Husband sabotaging decluttering efforts

mum4March 1, 2011

Hi..... Am hoping somebody can give me some much needed advice. My husband will not throw anything away. If there is something that has gone bad in the fridge he will put it on the counter next to the garbage but cannot bring himself to physically put it in the garbage himself.If a plant is dying he won't throw it out he'll keep the dead one but get another one to replace it. We have 7 of the same species in one room, some half dead. I have asked him not to keep bringing more plants into the house but it falls on deaf ears. We have old appliances cluttering up the garage just incase he can use a part if our other appliances breakdown. We have pieces of old carpet in an area in the basement that's not finished which are stained and have cat pee stains on them. I ve truied in the past to throw them out but he says we ll just clean them. They're old piecec of carpets for crying out loud , let's get rid of them. Some items that were mine that were not good enough to give away i threw in the garbage can. Next day i notice they've been taken out by my husband who says , ican use that for some ridiculous reason. This is driving me crazy, i'm beginning to think this is an obsession or an illness with him. Will appreciate some advice. Thanks... i need help with this.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It does sound like an illness or obsession. Is there a way you can get him to talk to someone, to see if it is?

It can be such a fine line.

In the meanwhile, you can do all the sneaky things: anything of yours you want to throw out, first damage beyond all recognition.

Or arrange to throw it out in a way that he cannot see (put it in your trunk and toss it elsewhere; set it in one spot in the basement, and get up 20 minutes before the garbage man comes to put it in the garbage)

for the appliances, arrange for a friend to come and take them away, and tell your husband, "Oh, my friend just moved and he needs a washer; he has a part he can use to fix that machine so I gave it to him."

Those are sort of awful, in a way, to have deception as such a big part of your marriage. And it will probably never be completely effective; it'll just keep the clutter down to a dull roar.

Is this new behavior for him, sort of? It can't be if you've had time to accumulate so much carpet and so many appliances, but is it intensifying?

My son has OCD, and there is a theory that hoarding is a form of it. Having seen OCD close up, that makes sense.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 8:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I suggest that you buy this book and read it. It is helpful to hoarders and to people who are trying to help hoarders. It explains why focusing on "the stuff" rather than your husband's underlying issues with letting go of things will cause you to fail in your efforts to get things cleaned up and cause him extreme anxiety.

Here is a link that might be useful: Buried in Treasures

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 9:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Make a deal with him, if he'll listen. Ten things go out every trash collection day. Or sneak things out to the trash yourself. Black (Glad Force Flex) trash bags are great for this.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 10:01AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Has he always been like this? Or is this new behavior? Is it getting progressively worse? If so, did something happen that precipitated the behavior? Based on your various examples and your own concern that he has a problem ,,, unfortunately, he probably does. I would seek professional help/guidance in an effort to deal with the situation. And I would seek the support of family and friends.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 12:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Have him watch the show Hoarders...

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 4:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I hope I do not sound like a psycho-marriage counselor, because I am not. But dealing with this in a marriage is so much different from dealing with a parent or sibling.

I agree that reading up on hoarding may help you recognize patterns and "see" more of what might be going on. Also at some point you may want a support group or counseling for yourself rather than get stuck saying nothing will work unless DH goes, because you can find changes or coping behaviors that help you a lot even if someone else does not change, or someone changes positively because of positive changes you make yourself (though counseling is tossed about as though it's like getting a coffee, but it can require insurance or large expense or both, depending on your situation and local resources).

But I would also suggest you think about not just this one aspect of DH's behavior, but kinda take stock of how things are overall or in other areas. Remember, even if this is an illness and he needs counseling or some kind of treatment or you need counseling/support, it still comes back to, how do you guys interact about issues, conflicts, tell each other concerns, express needs? That is the basis for working out normal everyday differences of opinion, different temperaments, different goals, my quirks vs your quirks, and would also be part of how you deal with a major illness, "physical" or mental. So you might consider, in areas not related to these "things", do you have pretty good interactions ? I may struggle for some examples that are realistic, but, can you share/take turns or respect each other for how you spend time, where you go to dinner, aims in life, perhaps finances (that can be too close to the "stuff" problem to be fair)? That can be important to see if he and you have a lot of good healthy functional aspects but one problem area, then you have that as a positive thing and you also use that to maintain a strong relationship without just saying, you need to get fixed. Or if there are a lot of problems in many different aspects of his life and functioning and relationships, then that is a different issue.

It might be possible for you to talk with DH about what you need, which would not be, I need you to be neat, but, I need some spaces that are clean and uncluttered and I plan to clean this area( the LR, the den, our BR) or whatever. I don't know how this conversation would go, but I am trying to put it in the context of, it could be useful to see if even a small part of your situation is negotiable if you gave it a shot. But I'm not trying to say that it will work--just that you are exploring whether you can have a conversation about any of it or what happens if you try to, because that tells you a lot right there.

What you can see already is that it is not going to be a thing where you can go, I'm sure I can make you (DH) see that this piece of carpet is no good, so I'm going to keep telling you until you see it my way. Because you can see that he does not "see" things the way you do.

One interesting thing that comes across in the stories people tell here is that there is such a spectrum of this issue. It may be hard to know where you and DH are in that spectrum, so hard to know any specific actions that will work for you. For instance, in some families it is a tolerable quirk and does not take over the house and the "hoarder" (don't know another good label) tolerates being wrangled a bit, having his or her piles moved about, being told "time to clean up your room " and so forth--almost as though they appreciate someone else being in charge of that. But would not do it on their own and so it is in fact one of the jobs of the spouse just as couples might agree (openly or not) that one pays the bills, one shops, one cooks or whatever.

One area in which this works is to not make or expect DH to do what you can do yourself without causing a ripple. For example, if he can't toss old food but he doesn't really complain ( or do anything weird) if you do, then you just do that--that becomes your chore and you don't try to change him into someone who can do that. If there are any other areas like that, you go with that. That does not solve an underlying severe problem if there is one, but it reminds us not to focus on controlling the other person or insisting on equal values/equal chores but just do what we can do about what we want done. It is more liberating and satisfying and uses less energy.

But in other cases it is not okay with the "hoarder" person and not working for the spouse to wrangle and jolly or even to throw anything at all out and so, even though the non-hoarding spouse may think, well, it is just obvious that my way is the right way and you have the problem, still, it is not going to work as a way to manage long-term.

So maybe you are already doing this, but I would take some time to read up on some similar problems as suggested, to observe your patterns of interaction about not only clutter and stuff but other areas of your lives, to do some less sensitive cleaning/tossing things you can do w/o asking his agreement or expecting him to want the same thing, don't go into complete overhaul mode even though you might be in a major decluttering mood, save some time and energy to do some fun things together(to see if you ARE still having fun) and see what you learn about the extent of the problems and what might be the best solutions for you.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 7:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you all for your words of wisdom and useful links to informative links. Frankie in zone 7 had brought up if other areas of our marriage were difficult too. I would have to say yes. It all boils down to money. One of my sons was going through a phase of being very disrespectful when he talked to me( he was 19 at the time). I expected my husband to intervene and tell my son to stop treating me that way, he didn't even when i asked him to. He found out my son had thrown a whole banana left over from his lunch at work in the garbage and was all over him like a dirty shirt. He wouldn't correct my son when he was disrespecting his mother but he jumped right in when he thought he was wasting money by throwing a whole banana in the garbage.

A few months ago our dentist had said said something very rude to me and i chose to go to another dentist. I thought my husband would support me by not giving him the business and changing dentists too. He didn't want to because it was close to the house and convenient. Today we found out a new dentist in town was offering free whitening to new customers. My husband is considering switching dentists to take advantage of the free whitening. Again he wouldn't support me in a moral matter but when it came to money he had no problem making up his mind. This is not new behaviour but seems to be getting a lot worse as he's getting older. Insight anyone?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 9:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

How old is your husband?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 9:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have the same situation. I just remove things when he is not there. Or load into the trunk of my car and take to thrift shop next time I go out.

I begged him for a couple years to do something about the garage. Then it finally occurred to me that he cannot. He is literally unable to do it (not a physical inability). So, I've started, especially when he is out of the house. Trying hard to be respectful of his "things" and not toss anything really meaningful, and I've made good progress. It will take months, inch by inch, but I'm determined not to live with the moldy, dirty, spidery piles of just junk. I have the summer off and will make more progress then.

I figure we are paying a mortgage payment on the house and garage, and I want to enjoy space we have and keep things that are useful and important. And if space is just piled with junk, we're not getting full use from our property.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 3:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I keep stuff - not pathological, I don't think, but I am a keeper, like your husband. As such, I might be able to offer an insight, but it may or may not have any parallel with your situation. And if it does, it will be hard for you to perceive. But I will also say from the outset that I may be totally wrong, and you may be right that it's about money.

I've concluded that the stuff I like to collect is related to the life I wish I were leading. I collect furniture (not kidding, I'm afraid) and when I look at what appeals to me, it's furniture for the house I wish we'd move to (but we're a bit stuck here due to location for DH's commute and kids' school). I have oodles of books because I wish I had time to read. And things like that. And some of the things I keep are a rebellion against the constraints my husband places on me - money he'd rather I didn't spend, for example, or stuff he criticizes me for. I don't want to go into that too deeply, but hopefully you get the general idea. In short, I'm not in control of my life - I'm a stay at home mom and am pretty much at everyone's beck and call. Including extended family

Keeping dying plants doesn't speak of wishful thinking but it may be an expression of a need for control or freedom or something. At the risk of offending you, and hopefully you won't take offense, I'm going to suggest that the examples you've given of where your husband disappointed you, your expectation appeared to have been that you could control him. However justified in those cases, if it's reflective of the general trend in your relationship, that may be the source of your problem.

My husband and I sometimes observe that in every couple, one person has the fear - and it's the other spouse that they're afraid of. In our relationship it's me, and we're working on changing that (it's as much my problem as his). If, in your relationship, it's him, then his behaviour is likely a reflection of that.

My mother told us when we got married (and drat, she was right) that you can't change the other person; you can only change yourself. Our spouses' behaviours are always a response to our own. If you can find something to change about your behaviour, you might find that his behavioural problems solve themselves. And if you listen carefully, you might hear some completely unexpected reasons for what he's doing - maybe putting organic things in the garbage causes the garbage to smell? Or he wants to compost instead of throw away?

But it might also be something seemingly completely unrelated. As I keep trying to explain to my husband, most of my housekeeping or keeping issues go back to some angle of our unfinished home renovation - if it were done, I'd be able to stop doing something else that is really bugging him that he can't even see is related. But he has other priorities, and can't see that it matters if the stairwell is painted or the dining room window installed or what have you. But it matters to me, because there are other decisions I can't make, or jobs I don't want to do, until that's done. Maybe there is something that seems unrelated that matters to your husband that is preventing him from throwing things away or making decisions.

In short, until you understand the "why" of what he is doing, I doubt you can have much success at overcoming it. I wish you the best of luck at figuring it out!


    Bookmark   March 7, 2011 at 11:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Karin, I think you are right, and the problem is how can anyone make a "diagosis" of the problem or root of the problem. Sometimes the person is perfectly able to try to explore that with the spouse and people can just work through things but o/w it is something that needs a referee, usually a counselor.

You identified more clearly what I was getting at in a more roundabout way , that various approaches that people have tried or have suggested might well work IF they matched the underlying problem. If someone can't throw something out for reasons related more to the action of throwing out but are not invested in keeping the thing itself or keeping someone else from throwing out, then the spouse may be able to play the role of the "heavy" and clean up behind him. But if the root problem relates to keeping the thing or to not having someone else decide what is kept, then more stuff will just keep appearing to serve that need.

I am terrible at getting certain things fixed around the house because I just have zippo skill or confidence in how to find and hire various work people. But of the things I do really want fixed/repaired, if someone else could do that for me or if my DH finds someone then I am more than happy to ventilate my wallet. Then there are other things where I am stymied on fixing one thing because I think we need to do something more global and we have not figured that out. In those cases I might stall on getting a small step done or might object to DH (although he is seldom at the head of the pack here )because I'm not comfortable with where it will end up.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 3:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have one MIL who is a keeper (reformed horder, but everything she was hording was seen as potential $$) and the other who is a horder (yes, I have two MIL's). They are both absolutely lovely, sweet ladies. The horder (I hate to call her that, she is adorable), hangs on to stuff for the memories they hold. She saves EVERYTHING, and because of finances they have had to move into a teeny space. This caused her to have to let go of many things, (which was aided by having to let some things go in the past when other family members holding on to things for her had to downsize) - she continually needs to have a rented storage space for items. Items she never visits, never sees but can not let go of. She can not talk about letting go of the items, although now she can discuss organizing the items and is willing to sometimes, when she can manage, ask for help organizing them. She will not see any one about the issue, which she knows is a problem, however she can not face discussing anything. We are gentle with her and try our best and let her work within herself (she has come a very very long way) to sort out the root of the hording problem and the problems it causes for others.
One way we ended up discussing the issue was to explain our own anxiety over so much stuff. I was faced with sorting out the "sewing room"/work room/tool room..which just had tons of stuff jammed into it. Nobody was sewing, nobody was using the tools or other items. More stuff just got hidden and packed in there. It was so hard for her to let us know she was hiding things. So I simply made "memory boxes" of odd things I found hidden, and the rest I laid our for us to keep or get rid of and plan where we would keep it and how much she was expecting others to pack and move for her. I explained how difficult this was on others. It was taking me a whole week to sort thorough this room (the size of a walk in closet) and then it was very nerve racking trying to help her make decisions which were agonizing. We were very patient, and let her get very upset, get mad at us, get angry at herself. But slowly she realized that this move would take years if we kept going like this. Slowly she began to let us know how much stuff she'd kept and where it all was (tons of other people's attics full of things).
No blanket approach will work for everyone, but I found that being able to share anxieties worked really well. My MIL did not realize that her need to horde to relieve her anxiety was the cause for anxiety in others. She would never mean harm of any kind to another person, she is so kind and thoughtful. However sharing the anxiety made her give up ownership of the hording. It was no longer hers but "ours" and that seemed to be a huge relief for her because no longer did she share the burden alone. And because she is a person of faith, she realized she never carried that burden alone, she just let herself feel that way. Nobody is perfect, it's still very difficult for her, but she is doing super.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 11:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow. I can relate (which is why I clicked on this thread!).

A good therapist and a good book is all I can personally recommend. If the husband doesn't see what he's doing as a problem, then you may need a marriage therapist in order to get him to go (in other words you may need to define the problem as "a problem we have" instead of as "WTH is wrong with you, go get it fixed!"). The book I'm recommending is like $8 on Amazon, and it's about all kinds of problems couples can have--not specifically hoarding--but the genius of it is that it's all about what YOU can do to deal with problems. In other words it's not about pushing the other person into changing. It's a lot more empowering. Please excuse the cheesy title, but it's called "Divorce Busting," because I guess the point of it is how to fix problems that drive you so insane that they weaken your marriage.

Here is a link that might be useful: Good book about fixing couples' problems

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 12:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ideagirl, you said it better than I. The thing that is an important aspect of spouses is that normally you are trying to grow closer and you plan to be interdependent. So you have to deal not just with the clutter or hoarding or eccentricity of any kind, but deal with it in terms of whether it will push you apart or can make you closer. The goals of parent- child or sibling relationships are usually different and allow for more breathing space.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 10:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you frankie in zone 7 and ideagirl2, you are both so right. I don't think oit's just none person s problem when it's affecting the marriage. I really don't think my husband is a true hoarder but more so stubborn about wanting what he wants and will not compromise on anything
I ve asked him to be reasonable on certain things that he goes overboard on but he has a problem with me asking him to do anythimg. He grew up with a very controlling mother and made it very clear that no woman will ever push him around. I can see if i'm, a nag and were bossy and telling him what to do all the time. Not the case at all, i've tried to expain to him that i'm asking him nicely about not keeping so much stuff i'm not on your back and demanding. He thinks any request means i'm being controlling so will dig in his heels whether he wanted to comply or not because a WOMAN will never tell him what to do. AARGH

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 8:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I can really relate to some of these posts. My mother was a hoarder. She died last Thursday, and we will have a mess to clean up.

My very sweet MIL was a big time hoarder. She had garbage bags full of new clothes in the attic, the extra closets, and the basement. (She lived with her BF in a very big house.) It was not until she was dying that we found out the extent of the problem. Most of the stuff was unsalvagable. It was so sad, especially because old family photos were mixed in with junk that got wet. There was so much stuff, she didn't take care of what was important. We tried to be gentle, because we knew it all represented what she wanted for her life. (BF was controlling.)

My husband and I are both hoarders on a smaller scale. I've decided to take the plunge and get rid of as much of MY stuff as I can. I do all kinds of crafts and have more fabric, yarn, paint, wood, etc. than I will use in ten years. So I can't complain about DH's huge CD and book collection.

But I am cleaning out the garage, and if he doesn't do it, I will clean out his shop in the basement. It is not safe to walk in there now.

I agree that thinking in terms of the space you will gain is a positive approach. Now if I can just convince DH!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 9:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I had a cleaning service for a while. they came once a week and cleaned the entire house according to a list, plus one "extra" job a week, to be determined by me. I once told them "Clean the Fridge." What they did was throw out ANYTHING that was open,and all leftovers and lunchmeats and fruits and vegetables,even a carton of milk that was nowhere near expired. Then they removed everything, washed and dried the inside shelves, then replaced the "good" stuff. Boom, done! My husband had a fit-where's the ketchup? Where's the jam? I got so tired of hearing him I let the cleaners go. But that fridge was so clean! He's like the husband of the original poster- will not throw anything "good" away. He'll finish off a quart of milk and leave the empty container next to the sink. But he'll turn off lights throughout the house, even if I'm sitting in the kitchen reading the newspaper.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 8:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mum4 sound like you live with somebody just like my husband. In our kitchen we have ceiling lights and under counter lights. The ceiling lights are easier to cook by because they are brighter and more wattage. More often than not my husband will turn those off while i'm cooking because they use more electricity. He asked me to clean out a cupboard where i keep odds and ends because he said it was messy. He pulled everything out and left it on the counter for me to sort and clean up.I threw a bunch of stuff out only to find the next day he had gone through the garbage and rescued 2 grocery coupons and some free pads of paper from a local business. I threw those out because we have so many we ll never go through them all. I told him what was the point of me cleaning the cupboard out when you're going to retrieve stuff from the garbage.
Craziness. Very frustrating

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 8:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

mum4 - I get the "we should turn out the lights" from DH when leaving a room, but he will run the ELECTRICALLY HEATED hot water from 50 feet away, full speed, just to wash a couple of dishes, then rinse both sinks of any speck of anything, He might do this a couple times a day. We DO have a dishwasher, but he seems to be "put in the dishwasher" impaired. I have to leave the room when he does this as it literally makes my blood boil and I'm tired of being the byotch. And its not like I don't clean the sink.............

And don't let me even get started on his "Why are you getting rid of that?" syndrome!!!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 4:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Mum4 and Wanttoretire, you have my smpathy. My DH is exactly like yours. Last night at dinner, Mr. OCD (that's my nickname for him) asked me to close the cabinet door under the sink. I told him no, I left it open on purpose. We were eating chicken and the garbage can is in that cabinet. I left it open for the bones and any other scraps. He asked me again. So I got up, slammed the door hard, and went back to eating my meal. I guess I'm passive-aggressive?

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 10:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sorry for sending this post so far off-kilter. I didn't mean to make it a forum for my petty personal complaints about my DH. I really love the guy. He has many redeeming qualities,many more plusses than minuses.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 9:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

jannie you're really not off topic...dh's are just another form of clutter we
(sorry guys)

mum4...think your dh said it ruined him for a "normal" person who was taught to be independant... as the other posters pointed out you just keep up de cluttering on a need to know basis (you know, he doesn't need)

i'd work on comprimise in other areas that are less stressful? if he can let go, lets say having chicken on tues instead of sunday, i'd mark that is a victory...

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 10:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"(you know, he doesn't need)"

I think that says it all!!! There it is in 5 words, easy, simple, cuts to the chase. I'm lovin' that.

It relates to my philosophy of choosing your battles, I guess.

Besides, it gave a great gut busting laugh....


    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 12:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My husband also has a problem not throwing anything out. He has his nursing student books that are over 20 years old. Every where I go in my house he has clothes that are in every closet. He always tells me today I am going to work on blah blah blah and never does a darn thing to work on it. He takes all of his clothes, piles them on the bed and then puts them back into his closet where you can't even walk in. I have been trashing things when he goes to work. On top of that he collects GI Joes and has a room full of them as well as over 13 bins down my laundry room, a shed and a closet that is used to be my daughters room. He tells me he is not a hoarder. He is going for counseling for about a month and he is also working on his addiction to spending. He kept charging everything and I do the bills and told him that my bills were exceeding his pay check. I am married 36 years and frankly cant take it much longer. Right now our bathroom needs to be gutted because I have a leak in my downstairs dining room and I have to clean off a bookshelf with all his nursing books and sports illustrated magazines that he thinks will someday be worth something. And you know what I am doing.....trashing them. He does not look for any of these books for research He can get that on the internet. Then he has the nerve to tell me when I said I can't walk in the laundry room...that he had it straightened up and I messed it up! I am so sorry but I really needed to vent. I feel very upset right now and I can't do this any more. He just does not get it. Thanks for listening to me, whoever you all are!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 8:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

patsy -- I just saw your post. If it's any consolation I feel feel feel your pain. I have watched hoarders and thought I couldn't bear to live like that for a minute. I know what the tendency is because I recognize it in myself but never out of hand -- to the naked eye! His big thing -- someday it will be valuable -- meanwhile your mind and efforts are spent on maintaining sTUFF for some future date when he/you will be out of energy to manage it. It's a problem that he has to discuss with his therapist. Maybe if he knew you were at the end of your rope, REALLY at the end of your rope, he'd face it. Don't stay and take care of his things. Stay and take care of each OTHER. Can he see that?

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 11:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You know, everytime my DH walks in with something new, i remind him that someone has to take care of this stuff, even if it doesn't eat!!

It falls on deaf ears, i am afraid, and now we are moving into a smaller house, and I am having to deal with all of it!

It is depressing me....DH has his football jersey from 40years ago, etc., etc.
As SOON as I throw it away, he asks about it, like it sent him a message!

Best wishes. Mum, you are not alone!


    Bookmark   May 11, 2012 at 9:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks bleusblue for your advise. I am slowly trashing things (feel guilty) like some of those nursing books that his friend told me to trash if they are copywritten over five years old. I am having a bathroom redone and had to move the bookshelf in the hall because they need room to work upstairs in the hallway. He is slowly taking clothes out of his closet and I am trying to sell some of his clothing. Which in a way he is slowly seeing what his problem is. He has over 100 belts that I need to try and sell somewhere. The place I bring his clothes does not take belts. We are taking the Dave Ramsey classes which his counselor recommended. I guess I want fast results....I get so overwhelmed when I see clutter. Oh and he is taking a box of his GI Joes to a place that will buy those. (only some!) So I guess I have to be patient. But I have been too patient too long! lol Thanks for talking to me. It is good to see that I am not the only one who is going through this!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 8:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I need to chime in here also. Yesterday found two promotional T-shirts that he just brought in. Identical. "But they were free!" It's not the money, it's the place to store; how many T-shirts does he own already?

Also while decluttering in garage: unworn pair of man's nice shorts with tags on that he bought two years ago. They don't fit him now, but would if he lost weight. Yes, he wants to keep them.

Saturday we're supposed to embark on "garage cleaning" together. Will have to see how that goes!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 6:31AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Good luck donnagwd. I know the feeling. One time we were cleaning the attic and our bowling balls were up there when we bowled, 30 years ago. He has a bad back and I don't bowl any more so I said give me them and I will trash them. He says "no I want to keep mine" I said what for , your not going bowling. He finally gave it to me but with the saddest face. I just went to his side of the bed and he even keeps receipts from years ago so I am trashing them. I go on that side of the room and I get totally "pissed" and take everything and trash it while he is at work. Frankly, I think he wants me to do it for him but won't admit it. My husband has over 100 belts, over 200 shirts, over 200 tshirts and has three bureaus in the room and we live in a townhouse. I wish I could post a picture on here. Thanks for talking with me. I thought I was the only one but after 36 years of marriage, I should of saw what was coming. I am decluttering since my kids are out of the house and also when I see clutter I get very tensed lately. Try to nip it in the bud now! unlike me. I was totally enabling him and my kids even told me that and see what has happened. They even tell him but he still does not admit he is a hoerder. The only difference between that show and my house is I am clean and would never get to that point. He even has closets full in my dtrs room and my sons room. He keeps tshirts over 20 years old. I also took some of his shirts to the consignment shop and I want to see if he realizes a few are missing. He doesn't even know what he has! Lets all keep in touch for support!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 7:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Just found out he spent 80.00 on a new belt. This is what I am talking about. I am trying to pay off the debt and he keeps buying things he does not need. I really don't think I can take much more. The counselor told him he also needed to go to debtors annonymous and he has not joined a group yet. My son is getting married next May and I am trying to save up money as well as lower our debt. He charged $13,000 in things! And those are just his charges. I ask myself, why am I even bothering trying to pay things off when he keeps spending. Thanks for listening.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2012 at 7:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Mum, if you can afford it, I would get a maid. It will force him to keep his stuff tidy. My husband is very very slowly getting rid of his things. I take my stuff to the thrift store every few weeks if it is still good. Sometimes he has stuff to add, other times not. But I figure I am giving him a chance without nagging.

Patsy, I would close that credit card and refuse to sign on any new joint cards. Keep your credit separate. Make him either get a second job to pay off the debt or (if he has anything worth selling) sell his stuff on eBay. Once he realizes it with worth next to nothing, maybe it will help him stop buying. Is he still seeing the counselor?

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 11:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Patsy ... freeze your credit rating and freeze all the credit cards against new charges.

He'll pitch a fit - compulsive spending is an addiction - but you can maybe make some headway on the debt.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 11:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

There's some compulsive behavior in my dh's actions as well - it's not the money here, it's just the buying/bringing home. He thinks something is worth bringing home because it's free or marked down. He has some compulsive eating behaviors - had bypass surgery about four? years ago and lost 170 pound and can now buy clothes "off the rack." So he does.

We worked on the garage together yesterday and made progress.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 11:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Patsy,
Take his checkbook and check card, too. Force him to deal only in cash. You have to be honest with him and show him why you have to take his credit cards and checkbook, (def. not do it behind his back) but this way he'll be restricted to whatever amount of spending money you both budget together. He can keep an emergency check in his glovebox in case whatever happens.
(my MIL had to do this to her husband, and it worked.) See if you can return the belt. :)

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 9:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

To everyone: Thanks all for the advise. I told him to do all that Work with cash and give me his 3 bills so I can pay it. He has a mentality that this is only thing he has control of. He admitted he made a mistake because for four weeks he was on a roll not buying anything. It is like an alcoholic. But only a spend a holic! So our last Dave Ramsey class was last night and it was excellent. Dave Ramsey says if we follow everything he teaches us we can prosper so that we will be able to give to others in need. After the class when we my husband said he will try harder and will stay off of the computer. I will give it one more try to see what happens. I found credit card checks and threw them out, by mistake and he had a fit and my son said "maybe that was a good thing" lol On the Dave Ramsey course, you budget with a 0 balance so everything I budget for has a name and since he used all is money in his check book, he needed gas so messed me up. He does not need another job because he works overtime and makes a good salary. He has a lot of back issues and is in pain all the alot of his addiction to shopping and all has to do with this pain issue. What a mess! I will hang in there and will update you guys soon. I appreciate the support. Married 36 years and can't believe I hung in this long but a commitment is a commitment. All I can say is, thank God I do the bills and I totally learned alot from that Dave Ramsey class. For any of you who want Financial Peace, I highly recommend it. It was good to see young married couples in the class One couple paid off 3 credit cards and their ca rloan within 4 months by following Dave's principals. And I am glad my husband made the effort of coming because in the beginning Ramsey talks about how it is the number one reason couples get divorced.....because of money! The classes are funny so if anyone has a chance to go to follow his principles I totally recommend it. Take care and I will update hopefully progress soon.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 6:57AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Think I'll go to the library today and look for any of Dave Ramsey's books. I've written various posts about my struggle with debt. I still have about $35,000 in debt spread over 5 credit cards that I'm trying to pay off. Right now I know I'll have two cards paid off by the end of 2012 and I'll use the "found" money to make more payments to the other 3. I did a Debt Snowball spreadsheet and every dime will be paid off early in 2014. Which is really only about 20 more months. The end is in sight but still fairly far off. Wish I could get things paiod off faster. My brother and I are basically at a stand-still over our late motjer's estate. Brother inheirited everything and is executor, supposed to "share" equally with me and our 2 sisters, we girls have just about given up on him. It's not a massive estate. All Mom left was a house in pretty beat up shape- terrible old kitchen and bath, leaky roof, but 4 bedrooms in a good school district and a "pricey" zip code. Sorry to get so off track and long-winded...

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 8:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

@Jannie. I am with you. I do the snowball method and it works. I already paid a dental bill and 1 credit card. The idea is not to charge anything and when you do your budget take the cash out for groceries or gas or whatever you want to use the cash for. Every dollar has a name to it. I used to do the bills then deduct for groceries but since I take the money out for the groceries and gas when I go to the store and I know I only have a certain amount I spend less. After the two weeks I actually have $100 left over! It amazes me when you take cash how you are cautious in what you buy. I have also been selling things and I take that extra amount to pay down more that certain bill. Dave says it takes approximately 2-3 years to do it. I have my son's wedding next May and I am trying to put aside money for that. Instead of charging in an emergency you have the money saved. You can open a few savings accounts for each thing you will be needing in the future, like vet bills, etc. See if the library has the tapes and they are like the classes we just went to. The class cost about 90.00 but it is totally worth it! Good luck. and your not long winded...I am lol

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 8:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Update on everything....things are looking up. Everyone must be praying for us. He actually is freezing the credit cards, giving me his bills so I can handle it and is actually selling some of his GI Joe collection. Man what a difference it makes you feel when the clutter starts to disappear. Feeling better myself now that he is making progress.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 8:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Good for you, Patsy! I'm glad that he is (finally) cooperating. Enjoy your "new" space.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 6:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm glad your husband is cooperating. Looking at the title of this thread, I don't think he's actually "sabotaging" you. He agreed not to charge anymore and to sell some things , after all. I don't think that's "sabotage". He's just being himself. For example, I've known my own husband 36 years, married for 32. We love each other but often do things that are contrary to the other. I used to get mad, now I think it's better to communicate bad feelings from your point of view "I get upset you keep so much junk. I'd like the house to be clean and organized. We can do this thing together." Good luck with the decluttering.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2012 at 10:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I never said he was sabotaging me. That was the title of the beginning of this thread! lol I just had the same issues as some others with husbands not throwing things out. We are working together and just got rid of "stuff" in the attic!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 6:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sorry Jannie, I misread your post. Must have had too much wine that night! lol He has been trying very hard but still a long way to go Take care

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 9:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You guys must be praying for me cause now have the checkbook he has plus the two credit cards to take over and am giving him only cash to use for gas and for food. He has been off ebay for over 4 weeks now and has not bought a thing. Things are looking up and thanks for all you r support

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 6:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

That has got to make you sooooo happy!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 6:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My husband saved everything! He would save boxes, we have two places, one being a property and cabin. He would take stuff to the dump and come back with more than he left with, this place, I managed to keep relatively clutter free, but found a horde in the shed yesterday, and I still have to clean up the basement horde. We had pizza, and I went out to the cabin to find mummified MICE in the pizza boxes, he was going to use them to light the stove he said--they were still in the woodbox six months later!!! Granted, I suspected a hording issue, but I never truly saw how bad it was until he was literally on his death bed from cancer! I hadn't, at that time been to the cabin in years because he would invite strangers to come and live with us when I lived out there with two small children. One stranger committed suicide. He always put his friends and strangers before the safety of his own family. There were a couple that had a cabin close to us, the fellow died of leukemia, but before he died, my husband made sure that their place was sold so that the widow wouldn't have to look after that. WHY???? They had three kids in town, that was not HIS responsibility! Me, he left with a major hording issue at the cabin, over acres and acres! I walked thru the property for eight hours and didn't get thru a quarter of the stuff. I bawled for entire time, and then screamed for two!!! He didn't care that he died and left me with that mess to clean up. Also, our other property he left a mess too. He never repaired anything at all, now I have to try and sell things off for what I can get out of them just so that I can move to be with my special needs son. Why didn't I leave, because I had a severely disabled child and financially could not have afforded to do so, then he got cancer and I had to take care of him. I put up with all this for 26 years. So, to your husband, does he want you to be left with a mess to clean up when he dies? I should be mourning for hubby, but believe me, sad as this may sound, I am thrilled to be free to clean up the mess he left me to deal with. I feel nothing for him but anger, bitterness and resentment. It is very embarrassing to have to get people to clean up his messes. He horded probably 40 vehicles, scrap metal, over 100 propane tanks, he built shops and sheds to store more and more, he had old motorcycle parts, snow mobile parts, coleman campstoves, generators, welders, you name it. His dying wish was to have more friends visit and to see if he could find parts for two of his clunkers, not getting someone in to clean up the stuff, he didn't care that I had to clean it up, but he expected me to bring him meals in the hospital because NOW he finally liked MY cooking ha ha ha. He knew he was dying for seven years, all he did was collect more stuff. Granted, it exploded when he found out he was dying, but still. How can a person do this to a loved one???? My family wants me to start dating and meet someone else ha ha ha ha ha---as if I want to deal with THIS again!!!! I just wanted to share so that you and your husband can do something about this NOW before you end up like me!!!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 1:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi. I usually post on the KT, not here. (I did respond to the dust mite allergy thread)

Anyhow, I just want to say to Lexlex you have my total and complete sympathy. I'm sorry for how the years of your marriage were, I'm sorry you lost your husband and all that entails, and I'm sorry you have such a monumental job ahead of you to clean up.

I just feel so bad for you, I want you to know you're being thought of and prayed for. I know that doesn't help any day to day living, but your story touched my heart.

Take care.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2013 at 3:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm so sorry to read this sad story. My husband and I are both hoarders. He's now sick with MS (multiple sclerosis) and confined to bed. It's inevitable he will end up broke and in some kind of assisted living situation. In the meantime, I'm 60, fairly healthy and mobile. I'm his caregiver. I bring him food and drinks, change his diapers, keep our home as clean as possible. But there's tons of hoarded stuff in closets, the garage and attic. I am pulling out a little at a time, going thru things, throwing away or recycling whatever I can. There are some "treasures" amid the trash. He collected stamps and coins. I don't know enough to dispose of them profitably. In the meantime, our life savings are dwindling away, mostly gone on paying for a home care aide to visit three days a week. We don't qualify for any welfare. He's a veteran, the VA assessed him and all they can offer is VA Day Care. But that would involve him sitting in a wheelchair on a bus one and a quarter hours each way. To add to that, hubby is suffering from moderate dementia but is aware of what's going on and says he will never go to the VA.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 8:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


There is a benefit thru the VA called Aid and Assistance. I suggest you go to to check it out. Be aware that not even all VA customer service reps really know much about it. The best thing I got from the website was to go ahead and send in the application even if you don't have all the info. The claim then has a receipt date, and that is the date used for payment retroactively.


Here is a link that might be useful: Aid and Assistance benefits

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 3:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Years ago, when I moved in with a boyfriend who had a hoarded room in his home, I waited till he went to work one day, then emptied it out on trash day -- it was all gone from the corner before he got home. An entire room of stuff, and the only thing valuable was a rifle and a TV. The only thing he's missed: A keychain that I never even saw. :-/

My current hubby has hoarding tendencies, so I just take things up the road and put them in the church dumpster where he can't find them. If he doesn't create a permanent home for everything he buys, it gets tossed when he's at work. If he doesn't like it, he can leave me and not look back. He's grateful on some level that I keep the living environment in check.

Do something now before it gets out of hand. Get your hubby to go hunting or camping for the weekend and hire a junk truck to empty the crud out. :-)

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 1:23AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
under sink organization (kitchen)
Had to share this photo. It is perfect use of the dead...
Meet and Greet - Please Introduce yourself!
I don't think I've ever seen that happen on this particular...
I'm hoarding gluten-free food!
I was diagnosed w/ celiac a couple of years ago; I...
How to get your kid (young, or young adult, or adult) to declutter
On one of the other threads (the "madwoman"...
Please recommend a good paper shredder
I have a little one that can shred two sheets (max)...
Sponsored Products
Abbyson Living Berly Nailhead Trim Ottoman - Cream - HS-OT-1050-CRM
$174.95 | Hayneedle
Joy Carpets Colorific Kids Area Rug - 19-P
$129.99 | Hayneedle
Wildwood Lamps Weathered Bronze And Iron Six-Light Chandelier
$908.50 | LuxeDecor
Wildwood Lamps Crosscut Log Object Mango Wood Black Base Sculpture
$96.60 | LuxeDecor
Crystorama Etta Olde Brass Six-Light 28'' Wide Chandelier
$798.00 | LuxeDecor
Portuguese Water Dog Brown Dog Print
Ballard Designs
Colonial Mills TB49A008X028R Tiburon Indoor/Outdoor Braided Rug - Misted Gray -
$242.98 | Hayneedle
Halloween Airblown Inflatable Pumpkin Head Reaper
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™