Getting Rid of packrat's Stuff on the Sly - Mothering Forums
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Organize & Declutter > Getting Rid of packrat's Stuff on the Sly
Upside's Avatar Upside 01:46 PM 07-10-2007
Okay, here goes, this is the closest to dishonesty I've ever come in my marraige. DH is a packrat, not as terrible as his mother, but he has boxes and boxes of stuff just sitting in the attic and his "room." and he has no idea what's in them. He's very sensitive about it, has no interest in organizing the junk or going through it until he has "time" which he never does, and doesn't have a clue as to what's in each box.

SO here's where it gets sticky, in the dozen years we've been together, he has stopped accumulating so much (thanks to my influence, I think) but every so often, I go through one of his boxes and get rid of 3/4 of what's in it. I don't randomly throw out a box, I'm sentimental too, and I keep what's worth keeping. I throw out billions of old receipts for gas or junk, computer parts for computers we don't have anymore, old rusty guitar strings, disgusting stiff old t-shirts and I keep his old letters, photos, boy scout uniform, stuff like that. But I don't tell him because he would not let me get rid of anything!

OK, let me have it, am I bad or what? In my head I have made myself out to be the good guy, of course. But I'm saving him from himself!:

PapayaVagina's Avatar PapayaVagina 03:39 PM 07-10-2007
haha! my dh is a packrat inherited from his dad. i find all kinds of crap that he keeps but mostly it's just stuff like water bottles, gum wrappers, and q-tips (I don't know why). I guess it's more of an untidy thing a lot of the times (gets this from both of his parents). But, he also has boxes upon boxes of unopened Star Wars figures in the garage that I would luuuuuurrrrvvvveee to get rid of, but he doesn't want to. He can't play with them, I won't let him display them but he won't get rid of them either. He thinks that he could maybe make some money off of them and wants me to research their serial #s...like I have time
wednesday's Avatar wednesday 04:40 PM 07-10-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Upside View Post
But I'm saving him from himself!
That's how I rationalize it. I do the same thing And I fully admit my marriage is not perfect, DH is not a perfect partner and neither am I. I de-clutter on the sly because it is the only way to maintain my home and my sanity.
mommaof3boz's Avatar mommaof3boz 07:04 PM 07-10-2007
Old receipts, gum wrappers, water bottles, tshirts, etc are (repeat after me in unison)

TRASH


they are not keepsakes, they are not memorabilia, they are worth nothing.

They are not loved. They do not get used. They do not make you money.

You are simply taking out the trash. Lose all guilt over this.
Upside's Avatar Upside 07:20 PM 07-10-2007
Oh good, no one thinks I'm the devil. The best is when I find my husbands stashes in the kitchen. He knows I don't allow him to keep ketchup and soy sauce packets and other left over mini condiments, so he squirrels them away in a high cabinet behind everything. Forget that we have nice sized bottles in the fridge and he has never once complained that we ran out of ketchup. When I find these, I gleefully force him to watch me throw the packets in the trash one by one.
CaraNicole's Avatar CaraNicole 07:28 PM 07-10-2007
i used to do this until me and DH got into fights over it...then i was like "this is war" (which it used to be) i would get a big box take a bunch of junk and tell him you have until this afternoon to sort it...the rest will be gone by tomarrow...DH is not a cleaner so he just lets me chunk the whole pile...or donate it if someone might get use out of it...
wednesday's Avatar wednesday 08:36 PM 07-10-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommaof3boz View Post
Old receipts, gum wrappers, water bottles, tshirts, etc are (repeat after me in unison)

TRASH
...
You are simply taking out the trash. Lose all guilt over this.
Hmmm, I agree with this POV, but some of DH's stuff that I have junked was not exactly trash per se. He has accumulated a lot of little novelty items. Unusual decks of playing cards, for example, or little plastic figures, or greeting cards (single ones or boxes). ID cards from jobs he held 20 years ago, old key rings with a single key to god knows what. It's like all the little things that accumulate in a person's top dresser drawer, dumped into a box every time he moved to a new place, and every one of those boxes saved over the last 20 years (and a lot of moves).

I know he doesn't ever think about any of this stuff, and clearly wouldn't miss it. But if he looked at it to try to go through it he wouldn't give up any of it.
koalabob's Avatar koalabob 08:54 PM 07-10-2007
Box up all his junk. Rent a store room. Haul it (or better yet, have him haul it) to the store room. And then make him write out the rent check every month for the $75 or whatever it costs to store his stuff/junk/trash. One of several things might happen. It might be worth it to you and your marriage so you don't have to see it around the house. He might decide it's silly to pay that much to store trash. Or he might just fill up the nice clean space up with more trash which indicates you have an entirely different problem.

In our house, my husband has his office which I don't touch. He can keep it as messy as he wants. If his junk creeps out into the rest of the house, I transfer it back into his office. Now that I'm decluttering the rest of the house, he kind of likes the effect and is doing some decluttering of his office.
Krystal323's Avatar Krystal323 09:30 PM 07-10-2007
it's amazing how one can be so blinded to the accumulation of JuNK in their house i've always prided myself on being pretty spartan, but the reality hit home upon my divorce. i had gobs more boxes to take out than my ex did, and SO manyu of them were stupid worthless stuff. like i'm gonna re-read my old college papers or need the broken shard of a cd that reminds me of some halfway fun day when i was 14. yet it's painful to get rid of stuff like this! sure you don't even know you still own most of the stuff, but then when you see it again you go "oh yeah i remember this stuff!" and feel like you'll be throwing away memories or something...

anyway i don't think you're horrible for "helping" him, but once he discovers it, i bet you'll get an earful! hopefully you can educate him on the error of his ways
mommaof3boz's Avatar mommaof3boz 10:22 PM 07-10-2007
Quote:
Hmmm, I agree with this POV, but some of DH's stuff that I have junked was not exactly trash per se. He has accumulated a lot of little novelty items. Unusual decks of playing cards, for example, or little plastic figures, or greeting cards (single ones or boxes). ID cards from jobs he held 20 years ago, old key rings with a single key to god knows what. It's like all the little things that accumulate in a person's top dresser drawer, dumped into a box every time he moved to a new place, and every one of those boxes saved over the last 20 years (and a lot of moves).
Actually, I was talking to PapayaVagina with what I said as she was talking about water bottles and Qtips (which btw makes me : why that would be saved). The things you are talking about are different. Still disposable for the most part, but yet there are memories attached. Maybe you could have a meeting of the minds and tell him you'll happily keep two boxes of his stuff. The rest has to go. Get it all out and set the open boxes in the livingroom Saturday morning, then its either I pick or you do.
A&A's Avatar A&A 01:03 AM 07-11-2007
I do the same thing.
A&A's Avatar A&A 01:04 AM 07-11-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Krystal323 View Post
like i'm gonna re-read my old college papers


I actually do re-read my old college papers.
mightymoo's Avatar mightymoo 02:13 AM 07-11-2007
I would totally do that. I see nothing wrong with sorting through the boxes and throwing out the trash and keeping the rest for him to look through later. Luckily DH is not a packrat.
momma earthical's Avatar momma earthical 02:35 AM 07-11-2007
My dh is a packrat too. It drives me nuts. He has boxes of unopened mail from the 1980's!!!! When I challenged him about keeping it he said there might be addresses of importance in them - as if he would squirrel through 8 boxes of old mail to find an address and not do an internet search first! I haven't managed to throw any away yet, they are stored in the garage and I'm waiting for the mice to do their best first, then I can be righteous about getting rid of them!
Treasuremapper's Avatar Treasuremapper 02:42 AM 07-11-2007
I think you are doing the right thing. My dh has hoarding issues, too. I have thrown out TONS of his stuff, including at least forty pounds of old newspapers and plastic bags. You know how family members find those old widows and widowers with homes full of trash? The family members say "oh, dad fell apart when mom died..." I don't think he fell apart. I think he was always a hoarder, and when the wife died nobody was there surreptitiously throwing out his stuff. That's just my philsophy, having lived with someone who has those tendencies.

I think it is the only way to manage the issue in a real life practical sense. The suggestions of renting storage space, educating, and so forth will work with people who are not true hoarders. True hoarders will be so upset that it is easiest and kindest to simply throw the trash out. The tricky part is slipping it into the garbage without being caught, but after, oh, say ten years of practice, you can figure out methods.
laketahoemama's Avatar laketahoemama 02:46 AM 07-11-2007
yes, I would probably do the same too. But a year ago, before I started to declutter and reap the benefits of it I would've said it would be a mean thing to do. My perceptions of the value of "stuff" have changed dramatically.
wednesday's Avatar wednesday 08:30 AM 07-11-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Treasuremapper View Post
I think it is the only way to manage the issue in a real life practical sense. The suggestions of renting storage space, educating, and so forth will work with people who are not true hoarders.
Yeah...some of these suggestions are so well-meaning, but IMO totally won't work. I am the primary wage-earner and I do the bills every month, DH couldn't care less about the financial impact of renting a storage space. So that would not be a motivator at all. Not only that, he already does have a rented office downtown, and has a lot of stuff there.

And as for demanding that he winnow down to just a small number of boxes...he just won't do it. I have tried really gentle approaches that let him choose. I took a cue from flylady and a while back I gave him a "challenge" to find 10 books to give up. Books are another sore spot, he has hundreds, far more than will fit on shelves, and 95% of them I am sure he will never even open up again. There's just no need. You can find out any obscure detail you want on the internet in about two minutes. Some of the books are special or out of print, and I get that, but a lot of them are just junk. Especially the really outdated ones, like career-changing advice from the 80s, or how-to manuals for products nobody owns anymore. So in a "fun" way, I challenged him to find 10 books. This provoked an hour-long argument over why I am always making him get rid of stuff, and he can just build more shelves, yada yada yada, and then when I finally had him convinced, it took him another hour to pick out the books, and he tried to stop at 9, and it was all framed as this enormous favor to me.

I just don't have the time or stamina to go through that level of negotiation for every last thing.
Upside's Avatar Upside 10:25 AM 07-11-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Treasuremapper View Post
True hoarders will be so upset that it is easiest and kindest to simply throw the trash out. The tricky part is slipping it into the garbage without being caught, but after, oh, say ten years of practice, you can figure out methods.
Your post made me because it's so true. In order to throw stuff out, I make a special pile in the attic and on trash day after hubby leaves I throw it all into the bin and pray that the pick up comes before he gets home. So far, so good, because he has been known to crawl into dumpsters to rescue stuff I've "accidentally" thrown out.

Once after a yard sale, I packed everything we didn't sell into the car and took it to the thrift store. An hour or two later when he found out, he drove to the thrift store and got it all back! Boy was he mad at me!: He said he would save it for the next yard sale!!!!
MilkbarMom's Avatar MilkbarMom 12:58 AM 07-12-2007
In my house that is what summer is for! My dh is a wildland firefighter, so during fire season, my friend who is a compulsive de-clutterer comes over and we get rid of stuff. My dh knows this, and is okay with things disappearing so long as he does not have to see them leave!
Isaac'sMa's Avatar Isaac'sMa 03:07 PM 07-12-2007
Upside, You're doing the right thing. It's not good to live with all that stuff and can be downright unsafe! I do the same thing to my dh. And sometimes I make a small pile of sentimental things for him to pick through on his own (after I've already gotten the major stuff out of the house). He doesn't even remember he has most of the junk I've gotten rid of!
Juliacat's Avatar Juliacat 11:13 AM 07-13-2007
I do this to my mom when I visit her. She goes out on an errand and I fill trash bags as fast as I can. I've been known to fill an entire polycart in two hours. There is so much junk left when I'm done that she doesn't notice, so maybe it isn't doing her any good, but it makes me feel better.

And yeah, I'm only throwing out expired food, old phone books, other stuff that is trash. I don't chuck anything valuable.
AbbieB's Avatar AbbieB 09:28 PM 07-30-2007
This thread is making me feel so much better about doing this!

We just moved into a house about half the size of what we have been in. DH had about 5 boxes of office "stuff" that had been previously living in an very disheveled office supply cabinet. No room for the cabinet, everything needs to fit on 2 book selves.

I volunteered to go through the boxes (he was avoiding them) and organize. I threw out old pens, pencil stubs, post-it pads with 3 dirty pages left, old Elmer's glue bottles, bent paper clips...you get the idea. In the end it all fit back into 1 box and I had 3 kitchen trash bags full.

DD took the trash out and evidently looked through to see what i had chucked out. He came back in so upset about the 3 old dried up Elmer's glue bottles. I had to remind him that he has not used the glue in more than a year (at least) and if we needed some we could go get it for $1.

It's probably good for me that I did not chuck out any of the 5 boxes of crayola colored pencils. I think he might have had heart failure. Looks like DD (about to turn 4) will be getting some new art supplies to burn through. Maybe the pencils will be a great thing for her to learn about the pencil sharpener with.
reducereuserecycle's Avatar reducereuserecycle 10:14 PM 07-30-2007
i think what u r doing is totally fine. you have been together long enough that u really know what is important to him what will u say if he notices?
Curlita's Avatar Curlita 10:48 PM 07-30-2007
There are some things that I force my husband to sort through (garage stuff, his personal papers, etc.), some things that I just store without a battle (boxes and boxes of poorly stored photographs, an entire collection of PC Gamers), and some things that I quietly, furtively make go away (two drawers full of socks in the basement became half a drawer of socks). I'm not proud of it, but he's never noticed it and we need the space more than we need 36 pair of socks.
marybethorama's Avatar marybethorama 11:54 PM 07-30-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Upside View Post
SO here's where it gets sticky, in the dozen years we've been together, he has stopped accumulating so much (thanks to my influence, I think) but every so often, I go through one of his boxes and get rid of 3/4 of what's in it. I don't randomly throw out a box, I'm sentimental too, and I keep what's worth keeping. I throw out billions of old receipts for gas or junk, computer parts for computers we don't have anymore, old rusty guitar strings, disgusting stiff old t-shirts and I keep his old letters, photos, boy scout uniform, stuff like that. But I don't tell him because he would not let me get rid of anything!
We are married to the same man-or at least they were separated at birth

I have to do the same thing.
marybethorama's Avatar marybethorama 11:57 PM 07-30-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbieB View Post
l.

DD took the trash out and evidently looked through to see what i had chucked out. He came back in so upset about the 3 old dried up Elmer's glue bottles. I had to remind him that he has not used the glue in more than a year (at least) and if we needed some we could go get it for $1.
Please, my back is killing me-it hurts when I laugh

I can relate. My dh would do the same thing.
sageysmom's Avatar sageysmom 03:53 AM 08-01-2007
So glad there are others like my DH
Aug de-clutter challenge may help I will tell him about it and maybe he will play too for a few days...
Codi's Mama's Avatar Codi's Mama 01:58 PM 08-01-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by sageysmom View Post
So glad there are others like my DH
Aug de-clutter challenge may help I will tell him about it and maybe he will play too for a few days...
Do not tell packrats about any decluttering challenge you're participating in!
It's best just to do it on the sly, otherwise, they'll be near a heart attack for most of the month just thinking of what you could be throwing away! That was my DH, and my mom (who lives in the same house).
SugarAndSun's Avatar SugarAndSun 03:41 PM 08-01-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by Upside View Post
Oh good, no one thinks I'm the devil. The best is when I find my husbands stashes in the kitchen. He knows I don't allow him to keep ketchup and soy sauce packets and other left over mini condiments, so he squirrels them away in a high cabinet behind everything. Forget that we have nice sized bottles in the fridge and he has never once complained that we ran out of ketchup. When I find these, I gleefully force him to watch me throw the packets in the trash one by one.
I make dh watch me throw out all the stupid stuff he brings home if we stay in a hotel... lotions (he hates lotion), shampoo and conditioner (he is completely bald), soap (he doesn't even use this all that often, ). I have no idea why he does this. He is not cheap and doesn't try to get deals and even often loses money. I think it is from when was a kid. They were always on a tight budget so I guess anything for free was a bonus.
Mavournin's Avatar Mavournin 06:31 PM 08-01-2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by momma earthical View Post
My dh is a packrat too. It drives me nuts. He has boxes of unopened mail from the 1980's!!!! When I challenged him about keeping it he said there might be addresses of importance in them - as if he would squirrel through 8 boxes of old mail to find an address and not do an internet search first! I haven't managed to throw any away yet, they are stored in the garage and I'm waiting for the mice to do their best first, then I can be righteous about getting rid of them!
OMG. You and I are married to the same man! My Dh refuses to get rid of letters and directories from high school and college because the addresses might be useful. Dude, you graduated from college in 1984, these were your friend's parent's addresses - and I'm sure most are invalid after 20+ years. Dh disagrees. :

He also still has all of the posters that graced his college dorm walls. Velvet blacklight and all...
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