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Shall I set a wedding date?

(30 Posts)
TopOfTheCliff Sun 19-Jul-15 12:08:18

My lovely DP proposed to me a year ago after 3 happy years and I accepted. We have sold our own houses, bought a large joint property (protecting our input, Declaration of Trust deeds etc) and set up home. Our 6 adult DC get on okay, all seems good.

He is a lovely man with lots of friends, nice family, kind to everybody and cherishes me. BUT BUT BUT - he is a messy clutterer and hoarder, always busy with projects and an obsessive hobby and never has time for mundane tidying or sorting out stuff. His STUFF is invading our house. I have zoned it so there are my spaces, his spaces and public space. He makes his bit (the basement) uninhabitable and smelly and uncomfortable. The joint parts need ruthless patrolling and I frequently have to escape to friends when it gets too much.
He is coming to the end of a big work project and has really been too busy to concentrate on our home. But he is keen to organise the wedding.

We both have failed marriages behind us. I had a genius batty academic XH who expected to be looked after and I got worn out. DPs DW left him for OM frustrated by his hobbies (and his clutter). I don't want another failed marriage.

SO I am minded to tell him we need to sort out the house first. No wedding until he has proved he cares enough for my wellbeing to make our home efficient and comfortable and welcoming. But he is too old to change much, and very loveable as he is. Am I being unrealistic? or too controlling?

At the end of the day if I tell him there won't be a wedding until he has sorted his stuff I would be quite happy to live with him as we are indefinitely. Oh and some important information to add - his parents are also hoarders who trashed their house and made it uninhabitable and he had to clear it out which he hated and vowed not to turn into them!!!

Please give me your views.

gymboywalton Sun 19-Jul-15 12:11:11

do it

i am not sure i'd have moved in with him tbh
it will drive you INSANE

TopOfTheCliff Sun 19-Jul-15 12:16:06

That's my fear gymboy

I guess by "do it" you mean "I tell him there won't be a wedding until he has sorted his stuff" rather than set a date.

and I am mostly okay with his mess as long as I can escape to my own sitting room like Charlotte Collins and ignore it. Except when I have PMT and shout and scream like a deranged person

gymboywalton Sun 19-Jul-15 12:19:02

yes sorry-i meant issue the ultimatum

do you think he realises that he is emulating his parents?

UrethraFranklin1 Sun 19-Jul-15 12:23:23

You can make any conditions you like before marrying. However there is a real possibility that he either cant or wont change, and that is his right. You arent wrong to want fo live a certain way, but neither is he (I think we forget that just because something completely is wrong for us, it doesnt mean it is objectively wrong).

I dont really understand why if its so important you wont marry him, but youd happily live with him anyway? What is the difference, really? You say you dont want another failed marriage but that implies that you wouldnt actually live with him happily as he is. Marriage doesnt make much difference to day to day living.
I think your reasoning is a bit confused and you need more thought to work out your priorities.

Epilepsyhelp Sun 19-Jul-15 12:25:00

Sit him down and ask him if he sees that he is like his parents. Does he recognise the mess or does he just not 'see' it if you see what I mean? Maybe take some photos of the worst bits and show him - if that doesn't sound stupid!

MarkRuffaloCrumble Sun 19-Jul-15 12:41:28

I was about to say what Urethra has posted. Surely if you can live with him, then the marriage bit isn't really the main factor here. I don't think there's anything wrong with saying to him that you want to sort out the house before you get married so that you can start off married life as you mean to go on.

Maybe you can work in a weekly sort out as part of your routine and explain that it will be crucial to your happiness and that you need him to commit to this as part of your marriage vows! While you're busy making promises to each other you may as well make them things that will actually make your life better and your marriage stronger as a result.

Twinklestein Sun 19-Jul-15 12:55:26

I simply couldn't live with someone like that.

He's not very likely to change at his age, so the question is if he doesn't - can you deal with it?

When you say he's a 'hoarder' - do you mean a pathological hoarder where people fill up rooms with stuff, or just a tendency to build up stuff before he chucks it out?

AlpacaMyBags Sun 19-Jul-15 13:09:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TopOfTheCliff Sun 19-Jul-15 21:44:49

That is really useful folks thank you!

DP realises he has bad stuff management skills due to his parents. But although his DF is an anxious hoarder DP is just a happy one. And yes I do mean so much stuff you can't get into a room or use a cupboard. He is amenable to being retrained and I like the idea of a weekly sort out session to keep us on track. I am not perfect either.

Urethra you have hit on something. I am confusing two issues. One is my anxiety about coping with Mr Messy and the other is my anxiety about getting married again. Even if DP reformed overnight I would be scared of commitment. I am using the mess as an excuse to prevaricate.

Thanks people I will have a chat with him about this later.

Twinklestein Sun 19-Jul-15 22:33:41

If you're talking not being able to get into a room, you're talking serious hoarding, and that means serious mental health issues that are very hard to fix.

It's not a question of him 'being amenable to being retrained', he's not a dog and you can't be responsible for his retraining. Only he can take responsibility for his problem, seek therapy - hoarding is a recognised disorder so there are therapists who specialise in it, and commit to working on it for the rest of his life.

If he's not up for that, realistically it's never going to change. And whatever you do to clear up or 'help' him throw out stuff, he will just replace.

Also - hoarding can often get worse as people get older, so the problem is as likely to get worse as better.

I think you're quite right to be 'scared' of committing to someone who has such a difficult problem. I don't think you're using this as an excuse to procrastinate, I think you're having legitimate cold feet.

TopOfTheCliff Sun 19-Jul-15 22:59:11

Twinkle thanks for your kind concern. I wouldn't be living with DP if he was the primary hoarder without insight. But it is his DF who has the serious issues and has received help. DP has cleared out all his DPs stuff and sold their house and now cleared out all his stuff from his house and moved the bits that escaped the cull to our joint house. So we are down to about 30 percent of the original hoard and he is a man on a mission. It is almost as though he has patterned himself on a dysfunctional relationship with stuff knowing no better but is eager to learn a better way to improve his life. He doesn't want our house to be unpleasant for me or for visitors or indeed for himself. But that is all good intentions not actions so I shall wait and see.

I've just talked about it with him and he understands my anxiety and shares it to an extent too. He really is a very nice man smile

UrethraFranklin1 Sun 19-Jul-15 23:41:45

Good intentions are a start, it all sounds very positive. As for setting a date, why not wait a while, see how things go, try and separate the issues that are getting mixed up? It sounds like you communicate well and have a stable relationship, there is no need to create a problem where there isn't one by rushing the marriage plans if you're not ready.

evelynj Sun 19-Jul-15 23:52:21

Don't get married.

I have a lot of resentment building daily as my dh still isn't driving or properly organising trying to learn even tho he promised he would sort it 6 years ago. I'm responsible for everything tho he does work.

I'm looking for a counsellor to work though my issues on this but cannot go on like this forever. I understand you could live like this as you could more easily walk away at any time & that counts for setting. You wouldn't be tied in to a marriage contract. It sounds like t have a good relationship tho & glad he's listening to you,

Good luck

BackforGood Mon 20-Jul-15 00:00:39

Well - aas you asked - I think you sound controlling, and it sits uncomfortably with me that you think it's OK to make demands that someone who should be your equal partner, to change them to be like you.
Look at it the other way round for a minute - would you be prepared to relax, live in a more cluttered (to you, 'homely' to him) house ? That's the level of change you are demanding of him.

Whether you can make it work of not is down to how much this irritates / frustrates / angers you, vs how much you gain from the relationship in all other ways, and only you can know that.
What I don't understand, however, is what difference marrying him will make to his hoarding / untidiness confused. If you were saying he needed to do something about it in order for you to be able to live together, I could understand, but you say you are happy to live with this state of affair but not marry him if nothing changes.

TopOfTheCliff Mon 20-Jul-15 07:38:26

Yes I admit I am organised and capable and like to have my house clean and efficient although I am not an obsessive tidier all the time only when I am anxious and hormonal. I am okay with mess as long as there is a system in place to deal with it eg piles of recycling by the kitchen bin are okay as they are "on their way" to the bins outside whereas piles of stuff in the hall waiting for the apocalypse annoy me. I accept in our 50s neither of us will be able or should want to change but if we can find a way to live together and manage the stuff so it doesn't manage us and that doesn't breed resentment on either part life will be nicer.
In all other ways we both gain lots from being together. We share a sense of humour, a love of family and hobbies, our value systems are very similar and we are both easy going and friendly.

I agree there is an inconsistency in my thinking and I am conflating two issues. I am using his wish to marry me as a carrot to induce him to tidy up. And I am blaming my unease over getting married on the state of the house where it is more complex than that.

I think when I married the first time 30 years ago I had doubts and was niggled by uncertainty which in hindsight I should have listened to. This time I am trying to address it beforehand.

Thanks for posting folks it has clarified my thinking.

Lovingfreedom Mon 20-Jul-15 07:50:03

You've made a mistake moving in with him (and in fairness he has with you too). It's not about sorting out before the wedding, it's about marrying someone compatible with your own lifestyle and standards.

rumred Mon 20-Jul-15 08:12:44

Marie kondo is ace, have a look at her stuff. She's too simplistic but there's very good stuff there too re clutter and organisation. It might help you and so too have an impact on your p. But until you're comfortable with his lifestyle if he doesn't change, I wouldn't get wed.

Twinklestein Mon 20-Jul-15 10:03:46

I don't think BackforGood has grasped the difference between clutter and hoarding.

This is not about living with someone who is messy, but with someone who has a difficult to manage disorder.

So he culled his hoard to 30% but he didn't manage to throw it all out, from this point it's more likely to grow than to shrink. It's not actually true that he doesn't have time to throw stuff out, it's that this he doesn't want to and this is how he's always coped with life.

Having to patrol your house and escape to friends sounds exhausting and I'm not convinced it's livable long term.

I would take the wedding off the menu completely and monitor him for as long as you feel necessary to be sure exactly what you will be getting for life. This could be 2 or 3 years.

pocketsaviour Mon 20-Jul-15 10:54:53

OP, has he sought any kind of treatment or help to manage his hoarding?

I don't think it matters whether it's learned behaviour or whether he's "caught" the disorder itself. The cause is not as important as finding a solution. You constantly having to police your own home is not a solution.

TBH I probably wouldn't have bought a house with him. I wouldn't marry him either, unless he would commit to some form of treatment, whether that's CBT, a talk therapist, or a professional organiser.

Twinklestein Mon 20-Jul-15 11:06:19

Yes I think committing to treatment is the bare minimum requirement of even continuing to live together, let alone get married.

As I said before there are therapists who specialise in hoarding disorders.

Bear in mind that some hoarders, when working with a therapist, manage to get rid of a lot of stuff, but once the therapy stops they fall back into the old patterns without continued support.

BackforGood Mon 20-Jul-15 18:55:57

I have Twinkleestein
This man has already culled 70% of his stuff.

OP says DP has cleared out all his DPs stuff and sold their house and now cleared out all his stuff from his house and moved the bits that escaped the cull to our joint house. So we are down to about 30 percent of the original hoard and he is a man on a mission. It is almost as though he has patterned himself on a dysfunctional relationship with stuff knowing no better but is eager to learn a better way to improve his life. He doesn't want our house to be unpleasant for me or for visitors or indeed for himself

A person with a clinically diagnosed disorder would not have been able to do that much I suspect.

Twinklestein Mon 20-Jul-15 19:02:46

It's not unusual for hoarders to be able to throw some stuff out. If he had no issues here, he would have been able to throw away 100% of it. He wouldn't be continuing to hoard - the basement is already 'uninhabitable', and the OP would not have to be engaged in 'ruthless patrolling'.

As he has never apparently sought help for the issue, he's not been in a situation where he could be diagnosed.

BackforGood Mon 20-Jul-15 19:37:16

Why would anyone be expected to throw out 100% of their belongings ?? confused.

With the waiting list and far too early discharge of patients with all sots of mental health issues being as it is, I can't begin to think that someone could 'get help' for being a person who has more stuff than their partner would like them to have. hmm

Nothing in the OP, or in any of TopofTheCliff's further posts suggest that this chap has reached the state of the people the expose on the compulsive disorders programmes - if it were anywhere near that state, then I'm pretty confident that she wouldn't have moved in there (yes, I know this is a new house together, but I'm presuming in the 3 previous years, she would have spent considerable time round in his former home).

Twinklestein Mon 20-Jul-15 20:02:31

OP said he threw out 70% of the hoard not 70% of his belongings.

You can get help for hoarding disorders from therapists who specialise in it.

You realise that the people who are featured on TV are among the most extreme examples? It's really not a good idea to base your ideas about mental health issues on what you've seen on the telly.

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