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Mrs Dave (with small edits by Stone Keeper)
Posted: 02 February 2014 - 10:25 AM
Courtney, Dave and I have been married for a long time. We rented an apartment before we got married so that we would have a clean place to live. When I met him, Dave's (3 bedroom) home was so full that we had to walk on stuff to get from room to room. (The mice came out at night.) I thought we would clean his house and move in. It didn't happen.

Our first WW3 was over metal hangers. At least a hundred, or so it seemed. It didn't make sense to me why anyone would need so many unused hangers, but Dave went ballistic when I tried to get rid of them. I lived and learned.

To make a long story short, Dave and I have been through a lot together. We have a rich history and two grown children together. However, it took my emotional health breakdown and subsequent restoration to get me to see that I can't change Dave. The way I see it, it took my getting healthy and being willing (not happily, mind you) to live apart from Dave to get him off the fence and start actively working on his problem.

I hope you can work this out. I agree that your daughter should have first consideration. In my opinion, she deserves better than a 45 mile twice-daily commute just to go back and forth to school. That's an awful lot of time in a car for a child.

I strongly suspect that living in a hoarder's home did not help my own children while they were growing up. In hindsight, I wish I had thought to ask my parents if we could stay with them. However, I didn't, and we survived. It just wasn't and isn't easy.
Posted: 01 February 2014 - 11:50 AM
Courtney, Dave's description of the sorting/disgarding process for a hoarder is excellent. Add to that all the activities of normal living we have and the size of the hoards we have built (your husband's is major) and it will be an excruciatingly slow times getting thru it. Add in the emotional struggles of letting go which saps considerable energy and know there will be legitimate periods where nothing gets done at all.

BTW Dave, *goat trails* is not my term; although I would love to take credit as I am a Capricorn. :) I read it in some of my many books on hoarding.

Courtney it's really good that you maintain a home for your daughter with your parents. You might want to consider enrolling her in school in their area to cut down on the commute for her. It could take years for your husband to change. You may be able to hang in for however long it takes. In the meantime your daughter can have a place where she can live with regular routines and be able to have friends over.

It's great that you are searching for some kind of help. What you're probably going to have to do is accept how this affects you (in that you have no direct control) and read and talk to people about how you can strengthen yourself. It will be kind of like being in love/married to someone with any addiction that heavily impacts the lives of those around him.

all the best ~~

Posted: 01 February 2014 - 02:41 AM

Based on your post, I expect that your family and my family are in significantly different socio-economic classes. Unfortunately for you there is also a lock-step similarity between our families. I am Mr Courtney a number of years farther on in life.

The basement is full. (for purposes of this discussion- The Garage is full - down to goat paths (Thank you for that wonderful term Dianne) and an average stack height of 7'. Some "Collyer Brothers" danger to the goat. There is a 13' long 6' high pile in the living room. I was a great churner but I no longer even have room to do that. I have refused and continue to refuse to go to therapy. Mrs Dave has had major struggles with this situation. The first response of every mental health professional she has consulted is that she should leave the relationship. My things are more valuable than people. My guess is that there is a 98% or better chance that what you have now is the best environment you are ever going to experience in this relationship.

Last fall, mrs dave told me she was moving out if I did not get a space in the garage for her car by .... . I decided she had invested enough in my life that I owed her an effort to change. The car is not in the garage yet but there is significant progress and she is still with me. I started with a base of 3 books for consultants. I have currently been stuck, depressed and unable to proceed. I have added a fourth book and am making some additional small steps. The mental and emotional effort to make changes in the mindsets resulting in the living style I described above is very large and I can understand people starting and giving up.

Here is an example of what you may need to be patient with if change does happen.

Imagine the small can in the grocery store of mushroom stems and pieces. Thursday I picked up one of those cans from a box in the garage. It contained some change (diane $1.13), rubber bands, good nails,bent nails and some washers. I probably spent 5 minutes on that can. I wiped the change off so it would go through the coin sorter and set it aside. I studied the washers and finally decided to save one because it was a fender washer and I sometimes have uses for fender washers and could think of a place to put it. The others went back in the can for scrap metal. I contemplated the rubber bands, thinking about whether they were still stretchy enough to use and where I could store them. I finally put them in a yougurt container along with a tree twig for trash. I had also poured all the dirt from the metal can into the yougurt container so the scrap washers and nails would be in a clean can. I then started carefully examining small diameter finish nails to segregate the unbent new ones from the bent used ones. My "Norm to date behavior" would have been to finish that process and put the new nails in a little cabinet. I was able to make a change this time and think "I have new nails this size in a box. I don't need to do this work." and I put all the nails back in the can for scrap metal. I hope that is a precursor of at least a small change in the way I can evaluate things. The point of all that is to try to show you very clearly an example of the minute level of detail and value we (hoarders) place on things and giving them up; regardless of the frustration experienced by someone such as yourself watching or waiting on that process.

Mrs Dave and I have been addressing the pile in the living room today. There will be some noticeable change in that by tomorrow evening.

Mrs Dave says I am an outlier for having been able to make the amount of change I have so far made without any outside help so pay heed to all of Tillie's comments, including the ones about counseling. I have had counselors, just books instead of face to face. Brooks Palmer, David Reynolds, John Bright-Fey and Robin Zasio. ("Big Names" for a one-time fee! :) .

You have a life situation here that is going to present you with a significant challenge and maybe not the results you would wish to have.
Posted: 31 January 2014 - 12:42 PM
We can not change other people, we can only change ourselves.
Until/unless he changes and is truly willing to change the hoarding behavour he will not change.
Moving stuff around, rearranging it is called "churning", a way a hoarder will try to organize the hoard.
You can not organize a hoard.
He gets angry when you try to declutter. This is very common.
Unless he wants to change he will fight you every day to keep all his "stuff" just the way he wants it.
Read here about how children living with a hoarding parent feel.
children of hoarders
A great book for you to read is "Digging Out".
He really must agree to therapy for the hoarding.
Good luck and best wishes. :)
Posted: 31 January 2014 - 11:53 AM
Hi. I'm glad to have found this website. Here's my problem. I've been married since Sept 2013. My husband has this beautiful house that my daughter and I were moving into. He is a hoarder, I knew that. He did get a lot of things cleaned up (or so I thought). I had set my guidelines of what needed to be completed before we moved in. Well, after digging, he only moved things around. The house is a complete mess. I have two rooms piled from ceiling to floor, with what I don't know. I have seen boxes of new dishes. I have a four car garage filled. I have a basement full. One of his collections include furniture. I have about 20 dressers, 10 cabinets, 4 sets of table and chairs and two rooms downstairs full of "stuff". There is barely a path. My kitchen is full of things that were either "free" or a good deal. There's mail from 2009, ads the same way. It's horrible. I've cleaned some myself and that started WW3. He seems to know where everything is.
The biggest problem is I won't move in completly. My daughter and I live with my parents. We enrolled her in school out at our house, but now I have to make a commute of 45 miles a day, taking her to school and back. We stay at the house maybe 2/3 times a week. I'm at my wits end. He won't go to therapy. Promises he's cleaning it up, but I'm standing my ground. I contacted TLC show and spoke with them, but they said his hoarding was not enough to warrant a show. Any suggestions? We have a wonderful relationship, he's makes a great father, it's just this hoarding.
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