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Hoarding DH - At the end of my tether (Long)

(241 Posts)
Eatriskier Tue 01-Apr-14 20:25:46

Before I launch into the bad stuff, I should say that DH is a generally a lovely and very honest man. He doesn't abuse me in any way, he would barely say boo to a goose and he is a wonderful father to our two young DC. But he has a hoarding issue.

Now, I have always known he has had a tendency towards this. Its always been an problem between us. When we bought our first home together he promised he wouldn't fill it with crap especially as its a small home and I was due our first DC. He agreed to an area he could fill and that it was all he had and he wouldn't encroach anywhere else - he promised to scale down and not buy more.

Unsurprisingly he has massively stuffed this, a large part of our living room, the garage, the loft and half our bedroom with crap. Crap is harsh, some of it is useful but for the main its not useful nor necessary. In massive rows he's promised to get rid but he just boxes stuff up, moves it to a storage locker (which is now pretty much full) and then slowly fills it all back up or buys a new piece of furniture/storage to absorb the stuff.

I can't move all the items of storage and junk to clean properly, my house is becoming filthy. I am ashamed of my own home, I won't invite anyone in. I cannot live like this anymore. I've told DH loads that I am at the point where the kids and I are going to have to leave. He still won't do anything.

He promised me that in a couple of weeks, as he has some time off work, he would sort it. We had a discussion where he promised not to buy more storage (he has hoard of empty storage boxes!!!!) and he would actually get rid, not just move. Then today a load of storage arrived. He said it was to move some of the stuff out.

I'm afraid I lost it and told him to take his stuff and GTFO, his young family aren't going to live like this anymore. His response? He's not leaving his house. Not that he didn't want his family apart, not that he didn't want our marriage to end, but that he wouldn't leave his house and things (which he still didn't say when I called him out on it).

So here I am, whilst he is driving off to storage squeezing more crap into it despite promising yet again he wasn't going to do that and knowing he won't fully empty the furniture so I can't get rid of it and he will refill it with crap again, knowing that the crap means more to him than his wife and kids.

What on earth do I do now? I don't really want to leave and take the kids, but I can't have them living like this, learning this or growing up mortified by their parents and home.

Smartiepants79 Tue 01-Apr-14 20:32:59

A very difficult one. Does he acknowledge in any way that he has a problem?
He sounds like he needs some kind of therapy.
Would he agree to this?
Do you think he truly believes you might leave or that you're bluffing?
It sadly sounds like you may have to leave, at least temporarily.

RedRoom Tue 01-Apr-14 20:34:35

Could you break it into chunks (most used room of the house first) and clear it out together? Get bin bags for rubbish, boxes for charity shop/ ebay or car boot stuff, and get him to think about and justify his reasons for keeping each item. I'm no psychologist, but it seems that he needs to confront the problem and address why he thinks it is so important to keep each item. I don't know if this will work, but if not, he really may need to discuss this with a professional because it then crosses the line between him being too lazy to sort it all out to him being actually afraid to deal with it all or throw things, and that is a deeper issue.

LadyHH Tue 01-Apr-14 20:35:08

Call Junk It or some similar outfit and get them to clear it out when he's at work. Save enough cash first to cover the value of the precious stuff shit and call the cops if he kicks off. You have to take the bull by the horns. If you are too anxious to bin it all, store it all, but tell him you've binned it and that's the only way.

qazxc Tue 01-Apr-14 20:39:58

I agree with the above. He is an addict. He needs professional help/therapy. That of course would entail him admitting that there is a problem and wanting things to change, not just paying lip service to stop you challenging him about it.
If he doesn't want to change, you'll have to make a decision as to wether you want the relationship to continue. Can you accept you and your son living in increasingly bad conditions and coming second to "stuff".

Linguini Tue 01-Apr-14 20:41:17

Bag up / Box up as much as you can and leave it all outside.

emotionsecho Tue 01-Apr-14 20:41:20

I really feel for you OP, a close friend of mine has exactly the same issue with her DH, nothing she says seems to make a difference.

I and a group of friends have offered to go over and bliz the place, take stuff to the tip, etc., and this is happening soon. I know it is hard and difficult but what would your DH do if you organised for friends/family to come over for a couple of days or a weekend to clear the place out? Is he equally embarassed by the house, does he invite friends/colleagues over? Can you stress that your children can't have friends over because of the state of the place?

The only other thing to do is throw him and his stuff out and tell him to enjoy living in the storage facility with it.

IHaveSeenMyHat Tue 01-Apr-14 20:44:21

So difficult. I actually think hoarding is a kind of abuse. My FIL is a hoarder, and I think making his wife and kids live in a shitty filthy house stuffed to the gills with useless crap is basically abusive (but he's also a controlling bully, but that's another story!).

At the moment he seems to prize his crap over you, his children, and his family life. I'm afraid it would be a deal breaker for me: get therapy and get rid of ALL the junk or the marriage is over.

Hoarding always gets more pervasive as people get older.

Holdthepage Tue 01-Apr-14 20:46:10

I feel for you Eatriskier I know that I couldn't live with a hoarder, I can't stand clutter or mess in my house.

He needs to get some help but he would have to want to do that for himself. What would he do if you got rid of the stuff yourself? I would be dumping it faster than he could bring it home.

The problem with hoarding is that it seems to get worse as the hoarder gets older.

emotionsecho Tue 01-Apr-14 20:49:55

You say your DH wouldn't say boo to a goose is there anyone friend or family who could talk to him?

KouignAmann Tue 01-Apr-14 21:03:12

I am knowingly buying a house with my DP who is a clutterer. It makes me nervous reading this. DPs parents have destroyed a home with their hoard and he doesn't want to go the same way. So he lets me control him and I have zoned the house so there are areas he is not allowed to leave his stuff in!

Does your DP come from a hoarding family? Does he have anxiety issues? I agree this can be abusive when people prioritise their stuff over the well-being of their family. Often it is because their anxiety at letting go of things outweighs the cost to their relationship.

oin Tue 01-Apr-14 21:03:28

This info is interesting, but he needs to admit he has a problem

Moreisnnogedag Tue 01-Apr-14 21:04:29

I'm afraid unless your DH admits he has a problem and wants to seek help for himself, then nothing will change. It is exactly the same way as an alcoholic or drug addict put their addiction before themselves and their family.

You need to decide what you want. Is it this? If not, then you need to move out with the children. You may be able to continue in your relationship with your DH just not with you both being in the same home. Honestly, no amount of threats or chucking stuff out will change him - he needs to really really want to change otherwise everything will continue.

Eatriskier Tue 01-Apr-14 21:06:45

Thank you all for reading and replying.

I don't think he does see the problem. I think he could happily live in squalor with his stuff around him. This does go back to when he was a child, my ILs have tried various things with him but to no avail and then enable him with the storage locker because it got the crap out of their house (mostly, some is still there for now but MIL has promised to shift the lot and put the proceeds in the kid's bank accounts). MIL always tells me she hoped having the DCs would knock it out of him. I think she's somewhat ashamed tbh.

In my rage I screamed at him 'look at this, can you not see what this is? are you really happy living like this?', and I know deep down he's just paying lip service. I told him unkindly that if he couldn't see how this was affecting us and if he couldn't sort this properly then he needed proper help. I honestly think all it did was deflate him, but I know it meant nothing substantial as he's just shipped stuff out to storage. I even had to point out that the cupboards he had are going to collapse under the weight of his crap, they're all bowed. They're not even reusable to absorb some of our household stuff.

Sadly I've threatened too many things and never come through. And I'm also full of PMT rage, so angry at his actions and so upset over the house comment and him not saying that wasn't what he meant that I'm all over the shop. Do I tell him he's got a month to accept his issue and sort himself out some therapy? Or do I say you have a month and what's not gone I'll actually get rid of, and watch his shock when he finds I've done it?

RedRoom Tue 01-Apr-14 21:09:08

A month to do the whole house may be overwhelming when he has a problem with hoarding, to the extent that he outs it off because he doesn't know where to start.

How about setting him the task of one room every weekend?

RedRoom Tue 01-Apr-14 21:09:28

Puts, not outs

Eatriskier Tue 01-Apr-14 21:09:46

He's been watching those extreme hoarding programmes and declaring himself ok. Both MIL and I have pointed out that's only because we're tempering him to an extent. These programmes haven't helped!

I think I may show him that link oin, if not for any reason other than he may see there's some way of stopping this if he choses.

ItsSpringBaby Tue 01-Apr-14 21:17:46

Hoarding is a mental disorder along the same lines as OCD etc. The very idea of losing or parting with his 'junk' is probably very distressing to him.

As OP has already stated, he has obviously been like this for many, many years. He won't change through force or threats, and I don't believe he is making a conscious choice between his junk and his family. His first step needs to be to acknowledge he has a problem and to seek professional help.

OP I would strongly encourage him to open up and go to the GP before you walk away, though understandably children always come first. Getting rid of his things without him seeking help is like treating the symptoms without dealing with the cause.

cozietoesie Tue 01-Apr-14 21:21:46

Many hoarders see these programs and think something like 'I haven't got a problem because I'm not hoarding old empty plastic milk bottles/food/decaying vegetables ...whatever .....whatever..... My stuff is actually useful!'

I've lived with a hoarder and I'm afraid that I think your situation is hopeless as long as he has a means of getting stuff (if only from wayside skips or rubbish bins) and is reasonably ambulant. He cares about his stuff more than he does about his family an the therapy necessary to change his views could be many years to take effect - if it ever does.

What is the situation going to be like for your DCs in a few years? (Let alone right now.) I would be thinking about leaving directly if you can't get him out. Take some photos of the situation and seek legal advice.

emotionsecho Tue 01-Apr-14 21:26:03

I don't know which would be better OP. as you have said he has been like this since childhood I would think he will need therapy to change and want to change in the first place for it to work.

I am quite hard-headed and I would probably go for the second option and just ruthlessly clear the whole lot out. I would only store stuff if it was likely to be used within say 6 months, or it was valuable or possibly sentimental (and even then I would be ruthless). The shock may be what's required initially, but you will have to police him all the time to make sure he doesn't bring anything else in, i.e., if stuff starts appearing you will have to dispose of it immediately otherwise the cycle will continue, and I fear you will spend the rest of your life with him battling this.

Whichever option you decide on you need to be resolute and stick to it, you really must get tough and stay tough otherwise it will only get worse.

KouignAmann Tue 01-Apr-14 21:29:00

DPs parents watch those hoarder programmes and laugh as they have absolutely no insight into their own situation. They hoard the milk bottles, the food, the decaying veg, but oh no - they aren't as bad as the people on the TV!
It is impossible to understand how they think.
When I cleared out the bathroom DPs DM took 64 mini shampoo bottles away and hid them from me in her bed!

PlantsAndFlowers Tue 01-Apr-14 21:29:38

Throwing away his stuff yourself would be like throwing away an addict's stash. Doesn't solve the problem if they're able to get more.

KouignAmann Tue 01-Apr-14 21:36:00

I think maybe OP you could have a calm and non-shouty conversation with DH where you tell him how serious this issue is and how if things don't change in the next month you will be planning to separate. Then you could declare one area you want to see free of stuff, to show that he is willing to make an effort to keep his family together. Might that work?

Eatriskier Tue 01-Apr-14 21:40:39

Ok, so I'm getting that threatening him with getting rid or getting rid myself isn't going to change matters. I also know that empty threats aren't helping my cause either so that will probably do me some favours too.

The problem with DH is that he doesn't hoard stuff like empty milk bottles, decaying veg, etc. Its things like books (an entire wall), dvds (the opposite wall), tupperware, storage boxes, stationery, wrapping paper, tools, clothes and other general possessions. So therefore it isn't a problem to him. But it is, because these things are beginning to stop us living.

And when the living room gets too over run he goes through the kids toys and says 'they don't play with this any more' and puts it in the loft. I had to stop him getting rid of the kitchen the other day because they hadn't played with it, but they hadn't played with it because they couldn't get to it. We moved some of the blocking toys and now they're having a whale of a time with it.

He knows there's too much stuff, but he doesn't get that its his stuff thats the issue. I don't know how I can help him see that.

cozietoesie Tue 01-Apr-14 21:41:33

Things won't change. They don't - unless the person can change and that takes a lot of intervention and time. The OP and her DH may have time (may have( but the children and their relationship with the DCs don't.

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