Help! My Spouse is a Hoarder!
This may be you: You are feeling overwhelmed and exasperated by the ‘stuff’ your spouse keeps. Too many tools, books, papers, clothes, trinkets, or ‘collectables’ – there is just too much STUFF!
In fact, you are so FED UP that you are ready to just throw it all out!
Before you go to that extent, here are some recommendations to help you and your spouse through the process of letting go, while keeping your relationship in tact and your house a happy home.
NOTE: There is a difference between a packrat and a hoarder. This video pertains to a partner who collects things that they do not need and does not have a chronic, compulsive disorder.
- Be gentle on yourself and your partner. Collecting items through the years obviously does not happen overnight. It takes the idea that one thing is practical, useful and needed, one item after another. Somewhere along the way, the idea of letting go became harder to do and items continued to collect. Therefore, be gentle on yourself and your partner by using understanding, compassion and empathy.
2. Let go of judgement. Your partner may not realize how much of a problem their stuff is causing, or they may not be able to face it – yet. Refrain from saying:
- “You’re a slob.”
- “You’re such a mess.”
- “Don’t you know how this makes me feel?”
This attacks their character and who they are. Instead, use words that are encouraging and supportive.
- “We’re in this together.”
- “You do not have to do it alone.”
- “One step at a time.”
3. Recognize that your partner has fears about letting go.
- Fear of needing it in the future.
- Fear of not having enough.
- Fear of wasting.
These fears can be crippling and overwhelming. To help your partner, encourage him or her to keep only a small percentage of their items, keeping only what they use and love. Let them know that there is enough and by letting go they are not wasting. In fact, they are opening your lives up to so much more – space, energy, time, money and love.
4. Lead by example. Get clear on the vision you have for your home and talk about it. Share photographs about what you would like your home to look and feel like. And then, take your own advice and begin letting go of the extra stuff that belongs to you. Reduce your closet to what you love and wear. Let go of extra books, magazines and other items that you no longer use. Model what you’d like your partner to do and share the experience openly with him or her. Celebrate letting go for more of what matters most.
5. Do not get rid of anything that they feel is important or special without their consent. This is important. If you do, you can cause a lot of pain, sadness and mistrust. Give them the opportunity to make their own decisions by empowering them to go through the process of letting go.
Admittedly, this is not an easy task to do as a spouse or partner. There is a lot of history and the story behind the items in question are part of their story, and yours. Take this one step at a time and don’t rush the process. And if you are unable to make any progress on your own, do reach out! Ask for help. Having an unbiased third party, who knows how to help someone let go, could be your saving grace. I am here to help.