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How to deal with unwanted gifts from family?

(34 Posts)

Especially if your partner is a hoarder?

That's the position I'm in. DH is a hoarder (although he is better than he was and much less of a hoarder than PILs. The PILs are the donors of the majority of the unwanted gifts.)

Some of DD's toys, books etc are now too young for her, but he won't consider getting rid of them. I've tried charity shopping them while he's out, however he's got a good memory for things/possessions & tends to spot this.

We have discussed going through stuff together & bagging it up, he agrees in principle but is always too tired or something. He had MH issues & I suspect PILs intrusiveness & lack of respect for him/us as parents/adults is part of this. Although his MH issues have been going on for a very long time.

We've spoken to PILs on a number of occasions previously & asked them to stop the continual stream of gifts; this had absolutely no effect. Toddler magazines (some of which they have already 'filled in' with her), second hand (often broken and/or dirty) toys, any piece of pound shop tat that happens to have DD's name on. Many of which are unsuitable for her age and consequently she breaks quickly (she's 2.8). A couple in the past have been dangerous and I got called precious for taking them off her.

We live in a small house and simply do not have room to keep storing everything for a second child which may not ever happen. Especially if the PILs do not learn to back off a bit as I simply cannot cope with the stress. They do not seem to understand that no means no.

I have very little space in the house for 'my' stuff - I do have a hobby & a small amount of stuff for this, but I feel that it doesn't matter how much I reduce my own space requirements, any space freed up is immediately taken up by DD's toys or DH's collections of stuff for his various obsessions hobbies.

ImperialBlether Tue 06-Jan-15 14:26:51

How can you bear it, OP? Instead of giving you and your husband support and help, they are making the situation much worse.

Have you ever really lost your temper with them? I don't think I'd be able to help myself.

What help is your husband getting? And what help are you getting?

lalaladeedah Tue 06-Jan-15 14:28:39

Could you just lay down a simple rule such as 'one in, one out'? That is my rule and it keeps crap from accumulating. I can't see how he can object to that, unless he truly has a psychological problem with hoarding, in which case no advice on here is going to help unless he consults someone.

Personally, I feel that I am the one who has to do 80% of the housework, so if I say something is for the charity shop, then it goes.

How does he stop you from getting rid of stuff? DOes he get angry? Upset? Make you feel bad about it?

GoatsDoRoam Tue 06-Jan-15 14:35:03

Since PILs do not (and will not) understand that no means no, simply bin anything they give you as soon as their backs are turned, and before your husband can from an attachment to it. Use the fact that he was (I supppose?) on board with you when you both asked PIL to stop giving you stuff.

"Look, DH, since your parents won't respect our wish not to be handed their second-hand crap, we just have to accept it but then toss it out right away. They won't get the message and stop the gifting, so we have to deal with the crap by binning it ourselves."

However, it's really his own hoarding that needs to be addressed. Will he see a specialised psychologist?

Haha. <-- hollow laugh. No, never lost my/our temper with them. DH is a student & gets some kind of counsellor/support via University for his MH issues but that's it. I work part-time & support the 3 of us. We tried pushing back on PILs a couple of times - on a different issue - they had an actual tantrum & refused to speak to us for several days. Blissful peace from the continuous unannounced visits. But then it all went back to normal.

They have absolutely no boundaries & DH knows it's normal, I recently told him I do believe they are the cause of his MH issues. He was having none of it. I assume because this would mean having to confront & deal with the issue - it's easier to avoid it. (Armchair psychology, have been reading a lot of threads about narc parents & PILs over the past year...)

ItsGonnaBeCoolThisChristmas Tue 06-Jan-15 14:39:51

Why can't you simply make decisions about the toys etc on your own? Do you have to run every decision past your H? Just start chucking things out. You say he notices but so what? What does he do when he notices something is gone? Is it anything to be concerned about? More concerned that your lack of personal space in your own home?

I find it hard to get ride of DC's stuff, but every time I do they glow for it. Children find too much stuff to be a stress just as we do.

Come and have a look at the Marie Kondo & Minimalism threads in Good Housekeeping for general tips to combat clutter/hoarding etc.

lalaladeedah Tue 06-Jan-15 14:40:51

So your DH doesn't have boundaries, but you do. So it's time to start gently putting your foot down. Tell them you don't have the space for more things and that from now on if they give you something, then something else will have to go to a charity shop. Who knows, perhaps they can go and buy it back and you can then exchange it…and on it goes into an eternal cycle.

Tell your that not all crap that your daughter ever 'owned' or touched is precious, and that if he thinks it is and is that torn up by the thought of letting all the babygros go to a charity shop, then he needs to discuss these hoarding tendencies with his counsellor. Tell him that this issue is straining your relationship. In many ways, he is only mimicking his parents - taking a petty issue and throwing a strop about not getting his own way...

Pantone363 Tue 06-Jan-15 14:41:53

I feel for you OP. I have similar issues here with ex MIL who is a hoarder. She continually gifts the DC inappropriate/wrong sized/broken things. As she gives them directly to the DC it's difficult to just throw them away without them noticing.

I have a tiny kitchen and this Xmas she gave them a soda stream machine a cupcake maker and a ice cream maker. I have NO counter space for them at all, but the DC love them so they are living in the kitchen floor.

Something I found that worked was saying that if she bought them toys they should stay at her house for them to play with. Anything they being home gets sent back to hers for their toy box. I dread to think how much crap she has there!

lalaladeedah Tue 06-Jan-15 14:41:58

SOrry, the first para was about your PILs and the second was about your DH.

ImperialBlether Tue 06-Jan-15 14:43:22

Yes, what does he do if he finds out something's been chucked away?

So you have a few comics that are ripped and the puzzles in them have been done. No use to anyone. Can you tell us what happens in each of these scenarios:

a) You say to DH "OK, these are rubbish, nobody's ever going to look at them" and chuck them in the bin.

b) You say to your ILs "Don't leave these here, will you? Nobody's ever going to look at them."

c) You say nothing but put them in your handbag and chuck them away the next time you're out.

Lweji Tue 06-Jan-15 15:08:34

Another one asking what happens when he finds out you chucked something out.
Can you agree with him that you handle storage and what stays and what goes and that is final?

Used magazines (ie massively ripped up) are recycled but I do feel I have to do it on the sly. I deal wtih clothes but at present they aren't an issue as there is another baby in extended family so they aren't being 'got rid of'.

I suggeated he read the Marie Kondo book & said I might get it. He was totally uninterested (ie very wary of my motives). I'm just sick of having to move stuff to get to the things behind. I do try to model good behaviours re:not keeping unnecessary stuff, but DH just seems to think "excellent, there's some space I can fill".

I would send things back to PILs house but their house is already full to the rafters. Ther is one whole room blocked off, plus two other major ares of the house, due to accumulated stuff.

lalaladeedah Tue 06-Jan-15 15:27:56

But what does he actually do if you get rid of stuff? Why are you giving into him so easily? If you clear a space, and he fills it, clear it again. Why is he wary of your motives? Does he feel that you are rejecting his parents and him by rejecting their crap?
It sounds to me like you need a massive purge of things and tinkering around the edges is making neither of you happy.

ImperialBlether Tue 06-Jan-15 15:29:57

Do you work outside the home? If so, could you say, "Oh X at work is really broke and needs X, Y and Z. I think I might give her X."

Would he accept this or does he have to be the one to have the items in his house?

hellsbellsmelons Tue 06-Jan-15 15:30:33

IMHO - get out and get away now.
This will never get any better.
This will be your life until you find the strength to leave.
Are you very young?

Lweji Tue 06-Jan-15 15:30:40

At some point you may have to be tough and tell him that if he keeps filling space, then he's out.

ImperialBlether Tue 06-Jan-15 15:49:17

Actually that's what I think, too, hellsbells.

BeCool Tue 06-Jan-15 16:57:29

That you have to recycle magazines on the sly is very worrying.
Why do you feel you need to do this?

What would happen if you went through the house right now with a recycling bag and tossed every old children's magazine, newspaper etc into it and put it out for collection?

There seems to be a air of threat hanging over you OP, but you've not mentioned it really. Why wouldn't you just chuck stuff out?

I would say that the PILs house is not your problem - refuse to let the stuff in through the door, and send the it back with them.

I don't feel threatened at all. I have been abused by a previous partner, DH is in no way comparable, not like that at least. He could be said to be controlling, but only about his possessions, and latterly, DD's. He is perfectly happy for me to do as I like with my money & possessions, even though I have always been the higher earner. I suspect what you perceive as an air of threat, is just my general sense of the stress of things when he spotted that something had gone. He seemed genuinely devastated that I'd removed a gift & we had to have about an hour of discussion over 1 cheap item - this being after I'd already tried to retrieve it from the charity shop. Sometimes I feel it's just not worth the stress.

I suspect there is more to DH's problem than simple depression, which is all he's ever really been diagnosed with. He does seem to have a number of traits common to Autism but I've no idea if that's significant or what to do about it. He doesn't believe it so won't mention it to the doctor. At the very least I suspect his depression is not fully under control/he has not been totally honest with doctor about all his issues. It surely can't be normal.

I'm in my 30s. I don't want to LTB due to this. He is in most other respects, ideal, especially for me. I'm actually fairly unsociable & a bit screwed up by a past relationship & my own family, & he's been totally accepting of all my issues and general idiosyncrasies - aside for my need for a tidy/uncluttered house.

Oh and SDTG - I couldn't care less about PILs house. If they want to live in a pigsty that's up to them. Quite happy to send stuff back but they temd to bring it round when I'm at work. They know what they're doing. hmm

Lweji Tue 06-Jan-15 19:55:22

Sometimes I feel it's just not worth the stress.

And that is how emotional abuse would be described.
He may have problems, but you can choose to live with them or not.

Lweji Tue 06-Jan-15 19:57:18

IMO, you would need to define your boundaries very clearly about clutter and stick to them.
Any extra stuff goes straight in the bin and if there are arguments about it, then he leaves.

But is it emotional abuse if it's due to a health issue? I just don't want to make the obvious assumption just because it's the easiest one for me in the short term.

Agree re the boundaries. DH and I have had a chat again about this tonight & I have suggested an alternate plan. He knows I have boundary issues (I massively struggle if I feel people are encroaching into my personal space; I have a hatred of being touched by almost everyone but DH & DD, & I need emotional space which PILs didn't give me after DD was born). DH tried to tell them to leave me/us to have some space but they just ignored him. DH and I nearly broke up after a couple of months partly due to this. DH has since admitted he should have done more. He seems to have that FOG thing going on, won't even discuss it. In his mind, his parents' behaviour & his own issues are entirely unrelated. Despite this, he know his parents behaviour is not normal & unhelpful & we will be moving away when it's practical (my job & his course).

Seriouslyffs Tue 06-Jan-15 20:44:31

It sounds to me as if you feel you need his approval to bin stuff.
You don't. Just bin it.
There's as much people pleasing from you as from him here.

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