Reluctant Husband

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian) “I got married for the second time last year, in…

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)

“I got married for the second time last year, in the autumn of our lives. I moved into his house bringing all my stuff, furniture etc. in the belief, we would sell/ donate anything we didn’t need, from both our lives…

I think my husband is a hoarder; and I am the opposite; a declutterer. I have tried everything to get him to sell off items we don’t need, be it his or mine. He doesnt want to part with any of his stuff, and even asks me why do I want to sell my stuff for a pittance.

Now, I m living in a home that is overstuffed with furniture and other things and my head space is equally cluttered. It is not the haven I envisaged in the autumn of my life. I have broached the subject several times resulting in me walking out. We have the same argument over and over. Any helpful advice would be appreciated.” -Anonymous

  1. My mother was a hoarder and I chose not be . That said you husband has a sickness . Something has triggered him to become this way . I watch the hoarder show on tv and have learned a lot . He needs professional help .

  2. Is there a room or two where he can keep the things he loves? Like an unused bedroom? It’s about compromise and if you love him, you have to respect his “junk”! And he likewise must respect your need for order! I have some relatives who have done this and it has worked out! Just keep the door closed when company comes! Good luck!

    1. Half the space, you need so many, him so many. If he won’t, move back out and spend all the time with him you want, then go home when it’s too much. Things may change on their own.

    2. I’m not a hoarder but have collected special pieces over a lifetime. They each have a story. Recently “loaned” one to my son which he kept for a few years with my permission. I missed it(a chest). Thought of it and couldn’t wait to get it back which I did. I found it in old home I bought and restored it. Have considered why I’m so emotionally attached to it and can’t quite figure it out!!!’ Think “hoarders” are another thing altogether.

  3. I have found that cleaning up or removing a hoarders stuff sends them into a anger/depression state. They need counseling so they are able to part with their stuff. It may seem like junk to anyone else but it is part of their psyche.

    1. True, my brother is a hoarder. Tried to get him organized. It never worked and caused us to fight all the time.

      1. It is harder when one is raised in a hoarder home.
        My husband had a paper obsession that drives me nuts!

  4. Good morning. I am sorry you are going through this, especially at a time in your life when you only seek peace. I personally would speak to a professional, as to how you deal with this. Don’t let it go too long. Stand your ground. But, also don’t try to ‘force’ your habits on him. Good luck.

  5. We got my mom to part with things by telling her that she had been blessed with all these books or puzzles or whatever it was, now let it bless someone else! If she knew we were giving it to someone who would also love it, she was more agreeable! Not all collecting needs therapy, sometimes its just about memories and treasures!

  6. I can’t speak from a spousal position, been there done that. (My next life partner will have his own home, he can go to when necessary). However, I do have a similar problem with an adult child. I stay a substantial amount of time at his home. I am borderline OCD when it comes to being organized and clean, he is not (how he could be my child is beyond me). It has actually been beneficial for me to stay with him, I have gradually become less OCD being exposed to his lifestyle. It is NOT easy. I have found it helps to have my own little areas of organization; an area where I usually sit, Lucite bins in the fridge and bathroom (Ross, Marshall’s and TJ Maxx have them). I have explained to him how his slovenliness makes me feel (and that is attracts vermin), he has gotten better, but I can see it will never be to my standards. I choose to deal with it for the sake of our relationship, but I am fortunate to be able to escape to my own home, you have it much tougher. Life is too short, time is better spend on enjoying it.

    1. Remember change what you can change, ignore what you can’t change. Just start selling the stuff that belongs to you. No asking, no discussion, just do it. If he asked about it just say I didn’t want it any longer. You are an adult who no longer need permission. Doing this will give you a sense of control and will make you happier and in turn will make him happier. JUST DO IT!

    2. Boy do I understand. I just pray I never have to live with my son and daughter-in-law. And like you, I cannot believe he didn’t learn something being raised by me! You are not alone. I just avoid going to their house as much as possible. Sadly I am afraid my grandkids are picking up some bad habits.😢

  7. Oh please. Everyone doesn’t need profession help because they can’t part with things! Life isn’t about that new little Asian girl and the throwing things out! You found each other in autumn years. Live around his clutter or get rid of yours if clutter is so annoying, geez some people are so lonely and you worry about stuff. Go out, LIVE, love and laugh.

    1. I agree! Life is short. Not everyone likes minimalism… I personally prefer comfortable.. which to some may mean clutter… I prefer a home to look lived in and enjoyed, rather than cold, sterile, and boring. To each his own!!

  8. My friends partner and friend have been together for over 10 years his wife has been gone for well over 16 years he has had to many emotional attatchments to everything of his wife’s wouldn’t share even with his sons . Now he is only just letting go . They are in the long run just things. Not even used just packed in box’s in a shed ….. memories are in your heart …now the sons don’t even want anything …..toooo late dad . Give things to your kids NOW if they want them .

  9. My husband’s family is the same, so he was raised that way. We started out with his stuff and mine. Now, after 20 years, he has a dresser that he came with and I have a dressing table. The rest has been replaced. Things aren’t that important to either of us anymore.

  10. Make a plan to take turns deciding on which items to keep in the house just put your names in a hat and draw it out sometimes you’re going to be a mix of yours and His.And of course keep items for you children put them away or ask him to please come get them and put them in their perspective homes so they don’t get lost or broken love before and Afters.A great thing you have to work together it’s a lot of give-and-take sometimes we don’t realize how hard it can be with that other person meant before we became united with another person peace and happiness to all the people that go through all this and then one of them!

  11. Been there done that! He is not, ever going to change, especially if he is in the autumn of his life! You have to decide if you can live with this, or if you can live without him! Good luck!

    1. You are right. He won’t change. Tired of arguing, I learned how to reorganize closets and cupboards to hide things. Get slipcovers for ugly chairs he can’t part with, and decrease the clutter with bins and extreme consolidation. It is a challenge. But I do see progress being made. But only by me. I’ve turned it into a game. But living with a hoarder is extremely challenging

    2. I also remarried in the autumn of life. I promise you if this is the worse problem in your marriage, you will be fine. I learned from my first marriage and death of my husband to stop being so uptight. Dont sweat the small stuff because the big stuff will happen.

  12. After over 49 years of marriage, I’ve resorted to the ‘when we die the children will sell that $800 turntable for 75 cents at a yard sale. That did rid us of about 5 pieces of ‘equipment’, but he expects people to value 10 year old items as much as he does.

    He has the whole floor of our split level. It’s neat and clean with no garbage but a million things that I have no idea what they’re for or what they’re worth. I have a small chest of yarn (I make scarves for the homeless) and a collection of real nutcrackers the family has bought me over the years. Every year when we switch from summer to winter and winter to summer clothes, I purge. It doesn’t faze him in the least.

    I have decided to let him have his area and it’s his job to clean it. I won’t even go down to watch a movie tho he has the largest flat screen with surround sound. I just can’t tolerate the clutter.

    If you want peace, give him a room and close the door. The rest of the house should be comfortable for both of you and guests. Good Luck.

    1. I have heard this scenario before. Having your place and him having his place is probably the way to harmony. We can’t expect others to change who they are for us. He wants his stuff, you want order. Separate places?

    2. Same here. He has a room that he can clean or not. Moving to a house with a 2000 square foot shop for his stuff saved our 45 year marriage.

  13. Why are you arguing? Just don’t talk about it and do it! One at a time. And if he does mention something just say “when was the last time you enjoyed/used that?”

      1. Are any of the things he holds onto remind him of someone or a part of his life or a time he held dear to his heart? Sometimes people don’t part with stuff because they are attached to great memories.

  14. My situation was similar in many ways. My husband & I both had beautiful homes when we met. His was the home where his children were born & he loved it dearly. I wanted to sell both & buy something together. He did not. Sooo, I grudgingly sold mine & moved into his. Finally, after 20 years, he is finally letting me update the kids fish wallpaper 🐠 bathroom & we still have airplane wallpaper in his son’s old room! He is sooo attached to the things in HIS house. After 20 years, it is STILL his house. I have grown to love the home for different reasons & we are happy for the most part. In hindsight, it would have been easier if we had started with a new house for us both to make new memories. Good luck to you!

  15. I like the way you compromised , what brings one pleasure shouldn’t be questioned or cause problems unless it compromises the integrity of the relationship … in blending our things, we should be able to have our own things…but it needs to be fair… hoarding is another thing if its dangerous. We should respect each other and our differences in our likes and disslkes

  16. Although it is too late for this woman, I think when you marry in the later years, you must start anew, with a “new” house and not so many older belongings. It would cause a lot less heartache.

  17. I understand the real oppression of being surrounded by overwhelming amounts of “stuff”. Respectfully, you said you were “in the belief” the two of you would be participating in parting with extra belongings. Two red flags popped up. You had to have seen the state of his home before selling yours and should have had a firm understanding before you committed to selling your home. Secondly, in the weeks of preparing your home to sell, purging and packing, it should have been noticeable that he was not moving forward with the same amount of work in your joint efforts “in your belief”. Sorting out such a huge living issue should have been addressed in all the opportune times before you moved in. But you chose to sell, to purge and to move with his situation as it is. If he does not value a compromise WITH your efforts, it seems as though you may not have any choice now but to accept his position as you accepted it before and during your moving, packing and home sale. Only you can know how deep his disrespect in unwillingness to compromise will go and into what other areas of your relationship it will affect. I wish you the best with your dilemma.

  18. Ask him to rent a storage unit for all the things that no longer serve the both of you. Sometimes people feel safe with many things surrounding them. Sometimes things represent accomplishments. My husband and I saw a therapist and it helped so much!

  19. I have a pillow that has this quote on it, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”. I follow this as a rule to keep it from becoming unmanageable. There is no easy way to handle this situation. The only thing you can do is to get rid of anything of yours that you no longer want or need and to keep trying to have a calm and rational discussion about his stuff. Keep explaining to him that you understand that change can be difficult, but that he took a step toward change when the two of you were married and now it is time to take another baby step. Maybe also try explaining how so much stuff stresses you out needlessly and you are concerned that the stress will spill over into the basics of your relationship and put it in jeopardy which neither of you want. Best wishes in finding a compromise that both of you can live with.

    1. You like clutter free, he likes his things, they make him happy. It’s ot really fair if you to force him to change and it doesn’t sound like you are willing to either.

      1. Hoarding is now thought to be an OCD issue but I doubt he would submit to treatment or meds?
        You moved into his space, it can be hard to dictate your standards that way? Try for compromise , like suggested , equal space for his stuff, perhaps closed room? I know clutter can be crazy for me as well.

  20. Can you agree to one room of the house that is completely his and shut the door so you dont have to see it all the time? Then everywhere else has to be jointly decided as what to keep. Teach him about giving to others with his things. I hope you can find a compromise!

    1. EXCELLENT advice!! I’ve done this with my hoarder husband ( still drives nuts when I have to go in there to clean his bathroom), but at least I can shut the door when we have company!!

    1. No, she already decluttered; he needs to think about which he wants more: Her or his stuff. I’d rather be alone than some guy’s Mother.

  21. I think some good old fashioned counseling is in order if you want to save the marriage. There could be lots of reasons why he’s holding on so tight to “things” that aren’t important to you. He needs to explore that I think. And you have to work on letting go a bit of ideas that really don’t matter a heck of a lot. My husband died a couple of years ago and we could clash about such things when we were younger. But as time went on, it just didn’t matter anymore. We just appreciated being together too much to risk it all over silly stuff. I always am reminded of “Dr. Phil”. “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?”

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