Hoarding is when one has difficulty parting with possession because they are of sentimental value to that person or they think they might need them someday. When hoarding becomes very persistent, it turns the person into a hoarder.
Due to the hoarder’s persistent inability to do away with possessions, he or she might end up cluttering his or her living or workplace because there is just too much stuff.
At times, hoarding can be dangerous if it puts the health of the hoarder and those living with him or her at risk. In addition to the environmental and health problems involved, hoarding can turn your space into a fire hazard. What’s more, it can lead to low self-esteem because your home is always looking like it was hit by a tornado, which can be embarrassing.
No doubt, living with a hoarder can be very tricky. This is because you are not competing with another partner in your relationship, but with some possessions. This can be very detrimental to the relationship. However, what one needs to understand is that hoarding is a mental problem.
It will also interest you to know that hoarding is not gender-specific. However, studies show that hoarding is more common among men than women. So, the husband is usually the guilty one where hoarding is concerned. This behavior can be managed though. Below are a number of tips on how to handle being married to a hoarder.
- 1 13 Tips To Handle Being Married To A Hoarder
- 1.1 1. Patience
- 1.2 2. Practice Compassion
- 1.3 3. Do not be judgemental
- 1.4 4. No blame game
- 1.5 5. Communication
- 1.6 6. Education
- 1.7 7. Take care of yourself
- 1.8 8. Be Supportive
- 1.9 9. Get them a place of storage
- 1.10 10. Create your own space
- 1.11 11. Professional cleaning services
- 1.12 12. Start small
- 1.13 13. See a therapist
- 2 FAQs
- 3 In Summary
13 Tips To Handle Being Married To A Hoarder
Patience, they say, is a virtue, and not a vice. Whoever coined up these words is very wise and may have understood this particular quality. Patience is an essential commodity in every relationship, even more with a husband or wife who may be a hoarder.
This is because no amount of nagging or threatening will fix the issue. So you could either decide to be on their side and help them manage the issue or antagonize them and watch it grow worse.
Additionally, some people see hoarding as a mental illness. If he or she happens to throw his or her junk away, they are bound to develop anxiety. And if you do it for them, they are bound to become enraged. Your patience can go a long way to help them to make the best of the situation.
2. Practice Compassion
In addition to your patience, your kindness is of a lot of essences to your hoarding partner. This is because it is very difficult to ignore hoarding behavior. It is something that is physically affecting the two of you. But compassion is paramount. Remember that it is a mental health issue. One known way to manage mental health is kindness.
If you are a woman who is living with a hoarding husband, your kindness can go a long way to even convict your husband to seek the necessary help he may need to get. So, rather than complaining, shouting, threatening, or nagging, take the long gentle road of being kind, it works wonders.
3. Do not be judgemental
The last thing on your mind when living with a hoarder is to be judgemental to him or her. Doing that is bound to make the situation worse. It is quite obvious the junk in your home is not going away anytime soon.
4. No blame game
Quit the blame game and try to find practical and lasting solutions for the hoarding disorder of your husband or wife which is plaguing your family. A blame game never does anyone any good. While the two of you are taking turns in pushing the blame on each other, the clutter in your house keeps increasing.
Some practical solution you can make is to create a place of storage for your partner to keep his/her stuff. You can then clean the garbage generated around the house as a result of the hoarding or engage the services of a cleaning company, etc.
Communication is an essential aspect of every relationship. It is a basic requirement to make any relationship work. More so, in a situation where the hoarding disorder of your husband or wife is putting the family through stress, you are going to have to do the needful. Sit him or her down and talk about how the hoarding is affecting the relationship.
Highlight the many demerits associated and its effects and how embarrassing it is staying with a lot of junk in your own home. Convince your hoarding partner to seek the necessary help and pledge to support him/her. You will need to stick to that pledge to ensure the smooth improvement of the hoarding situation in your house.
To be able to understand the hoarding disorder of your husband or wife, you need to be able to learn and know what they may be dealing with. This will go a long way in helping you to ease the burden off your spouse. This is because you understand what he or she may be going through.
Since hoarding is a mental problem, it is likely to affect you as well. And if your spouse is embarrassed to let people in your home because of the way it looks, you are bound to suffer from that as well. By educating yourself, you learn to see things also from their perspective. This view can then help you to figure out the best way to help your partner.
7. Take care of yourself
I must admit, clutter has a way of making you feel like you are losing your sanity. Living with a packrat spouse can sometimes drive you crazy and make you anxious too. What if a visitor turns up unannounced, only to see your couch is disappearing under an old pile of clothes your husband or wife doesn’t want to do away with.
It is very possible you can lose yourself worrying. Make sure to stay calm for the sake of your family. Find a way to take care of yourself. Find a hobby, or join a religious organization.
Do something that will keep you happy and at peace. This tip is very important because it is when you are well that you can cause others to be well. And that involves how to deal with the hoarding disorder of your spouse.
8. Be Supportive
Living with hoarders is very frustrating. Just when you think it may not get worse, they hoard another item and add up to the mess. But your support can go a long way to help them to do something about the problem. You can motivate them by showing that you care about their safety and well-being.
Your support has to be constant because one problem hoarders battle with is a distraction. Once they are distracted, they go back to hoarding. Your constant support can help them stay on track. You can also help to move junk to their respective places.
You can also show support by allowing them to be in charge. This way, you will resist the urge to throw out things you think are useless. This will reduce any anxious feelings and promote trust.
9. Get them a place of storage
Any way to manage hoarding behavior is to get your spouse a storage unit or a spare room. That way, if he feels the need to hoard any items, he can place them there.
Getting them their own place to store their items is a very good idea because your husband or wife can put the hoarded items over there. It moves the junk away from your house to elsewhere. This, I think, is a small victory.
Once the junk is away from the home, you both can then take conscious steps to clean your home and feel at home in your own home. This is unlike when you were competing to live with all the junk in your house.
10. Create your own space
Another tip is to create your own area. If push comes to shove, make an agreement with your husband or wife to divide the room so that they can have their side and you can have yours.
This will help you to resist the temptation to throw any of their belongings that you think are useless. And if their clutter happens to be lying around, you can bring it to their attention, so that they send it to their side of the room.
11. Professional cleaning services
If you have time, talk to your spouse so that you two can find a way to manage the mess in the house. You could suggest engaging the help of professional services to clean the house from top to bottom.
A professional can clean your home in a way that is safe. They can also safely dispose of biohazards that can endanger your family’s health.
It is understandable that a hoarder may not want to give up all his/her possessions. This is why creating trust is very important. Allow your spouse to work with the professionals rather than getting rid of his stuff without their permission. It can strain the relationship between the both of you.
12. Start small
Expecting a hoarder to just give up hoarding because of your demands is unrealistic. If you happen to do so without your partner’s permission, he or she is bound to lose trust in you and might develop PTSD. It is a mental illness, so your approach is very important.
Take him/her through the problem gradually. You could start with taking out the garbage with them until they are ready to do away with whatever clutter they may have gathered. Once your husband or wife expresses this need, this is one of the signs that hoarding will soon be a thing of the past.
13. See a therapist
As hoarding is a mental illness, it is only prudent that your spouse gets the necessary help he may need in order to deal with this hoarding behavior. Convince your spouse to see a psychologist or therapist as he or she gets the needed help.
If your spouse is a hoarder, the first thing you need to understand about hoarding is that it is a psychological problem. That will enable you to live with your husband in a compassionate way. Again, you need to learn how to live through the clutter since your partner is a hoarder. You might also have to see a psychologist to help you two find your way around your spouse’s hoarding.
The thing with hoarders is that they are attached to their possessions. And since they do not want to do away with this, it sometimes becomes the third person in the relationship. The hoarder’s spouse might complain about a load of junk in the house. Constant complaints may lead to arguments or even fights. This can affect the stability of the marriage.
According to sources, hoarding is a mental disorder and can be associated with depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
A hoarder should start working on the visible areas. This is to keep him or her motivated and make them realize the efforts and change. Also, he or she can begin by taking out the garbage.
When living with a hoarder, you need to be very practical and realistic when decluttering. I say practical because you cannot just throw things out and expect them not to get angry. They would. It is, therefore, prudent that you start small, and gradually make your way through the messy environment.
I made mention of realism because your hoarding partner cannot just stop hoarding in a day. You are going to have to exercise patience and compassion as you support them in getting rid of the clutter and letting go of the compulsive hoarding.
In the nutshell, being with hoarders is a very frustrating experience as it affects the family in a lot of negative ways. Applying the above tips can help you manage being married to a hoarding spouse without straining the relationship between you two.
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As hopeless romantic I struggled tremendously in my love life. After many years of searching, trial & error, and countless failed relationships, I finally found my Mr. Right. It wasn't an easy road, but one that has taught me an incredible amount about the workings of relationships between men and women, and this is what I hope to share through my writing on this blog.