The Commercial Appeal

Husband’s hoarding is too much for his spouse

- MARCY SUGAR & KATHY MITCHELL

Dear Annie: My husband is a good, dependable man, but he is a terrible hoarder. A number of years ago, we agreed on separate bedrooms, so he could be messy in private. When we bought our current home, it came with a garage and he was in seventh heaven. All of his “treasures,” including things that had been in boxes for decades, would have a home. He would have the garage to himself, as well as the huge workroom in the basement. In return, I got the master bedroom, and the third bedroom would be for our books and household files.

Well, Annie, my book room is now a constant stash place for transient items and the downstairs workroom looks like an explosion went off. The garage is filled to the hilt with his stuff. I have one small shelf with gardening materials that I struggle to reach over all of the accumulati­on.

He never throws anything out, for fear he “might need it.” This includes mail going back weeks, which he leaves on the dining room table until the stack topples over. Then I put the stack in a shopping bag and stash it beside his computer. Where it stays for decades.

But the latest drama has me really irked. A few years ago, he bought a beautiful, expensive mattress, but claimed it made him sore. So he started buying one cheap air mattress after another. The original mattress ended up in my book room, so now I can’t even reach the household files. He wants to put it in my bedroom, claiming I have two bedrooms to his one.

Am I being too inflexible and strict? I can’t stand clutter, and I feel he is constantly encroachin­g. Every time I manage to create an empty shelf, he fills it.

How can I make this better? — Drowning in Stuff

Dear Drowning: Your husband will continue to encroach on any available space. He can’t help himself. You’ve been exceedingl­y tolerant, but everyone has limits. Please contact the Internatio­nal OCD Foundation (iocdf.org) for informatio­n on hoarding and how to help your husband. You can start by respectful­ly asking whether he will allow you to dispose of the mattress, since he will not be using it again and it is taking up a lot of space. Under no circumstan­ces should you let it be stored in your bedroom.

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