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My wife also hoards. I used to try to deal with it by showing her an item and asking "do you need this?". The answer was almost always yes. I had to find another way to purge. I tried just throwing stuff away when she wasn't looking, which got me in deep sh*t more on more than one occasion. My next idea was to move some of her crap to a staging area (boxes) where it would reside for 6 months, during which time, if she needed anything in the boxes she could take it out. After the 6 months, anything that was still in the boxes would be purged. She agreed not to look in the boxes during the staging period. The mistake I made with this approach was to keep the boxes in the computer room, where she would spend a lot of time. It drove her crazy not knowing what was in the boxes and she finally just opened them all up and took everything out.
We've now been married 13 years and her hoarding has not improved. The current way I deal with it is a modification of the last idea -- I have a storage unit that she doesn't know about. When an area of the house begins to get full, I'll purge it in her absence and take the stuff to the storage unit. If she misses anything, I retrieve the item from the storage unit. Typically she will only miss a small fraction of the items I remove, as I try not to remove anything she uses. She does not know where the storage unit is, so she isn't tempted to look. When an item has been in storage for a long time, I'll either throw it away or give it to charity.
After I clean a space, she notices and has some initial anxiety but it passes after a while. However, now any time she can't find something (which happens a lot because the house is a mess) she automatically assumes that I must have taken it. My solution is creating feelings of resentment, but it keeps our house from bursting at the seams and keeps the spaces functional. The solution is far from perfect, but it's the best thing I've tried so far. I don't know how much longer this system will work.
posted 3 years, 3 months ago
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