how do you get DH to purge?!?!?!

Purple_JadeFebruary 9, 2005

I've been organizing and purging all week. Today I spent a couple hours in the basement. I came across 3 boxes FULL of wires. Wires for EVERYTHING. I also saw large stacks of magazines that are NOT mine. There is a lot of other "junk" that we really need to get rid of too, but I don't know how to get DH in the same frame of mind as I happen to be. To me Less is MORE, and I see that more clearly the more stuff I get rid of. It's an awesome feeling!

One day recently I was in the garage with DH and saw a large box of total junk. I asked him what all that was, and he said, with some sarcasm, "it's CALLED odds and ENDS!"

well .............. how do I get it through to him that the more "odds and ends" you have the less you have, because you'll never find what you need when you need it. Not to mention the real estate all that junk is taking up.

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If I were you I would throw away 1 magazine and 1 wire every week and see if he notices, bet he won't. LOL

    Bookmark   February 9, 2005 at 12:46PM
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Did you see my posting about wires? I can't believe your dh has 3 boxes beating out my dh by one box. My dh refuses to throw any out and I realized this weekend why. We were looking for an extension wire for our new Sirius system. It costs $50.00 for the one wire. If this is any idea of the cost of wires, I can't justify throwing out perfectly good wires only to have to run out and purchase them again if needed. I told my dh that I plan to organize the wires into plastic bags and he will have to mark the bags as to what wire is in it. I can only identify extension cords and phone wires.

At times, I have organized my dh's stuff, and will get him to go through what I have done. He will only give me about 10 or 15 minutes at a time to do this but I will take whatever I can get.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2005 at 1:01PM
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my DH is slowly getting on board, but what has worked is setting an example.

As I focus on getting rid of my stuff, and comment about how glad I am that I did, he has started to come along.

If ever I pressure him, he immediately focuses on throwing out stuff that's actually MINE, and that I actually use.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2005 at 2:49PM
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Compromise - just like everything else in a relationship, and as Tally Sue says, set an example. :-)

If it's something he really feels will be valuable for something, somewhere, then it's not really for you to say that it's *not* him, it is, and it's fair for him to assign value to things just like you do. Certainly, you can disagree, but he's allowed to disagree with your assessment of his stuff, because it's *his* stuff. :-)

So for things he wants to keep, like wires and magazines, you can allow him to keep *some* of them (ie, he can keep wires that are not frayed or damaged in some way), and/or make a *rule* for keeping those items - for example, he can keep the wires as long as they are kept in *his* storage area, and don't cross over into yours, whether that be a certain corner of the storage room or the top shelf of a closet, shelf in the garage or basement, or whatever. Give him one shelf of a bookcase to store magazines in - when the room is gone, he has to decide what to save in that space and what to toss (incidentally, things left outside that space are fair game for *you* to declutter - he needs to understand and agree to that as well, whether you ever plan on exercising it or not). If you absolutely can't give him an area to keep his stuff in, then at least give him a certain number of storage tubs or boxes he can keep - he doesn't have to defend anything that is kept in those particular tubs or boxes...he has complete freedom to keep whatever he wants as long as it is kept in whatever the two of you will agree is "his" area to store things in.

Then just set a good example by keeping *your* stuff and the joint stuff organized and decluttered.

Remember that you can't drag someone into the same mindset as you happen to be in - and nagging or whining doesn't generally do anything other than make the other person that much more resistant to whatever it is you want done.

Good luck! :-)

    Bookmark   February 9, 2005 at 4:10PM
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I usually just try to make him aware of how many piles/boxes of stuff he has, and try to group things together to make a point to him of how many of each he has. He still has a hard time getting rid of things, but I think he can see my point if it's laid out in front of him like that. I also like to show him that if we didn't have this bookshelf full of junk papers, we could put another chair here, or something - so he can understand how much space this junk is taking up and what else could alternatively fit in that space.

One thing about wires - I used to keep some old phone wires, too, until the phone repair guy said that using the old wires can damage the phone. So a new phone wire for me is cheaper than a new phone! And I can throw away the old wires without guilt :)

    Bookmark   February 9, 2005 at 5:09PM
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See if you can take those wires to a recycle place. They may have copper or something else in them. You might even be able to get a little money out of them.

We have the same problem here. I've been going through baby clothes, maternity clothes, out of style clothes, etc., so we can have some room in our closets around here. I'm storing the stuff that can be passed on in the walk in closet so dh can have his garage sale. He's been complaining about no room to put his things so I've been going through his pile of clothes. OMG! He has 3 times the amount of clothes I do and the majority of it is over 5 years old. Some of it is over 20 years old. He's gone for a month so I told him the other night that I made some executive decisions for him. It's in the trash. There is still lots of stuff for him to go through. I don't want to hear about lack of room when he has that cr@p.

I was just going through the attic. We have old printers and boxes from computers. Why? It's usually cheaper to buy a new on rather than send it back. I see a major house cleaning coming on in the next couple of weeks.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2005 at 5:10PM
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Speaking as, I believe, the only male on this thread, I would not take the advice of those who suggest you just get rid of the stuff without DH's knowledge.

As Jamie pointed out, his "stuff" has as much value to him as your "stuff" does to you, and just because it does not look "valuable" to you (several of you freely admit you don't know what, specifically, you're looking at) does not mean it has no (financial or sentimental) value to him. Spiriting his stuff away a little at a time is no different from him removing one item from your side of the closet each week and tossing it in the trash or handing it off to Goodwill.

There's nothing wrong with pointing out (not nagging -- beware the fervor of the converted!) the value of decluttering -- especially if you're "walking the talk" and especially if you can be concrete about what exactly would fill that space or what individual need or interest is served by such decluttering. There's nothing wrong with setting boundaries on where "stuff" is kept. There is something wrong with sneaking around making unilateral decisions for your partner.

BTW, I speak as a "mostly-decluttered" male -- who does have two boxes of cables and wires in the basement -- but only one of each type of cable/wire (who needs eight telephone cords?)

    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 8:37AM
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I think Steve's got a very good and important point (and wow is it nice to get a male viewpoint around here! Come be a regular, Steve!). To a point.

Here's where, in my family, that point is. If my DH had so many clothes that is was getting in his way, I could probably make "executive decisions" on lots of it. Not all. Just lots.

I know what he's wearing these days, because I pay attention.

I know how to tell whether clothes are stretched out, stained, etc. (for example, when I fold clothes, if I think DH's underwear is getting thin, stretched, whatever, I toss them. Then I tell him, so he knows the stack in the dresser is getting small because they've been wearing out, and he can go buy new ones pretty soon)

I know him well enough to know that this T-shirt is from some possibly sentimental time and shouldn't be dealt w/ by *me*.

I know where most of his shirts come from (presents), and I know if he didn't pick 'em. So I can tell, sometimes, that he doesn't really like them.

But I can't do ALL, of course. I view myself as being his deputy in those matters.

I could go through the cables, etc., and make some decisions. Again, not all, but I can tell you that this cable is for an RS232 serial port, and we got rid of that computer years ago.

Ditto paperwork--I can often tell something is important or something is trash. The stuff in the middle, that I'm not sure about, is his to cope with.

But there is a point beyond which I can't really go. It would be rude and disrespectful to him. It would be silly and counterproductive.

(the only reason my DH couldn't declutter my clothes is that he doesn't pay enough attention. But actually, he probably *could* do much the same thing--there would be stuff he KNOWS I don't need, stuff he knows I do need, and stuff he hasn't a clue about.)

    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 10:38AM
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Steve, I think you have a good point also. Like Talley Sue said, there are just some things you know you can throw out.

In my dh's case, he was recently wearing 20 yo military sweats with the hole in the rear end. Even worse, his name and a lower rank than what he was discharged at were on the back. Not only did he look bad, everyone knew him by name when he walked out the door. I told him what I did and we both had a good laugh. The night after I threw the stuff out someone went through that bag of garbage in the trash bin. Now, we're joking that we're going to see someone else around town wearing that outfit.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2005 at 2:37AM
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Thanks for the welcome, Talley_Sue! I've lurked here for a little while, but, if I can discipline myself to keep up with the cleaning and clutter (rather than read Internet forums, which is far more fun), I can hang around longer.

As a brief introduction, I'm a "nice modernist," old enough to know better (most times) but young enough to not be fossilized. I'm divorced-no-kids. I'm a computer guy (and have been for years). I own a 30-year-old rambler on a city lot and am working on an overdue freshening-up of the place.

I'm a huge fan of things simple and unadorned. While I have a couple of small collections, I generally believe that, if you can't enjoy using it, it's not worth having. My ideal room is one of those sleek monochromatic Poggenpohl or Bulthaup kitchens, with lots of windows; the Laura Ashley/Ralph Lauren look pretty much makes me break out in hives.

I can agree that there is/should be room in a relationship for a spouse/SO to determine that some stuff should just go. I don't tend to get attached to the almost-useless much, but I know many people who do. I simply prefer a somewhat safer approach, in which the tossing is announced and can be undone if there's a very good reason to do so. I can make the unilateral decision for myself. I don't think it's fair for me to do it for anyone else unasked.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2005 at 1:25PM
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Welcome, Steve! It is really nice to have a man's point of view.

I don't usually declutter DH's things, unless it's obviously unimportant stuff to him. He has a bad habit of putting receipts, movie stubs, etc, into the organizer in his dresser. It's where he puts his wallet, keys, & other things after work, but he just empties everything in his pockets in there. He doesn't need the receipts, but I do, so I can put his cash purchases into Quicken. So occasionally I'll go thru that & declutter it. Like Talley Sue, I get rid of things like his socks & underwear sometimes. I could probably do his work clothes, but I generally ask about those. I can tell what his favorites are by how frequently he wears them. He couldn't do the same for me, because he's been known to comment on a two-yr-old outfit & ask if it's new.

I wouldn't declutter his books & magazines for him. He usually gives me fiction when he's done with it so I can decide if I want to read it or send it straight to charity. From time to time, I'll just mention that we're accumulating too many books or magazines & I'd like him to go thru them. He usually gets rid of quite a bit.

As far as things like wire & cables, ask your DH about them. We used to own a computer programming & network wiring business, so you can imagine the amount of things like that we had. Once we got out of the business, DH decluttered 99% of that stuff. IF the wires are very expensive & IF you will have a legitimate need for them in the future, it makes sense to keep them. If he's saving them just because it's remotely possible he might have a use for them, try to get him to toss them, especially if it's inexpensive to replace (DH should be able to tell you app. replacement cost). I would rather toss something that I MIGHT (or might not) need in a couple of years that I can replace for $5 than to have to deal with storing it now. Also help him keep in mind that he needs to keep a reasonable amount of this stuff. If there are duplicates, ask if he could get rid of at least some of them.

I've been doing some serious decluttering lately. I can't tell you how many things I've come across that I kept for years because "we might want or need that later" but didn't. As the others have pointed out, set an example for him. Also, it helps if I catch DH in the right mood. Sometimes he just doesnt' want to deal with it. Sometimes I'll start cleaning a room & just call him in & ask (in a very pleasant tone) what I need to do with the item in question. It's surprising how often he says toss it. If he wants to keep it, I ask where we can keep it that makes more sense than where it is currently.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2005 at 2:23PM
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The only thing I can declutter for DH is his clothing. He actually asks me to go through his closet every so often and remove the shirts that have seen better days, I hate :), or that he hardly ever wears. His father is a clothes horse--shops more than any woman I have ever known! SO, DH gets his closet filled each time we visit because my father-in-law needs his own closet decluttered! An endless cycle, but we never have to shop and DH ends up with some *very* nice shirts :)

    Bookmark   February 13, 2005 at 3:28PM
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Wow! Steve, I Agree on decorating. Good to have you. There are many men out there who are sparce on decorations but have no clue what they like- they just don't have anything out of lazyness. I'm impressed.

I think if you ever end up learning the magic to get a husband to declutter, I'd like to know the magic secret. My DH is a great man and I'm lucky to have him. But he is a saver. He saves everything. Paper is his biggest downfall in saving. If it is paper, it must be important- even reciepts from McD's.

Soooo- I admit it, I declutter behind his back. Right or wrong, it is survival for me. I can handle saving things when they are neat and put up in a place, if a place is made for the things you want to keep, then fine. Our problem is the place for things as far as my husband is concerned is where he put it last. For example, he's fixing a toy in the front room on the counter, he finishes fixing the toy, the toy belongs on the counter because that is where he had it last AND the tools belong on the counter because that is where he had them last AND the dead batteries belong on the counter because that is where he had them last. It doesn't matter if the tool box goes under the sink three steps away and the dead batteries go in the garbage two steps away. SO I pick up after him. And when he wants his tool box, where does he look? You got it, on the Counter. Everything goes "here for now" and then that is it's new home.

SO I do declutter and get rid of behind his back. We dont' have the storage space for everything. We just don't. Five people in a 1500 sq. ft house, three bedrooms- we don't have closets. Clutter piles up quickly. I can't stand it and I can't think around it and I get stressed out around lots of clutter. So it's survival.

When he is gone on trips the magazines and catalogs that are older than a year go away- unless they are nicely put up in a place where they belong. My belief being that if they are important to him, he will take care of them. But all to often what happens in our home is magazines (for example) end up in a sloppy pile on his side of the bed. Every so often I grab them and throw them in a basket in the front room waiting for him to take care of them. I'll tell him- they are there and if you want them, you need to put them in a good place. End of the year, they go away.

My point is this--
I tell my DH if something/anything is important to him, we will find a place for it. I just ask that it be neat and look nice. I believe we can find or make a place for just about anything- A place where I can have my needs for neatness and cleanliness met and he can keep his stuff. If we need to buy bookshelves, gosh knows we have plenty of space for bookshelves, we can buy bookshelves and he can save tons of magazines. IF he doesn't want to put the time and effort into finding a place for something and doesn't take care of it, then it's fair game. I try to warn my DH that I'm reaching my limit- the magazine basket is full, or whatever, and I'm going to go through it and clean it out. After that, I think it's fair game.

So, I guess my advice to you PJade is the same-- help him find a place for it that allows you to have them put up, out of the way, in a place you can live with, stored in a way you can live with... And that allows him to have his need to save those wires. IF he isn't willing to work with you, warn him and explain that you really can't live with it the way it is- then do what you want.

Of course, this same advice would get several of my friends in divorce court. You and your dh need to do what works for you. You need to do what you feel comfortable with and what you feel that you can do. Too bad there is not a magic solution to this age old problem.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2005 at 11:40PM
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There are many men out there who are sparce on decorations but have no clue what they like- they just don't have anything out of lazyness. I'm impressed.

Thank you. :-) I guess I see decorating as just another expression of who I am (and, I suppose, who I am not). I like it simple: my cell phone (the only phone I own, BTW) is just a phone; it's not an electronic organizer or a G@me Boy or a camera or an MP3 player. If I wanted those things, I'd certainly want better than I'd get on the phone anyway. So why shouldn't that simplicity serve as a guide to those things with which I choose to surround myself? :-)

You and your dh need to do what works for you. You need to do what you feel comfortable with and what you feel that you can do. Too bad there is not a magic solution to this age old problem.

My ex-wife and I had the same -- um -- discussion many times. She ran a business from the home, and inventory and paperwork for that business ended up throughout the house (and her car) despite the largeish office which was devoted to that business. And despite the problems caused when she could not find paperwork for accounts receivable or pieces to be returned for warranty work. Discussion did not seem to make a difference, but I still could not stand the mess, so I just put all the stuff in a pile in the office when I rounded it up as part of regular house-cleaning. I did not make an attempt to toss any of it, though I might have approached the topic if we didn't have the room or if it was causing great financial hardship.

I don't know as there is a universal solution to this problem, partially because I don't think there's a universal cause.

I think much of it comes from our experiences in life. Both of my XW's parents were "savers," having come of age during the Depression. My XW's father passed away when she was quite young; I think her mother dealt with that, in part, by not upsetting her physical environment further by changing things. XW's mom also was never the least bit interested in housekeeping. Whether that's because she was working all her life and she felt it was not that important or because keeping things clean was not a value passed down from her mother, I don't know.

In any case, the value was passed down, and my XW and I had to deal with the collision in values caused by that history and the history of someone (me) who had learned to be a minimalist when he was moving his stuff every year in college and who had spent long enough on his own to be accustomed to finding things the way I had left them earlier.

(This is getting long; I apologize.)

Perhaps the key to resolving the clutter issue is to identify the underlying reason(s) for the behavior. Does keeping old magazines reflect a continued desire to stay on top of the topics covered within despite the presence of more urgent tasks? Are keeping collections and too many home decorations tied to not wanting to disappoint the givers of those items? Are there issues of loss or (over)compensation for not having the things one wanted at an earlier point in life?

I'm a great believer that no one individual can motivate any other individual. Motivation comes from within, and long-term change does not happen unless that internal motivation is there to fuel it. Can you provide a goal for the motivation? Sure. But unless DH (or XW or whoever) understands why they do what they do and genuinely feels served by changing that behavior, you otherwise are fighting a losing battle.

Just MHO, of course! :-)

    Bookmark   February 14, 2005 at 11:06AM
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*clap, clap, clap, clap*

I heartily agree, Steve...welcome to the board! :-)

    Bookmark   February 14, 2005 at 6:58PM
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Thanks everyone, for some great answers. I think DH is coming around, and mainly because of the example I'm setting. He notices the extra space and sees that it's a good thing, and I think he's impressed how I can find any bill or piece of paper when I want it, within a min. or less.
I told him that there's 2 ways to get more space if you need it. You can buy more space and move to a bigger home, or you can clear stuff out and get LOADS of more space for free. I think he got it!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2005 at 11:27AM
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Cool! And, in truth, the "bigger home" option is only a temporary fix. It works until you can clutter up that space!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2005 at 3:13PM
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Wow! I've been a lurker, and you've all given me some great ideas for gently pushing my DH to join me in tossing. His favorite collection is wood. Big pieces, little scraps, and anything in between. He no longer is physically capable of woodworking, but can't seem to recognise that any wood saved must be useful to ME at this point. We're both too old to have this as a hobby. And in another year or two I'll probably be incapable of dragging that wood out of the basement. So my warning is to declutter while you're young! I wish I had.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2005 at 10:58PM
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Well I would say my ex was the one who began inspiring me to be a minimalist or at least approach that direction. After living with him a couple of years, I'm much more of a anti-pack-rat now even though we split-up recently.

I no longer save things like magazines and old clothes, for instance. But I'm still getting rid of truely non-worn-anymore things... But as soon as something is too worn, stained or ruined in any way I no longer hold on to it like I used too. I'm also getting better about not holding on to clothes that I bought for a particular occasion and then never wore again. Especially if they no longer fit.

I really like to look in the closet and be able to wear *anything* that's in it. The only exception really is things that are the wrong season. I have enough closet space and have done enough purging to get down to 6 ft of short hanging space and there's part that is short sleeved stuff not for now and then the stuff for the now weather, i.e. long sleeve warm stuff.

I also now thanks to his influence enjoy "empty spaces" as "furniture". I used to always fill up all the wall spaces for instance, esp. a "corner space". Now many of mine in my new house are actually empty and are going to stay that way and also were in my old place after he moved out...

I've gotten much better at getting rid of furniture that no longer serves a purpose nor fits in anymore with the changing decor. I still have one or two pieces that need to go, but all in time, these things cost money after all. And while a particular piece of furniture *does* offer utilitarian value (e.g. my roll-top desk that is too dark) I tend to hold on to it (and use it) until I can find and afford a suitable replacement.


    Bookmark   March 2, 2005 at 2:37PM
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