But maybe you're being mean or bossypants in the course of arguing and that's what she's resisting? I mean, I wouldn't assume that from how you talk about it, but it's a possibility to consider.
As you say, you do get 'worked up' and if she gets stressed out about the idea of getting rid of things, your emotional state adds more stress on top of that. She may just not feel capable of making decisions under those conditions so she withdraws and does it on her own later.
People who don't like to get rid of stuff are fearful of the huge feelings of regret they get from losing or getting rid of something that they find they want later and they'll go to great lengths to avoid that feeling. So no matter what small amount of well-meaning pressure you apply may be too much for her to feel she can make decisions in that moment.
The secret hoarder on the thread
Yeah, I thought about that, but I am almost always pretty chill. I do get worked up when she gets upset and starts accusing me of wanting to trash all of her stuff. What did I do exactly? While cleaning a room, I asked (very nonchalantly): "Hey, I didn't know you had this! Is there a reason you are keeping it?". It's a stretch for me, but I do understand how it could be taken in a negative light. Part of the issue is that I usually just like talking through things, no decision needed. "I've been reading this thread, and this article, and I think it would be kind of cool to try something like that." "WHY DO YOU WANT TO GET RID OF ALL MY STUFF?!?!" Holy crap. I'm getting the hang of it. I stopped actually trying to talk things through, and just started doing them. If she agrees, she'll join in, and if she doesn't, she'll say something. It's just weird to me since I am usually more proactive than reactionary. Not a huge deal now that I figured it out, just different. I'm pretty flexible, and don't get the point of arguing, so the new method of communicating things is just a bit odd. It's amazing that something like this hasn't come up in the past 6 years, but that's what a relationship is I suppose. :-)
I will out myself here as a non-secret hoarder. And what Sheepstache is saying is absolutely true. I can't stand to talk about decluttering with my husband. I know that I need to get rid of lots of stuff, and I actually am making progress on my own, but my husband has a tendency to approach it in a very one size fits all way, for example: "You haven't opened that box since we moved in, so we should just recycle it all because you clearly don't need anything in it." That makes me run to the other extreme and dig in my heels: "No I'm sure everything in it is valuable and important. Even if I haven't needed it recently I am sure I will need it soon." In reality it's somewhere in the middle: Probably 95% of the box can be recycled, but there are some things in there that are worth hanging on to (like my college diploma), so it does need to be sorted through. But it's hard for me to acknowledge that when he's in full-on THROW AWAY ALL THE THINGS mode, because it just puts me into "keep the broken fragment of china in case I ever buy a broken plate that has exactly that piece missing" mode.
I also tend to declutter in layers in a way that my husband doesn't. He takes a category and is ruthless about getting rid of lots of stuff. I'm much more likely to get rid of a few things from multiple categories every few months. In the fall, I sorted through my clothes and my kitchen stuff, and now I'm thinking that there are still some things in my dresser and in my cabinets that I don't really use and could get rid of. I'll probably sort through them before Christmas and then do the whole thing again next spring. My husband will probably say something like "Why haven't you gotten rid of that before if you've never used it?" but it's because it really has taken me six months of marriage to realize that I don't make shortbread and don't need the special shortbread baking dish. (Actually, he will probably say, "What is that? I didn't even know we had it." LOL)
Yeah, I get that way too. I went to my storage unit and grabbed all of the bags of clothing. I didn't even bother going through them. The GF was appalled that I would do that, but I figured that I haven't missed anything from them in the past 3 years, so why bother? Granted, I am kind of like you and the plate when it comes to electronics. I hate throwing them away. I finally tossed all of my IDE hard drives and kept only one IDE cord, as opposed to an entire plastic grocery bag full.
Now, all that being said, I know I've noticed a huge improvement in my already pretty chipper mood. Not everything has a home just yet, but I'm getting there. Coupled with the book I'm currently reading (Cooked by Michael Pollan
),the fact that pretty much everything in the kitchen now has a home has found me gravitating there and experimenting with different dishes. I usually cook a few times a week, but the frequency has been increasing. Also, my previous habit of keeping everything clean as I go has reasserted itself. For example, once I finish cutting everything, and stuff goes in the dish, the cutting board and knife get washed immediately. By the end of the meal, there are usually only 3 dishes to clean (plate or bowl for each of us, and whatever pot/pan/skillet I used to cook). Makes dinner very pleasant, and allows us to focus on the food. Now, couple that with my One Month, One Habit challenge for this month (eating in the dining room instead of in front of the TV) and the fact that I managed to find a home for everything that was stacked up on the Dining Room table, and meals are becoming more than the sum of their parts. Also, even though our kitchen layout is awful, everything being cleaned allows us to actually be in there together, working together on food. It takes a bit of creative spinning about, and god forbid someone goes to the laundry room when someone else needs in the refrigerator (which would trap someone in the laundry room), but we are actually able to accomplish a fair amount. Shit, yesterday, after heating up some stuffed clams in the oven for lunch, the GF actually sat down to the dining room table before I even got there. This is someone who absolutely loves her TV time, and for as long as she's been on her own has eaten all her at home meals in front of the tube. Oh, and night before last, we stopped watching TV to play some scrabble on the newly cleared off dining room table. Clean table, games in a specified home, and good times. There is a lot more happening as a result of this gauntlet than I expected. tl;dr: I've recently found that certain topics (like this one) cannot be broached conversationally with my GF, but if I begin taking action, she'll join in without ever acknowledging it. Aforementioned action makes things awesome.
Edited to reduce quotes.