Author Topic: Too Much Stuff (Domestic Hostilities)  (Read 6024 times)

Forcus

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Too Much Stuff (Domestic Hostilities)
« on: August 20, 2013, 12:10:45 PM »
I finally convinced the wife to tackle a bedroom which is all but unusable with stuff. It is not as bad as hoarders but also not great. Lots of stuff her mom has given her - antique pictures, stuff with cats (!), old photos and books, etc. Some new stuff too, because it's "too nice" to put in our house and it's for our next house - Keurig machine, pink Kitchenaid mixer, etc. I don't mind the new stuff, but I don't think I would want to have giant framed pictures of a girl holding a cat, or a cat sniffing a flower, up in our new / newer house (our next house). It all seems so unnecessary, requires bins to manage (or as she has done, just thrown it in a room) It's driving me nuts because it's valueless, not attractive, and we'll have to store / move it to another place, etc but she can't get rid of it because her mom gave it to her (just for reference, her mom is a huge auction / estate sale shopper). I know this is ingrained but it's making me crazy and I think it also makes ourselves less healthy because of dust and dander and how hard it is to clean with stuff everywhere.

In any case, it's hard to nudge her without her getting hostile or turning on me and confronting many of my apparent flaws. We just end up pissed and tired and nothing done. So far she is keeping everything but a tiny pile of stuff which will get donated. It's a start but I don't think its enough.

Thoughts, ideas? I think if I can get her to be a bit more critical in what she keeps, it will help us more directly identify what is important to us (possessions) and we can move on to other goals in life (non-possessions). But this crap is crimping my style. And one big thing - I am a former clutter addict so having her clutter is like dropping a baggie of heroin in front of Robert Downey Jr. Help!

FunkyStickman

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Re: Too Much Stuff (Domestic Hostilities)
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2013, 12:20:55 PM »
This is a tough one... your best bet would be to convince her that the room would have some purpose other than storage, and she will find something to do with the stuff.

The thing is, you'll have to think of something you can actually use the bedroom for. You're not going to separate her from the stuff, it has sentimental value (even if it's not her sentiments) and women just don't shut that off like a light switch.

Convince her to convert the room into something cool, she might go for it. Don't focus on the stuff, focus on her needs and wants.

MissStache

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Re: Too Much Stuff (Domestic Hostilities)
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2013, 12:21:25 PM »
Do y'all watch hoarders?  Whenever I watch that show I throw away something in my house.  It scares me. 

But, I've also learned from watching that show that people get straight up crazy about the junk in their house.  Her rationale seems so strange- you can't use a keurig because it is too nice?  What?  The fact that she gets angry and confrontational when you talk about it signals a bigger issue. 

I think you should try and talk to her when you aren't in the process of cleaning the house.  Be calm, don't get frustrated, but bring your concerns to her.  Everything you said here is a good reason for getting rid of this stuff.  It may be hard for her to see that when she feels like she is being attacked, but maybe if she has some time to think about it without getting emotional it would help?

matchewed

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Re: Too Much Stuff (Domestic Hostilities)
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2013, 12:35:31 PM »
I see that you two are coming from different sides on this one. From my perspective your wife is not on the same page and any move to make her take action is just going to be action under duress. You need to figure out a way to merge your two goals and find some compromise.

avonlea

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Re: Too Much Stuff (Domestic Hostilities)
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2013, 12:47:47 PM »
Clutter Busting by Brooks Palmer is a great book. http://www.amazon.com/Clutter-Busting-Letting-Whats-Holding/dp/1577316592 
It focuses a lot on the psychology behind clutter.  I found it very eye-opening. 

Maybe you'd like to read it and use that gained knowledge to patiently work through the purging process with your wife.  If your wife is open to the suggestion, she might like to read it as well.

Samsam

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Re: Too Much Stuff (Domestic Hostilities)
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2013, 01:09:44 PM »
Do y'all watch hoarders?  Whenever I watch that show I throw away something in my house.  It scares me. 

HAHA, yes!  I do this too! I can't even watch the show anymore.

Frugalady10

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Re: Too Much Stuff (Domestic Hostilities)
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2013, 01:51:24 PM »
I found these posts on "Becoming Minimalist" helpful to help get my husband on board ( he is a big saver- the" I might need this some day " type.

http://www.becomingminimalist.com/simplicity-when-your-spouse-doesnt-get-it/

http://www.becomingminimalist.com/minimalism-benefits/

EK

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Re: Too Much Stuff (Domestic Hostilities)
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2013, 02:09:15 PM »

Convince her to convert the room into something cool, she might go for it. Don't focus on the stuff, focus on her needs and wants.

Based on my family experiences, this seems to have been the most effective tool.  Let her come up with something she really wants the room to be.  Then her things and reasons for keeping them may seem less important.  What is important to her?  Guest room for friends?  Space for her hobbies?  A quiet reading room?  Is there a space that your wife wishes she could have in the house?  Help her to see a big picture (kindly, without attacking her).  You say that you feel you need to address the possessions so you can move onto the non-possessions... The opposite approach may be more effective.  If you guys can get on page with the big stuff, then she may see more clearly how the little things cluttering up the room are holding her back.

Depending how deep her clutter behavior goes- is there a psychological reason why your wife might be crowding this space up?  When you say that she saves her nice things (like her keurig and nice mixer), that strikes me as very strange, and makes me think there's more going on below the surface.

StarryC

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Re: Too Much Stuff (Domestic Hostilities)
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2013, 02:20:36 PM »
Yes to watching hoarders.  Or even "Clean House" which is like "hoarders-lite" with a happier vibe. 

Unclutterer.com always suggests that you take photos of truly sentimental items that you must get rid of.  However, it doesn't seem to me that this stuff is sentimental.  It is stuff she received as a gift from her mother who bought it at an estate sale.  There might be some social expectation to keep a gift, but it isn't really stuff that "reminds her of her mother." 

My suggestion is to rent a small storage unit. I know that sounds very anti-mustachian!  Spend money to store junk!  But, here's why.  This solves your concern about the cleanliness of the house without forcing her, today, to actually part with ownership of anything.  Then, she'll experience the freedom of the clean space.  Also, it puts the stuff out of sight, out of mind for a while.  I find if I have trouble going through my closet etc. to get rid of stuff if I put it in a box under the bed for a month, and then go through it again I'm much more willing to part with it.   Also, if mom comes and asks where stuff is, she can say "the storage unit" and mom will feel like it's being kept and not get offended. 

Then work toward some agreement on guidelines/ timelines.  Are you moving in 6 months or 5 years?  If 6 months, then you can just wait and go through the stuff in the unit when you move in and decide what you really want to keep.  If more like 5 years, then get a small unit.  When it is full, get an agreement that she'll start making choices about what to keep.  Or, agree to have a 1 in 1 out policy on the storage unit.  Or, agree to go through it once every 3 months to determine if there is anything she's changed her mind about. 

There might be one problem:  You define the stuff as "valueless/not attractive."  Does she agree?  If not, she might feel emotionally hurt when you define stuff she likes as "junk" and stuff you like as "collectibles." 

Rural

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Re: Too Much Stuff (Domestic Hostilities)
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2013, 08:10:35 PM »
Do you need the room? In my experience, marital harmony is worth more than an extra room, unless someone's having to sleep on the couch full-time.

N

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Re: Too Much Stuff (Domestic Hostilities)
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2013, 08:55:51 PM »
in my marriage, I have always been the "too much stuff" person. I have watched lots of Hoarders tv show, and I can relate to many of the thoughts that the hoarders have. In the last few years I have been able to change much of my behavior (to be clear, I was never as bad as anyone on the show, no garbage or pests etc) but we've almost always had a room full of junk and stacks of things on bookshelves and tables.

In my experience, every nagging, frustrated, snarky thing that my husband said about my stuff just pissed me off and made me feel more overwhelmed and anxious. He has never once offered to help me sort or helped me go thru stuff. I had a garage sale last year and he refused to have anything to do with it. Im not saying you are being snarky or mean, but consider genuinely offering to help her assess the items.

If you watch Hoarders, watch how the interventionists and organizers actually help and talk to the hoarding people.

I agree that if there is a real use for the room, that might be motivational for her. Perhaps if you sit down and tell her how stressed and anxious it makes you feel and ask her to contribute some ideas to solve the problems, that might appeal to her.

In my case, I came into personal contact with a true hoarder, and it scared me. I also had some health issues and when they got resolved, I felt much more able to cope with organizing and downsizing. During the last two years I would say that I have let go of at least half of my belongings. Dozens of boxes in storage. I did a lot of it because I knew it was important to my husband and our relationship and living situation, so he was definitely an influence, but he could have been kinder to me during the process, imo. I still have hurt feelings about how he handles it.

So I guess my advice is, tread gently, with love and sincere desire for peaceful resolution. Try to really understand where your wife is coming from and her concerns. Try to come to a solution that you can both be happy with.

swick

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Re: Too Much Stuff (Domestic Hostilities)
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2013, 10:38:34 PM »
I can't remember the exact science, but it is something along the lines that the human mind can only make so many decisions at once without getting exhausted - which is why the power of habit is so strong, it takes the Decision making out of it.

I know that if I let things pile up it is almost paralyzing to deal with. We have had some success by asking the following questions for everything we want to get rid of or bring into the house:

1. Is it on our List? - helps for bringing new stuff into the house

2. Does it fall into our 20%? - things we use most often

3. Will it save us time?

4. Is it Multi-purpose?

5. Does this fit with our current reality/lifestyle?

I definitely love the idea of approaching it from the idea of having a room for her to do whatever she likes in or to create a "Sacred" space or hideout or studio or whatever - that is great motivation!

theSchmett

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Re: Too Much Stuff (Domestic Hostilities)
« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2013, 02:52:41 AM »
I fight the "too nice to use it" feeling sometimes, although my "hoarding" (little h - I fight it like crazy) tendencies run in different directions.

With too nice things I'm afraid they will break or wear out and be gone forever, irreplaceable.

Its likely some childhood trauma related to a broken toy (for me) that was never replaced. Now that I've got my own money I just try not to buy stuff I can't replace if it breaks! And I'll try to treat my son with compassion when his RC cars break for no reason or he continually smashed them into the basement wall because its awesome.

I'm going to go list some of my cache of old computer parts on eBay now, although part of me wonders if I'm just enabling/profiting off of someone else's tendencies.





ender

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Re: Too Much Stuff (Domestic Hostilities)
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2013, 05:31:55 AM »
Hostilities?

If you view this as "you vs the wife" it's going to be a lot harder than trying to work with her.

Irishmam

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Re: Too Much Stuff (Domestic Hostilities)
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2013, 06:41:48 AM »
I can relate to the 'too nice to use' sentiment. I don't love our current house, it's not as nice as our previous house in another country, therefore I don't feel as 'invested' in it. This house was bought quickly and, in retrospect, was not a great purchase. I often say to my DH that we should move to a nicer place, but he refuses to entertain the idea, thus our house is not decorated as nicely as it could be.

In your original post, you refer to your next house, leading me to believe that this house is transitional, so why should your wife expend her energy / upset the applecart by tossing stuff when she doesn't know when / if she'll be moving? Her next house might have the exact right place for that cat picture that her mother raved about when she gave it to her. As others have said, tread gently. Find out how she really sees this stuff, if she genuinely likes it and if it ties in with her personal design taste. If it does, then help her to arrange and organize the stuff. Hopefully you can both come to an agreement on this without hurting each other's feelings. 

ThatsMyOtter

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Re: Too Much Stuff (Domestic Hostilities)
« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2013, 07:25:36 AM »
Hostilities?

If you view this as "you vs the wife" it's going to be a lot harder than trying to work with her.

So true. I recommend telling your wife what you want to use the space for and what's preventing you from using the space that way, then ask your wife to help you agree on a plan to make the space useable. My husband doesn't mind clutter but it drives me crazy. Even if the room is still useable, I get anxious when there are too many things on the dresser or floor because they don't have a designated spot. We agreed that the bedroom would always be free of clutter so I have at least one room I can relax in. We spent one weekend putting everything away or finding

ThatsMyOtter

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Re: Too Much Stuff (Domestic Hostilities)
« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2013, 07:35:38 AM »
Sorry, accidentally hit post. Anyway, we found places to actually keep the things that had been floating around because they didn't really belong anywhere. Then we agreed on what the bedroom should look like when it's clean- clothes put away, no books except the ones we're currently reading, etc. anything out of place goes into a bin with a lid on it so i don't have to look at the stuff. About once a week we go through the bin together to decide where those things belong or if they should be donated or given away.

The hardest part for me was convincing my husband that clutter is a problem for me. That part took several weeks.

Is there a place you can recommend to store your wife's things until you move? Even if it's the living room or something, it might be worth it to box up the clutter in the bedroom and get it to another part of the house.

Forcus

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Re: Too Much Stuff (Domestic Hostilities)
« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2013, 08:49:30 AM »
Thanks for all the thoughts guys. I'll try to read and respond in depth later.