*Name has been changed to protect the messy.
“I want nothing more than to declutter and simplify but my husband is a pack-rat of epic proportions and absolutely refuses to let go of anything at all. We live in a very small home with very limited storage space so I definitely need advice!” – Kathy*
Kathy, I feel your pain! My husband used to be a little bit the same way – he didn’t think our possessions were hurting anything so he wanted to keep everything, “Just in case.” He’s come a really long way, but it’s taken some time!
Here are a few suggestions for you:
1) Get rid of your own stuff first.
Even if you don’t have a lot extra and he has a ton, get rid of some of your own things before asking him to get rid of his extra stuff! After-all, you probably wouldn’t want him to go around trying to take your treasured items to Good Will!
2) Very nicely and gently tell him how you feel.
Don’t talk about this when your husband is stressed or tired or distracted – choose a good time. Say something like, “Honey, I love you and I’m glad I married you. I want to make our home a nice, warm, calming environment for us to relax in, but right now that’s hard for me to do because I just don’t have enough places to put all of our things. I’d like to pick out a few items to donate to someone in need. Would that be okay with you?”
3) Listen to his concerns.
Don’t belittle him for feeling the way he feels. Most of the time when someone has a hard time letting items go, there’s a deeper emotional issue. Sometimes it was simply the example their parents set. Other times there may have been a traumatic event such as a divorce, house fire, or death that caused a sudden unexpected loss of possessions. Take time to get to the heart of the issue.
4) Have a temporary solution.
Trying to declutter my home was a little frustrating at times because I knew we didn’t need something, but my husband wasn’t ready to part with it. Our solution was a closet to put things I came across that I thought we could get rid of but I knew he’d want to keep. It took a few years (and a very full closet) before he was ready to clean it out, but at least the items were out of my way during that long wait!
5) Be patient.
Just as we want others to love and accept us how we are, we need to love our husbands how they are, pack-rat tendencies and all! He won’t grow out of this overnight, so be patient and kind as he slowly works on himself.
6) Never make things “disappear.”
There are women who will make things “disappear” when their husbands aren’t looking – I don’t recommend this! It’s like slapping a band-aid on the actual problem and it also hurts trust in the relationship. Instead, follow the other five steps and pray that God will soften your husband’s heart towards your desire to have a welcoming home.
What tips do you have for Kathy in dealing with clutter that her husband doesn’t want to part with?