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DH driving me spare with clutter

(80 Posts)
Failedspinster Wed 05-Nov-14 11:40:18

I'll try and stay concise here.

My DH is not quite a hoarder, but a terrible accumulator of Stuff - books, clothes, DVDs, etc. We live in a smallish house and have two children here full time, plus DSS part time, and the levels of clutter are making me a bit claustrophobic. Our hallway cupboard is full to the ceiling and we can't find anything in there without taking everything out. Bookcases are double stacked and often have books piled on top of them too, and every surface is a magnet for clutter. It's hard to find stuff, and I'm constantly tidying up to keep the place relatively clean.

i used to be almost as bad as him, but i have decluttered most of my stuff and it's now reaching an acceptable level. DH still has shedloads of stuff - he promises endlessly to declutter but only ever does a tiny bit at a time. Then he will often insist that he needs to eBay stuff rather than donate it, which means it sits in a box for ages waiting for him to list it.

I have repeatedly (and supportively) raised this with him to no avail - he just gets defensive, and says that he is getting rid of things, or will do, usually while buying more. He says he has no time to do it because of work, housework or our new baby, or this month he's doing NaNoWriMo - but I've asked him all the way through my pregnancy and before it too, and he still never did it! I've suggested a five minute declutter every night, or filling one bag of stuff to get rid, or cleaning off one shelf at a time, ive even sat down with him and done bits, and it sometimes helps but more often not. I'm so fed up.

We're now reaching critical mass. Our baby is due to go in his own room after Christmas, a room which is currently DSS' room when he's here. It's full of DH's clutter, like everywhere seems to be. And nothing ever gets cleared out! With two small children here full time, we really don't have enough space for all this. He accepts this, but still won't commit to actually getting rid of any substantial amount. AIBU? And if IANBU, how can I make this happen?

I feel like getting a skip and chucking it all.

Failedspinster Wed 05-Nov-14 12:02:30

bump help people, I'm that near building a bonfire!

He is clearly emotionally attached to the stuff so he is putting up barriers to you getting rid of things.

Are there things he is less attached too that you can start with e.g. clothes / shoes. Could you get him to donate those to a charity shop or a homelessness charity.

Another thing to focus on is anything that is broken. Give him one week to fix anything fixable or it is binned. Anything that can't be fixed goes straight out.

handcream Wed 05-Nov-14 12:16:44

Some people say its an illness, however my view is that its often down to not getting around to it, not being bothered about the mess and really not seeing what others see.

Books seem to be a real issue for some, my DH NEVER throws away books nad it does become an issue. I don like seeing stacks of books littered around the house. Its a fire and safety hazard as well.

What about a cheap storage facility. Or of course you can just take loads of books to the tip if he doesnt have time.....

(Not sure what the fallout of that would be though!)

Norfolkandchance1234 Wed 05-Nov-14 12:26:44

Right, best thing to do is rifle through the cupboard and see what really is not very important or sentimental and put it in bin bags. Hide the bags for a few weeks and if he doesn't notice it's gone then chuck it out. Basically if its hidden and unused in the cupboard then he doesn't really need it and will never notice it's gone. I do this with my DP and DC all the time.

DoJo Wed 05-Nov-14 13:28:13

Could you get him a kindle as an early Christmas present and encourage him to switch to digital versions of some of his book collection? And same with the CDs - could you help him by ripping them to MP3s and then he might be able to get rid of the actual CDs? Practical measures like that which allow you to clear space might make him realise how nice it is to have a bit more room and get the de-cluttering bug!

skylark2 Wed 05-Nov-14 13:36:23

I think you're onto a hiding to nothing while he's doing NaNoWriMo. He simply isn't going to have any free time at all because that's how it works.

But I think it would be entirely reasonable to say "some of this has got to go, starting December 1st".

Books, though? Books aren't clutter. Get another bookshelf or five.

Nanny0gg Wed 05-Nov-14 13:43:14

I hate to disagree, but he is a hoarder.

Have a look on Good Housekeeping. Lots of ideas there. However, until he actually agrees to get rid you're not going to get anywhere.

SandiToksvigsQuiff Wed 05-Nov-14 13:43:33

My husband is the same, I asked him to buy a big shed. He keeps what he wants however he wants in there. Would that be an option?

dreamingofsun Wed 05-Nov-14 14:01:38

do you have a garage? could you put everything in there and ask him to bring the stuff he wants back into the house. possibly positioning this as you are having a spring clean prior to babies arrival as you won't have time after that

Fullpleatherjacket Wed 05-Nov-14 14:10:29

How about giving him a date to clear the room by after which anything left there will go?

moxon Wed 05-Nov-14 14:16:34

I have no advice re clutter. I myself have only emotionally important memories and valuable emergency-use items residing in obviously coordinated places around the house.

specialsubject Wed 05-Nov-14 14:21:16

the physical size of the house should be obvious. Tell him to stop pissing about and get real.

DON'T rent storage, it will be there forever.

books are hard to get rid of but it can be done. With three kids and another due he doesn't have to read anyway.

specialsubject Wed 05-Nov-14 14:21:42

ps don't tip them, charity shop please!

scallopsrgreat Wed 05-Nov-14 14:36:08

You are married to my DH <sigh>.

He also always priorities the one box of my stuff in a room full of boxes of his stuff. Except of course it isn't his stuff, it's house stuff. That he's bought. That he uses. That we wouldn't miss if it all disappeared (well may be on one Sunday three years hence when the moon is aligned with Jupiter and the swallows are flying south for the winter).

<not helpful I realise. Just sympathising>

Failedspinster Wed 05-Nov-14 14:43:09

Appreciating the suggestions so far ladies smile We don't unfortunately have a garage, but some of it could certainly go out to our shed (small, but currently empty). As for the rest, we can't really afford to pay for storage - especially as it would probably be indefinite. I doubt he'd ever get rid of it if it was out of the house.

He does appreciate in theory that we can't go on forever with this amount of stuff, and often says of his own accord that he's going to clear stuff out, or suggests ways to downsize his stuff - so I might start with sorting out the room that is currently DSS' when he is here. It's a neutral space and has a relatively small amount of DH's clutter in there, all stuff he has agreed to eBay. It's also a room we will be redecorating after Christmas - which also makes it a good place to start.

LillianGish Wed 05-Nov-14 14:43:22

I'd surreptitiously get rid of some stuff - if he notices and asks where something is tell him if he can't find it among his pile of clutter he needs to be more organised (that's what I do with old books, clothes and cds - a general weeding out usually goes unnoticed). With regard to the baby's room I'd clear out his stuff, put it in bags, give him a couple of weeks to sort it out and if he doesn't then take it to the charity shop. If he really thinks he can make money from it then what about a car boot sale? With stuff that doesn't sell going to the tip (what better illustration that noone wants it?) I also think it's important to cut off clutter at source - by really watching what comes into the house and operating a strict one in one out policy.

cozietoesie Wed 05-Nov-14 15:30:43

I'd agree with NannyOgg. He is a hoarder - perhaps just not truly advanced yet.

How old is he and how long have you been living in this house?

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Wed 05-Nov-14 15:30:50

I've got one of these as well. We now have a one in, one out rule to some extent where books are concerned but I still have boxes of CD's languishing waiting to be loaded to the computer.....

My tips are pretty similar to others. Remove the stuff yourself, hide for a bit and then if not missed, give it away.

Ditch or freecycle anything that's usable/can be fixed/or sold on by someone with more time and motivation to do it. I have sold the only things that have been earmarked to be sold. I have left one item in protest and it's going to be given away this weekend when DH is away.

Books - define a space that they can live in, then the collection has to be culled to fit it. Deadline after which you chose what stays.

Clothes - unless he is a clothes horse he will never miss the old jumpers/t-shirts etc that might come in handy. Get rid and don't say anything.


Hire a storage facility/garage - unload the lot into it and tell him that he has three months until the contract expires to sort it before the contents go to the tip.

Do you have a garden shed or space for another?

cozietoesie Wed 05-Nov-14 15:35:23

You migt find this of interest - it has some useful links.

Failedspinster Wed 05-Nov-14 15:46:19

Cozy, he's 36 and we have been here for two years.

I don't really want to get rid of his stuff without his say-so - firstly because I would be furious if he did that to me, and secondly because he genuinely would notice. He has a very good memory for stuff he might only have seen once or twice! We can't afford to buy or rent extra storage for his clutter sad

GoldenKelpie Wed 05-Nov-14 15:47:05

OP, my DH is similar. I took action when he went on holiday with DD for a week. I bought shelving for garage, a load of plastic storage boxes with lids, and filled them with his 'stuff'. Bought a shed and did likewise. He can sort it at his leisure. Three years later and he hasn't got round to it yet. I am ruthless with keeping living room acceptably tidy and put his accumulating 'stuff' in bags regularly and these bags go first into conservatory then join the other stuff in garage\shed. Occasionally he sorts a bag and proudly shows me a tiny pile of stuff he is throwing out. (sigh). I feel your frustration and hope you and he can come to some agreement.

GotToBeInItToWinIt Wed 05-Nov-14 15:49:34

I'm pretty sure you are married to my DH! We have exactly the same issue, even down to him wanting to sell stuff (and not getting round to it) rather than just chucking it away. I gave mine a deadline; if stuff hadn't been put on eBay by a certain date it was going to charity/in the bin. I also allowed him one large cupboard to keep general 'stuff' in, everything else must have a place in the house. I am the complete opposite so it's even more frustrating, I hate clutter!

cozietoesie Wed 05-Nov-14 15:52:39

I think that you're right - I've lived with a hoarder and getting rid of stuff without their agreement is enough to send them off the deep end - if you're getting rid of anything that's going to be noticeable and that's not much at all to a 'collector'.

It's just that your posts had many red flags for me and for a young man and a house which hasn't been lived in for long, you have possible problems. I'll try to find you a link to a support group if another poster doesn't have it to hand.

LightastheBreeze Wed 05-Nov-14 16:09:07

With my DH, I find it much easier if I just ask him to do one tidying task at a time, like sorting out one bookcase and then doing another area another time. He is also banned from using the loft as a dumping ground as things disappear up there and are forgotten about. The loft is for things like Christmas decorations and stuff like that I tell him or else it would be full of rubbish. HE does seem more resigned to clearing his clutter now though than when he was younger ( probably my constant moaning about it)

With old clothes I just chuck them out, I don't think he notices, if he does I just say it must be lost or it had a hole in it, how can an old pair of trousers have sentimental value.

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