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Need to transform my hoarder of a DH

(9 Posts)
Toots Mon 02-Jul-07 11:25:59

Having trouble with the apostrophe for some reason, as you will see...

DH hoards paper(s)(flyers, leaflets generally office work/freelance related), bags (mostly empty), partially filled storage boxes and empty picture/photo frames.

I feel like I have shepherded all his stuff into one place in the house now and if he leaves a load of papers hanging about, I shove them in a plastic bag and put them with the heap in our bedroom. I'm pretty cluttery myself but nothing like this. I can't get to the curtains on one side of our bay now, so two of the three stay closed on that window

It gets worse in the summer when he gets really busy with work.

We'll be having builders in the house from August for a few weeks and I'm starting to de-clutter prior to setting up a temp kitchen in what is the (my, I work at home 4 days) office and making the spare bed into the office.

There were 21 empty bags scattered around our spare room and bedroom yesterday. When I suggested we gave some to charity and put some in the loft (I was thinking maybe keep 6 or 7 in circulation as a reasonable amount as I know he likes different sized ones for photography stuff). He got very stressed and couldn't do it. We managed to get two into the loft and he stuffed the rest inside the biggest one. An improvement but a minor one.

Has anyone over-come their hoarding instincts and if so how? Anyone tamed a hoarder and can offer tips and advice. This is really bringing me down.

lizziemun Mon 02-Jul-07 12:16:39

DH is a hoarder, he has his own space/office which is his doman to with what he likes, i do not clean it and any rubbish he brings home and he leaves in any part of the house i put in his office.

This weekend he has cleaned his office out as he has had to move into the converted garage as we need the nursey back in 8 weeks. I have made him have a good clear out (8 black sacks and 1 car load to the dump) he is happy that his office is tidy and he can find what he is looking for, but i know give it a month or 2 it will be a mess again.

I don't think you can retrain them m mum tried for 25yrs to get my dad to stop, the only cure she found was when he left her for someone else but that a bit drastic. As i said we have come to an agreement that dh can keep what he likes as long as it in his office anything left in the rest of the house is fair game for me and i will throw away.


sixlostmonkeys Mon 02-Jul-07 13:02:59

Toots - before you even said about him getting stressed and not being able to do it - I knew this would be the case.

Its a horrible feeling - It's a type of obsession.
I would suggest a therapy session if you can get one - seriously.
I have had a similar problem and also another type of OCD - it's how you feel inside that really is horrible and I have sympathy for anyone going through it.
I had a chat with a therapist and it really did help.

problem is, untreated it will get worse - and I guess he already feels wretched about it when he sees the piles of stuff.

If he won't agree to seeing a therapist try the following -
get some really good storage boxes, nicely labelled etc. Store a reasonable amount of his stuff in them and organise his work space so that he can't fail to see just how good the clutter free organisation really is.
I suggest trying to do all this in one go while he is out of the way - could you get a friend to help?
The remainder of his stuff? - ask a friend to store it temporarily.
When he returns home to see your good work, show him the neat boxes full of his things, then explain that he should have a good supply. Then tell him the rest has gone and does he feel he can manage without it? If he gets stressed get it all back, but if he is not too upset, ask him if he could try out the new system for a while.

Hope this makes sense

Toots Mon 02-Jul-07 14:24:38

Lizziemum - 8 black sacks, a car load to the dump... sounds like heaven - For me. Hell for him. I think sixlostmonkeys has hit the nail on the head. It is a kind of obsession.

I laid the bags (duffel, record, satchelly type ones) on the bed and I think he was shocked to see how many he has. He did mention it was Freudian to keep buying bags. I do think he buys boxes and bags and filing boxes thinking it will solve the problem but they just become part of the square footage. 6LM your empathy and experience has touched me. I like your idea. It's action-based but with a big contingency built in.

In the office at home he has a three drawer cabinet (quite sensible: general house paperwork, photos, DVD blanks and bits like old pc mice) with two big storage boxes on top (random, only partly filled). Plus, he has two big shelves (more of the same. Lots of computery bits). I never see him getting stuff from the shelves or boxes, so maybe that is stuff that I could take away and replace with what I think is more current stuff.

That would still leave a load of large picture frames but I could get help to put them in the loft. In fact I could loft some and remove what I think is just bobbins (like the six extra copies of some work brochure I just found stashed in with some toys on top of DD2's wardrobe!)

Have to say I hate the idea of being disrespectful or over-stepping his boundaries and would appreciate hearing some over views on this.

The idea of it getting worse makes me feel really, really doomy.

Toots Mon 02-Jul-07 14:26:37

Also should say I think it would be superb if he would talk to a therapist. I know just who to ask for a reccommendation.

Toots Mon 02-Jul-07 18:38:19

Last summer he used the whole of the spare room for his stuff. Not putting it round the room. He literally used the room like a box and threw stuff in. I had a major job cajoling and helping and backing off and doing a bit... round and round, so that his parents could come to stay.

Toots Mon 02-Jul-07 19:55:13

Is this unusual? Any thoughts...

dweezle Tue 03-Jul-07 12:42:01


Is the paper stuff things that he actually needs? I understand you are not keen to just get rid of his stuff, but I know from experience that mess and clutter do have an adverse impact on mental health. so perhaps ferretting out the older papers and 'hiding' them for 3 months to see if he misses them is justified. As others have mentioned, the fact that your DH becomes stressed if he is faced with getting rid of stuff could be a sign of OCD. I don't think it is 'normal' behaviour, although it appears to be quite common - we have friends who can't bear to throw anything away, newspapers, magazines, kids pictures - they even have their own school and university books from 30 years ago. The house always looks a mess because it is difficult to clean around the piles of stuff, and their children are becoming the same - 10 and 12 years old, parents have no intention of having more children, but there are still baby clothes and equipment all over the house. And you're right about the 'doomy' bit - I love these friends, but much prefer them coming to our place rather than having to sit in the mess that is their home.

Toots Thu 05-Jul-07 11:42:58

Oh god that sounds grim Dweezle. No I really don't think he needs 80 - 90% of this stuff. He has a big pot of sainsbury's receipts going back months on the bedroom mantelpiece.

The weekend is coming (looming) when he has promised to 'do another 3%'. John Bird says you can only ever tackle 3% of something at a time, so be cool with that and just keep doing 3%. It's good advice I think. Just hope it doesn't flare up into an almighty ruck like it did last week end. Know why it did though. I wanted him to sort x amount. He was only prepared to do y amount. We agreed y but because I actually thought y wasn't enough I tried to get him to add a bit of x later and he hit the roof. I will do my damndest not to move the goalposts this weekend but I'm not personally very good at the 3% trickle effect, I just like to gear up and do things in one big 100% go.

Any thoughts on how I handle the weekend anyone?

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