How do I get through to husband about de-cluttering? - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-29-2006, 11:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi,

I am on a de-cluttering spree. Again. This time, it's SERIOUS. Major. I'm FED UP with how full our house is. It's making me depressed. I LOVE throwing stuff out! I feel like going YIPPPPPEEEEEEEE as I throw things on the bonfire (no, not really - but almost).

Husband is a professional hoarder. Can't BEAR to let anything go. He's kept grocery store receipts from 20 years ago! He says it makes him physically ill to throw anything away because a) he MIGHT need it someday or b) it MIGHT be worth something someday. In the meantime, our storage room downstairs was so full of junk - most of it his - that I had no room to store things of real value like my daughter's bike or the baby's crib, for example. These and other such things were therefore IN MY HOUSE :.

My Mom is a Feng Shui consultant so before we got to the point of me paying to have a professional organizer come in, I invited her to come for 3 days to help me clear out. It was a disaster. He was uncomfortable with her getting "involved". He was beside himself with irritation at me forcing him to make decisions about his things. We weeded through everything in the storage room and did throw out some stuff and manage to make walking space in it, at least, but he was irate - to put it mildly. To make matters worse, my Mom, in trying to pull her weight around the house while she was with us, did something that sent him over the top and he raised his voice to her and she went home crying and insulted .

So my question is this: I printed out from the internet some great articles on the emotional effects of clutter and read them to him and I think it was good for him to hear. I think he could logically relate to some of it. But that wasn't enough. I don't know what I can do or say that I haven't already to help him understand how I feel about it. I have looked on the internet and can't find anything about how to get the importance of de-cluttering across to a spouse who has yet to "see the light". Any ideas?

Thanks
Avigayil
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Old 08-29-2006, 12:09 PM
 
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I wish I had better advice for you. My husband is such a pack-rat that he still has a sucker that his 1st grade teacher gave to him over 30 years ago. That rediculous sucker is older than I am! I don't think he even knows where it is right now, but even mention the idea of throwing it out, and he goes nuts.

He had probably the worst looking home office you've ever seen. It hadn't been vaccuumed in 5 years, because we couldn't get to the carpet to vaccuum it. We put the house on the market. 6 months later, I was still hounding him to clean out his office. House still hasn't sold. I ended up taking the first panic attack of my life (and I'm *always* the stable one, who takes *everything* in stride, and keeps everyone else from falling appart). All off a sudden, we have a beautiful clean home office. The desk has been shrunk by two thirds, five computers have disapeared, all the clutter is gone. We found the carpet, and were pleasantly suprised at how good a shape it's in. However, the panic attack was not fun, and I wouldn't recomend it.

ETA: the rest of the house was always tidy, and the office was gated off, so the kids had no access to it.
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Old 08-29-2006, 12:14 PM
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could he/they have the disorder that manifests as hoarding?

because while my husband is a pack rat, it wasn't terribly difficult to get him to let go of things when we needed to.

of course, we have a good excuse. we're moving across country and we have to pay for the moving costs (at this point, though he might get a relocation agreement). so, we have to carry as little as possible. and he was able to let go of A LOT of stuff.
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Old 08-29-2006, 12:31 PM
 
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I truly feel that he needs professional help if he feels sick when throwing out old junk. That rage, and that "sick" feeling could be anxiety. Hoarding also has mental health aspects.

If he won't get help, you can get counseling for yourself on how to cope.

With people like that in my family, I truly understand and relate!

Take the time to heal from your marriage before you move on with someone else. Make a list of all the qualities you would like in a new partner and then work on growing that way yourself. ~mandib50
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Old 08-29-2006, 12:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi Cate,

I suppose in our case it's not QUITE that bad but.....my husband does work from home and his workspace is smack inside the front door and the first thing you see when you come in. Most of the time you can't even tell there's a desk under all the papers! He will occasionally spread both arms out at either side and give it all a huge push about 12 inches to the north and call that tidy! And it lasts for all of about 3 hours - if that. Grrrrrrrrr.
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Old 08-29-2006, 12:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We did make an appointment with our therapist that we occasionally go to as necessary and went to her on Friday. Although he/we were not addressing the root causes of why de-cluttering makes him feel that way. He was addressing more the Avigayil's-making-decision-about-my-things issue and the it-was-embarrassing-having-her-Mom-involved issue. We are scheduled to go back for another session this coming Friday to wrap up so I may bring this up while we're at it.
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Old 08-29-2006, 12:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Re: anxiety being root cause. I agree. His mother lived through WWII and also cannot bear to throw anything out although he's much worse than she is, I must say. She does have her limits to keeping things. So maybe she instilled that in him? He also went to boarding school (in England) for 8 years where he had to defend his stache of sweets that he was sent from home a few times a year and defend his dorm space, etc. so maybe (read: for sure) that ties in somewhere. He has said so himself.

Re: his workspace. He says that I'm interferring in his space. Yes, it's HIS space but it's in COMMUNAL living space so I shouldn't be subjected to looking at it 24/7. It's not like we have an extra room that we could turn into an office and I could close the door and write off the room as a lost cause.
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Old 08-29-2006, 12:55 PM
 
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Ok, so it probably wasn't nearly as bad as I made it sound (though the sucker thing is a big sore point). The big issue was that up until recently, dh worked from home. He's a software engineer, and he actually had 6 computers running. So we couldn't get to the carpet because of all the computer wires, and computers everywhere. Some of them, he actually needed... past tense, though most of them were just that he refused to get rid of the old ones when he upgraded. They've all been put into storage now, except one.
I hear you about the papers on the desk. I did manage to convince him to cut down on that when the house went on the market though. It's nice to finally have everything cleaned out now. I actually find myself wanting to spend time in here. Hehe, and it's been vaccuumed 3 times in the last 3 days . It's a nice change.
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Old 08-29-2006, 01:00 PM
 
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I guess I would emphasize (when you return to the counselor) the very strong feelings. Feeling sick, feeling rage. How to do that without judging is the trick...I feel so upset if someone tells me how I feel!

Take the time to heal from your marriage before you move on with someone else. Make a list of all the qualities you would like in a new partner and then work on growing that way yourself. ~mandib50
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Old 08-29-2006, 07:14 PM
 
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Quote:
I printed out from the internet some great articles on the emotional effects of clutter and read them to him and I think it was good for him to hear.
could you share?
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Old 08-29-2006, 08:12 PM
 
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I think my dh must be a polyamist

Sorry, couldn't resist.

My dh has made some progress and I'm very proud of him but our house is still way too cluttered. I've started to be ruthless about throwing out useless crap. I don't discuss it with him, I just do it.

I haven't got into his "personal space" yet-I'm not ready for that battle but the garage, heck yes, I'm throwing stuff out.

For example there's a broken bike frame that dh is going to "fix up" someday. It just needs wheels and who knows what other parts.

meanwhile I've been begging him to change a tire on one of the kid's bikes and he hasn't go to it yet. He hates working on bikes and it gives him no pleasure.

So do we need to keep old bikes around if he hates fixing them? I say no.

If I get the junk out it will make room for the good stuff we have. We still have too much but at least we should be able to take care of it so it doesn't get trashed.
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Old 08-30-2006, 05:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Old 08-30-2006, 11:43 AM
 
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Thank you Avigayil- I think the idea of coming to terms with the types of excuses we use to justify keeping items will be very helpful to both me and DH. I think if we had to actually write down our excuse- literally write it out- it would be so obvious how lame our emotional excuses "reasons" are.
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Old 08-30-2006, 01:12 PM
 
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My husband is bad too, lots of odd papers and old things. He lets some things go but other things he is very adament I do not get rid of. It's all in rubbermaid bins so I guess it's somewhat ok but it drives me crazy. They take up so much space!! He saves old papers for the craziest reasons (I want to know what stuff cost 10 years ago, I want a record of what I bought that year blah etc.) paperwork from insurance to a job he hasn't had in 5 years!!

He has no problem with telling me to get rid of stuff though, stuff I actually use and need! He is weird about letting go of the kids stuff too, I guess because I have found so much from my own childhood on ebay for $$ and my mom never saved anything. So now he figures everything is worth something eventually. We can't save everything!

I know for him it's a OCD, he hasn't been diagnosed but I know he has it. He has other little habits and obsessions and quite a few family members of his were dx'd, some worse than he is.
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