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AIBU

I'm drowning in all his stuff

(79 Posts)
Acciaccatura Sun 03-Jun-18 09:35:16

I have been married to my husband for 45 years. We live in a reasonable sized house (4/5 bedrooms, 3 receptions, cellar, double garage) in the country. He is a kind and thoughtful man but one thing is driving me crazy. He will not let go of any of his stuff. How can two people not fit into a house that size. His stuff will no longer fit onto shelves and into drawers. He has so many clothes he never wears, inherited furniture, books galore, video tapes, old photograph albums, LPs not to mention DIY stuff. I could go on. I feel as though I'm drowning in all his stuff and I'm beginning to despair. Maybe it would stress him to let go of his stuff but surely not any more than it stresses me having to live with it day in day out. I have tried talking it through reasonably with him and he agrees with me. But nothing changes. I don't think anyone will be able to suggest anything I haven't already tried but here's hoping!

GrandmaMoira Sun 03-Jun-18 09:43:54

Will he not agree to get rid of his video tapes? They are so out of date now that charity shops won't take them.
Can you go through his clothes with him? If he has, say, 10 business suits and is retired now, pick the best two suits for weddings and events and send the rest to charity or ebay?
As he agrees with you, would he be willing to do a bit at a time with you talking through what to keep or not?

Panache Sun 03-Jun-18 09:49:34

I can but say a drastic down sizing from a 4 bed/3 bath/3 reception house standing in an acre in the country to a 2 bed/2 bath Retirement apartment was a case of must in our lives.
We both had been guilty hoarders and kept just about everything for all our years living here.

On our impending sale.............. a garage/garden sale and some 30 trips to the local "tip" got rid of most out door things that had been kept............auction house for furniture and antiques,local Antique Shops for less valuables, a local Charity shop sent a van to collect numerous black bags and enough coats/jackets and macs to start off a shop...................and hurrah!!!......... we could then just about see daylight again!!!

(But guess what?.............our sale fell through..........angry confused.............and we are about to start all over again...............but without all the hoarding, because that has gone...............yippee!!!!! sunshine

janeainsworth Sun 03-Jun-18 09:54:48

If he agrees with you in theory that he has too much stuff, then the next step is to nudge him into agreeing in practice.
Bite-sized chunks.
Set a particular wardrobe or cupboard.
Set a time.
‘On Monday I’m going to go through your wardrobe in the spare bedroom and take anything you don’t wear to the tip. Do you want to help?’
That way, going through the wardrobe is non-negotiable. The only thing he has to decide is whether to help you or not.

I’m assuming of course that you yourself don’t have any clothes you’ve not worn for several years, no photograph albums you never look at and no books you haven’t read in 40 yearsgrin

Acciaccatura Sun 03-Jun-18 10:08:26

I've/we've tried the bite sized chunks but it's such a drop in the ocean. He is such a paradox....if someone in need asked for the shirt off his back, he would gladly give it to them! The VHS tapes are a problem to dispose of ecologically. I have never told him what to get rid of but maybe I should suggest we sort though his wardrobes together. Not sure how that will go down. Thankyou so much for your replies. This is the first thread I have started

Alima Sun 03-Jun-18 10:17:01

Would he agree to putting a substantial amount of stuff into storage? Such places seem to be springing up everywhere nowadays.

janeainsworth Sun 03-Jun-18 10:18:12

Bite-sized chunks is the only way for me.
If I’m faced with a huge task that I don’t want to do, I quickly give in to procrastination and displacement activity!

Teetime Sun 03-Jun-18 10:21:37

I think I would mount a stealth operation when he is out - will he miss anything if you fill the odd black bag or two. Alternately you could lean on his good conscience with some charity bags to fill up- you say he is a kind and thoughtful man why not put some charitable causes in the forefront of his attention. My DH now feels he must put something in every bag that comes through the door. Some of the charity shops will give you the bags.

Acciaccatura Sun 03-Jun-18 10:41:28

Alina: he definitely would not use storage.
Teetime: he does already take things to charity shops and uses Freecycle which might give you an idea of the size of the problem.
Panache: sorry the sale fell through but how marvellous to have downsized your contents but still be living in a full sized house. My dream.

Feelingmyage55 Sun 03-Jun-18 14:23:34

Could you begin with items damaged beyond repair? Has he a charity close to his heart that he might support. Do you have family to pass things on to - would it give him pleasure to give gifts now? Been there with my parents. Very difficult for you. As a pp has said, could you set an example yourself, even asking him to help you in a little reverse psychology?

M0nica Sun 03-Jun-18 14:35:27

Acciaccatura. Have you tried to work out why he has this need to hoard? Hoarding like this is recognised as a mental illness. It is sometimes connected with unresolved issues over loss and insecurity.

Here is a reference to the NHS site on Hoarding disorder
www.nhs.uk/conditions/hoarding-disorder/ and the Royal College of Psychiatrists site on the subject. www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/problemsanddisorders/hoarding.aspx

Gagagran Sun 03-Jun-18 15:20:48

I agree with the softly, softly, gradual reduction approach but the trick is to do it consistently and not overface yourself - or DH - and end up giving up as a result.

I set myself the task of clearing our filled to the roof garage earlier this year and got my DH on board eventually. It took me six years to do so! He was put off by the size of the task. I made sure that once we started we did a bit every day. Once there was a load for the tip, off it went (DH did that) I took bags to the charity shop. I sold some items. I did a lot of sweeping, de-cobwebbing etc. and it got easier as the piles reduced.

Don't try and do it all at once but do make a start and once started, keep at it making sure that you do not give in to despair at the work ahead.

It is so worth the effort and I still get pleasure admiring the space and tidiness. Not only can I get in there now but can find what I need easily.

Good luck . I think there is a Chinese saying that 1000 mile journey starts with the first step.

gillybob Sun 03-Jun-18 16:31:03

I’m the opposite and would rather hire a skip and do one massive clear out . I can’t bear clutter and “stuff” stashed in every corner . I wouldn’t call myself a minimalist but I like things to be in their place .

Every month or so I have a clear out of old magazines, books, clothes etc. And they either go to the charity shop, Freecycle or the tip .

Cherrytree59 Sun 03-Jun-18 17:06:24

Hi Accaiccatura
The angle I would take is your health is suffering.
So a trip to to the doctors to explain how the hoarding is having a detrimental affect on your health.
Ask the doctor to explain this to your DH.
The doctor may also make a referral for professional help for your husband.

I think that at this moment in time your husband will just replace anything you try to get rid of with more stuff.

Do you have children that could also say that their mothers health and wellbeing is suffering.

Failing that I would put a caravan in the garden!
Move in and let him get on with it.
Do not do his cooking cleaning or laundry.
A good Sharp shock might just be what he needs.

Good luck shamrock

Nanabilly Sun 03-Jun-18 17:29:37

Does he ever go out and leave you alone for a good length of time because it I were in your shoes I would just have to get rid of it . I cannot stand clutter . Do you have any children , tell him to think of them that will have to clear all of it when the time comes and of how inconvenient it will be to them .
Though I imagine you might have all ready tried those things if you say you have tried allsorts . Get rid of a bit at a time without him knowing , it will make you feel that teeny bit better if you watch the binman carting a bit off every week or fortnight .
I could not live with that much clutter. Has he ever sat and watched that tv show called "hoarders" if so what are his feelings about the hoarders in the show , if you have not watched it then make him sit and watch it with you just to see how bad it will get it it isn't allready.

M0nica Sun 03-Jun-18 17:37:01

Some years ago there was a series on tv called The Hoarder next door. It featured psychotherapist Stelios Kiosses, a respected academic. He worked with hoarders to help them make the mental adjustments that were necessary for them to be able to let go of their hoarding, which in most cases was causing problems for other members of the family.

I do think this problem should be seen as a symptom of a mental health problem and lovely though the idea of a skip and a grand clear out may be, and as someone who cannot stand clutter, the OP has all my sympathy. I think the solution is the more gradual one through the GP with psychological counselling for the hoarder.

Grammaretto Sun 03-Jun-18 17:49:52

OP could be me!!
I also live with a hoarder. I'm quite bad myself but he's impossible.
We had a moth infestation which was a help as ruined clothes have to go.
But there are books, films, cds, papers ad infinitum.
It is harder when you have space. We have all our ACs clutter as well. Toys, baby stuff, school stuff. They don't want it but they want us to keep it.

I do have a friend who has offered to help me. Once you get over the embarrassment wink She had no emotional attachment so could be objective.
She helped once before when I was desperate. We sorted everything into boxes and bags. Some to charity, most to the tip, some to keep. She arrived with post it stickers and marker pen.
I hope you and I find a solution soon.

agnurse Sun 03-Jun-18 20:24:39

I agree with getting him help. Hoarding is a psychological problem, and unfortunately if you just throw everything out, the odds are he will just replace it all.

I would suggest getting him therapy, and when he's ready, consider hiring a professional organizer. I believe there are people who specifically work with hoarders so they're familiar with what happens and won't be shocked at the state of your house.

Deedaa Sun 03-Jun-18 20:56:03

With my DH it's tools and computer stuff. The garage is full, the tool cupboard in the porch is full, tiny room he used to have the computer in is now just full of computer bits and it's all now spread into the spare room. It takes so long to talk him into getting rid of anything (or just not buying MORE tools) that I generally give up.

NanKate Sun 03-Jun-18 21:05:46

My DH must be a twin of your DH.

He cuts out interesting articles from newspapers to keep for reference, we could start a library.

I think he still collects stamps from envelopes. On a number of occasions I have offered to take them to a charity but he declined. I think he hides them from me now.

We had the house re-carpeted last year and we did turn out quite a lot of stuff, so our sitting room is a war free zone. His office which was fit to bust and is now partly in the garage and our garden room until he finds time to sort it out.

I often say what shall I do if you die before me and he says just get a skip and throw the whole lot away. What bliss that would be, but I don’t want him to die for this to happen.

Whenever he goes away I clear out things and put them on recycling. He never knows what has gone. Tomorrow I will get rid of a whole lot of videos.

Best of luck.

Acciaccatura Sun 03-Jun-18 23:56:13

M0nica: thankyou for the NHS link. When he sees programmes such as the one you mentioned, he says "Aren't you glad I'm not as bad as that?"!
Cherrytree: I sincerely hope I won't have to go to such lengths but I have told him how I feel when I see the clutter and he says he is going to do something about it. But it's a nice day and he needs to cut the grass first!!
Gagagran: I recognised what you meant by feeling pleasure when you see the space you have created. I certainly want to feel that again.
agnurse: the very thought that he will replace anything we throw out with more stuff is what horror movies are made of 😬
NanKate: I do believe he really must be your husband's twin. We have had that very same conversation about if something suddenly happened to him and I was left with the cellar to clear out. He said it wouldn't be a problem. Just get a skip and throw it all out. It wouldn't matter to him any more!
Maybe it would be easier if he was a grumpy and unpleasant old man but he isn't. He's polite and gentlemanly and so caring in all other aspects. I'm going to make a concerted effort to get this sorted and I'll report back in due course. Thankyou all so much.

Nelliemoser Mon 04-Jun-18 00:06:52

I live with one of those and it has to be done by stealth. Why does anyone want at least three amplifiers. Probably more but I cannot get into a space to count.

NanKate Mon 04-Jun-18 03:11:08

My DH even picks up nails he sees in the road to stop people getting them in their car tyres and he then keeps them in a jar in case he needs them. 😧

He too is a lovely husband who is kind and considerate. Our DS says well at least we know dad will have x, y or z if we need it !

M0nica Mon 04-Jun-18 07:12:47

Acciaccatura The problem is television programmes will always show the extreme cases. But just because he is not that bad, does not mean that he doesn't have the same problem. Every problem starts small and then escalates.

Nelliemoser Mon 04-Jun-18 09:15:48

But getting "him" help is not a simple matter. That is the sticking point.
Most hoarders are unwilling to change and anyway they do not see what the problem is.

It is getting bad in our house. No one needs to buy 6 bags of Meusli at the same time.