away without thinking twice about...however since we live in a small house with only enough room for us...and now a baby on the way I have had to make his space smaller and smaller...thus he has to reduce the stuff he can keep. Easier for my DH because nobody's memory are held to these keepsakes....unless you count ex-girlfriends!
However what I explained to my husband is that you can't enjoy your memories when they are chucked in a bunch of boxes and stuffed in your closet. That you forget you even have this or that till you move and the stuff that REALLY means something to you gets lost amongst the junk....
So what I did is got him a tote...a fair size rubber tote and we went through all his boxes, garbage bags and totes and he picked out the things that had memories and meant something to him. I also bought him a photo album to put cards and pictures in so that they would be more convienient to look through and remember.
He got pretty embarrassed when he opened the boxes with me sitting there because some of the stuff he found!! Like baby toys he has NO idea where he got them from, a letter from some girl that moved away when he was in the 7th grade and it was more a letter to his friend then to him...but she only had his address....some pretty strange stuff anyway!

I didn't really help him sort the stuff but I sat there and showed interest in all this junk he had kept for some reason....and uniform after uniform from all the sports teams he has ever played on...he appreciated though and really stayed motivated. He was able to get two boxes and tw garbage bags to fit in the one tote I bought him...and he STILL kept allot of junk...stuff he just wasn't ready to throw away yet...and that is fine...next time we go through them a little more will go out and so on.
When he couldn't decide if it should be thrown out or not I would say "Well did you even know you had kept it?", "What are you going to use it for?", and "When is the last time you needed it or wanted to look at it to remember?"......

But I know I have his mother to thank for this who saves all the wrapping paper off every gift she recieves....and not to re-use it!!
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#23 of 34 Old 07-26-2005, 10:19 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Basylica
And Srain :
At this level of horde, it's not disrespectful of my DH's feelings to toss. Most of the stuff I choose to keep (and if in doubt, I keep it!) he didn't even know he HAD.......
Needless to say my little packrat isn't happy about it.
If he does not agree, then it is disrespectful. I have no doubt that you can come up with a win-win solution here, and you've gotten some excellent advice from other folks who did so. I understand being fed up with the situation; I'd be really angry too. But I still don't think that gives either partner in a marriage the right to have the final say in decisions that affect both people.
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#24 of 34 Old 07-26-2005, 11:26 PM
 
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I'm sure you guys have heard of Flylady. Anyway, a couple of months ago she sent out an essay that her husband wrote about Men's Stuff. I liked the essay. It doesn't really have a solution, but it was good to hear from a man's perspective. Its kind of long, but here it is:

Men's Stuff

When you're about to take a trip, you make preparations. You gas up the car, you pack your bag, maybe you check the map. Anyway, you do all this before you leave the driveway. Guys' possible future lives are like that; we acquire things that are either currently useful, or things that will surely be useful later, when we fulfill one or another of those life missions our parents unknowingly gave us. Up to now, the analogy to getting ready for a trip works fairly well, but right here it breaks down. If the trip gets cancelled, you don't leave the bag packed. When the kid (who, let's say, played football in high school) finds himself a finish carpenter, or pediatrician, or whatever, he will probably not throw away that high school letter jacket. He's not going to wear it, but he is going to keep it, at least for a while. And while he keeps it, to you it looks like clutter.

To him, it isn't clutter. It is the smudgy ink stamp on the wrist that says he can get back into the nightclub of youth. To understand this, you need to understand the difference between how you stay young, and how he does. Men, for the most part, don't use makeup. We may use hair dye, but we don't use it well. We may work out in the gym, but we don't use body shapers or girdles. In other words, our attempts at eternal youth are less successful than yours are. And yet, our culture sets a considerable premium on youth, or at least the illusion of youth. Let's just say it: you fool yourselves your way, we fool ourselves our way, and our way involves psychological props. As long as we don't discard that old camping equipment, we are still campers, still Boy Scouts, sort of. If we keep the letter jacket, we preserve the moment of triumph as if it were only yesterday. If we don't have that old GTO hauled off, we tell ourselves that we might still, someday, rebuild the motor and have a muscle car again. As long as we keep the stuff, we can still cling to the illusions.

I am a mediocre bridge player but a decent chess player. I can regap the tappets on an MG, but there are third graders who can draw better than I can. When people talk about me, they sometimes say that I'm a judge and that's fine, that's how the language works, but it isn't really true. I make my living as a judge, but that's just what I do, it isn't what I am. I don't know what I am; I like to think I'm a work in progress. But whatever it is that I presently am, I don't think it can be summed up in one word. I don't think your guy can be, either. I'm not a judge, she's not a blond, he isn't an activist, and you're not a ditz. But having said that, I think it is possible to say what someone is not. Your guy's life still has many roads it can take, but
some of the original possibilities are now firmly in the past. He could still write a play, or learn Spanish, but at some point, it has become a fact that he isn't going to be a professional athlete, or a rock star. And yet he may still have musty old letter jacket, or a dust-covered set of drums, or a box of obsolete radio parts, or a wooden tennis racket. They have in fact become clutter, from the moment that he came to a fork in the road and took the path that led some other way. You see it. He doesn't, at least not yet. Men do not
easily come to terms with what they are not, because the illusion that all of the possibilities are still intact is a comforting one. As long as all things are possible, we are still twenty. To look at our life and say that this or that thing is simply not going to happen, is to acknowledge that we aren't twenty any more.

I don't know that there is anything you can do about any of this; maybe just knowing is enough. But remember, you hooked up with your guy, and women aren't attracted by stupidity. He isn't a dimwit, but he is willing to fool himself if you let him. The wrong way to not-let him is to say, "Why are you keeping that old stuff? You're never going to do anything with that!" That is wrong, not because it is incorrect, but because it won't work. Just a thought: if you get rid of the prom dress, the letter jacket will probably disappear. Your home may not have either of those things, but you know what I mean.
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#25 of 34 Old 07-27-2005, 12:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Troymama, Interesting essay. I think most people (both men and women) like to have their options open, because possibilities represent hope and dreams that we just don't want to kill off.

For years I kept a pair of size 1 jeans that I'd worn in my early 20s. Will I ever fit into them again? Not likely, unless I run out of things to eat. So, after nearly 20 years of wishful thinking, I bid them a fond farewell. Now, that's probably not the type of example my DH wants to see, LOL, but for me, it was a moment full of meaning, not the least of which was self-acceptance for where I am NOW.

At some point people need to be practical and take some responsibility for their living conditions. In the case of my home, a line has been crossed and something absolutely positively must be done. Believe me, if it were just a high school letter jacket we were talking about here, I'd gladly frame it and hang it above the fireplace. LOL
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#26 of 34 Old 07-27-2005, 12:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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"But I know I have his mother to thank for this who saves all the wrapping paper off every gift she recieves....and not to re-use it!! "

Carsonsmama, This is exactly why I view decluttering as so important...I don't want my DD (who's nearly 2) to grow up thinking it's okay.

srain, it's also disrespectful to force your family into pretzelian maneuverings in order to live in an ordered, clean and safe home. No one should have to do that -- it should be a given. Our garage is a fire hazard. It's a health hazard (I found chemicals that have been sitting so long that their containers have rusted, spilling the contents, which have long ago mixed and dried. And that's just the first couple of feet along one edge! Who knows what's in there. Vermin may be the least of our problems.). And just as worrisome for me, it's setting a terrible example for our young daughter. When things get this out of hand, it's a crisis situation. My DH should thank his lucky stars (and me profusely) that I don't hire a skip and a team of burley guys with shovels to get rid of the mess. I hope that doesn't come off as being rude, truly it is not my intention, because there's a lot of truth to what you're saying and I agree with you in theory, but our situation is past the point of doing things how they "should" be done.
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#27 of 34 Old 07-27-2005, 12:51 AM
 
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Nak,

It could be that ha has looked at the huge mountain of stuff that needs to be moved and is feeling fairly overwhelmed by it. Maybe if you sort it into piles and one sunny afternoon set him up under a shady tree and bring him one pile at a time, knowing that you are prepared to help will make it easier for him. DH is chronic I have started cleaning out our shed and there are computer monitors that haven't worked in at least 6 years in there, but I have been putting a pile in front of the shed that I think needs to go to the tip. He will sort it as he loads it onto the ute. Stuff I know should be kept gets sorted and packed into boxes and labelled. Then I will have a pile for clothes, office stuff, electrical, etc and just hang out with him as he goes through it.
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#28 of 34 Old 07-27-2005, 02:51 PM
 
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#29 of 34 Old 07-27-2005, 08:45 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Basylica
1. was going through and sorting all his boxs O crap. Seriously, we had probably 15 large boxes (the entire walkin closet was filled to bursting!) and I got it down to less than 3, and 99% of what I threw out was GARBAGE. Old reciepts for video games in 95....stubby broken pencils, tiny doodles on scraps of paper, REAMS of wrinkled/damaged/folded paper...ect.
OMG this is exactly what I'm dealing with!

Mary Beth of Paul (9), Harry (7) and Timmy (4)
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#30 of 34 Old 07-27-2005, 10:05 PM
 
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Originally Posted by chisaomom
srain, it's also disrespectful to force your family into pretzelian maneuverings in order to live in an ordered, clean and safe home. ...It's a health hazard .... And just as worrisome for me, it's setting a terrible example for our young daughter. .... I hope that doesn't come off as being rude, truly it is not my intention....
Not rude at all! I agree that the situation needs to change, and soon, but I disagree with throwing away anyone's possessions against their will. I really think you can come to some kind of agreement/ plan with your husband (assuming he's generally a reasonable human being) that he can live with. And I think that it would set a far better example for your daughter to show her that marriages include disagreements and problem-solving, rather than disagreements and unilateral decision-making. (I'd rather have my kids be packrats than control freaks- not meaning to imply you're being a control freak in any way, just saying that this "terrible example" he's setting really isn't all that awful.)

But anyway, my arguments are more relevant to a different forum than this one! Truthfully, in your place and unable to come up with a solution for BOTH of us, I'd forget I had a garage- a lot of folks live without them, and while it's a shame that you have to do without the luxury of having one, it wouldn't be worth disrespecting my husband to get mine back.

Good luck!
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