What if hubby doesn't like to purge and throw away?

shelly_kAugust 29, 2008

Our styles are very different. I like to purge and throw away on a regular basis. He likes to keep forever and ever and ever...

He literally gets mad if he finds me throwing away clothes that he has had for 10 years and hasn't worn. He says stuff like, "We could sell that at a garage sale!" But DH is 6'7" and these clothes are from 1992! No one is going to buy that at a garage sale and besides, our subdivision forbids them.

I like to take stuff to Goodwill. Lots of stuff that I don't use. I hate clutter.

What do I do? Do any of you have very differing philosophies with your spouse??

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Well, it's his stuff. Would you like it if he threw out your favorite shirt from 10 years ago?

My husband and I go through this on a regular basis. I purge, he doesn't. But we live in this space together. If there is room, and he wants to store something - he gets to store it! I get rid of crap frequently, and sometimes have to hide the stuff from him - "Can't we use that?" Maybe, but we don't, and haven't, and then I get to purge.

BUT - right now there are 8 cardboard boxes of files from when he was working sitting on the floor of our bedroom closet. Should they be tossed - probably. Would I like them to be tossed - certainly! Are they mine to toss --- NO. This is part of my husband's life, and to say they are valueless would be hurtful. He does know that if I ever see a silverfish in that closet, they will all be gone the next day, LOL.

The clothes your DH is hanging on to will never bring a cent at a garage sale, and they are now probably too old to even be sold at Goodwill.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2008 at 9:53PM
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What I use to do as my DH is the same way is give things away little by little. He never noticed as I didn't do much at once. He never wore that stuff but didn't want to give away just in case. Same with the garage he had all kinds of gadgets and pieces of things that went to something else. He kept saving them and after awhile when I couldn't find anything I went and rearranged things and how really needs 8 broken sprinkler heads anyway.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2008 at 10:20PM
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My husband says that no American man has anything left that used to belong to him, because whatever his first wife didn't take, his second wife threw away... :>)

When we were first married, I got rid of a green plaid suit. (Remember the seventies..??) He still brings up that suit sometimes...that was a good suit, he says. It was a green plaid suit, for heavens sake!, sez I. But it was a Ralph Lauren suit, he says. Yes, I say, but, darling, it was a Green Plaid Ralph Lauren suit! It's almost a comedy routine by now....

    Bookmark   August 29, 2008 at 11:48PM
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You bring up two different issues: the decision to get rid of items and how to get rid of them.

If he is willing to get rid of them (just unhappy with where they are going), the hard part of the battle is won. If you itemize your deductions at tax time, that clothing is worth more as a tax deduction than it is being sold at a flea market.

Or maybe you should call his bluff and take the stuff to a local flea market and spend an entire Saturday trying to sell his things. He may decide there are better ways to spend a Saturday.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2008 at 8:00AM
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Would he buy the idea that it's important to help other people with his stuff?

Do you have an area you've decluttered that would help him buy into the idea that free space and visual calm is an asset? THEN, if he could buy the goal as the achievement of a positive instead of as a negative (ie, ACHIEVE space; instead of GET RID of this stuff), would he be more enthusiastic about finding a NEW HOME for stuff?

I know my kids will choose the idea of GIVING TO someone instead of GETTING RID. The rejection involved in "getting rid" is really uncomfortable for them, but the idea of someone else needing stuff is a bit more attractive.

I will throw my husband's stuff out sometimes. Not often, mostly because he doesn't have THAT much. I've been married to him for nearly 18 years; I know what's emotionally important to him and what's just there and he'd never notice it's gone.

I haven't been able to convince him that the 8 feet of shelves w/ LPs on them would be put to much better use storing other stuff. So they're still there.

(Bronwynsmom, I bet there are things of your DH's that you would NEVER toss, no matter how much you'd like to; bring those up the next time the comedy routine starts.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2008 at 10:08AM
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A couple of weeks ago there was an obituary that told of the woman's determination. It cited as an example the apple tree that grew in the backyard and shaded what she thought would be the PERFECT spot for a sunny garden. But, her husband LIKED the apple tree. She would go whack off a limb every now and then. The daughter said she'll never forget the quizzical look on her father's face one morning when he turned from the window that overlooked the back yard and said "Didn't we use to have an apple tree back there?"

I too whack off a limb or two every now and then. He never misses them.


    Bookmark   August 31, 2008 at 9:22AM
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As always tally_sue _nyc is right on the money. Framing the question to my husband as "do you have things that someone else could use more?" rather than "what are you willing to get rid of?" completely changed his willingness to purge unused items, particularly clothing. Making the mental transition from "you're being deprived of something if you give this away, even if you never use it" to "someone who could use this is being deprived of it by you holding onto it" apparently got him over his biggest hangups. From there, it is slowly creeping into a willingness to get rid of things that aren't donate-able.

That being said, we'll never be 100% on the same page about what is "paying its way" in our house. But we're not 100% on the same page about most things, so why should this be different? LOL We've come to an agreement about common/shared areas of the house, and the level of clutter/organization that are required there (compromising between our respective tolerances, hah), and then his personal spaces are his to do with as he likes. Amazingly, after seeing how much easier the "common" areas function with less stuff, I've noticed the level of chaos in his personal spaces going down. (A couple of supremely polite inquiries: "honey? I'm in the workshop... Where's the hammer?" may have influenced that - hahaha)

I do not get rid of anything he considers his, because I would not want him to do that to me. "Shared" items that he has an interest in, I give him veto power over ("hey, we haven't used the egg cuber. Mind if it goes to Goodwill?").

It has definitely been a slow process. We've been married almost five years, and he is now getting to the point where he will - every once in awhile - spontaneously, voluntarily hand me a stack of old t-shirts/recycle a bunch of papers from his "office"/whatever. Nagging definitely doesn't work (at least not in our house), but positive reinforcement does ("thanks for clearing out some old shirts; it's so much easier to put your clean clothes away").

I knew we had turned a corner the first trip home from his (very overstuffed) parents' house when he said "I don't know how they stand that house" - the house was no different from when he lived there, he had just gotten used to a different set of surroundings in our home.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 10:55AM
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Embees, I predict that you are on your way to a long and happy marriage. You already understand that nagging does more harm than good.

Talley Sue, you are right about not pitching things he really cares about. Happily, he is not a pack rat, and I have supplied attractive and rather butch boxes for his inexplicable collection of cords and cables...I think it's like the Victorian custom of putting the hair of a departed loved one in a beautiful glass brooch...he is honoring electronic gadgets now absent from us...

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 2:41PM
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My DH comes home from work every night. He saves for our future and bills are paid..usually early. He does chores around the house, including dinner dishes every day. He doesn't drink, smoke, do drugs. He makes me laugh. He surprises me with little nice things fairly often. He calls/emails his parents and siblings pretty regularly. He's pretty good with my family.

What if hubby doesn't like to purge and throw away?

I don't care if he does or doesn't purge. If it's his stuff and in his closet or dresser or his areas of the basement or garage, so what. I keep up with all other rooms/areas of our home. Given all the good with my DH, the bottom line is pretty much that not purging isn't on my chart of things to stress over.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 2:54PM
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Shelly - I feel your pain! I've been married to the king of the pack rats for 21 years. He still has clothes from HIGH SCHOOL (no kidding) and he graduated in 1981.

What can you do? In my experience - nothing. So you either have to throw in the towel or get divorced. If you throw in the towel like I did, you can fantacise about getting two industrial sized dumpsters but that's about as far as it will ever go.

You can keep your possessions to a minimum and learn from his over-attachment to material things. It seems that the more attached he becomes, the more I am able to let go. I think it's the duality of opposites or something like that.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 9:32PM
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There is a book called "When you live with a Messie" that tells how to lovingly but firmly deal with this problem of clutter(when it takes over the house, not just in his study or workshop or what ever)as well as never picking up. Changed things tho not completely for dh and I. Also lent to a male co worker whose wife and 3 daughters all just leave things where ever they are, and he got good results too. Embees may already be doing it naturally from the sound of it, but I am not a natural having my own issues in those arenas and needed help!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2008 at 5:06PM
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My DH loves to throw things away, probably more than I do, but he has a few blind spots. For example, I've just about given up on the top of his dresser. He has little cluttery piles of random papers, membership cards, photos, and so on that he NEVER uses or looks at. I've pointed out a number of times that they are just clutter and dust-catchers, and he says yeah, yeah, but they are still there. I don't feel I should go through them, so the best I've been able to do is put them in a couple of small baskets.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2008 at 12:32PM
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We had a house fire in 1996. All bedding and clothing was taken out of the house, cleaned and returned with a tag on it stating our name and the year. Fast forward to 2006, we're moving to our retirement home. I refused to move anything that had one of those tags still on it!!!! He never said a word, nothing of mine had a tag on it. DH had plenty of tags on his clothes.
Two days ago DH got out a jacket he hadn't worn for a while. There was a receipt in the pocket from 2006, at least he was going to wear the jacket. Oh, but there is ring around the collar, now it is in the laundry.
One way to get rid of clothing that is out of date/style/size is to put a hole in it. I tell him I'll cut it up into rags. Works every time!
Kathy G in MI

    Bookmark   September 12, 2008 at 11:29AM
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In our house this an ongong "conversation"....my DH has boxes of magazines that will never be looked at again, but the answer I get when I suggest they go is...."might need to look at that someday" he doesn't, he jut buys new books or magazines on whatever his topic of the moment is. My issue is not so much that he saves/hoards, but that there are five members of our family and his stuff takes up WAY more space than anyone else in the house. When there is a finite amount of space, one cannot collect an infinite amount of stuff. With three boys we have plenty of sports gear which cannot be stored well b/c his broken chair collection/old lamps that we might use "someday" take up the space in our basement. The bookshelves that are stuffed to overflowing with books that were purchased on a whim and the interest in the subject area has waned drive me batty.

But, we are also in the midst of a major remodel and I am taking/making time to cull through what is "mine" and occasionally will toss an old book or two in. I work carefully and do not throw anything out that I know "means" something to him, but I have been able to clear out a bit here and there.

The great negotiation will come when we finish ur new space and he wants to fill it with "stuff". Not happening. Bottom line, it is not fair for one individual to take up the majority of the storage space in a home where four other people live.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2008 at 8:47AM
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My theory: It's his house, too, so why should it be my way or no way for either of us? For whatever reason, some people need clutter and old junk that no one else can find value in. It's their stuff, not yours. What difference does it really make? Your relationship is more important than junk.

My hub is sentimental about EVERYTHING and has a ton of clutter, ancient books, newspapers and magazines, but still he has more redeeming qualities than clutter. Besides, I LIKE him. He's a great guy! And he puts up with me and my foibles with a smile, too.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2008 at 9:58AM
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Why is it that so many men are packrats? Or is it just that women are more likely to post here than men?

I'm going crazy with the mess, constantly battling to keep it out of the house in the garage at least, which is a shocking mess itself. Empty cans, boxes, leftover parts from completed jobs, old sofa, binders, stacks and stacks of stuff, broken electronics, etc. etc. (No stacks of newspapers yet.) You name it. It's so discouraging.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 12:12PM
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My friend's DH is a hoarder. They still had the scrawny aluminum Christmas tree that was his when they first started dating 25 yrs ago. They had loads of baby gates, strollers, etc. from when their kids were babies. The kids are 15&17 now. He refused to get rid of anything. There garage, attic, and DR was full of stuff.

My friend finally decided enough was enough. She went with bspofford's a branch at a time method. Each time he would go away on business, she would call me to help her drag stuff to the curb. She'd place a curb alert on Craigslist and anything not grabbed would be taken away by the trash men on Friday. It took a half a dozen business trips(the better part of a year) to clear most of the stuff out.

They now eat meals in the DR, instead of the kitchen or on tray tables in the FR. Her DH commented on how it was nice that they're eating family meals in the DR. He hasn't seemed to notice that it's because the table and floor aren't covered in miscellaneous junk.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 2:54PM
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well people can say it is HIS stuff, but it is also your home.
I believe if you know for sure that it is something that he MIGHT possibly use, you have an obligation to his trust to not throw it out..but you can pack it away in a space bag, labeled and see if he ever wants it again.

As for anything that is his that you know he really won't use, be honest with yourself..then put it in a box for a while and see if he asks for it, if not, take it to a charity.

If it is YOUR stuff, then you have every right to remove it, however, i know, living with a husband who not only is ocpd but also head injury and hoarder, you can't let them see you do it..otherwise they'll go thru the stuff and take it out.

i usually go thru stuff when my husband is asleep, i honor his space and his stuff that is really his and he will miss if it is gone, and dont' mess with it..but if i'm not sure i'll actually ask him if he still wears it or if it fits or whatever.

if it was 1992 it likely doesn't still fit and isn't likely still in style..

another good way to remove items is to buy him something to replace it..say you throw out old torn jeans that are just not even good enough to paint in, then buy a new pair of jeans to replace them.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 5:57PM
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We will be moving next week. We have been living in this house for 12 years (most of my kids' lives). Between medical problems and the kids being babies before we moved in here, this is really the first time we are going through everything. Add to that multiple businesses run out of the home, including rental units where, when perfectly good things were left behind, they would come home with us, what a mess! I can't say DH is the only one who has a hard time getting rid of things, though in the past few years I have really been purging. We knew we would be moving this year, and I have been getting ready. But I thought getting DH to come along for the ride would be near impossible. Fast forward to this past week. He has spent the past week going through piles & piles & piles & drawers & drawers of papers. We burnt out the shredder 2 days ago. Things that I have asked about in the past that he has said - we'll use that eventually, he's now saying "toss it". Music to my ears! And the great thing is, I haven't really encouraged it. I've had boxes on both floors for everyone to throw unwanted stuff in for a month. I've been getting rid of my junk that I wasn't able to part with in the past (gramma's dishes that I have never used, wedding presents, ditto, craft projects I never finished or did finish and then just stored in the closet, collections from high school that I thought I'd never get rid of that I am ready to let go, etc., etc., etc.) But we are just ready, both of us, I think, to lighten up. Just to say, people CAN change! Good to know!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 8:18PM
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what I said to my SIL before she moved in October, was...dont' take anything to your new home that you don't want there..pack for your move and pack for charity at the very same time..you won't be sorry

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 11:02AM
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Ok, well this morning I took out a big box of clothes of his from the closet and asked him to go through them. We opened it up and there were some unopened long johns. He said I need some of those. I said he had a bunch in his dresser. He said "but I can't wear some of those because they're too small". I told him "that's what I've been talking about. Let's get rid of those." Yeesh!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 7:31PM
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I've noticed that my husband takes after his father in many ways, including the desk that is covered with layer after layer of papers. It just doesn't seem to bother him. But it DOES bother me. So, when some of hubby's clutter is in my way, I just put it up on his desk -- or down in his woodworking room. That way, he can keep his piles in the same order he left them, but just not in the main living area of the house.

We are both seeing much success with the FlyLady principles of de-cluttering and anti-procrastination, but it always feels a bit touchy when I try to convince my hubby to get rid of something we don't use. Recently, I asked him, "Can I Freecycle this _____?" He said, "How about we wait a year, to see if we ever use it?" I held my breath. We were never gonna use it again! Why keep it? But to his credit, he added, "Ya know, now that I think about it ... we haven't used that _____ for more than a year, ever since we got the replacement which works better for us. How about you Freecycle it?"

So you see, he is trying. I am so grateful that he is open to the idea of giving away unwanted stuff to someone who can actually use it!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 2:29PM
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: ) DH just dumped four years worth of Guitar Player magazines on our 15 year old aspiring rock star nephew...he had been buying single back issues off ebay, so we just saved his dad hundreds of bucks ;)

guys treat electronics like old love letters, though - when we got the all region DVD player, you'd think we could get rid of the old one...but no, they're stacked on top of one another ;) right next to the VHS players (yes, plural, for copying movies) that we don't use because they mess with the stereo components...

we did just agree to get rid of all cables older the current computer, after our tech support buddy pointed out that most of what we had in that box doesn't work with modern computers (there were cords in those boxes from the TSR-80 DH had in high school...they got sold on Ebay ;)

now, if I could just get him to go through his sock drawer, and get rid of the holey ones ;)

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 1:20PM
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Here is a good one: Our Master BR has a walk in and two reach in closets. Until I finally put my foot down, the man inhabited the walk in, one of the reach ins, AND one of the spare bedroom closets!!! Since I made the spare BR my sewing room, I demanded to have the closet as well.
Does anyone else on earth have a man who must have the walk in closet??? I do the gradual reduction as well, but he amazes me sometimes with his ability to recall some blue plaid sweater from the 70's......
Letterman jacket? I understand. But, some orangy brown sweater with A BELT that is 30 yrs old, smells 30 years old????
Our attic houses huge boxes of his son's childhood school papers. Not even fear of fire could make him part with those.

We had to spend $16K on a "shop" which of course he never actually uses - it just houses his stuff that he can't fit anywhere else. Like 4 HUGE trunks full of diesel mechanic tools that were his Dad's. I understand the sentiment but really, do you need to keep ALL of it?

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 5:18PM
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I just purge when he's not looking. He never misses the stuff.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 12:46AM
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i enjoy all the hubby stories here as mine is the worse..but this year i'm going to pull things out of his screaming hands..(does that make sense?) he has to let go..he has a head injury and came from a family of the worse hoarders you ever saw..but things are going..some on craigslist so we can have money to pay for his recent needs like the new chainsaw he just ordered although there are like 5 of them in the garage..of course they need repair and he needs new..duh

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 11:09AM
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