HELP! My partner is a hoarder! What can I do?

Q. How does one declutter and simplify when they live with someone who is panicked by the mere thought of removing something of questionably dubious value that might be needed thirty years from now?

A. This is a really tough question because it sounds like the person you are dealing with is a hoarder. Hoarders are very different from your average person who is messy, or has some clutter. A hoarder has deep-rooted, psychological reasons for hoarding, and they experience the kind of panic that you describe, when faced with getting rid of stuff.

So I suggest this approach when dealing with a hoarder.

First – understand that hoarding is a serious disorder. You will need to find it within yourself to develop both compassion and patience for your hoarding partner. I acknowledge that this won’t be easy, but it’s the only way through your situation.

Second – educate yourself about hoarding. The more you understand, the easier it will be for you to support and encourage your hoarding partner. A great place to start is Hoarders Anonymous at www.hoardersanonymous.org and reading into how others have helped hoarders. I’ve included information from their website below.

Third, take care of yourself. While your hoarding partner cannot change overnight, that doesn’t mean you need to drive yourself nuts by living with the kind of clutter that a hoarder accumulates. Here are some ideas on how you can take care of yourself. After educating yourself about hoarding, you can have a compassionate and understanding talk with your partner, and hopefully get him to agree to make an appointment with a hoarding professional. A hoarding professional is not your average psychotherapist – its someone who specializes in helping hoarders.

Another way you can help yourself is by designating one room in your house for your hoarding partner to use for his stuff. Ideally, this should be a spare bedroom, garage, basement or whatever is available. It needs to have a door that you can close so you don’t need to look at the mess. Understand that your partner cannot throw things away without experiencing great distress and anxiety, so simply give him a room. Hopefully, with time and help, your hoarding partner will be able to let go of some stuff, but in the meantime, let him have a room.

Make two rules:
1. Any shared space in your house needs to be kept clutter free.
2. The room that you give to your hoarder must be kept in a safe condition. This means there cannot be items that pose a safety hazard such as tripping, and most importantly, the room needs to be kept free of items that could cause or inflame a fire.

Here is information from the Hoarders Anonymous website. I strongly encourage you to do further research by doing a Google search for “hoarding help” or “hoarding.”

“The Psychiatry Department at the University of California describes hoarding as a disorder characterized by one’s difficultly discarding items that appear to have little or no value. Hoarding is not simply an issue of aesthetics, but also can result in serious threats to the health and safety of the hoarder and anyone else who spends time in her home.

Compulsive hoarding is a mental disorder, deeply ingrained in the hoarder’s mind and habits. While it is vital that a hoarder receive support, you must recognize that you cannot “heal” her. A hoarder’s condition can improve with cognitive therapy and sometimes medications to treat an underlying condition, but as her friend your primary role will be as her supporter.

Hoarders are considered to have a form of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). While most people with OCD never hoard, those who do can have a difficult time unraveling their hoarding habit with their compulsive need to save things. Here’s how you can help.

Educate Yourself
The International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) offers information and other resources on its website. You can read through to get a better idea of what your friend is dealing with as well as what she faces as she attempts to control the disorder. Maryland Hoarding Cleanup also offers resources for those dealing with the problem.

Provide Practical Support

  • Help your friend find a professional in your area that deals specifically with hoarding issues, recommends IOCDF. Taking the first step can be the toughest. Offer to help her find someone she feels she can work with.
  • If you are physically able, offer to help with the actual clean-up process when the time comes.
  • Help your friend gather others who are willing to help with the clean-up. Give everyone an assignment. One person might be asked to find a way to dispose of the mess, while another goes on drink and food runs. Try to think of all those small details that she may be too overwhelmed to remember.
  • Do small things to let your friend know that you’re thinking of her. If you keep in mind how embarrassing a condition like compulsive hoarding is it, you can begin to understand how low her self-esteem is. She needs to know that you don’t judge her. Invite her over for a movie night, bring her a special coffee drink on occasion or find other ways to let her know she has a friend. Remind her that hoarding is just one component of her personality and not her entire identity.

Dig Deep for Patience
Psychology Today warns that patience is an integral part of helping a hoarder find a healthier way to live. While it would be wonderful if you could rent a dumpster and have everything out of the house by the end of the day, that’s not the way it normally works. Rather than expecting her to change her deeply entrenched behaviors overnight, be grateful for each tiny baby step she takes forward.

Understand That It Is a Process
The reason most hoarders say they began to keep unneeded items is because they thought maybe they would be valuable in the future or because they had sentimental value, reports The Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Even after her home is perfectly clean, your friend is still going to be dealing with the issues that led her to hoard in the first place. She has a great deal of work to do to get to the bottom of what’s causing her behavior, and can certainly use a friend during this time.

Please see my newer, updated post on hoarding where I’ve learned that hoarding is a serious psychological disorder. Find out what’s going on with your hoarder, and how you can help here.

This quoted information was originally posted on the Hoarder’s Anonymous website, here.
Image Source: Pixabay

151 comments

  1. Timely! Thank you. After reading this-and after watching some of the hoarder reality shows, I realize that we are just a bit overrun with stuff that does not have an assigned home. And that my tolerance for this is a bit less than my husband the prepper. I will just work on carving out a few perfect rooms and let the rest be a little cluttered. After all, no one is tripping over anything and you could still easily get the paramedics in and out! It is just harder to clean if you have to move stuff.
    My husband does feel more comfortable with the in-case stuff around, but is certainly not a clinical case after reading the definitions in the article. He was just brought up on a ranch by people who lived through the depression. He has been a firefighter for many years, so has a heightened sense of “pre-planning”.
    That being said, I think I will get up and go tidy something and toss a couple of items in the outbox.

    1. I live with a hoarder that is also abusive and manipulative. We were suppose to get married after i moved in, that was 2018,its now 2021. Allot of my things are in bins in an added on back room. I cant put anything away because most cliset space and cabinets are full of his stuff. I have nice kitchen stuff that matches, but all his unmatching kitchen stuff is filling up all kitchen cabinets. He saud he cleaned tge garage today. Its not clean and he just shoved stuff in the filthy shed. Its bursting at the seams literally. I’m fed up with him and his sons that always condone all of his behavior. I just want my own life away from all of this. He causes drama, causes so many problems. I want to move and im afraid of him. He’s a compulsive liar, even lies to police. I don’t know what to do. I have friends that will help me move. The bf says go ahead mpve, then says no one is aloud in his house. I’m sick of every he does, including his hoarding. There is no rules for his hoarding and making a mess every where. There is no helping someone that doesn’t want help.

  2. Fabulous article – just out of curiosity is there a specific problem with hoarding for children? We have a four year old that is the fourth child and so now has every toy imaginable taking over the house. I don’t want to part my daughter with her toys but with Christmas coming up and extended family….
    My wife has a thing for keeping the toys and I don’t want to be the bad guy but a strategy for painlessly de-cluttering would be great.

  3. Great question, and you are definitely not alone. We adults are overwhelmed with stuff, and we’re passing the problem on to our kids. So here’a the simplest way to deal with too many toys. Depending on the ages of your kids, sit down with each one individually and tell her or him you’re going to play a fun game. The game is to go around and choose her 5 or 10 (whatever number that feels reasonable to you) favorite toys. Part of the game is to find a way to display these toys. Do that with your child and keep it fun. The next part of the game is hiding the remaining toys so the displayed group of toys gets to be special for a week or month (you choose). Carefully store the toys that were not chosen. The game is to give full attention to the chosen toys for a week/month, and then after that period of time, your child gets to choose which stored toy will come out and replace one of the chosen toys! This way there are never more than 5 or 10 toys out at a time!

    This game teaches your child to discern what’s most important and thus, to not feel overwhelmed by too much stuff and too many choices.

    What a great skill to learn early! Let me know if this works for you.

  4. My husband has too many items all over the house and the basement is full. Our house is 4,000 sq ft. I cannot “not” clean and it’s very stressful. Electronics, radios, etc he likes to sell on eBay. He fixes and cleans them, but has not sold too much. I have told him to get moving and sell and he says he will, but dosen’t do it. He realizes he has too much stuff, but does not like to throw anything away. I used to have people over and had family dinners etc., but have not done so for a long time. My husband will be 75 yrs in March. I said we should move into smaller place, but says he has to sell everything first. I said this will never happen. We do travel and go to other people’s houses for dinner etc. I do not know what to do. Need help.

    J

    1. Hi Judith – I’m so sorry that things are so difficult with your husband’s hoarding. I don’t know if you have property around your house but if you do, you might consider adding a building just for your husband’s stuff. You could buy a pre-made structure from a place like Home Depot, or build a simple building. Either way, you can make it large enough for your husband and his stuff. If this is not possible, then can you help him organize the basement by adding shelves and storage so that you can move his stuff that takes over the house, into the basement? If this won’t work either, then as I suggested to Dave above, I suggest you, too, go to a hoarder’s anonymous meeting to learn how to deal with your hoarder. if you do go, please let us know what you learn, and my best to you.

      1. Thanks for your article! It was helpful! My husband builds another shed when he runs out of room.We have piles of magazines upstairs,in the basement,in the garage,and one of the sheds! I use my rower when I can’t run due to inclement weather. last fall when I was doing groceries he put it in the back of the shed. I cleared a path to retrieve it and he filled it up with old bald tires and extinct car parts. I now have a cracked heel and the doctor wants me to do non-weight bearing exercise. He finally took my rower out but I feel like getting a dump truck and throwing everything out! Should I box up the magazines and load them into his garage or shed? He is also collecting broken tables and chairs from other people!

      2. This suggestion completely ignores that the hoarder is going to fill that space and not remove anything from the house. There is no trade off here where you clear out space in the house because now that person has their own spot. They will take over “all” the space. Also the suggestion of helping him to organize the basement ignores the obstacle that the person doesn’t want “any” of their stuff touched and ignores the very likely possibility that there is so much stuff that just reorganization isn’t efficient in solving the problem nor that they will want to throw out anything.

        1. This article is factual and yes, sad. I’ve lived with my hoarder spouse for 40 years. In our old house it was the whole house. I’d never heard the term ‘ hoarding’ , I just thought he was lazy, til almost 20 years ago when we moved into our dream house. Since then he has completely filled oneroom ( door shuts), a garage, and his car with the most indecipherable and misunderstood junk, BUT he carries more stuff into our family room to the point he’s moved furniture! He puts junk on my bookshelves. I won’t lie, we’ve fought and fought over this. I’ve tried reasoning and other suggestions. You know you’re getting to ground zero when he dead eyes you. Sigh. The giving him one room did not work! His side of our bedroom is horrible, as is his side of the bathroom. I force him to keep his ‘ side’ separated from mine. I don’t know the answer. He won’t acknowledge he needs help (I want things ‘too tidy’) and the behavior has never changed. I’ve cried often over this because I have to work so hard to make our home nice… and it enrages our grown children. He’s also kept multiple cats and dogs inside and outside our home for 40 years…. I don’t mean to scare others who care and may live with hoarders, they may see success, but nothing has ever changed in my case.

          1. Hi Pam,
            Have you received any useful answers? My challenges extend to yard work that my hoarder says he doesn’t want to do anymore. He says trees need major pruning, but he doesn’t do anything. The beautiful garden space we had when we moved to this house (9 years ago) is weed covered with hoses and tools buried under the weeds. I’ve been working to clear this. He bought lots of big equipment, filled up separate garage spaces and other equipment is left out to rust. Interior spaces are full of stuff too. Only recently he acknowledged that a pile he’d searched through could be reduced, but no action. My hoarder walks the dog, listens to talking books and naps. That’s about it.

          2. You are 100% correct. I’ve been in distress over the stuff in my home for all of my 31 year marriage. It is completely unrealistic to expect that the person who has a need for “stuff” will cede most of the home to the person who loathes “stuff.” My husband has even dug things out of the trash that were my stuff that I decided I had no purpose for and that I determined were not fit to give away. We have two knife blocks on the counter because the knives in the old one are so dull (from being put in the dishwasher) that they are useless and my husband won’t use the new knives because I won’t let them be destroyed by being put in the dishwasher. We currently have four extra chairs and four extra barstools in our breakfast room. I want to call the Salvation Army to come pick all of them up. Major objection. Someone might want them someday. And, “you can do what you want to do when I’m gone.” Which is actually a fear that I have. His health is terrible and I love him a lot. I’m actually afraid I won’t be able to clear out the clutter when the time comes because I’ll feel guilty that I’m relieved that I have control.

          3. Thank you so much for your comment. It made me feel like at least one person out there really gets the reality of what it’s like to have a partner with this disorder. Additionally, no one seems to understand the dangerously corrosive psychological impact it has on those of us who don’t have this disorder but are forced to live with it.

        2. I agree with Maka. After filling the garage and the 2nd story of our home, my husband has purchased sheds and enclosed trailors to supposedly have a space to sort and organize. We now have 3 large sheds, 3 carports, and 7 enclosed trailors and rows of stuff in our large back yard, all visible from the street and neighbors. “Hide the peanut” is not a viable solution when the hoarder keeps getting more peanuts and hiding places.

        3. Ugh! I H E A R you! I Too am Living this nightmare. I have reached the point today where I am just not willing to deal with this anymore. I have tried to be so patient but now, it’s affecting me both physically And mentally. Yes, they refuse to follow the slightest rule to keep their hosts in their areas. I now feel I am respected and just part of his clutter. I need my own cleared space but he will not even respect that. Yes, nobody has been here in a normal way in Years. It has destroyed our lives. I called off my diet spot as this has stalked weight loss. He has become a vampire with his clutter. ?

      3. In my case, I have been reduced to basically living in one room as my husband’s “collections” have taken over most of the house, more than 3/4 of the basement (washer & dryer is “mine”), the two-car garage in which he has built a make-shift 2nd floor to hold more of his stuff, and he has also added 5 sheds on our property which he says are needed for things “all” homeowners need. I think of moving out and/or divorce almost every day of my life, but don’t want to break-up my family. Cleaning and tidying-up takes up so much more time because I have to wade through so much excess. Recycling eats up more of my time than it should as he doesn’t connect purchases, such as a 3-inch stack of daily newspapers with less to be recycled unnecessarily. I work full-time and I’m tired.

        1. My hoarder husband and I have been together for almost 12 years. I recently had him removed from our home for unrelated reasons, but now that he’s gone and can’t communicate with me I have started unloading all of his hoarding. I have a friend that owns a dump truck, and I have filled it full twice emptying the garage. I now have to load it with a third load that will come from the yard space around the garage and the 6*6 room where the water heater is. I’ve found everything imaginable. The garage and the room he hoarded in were flooded by Hurricane Florence last year, so no mold abatement was done at all, so I have to attend that now. I need to get a yard rake and rake the papers out from under his desk and clean the den that he overtook. He’s never welcome back to my home.

          1. Good for you VC,he sounds like too much trouble .your better off now! It’s distressing to live with piles of stuff,bad feng shui as well. Cheers to a new beginning,I’m single and happy about t, Lisa in bc canada

          2. The attached garage is waist high in most areas. It has spilled over into the house. I had a breakdown when I barely had enough room to get in the kitchen. We have been reported to the county for the junk in the back yard, beside the house. The sheds are full & he has a rental storage full. I cry alot, don’t sleep well, & feel so hopeless. I cannot have visitors. I spend most of the time in my room. He has a psychologist but cancels appointments. My husband gets very angry when I throw anything away. He has retrieved things from the dumpster. I’m at a loss. It progressed over the years. Life like this has become overwhelming for both of us.

          3. I admire your courage to throw him out, but I wish I could find your courage in myself. 14 years with a hoarder, and I’m so depresse.

          4. Hi V.C.
            I am new to this website and as I read story after story of women with marriages just like mine I realized that you are the bravest person to go ahead and make the break and start cleaning out for a better future. I see that your post is from 2019 and I hope that the years since then have proven to be positive and productive.

      4. Mine has 3 rental buildings, and he pays $300 a month to maintain them. So far, over the years, he’s spent over $18,000, not including the money that he wasted, buying his hoard. I, too, have issues, and I walk through them, every day. I have no patience with his weakness.

      5. My husband does the same thing, he has filled up an entire room with stuff that he might need one day or that he plans to do up and sell on ebay and now its spilling out to the rest of the house. No way i could ever get him to see a therapist. Sometimes I just cry quietly to myself because of the clutter and I don’t know what to do. If I try to bring it up there’s always a huge row and nothing changes.

      6. WOW – let’s look at hoarding as a mental illness. An ILLNESS. The brain is simply not able to manage – is it an organic problem like a chemical imbalance ? Or is an emotional trauma being repressed? The medical science is conflicted.
        But do not build sheds, give over rooms etc to ‘enable’ this illness/behavior. A hoarder has lost his/her connection with reality therefore consistency in setting boundaries is the first way of helping.
        I would not live with a hoarder – too much like living with an addict / alcoholic

  5. Hi Janet,

    Thanks for your advice! Reading your blog has helped me to better understand and sympathize with my SO who has hoarding tendencies.

    I have two questions on your rule #1 – Any shared space in your house needs to be kept clutter free.

    It’s easy to agree to a rule like this, but in my experience it’s very hard to follow. My questions are:
    1. How do you get to a point where the shared spaces are clutter free to begin with?
    2. More importantly, how do you deal with the situation when the rule is broken?

    Thanks!

    1. Dave you’re asking a great question. It’s easy to tell someone who isn’t a hoarder that shared spaces must be kept clutter-free, but when you’re dealing with a true hoarder, you’re dealing with a mental disorder. Nonetheless, my first question to you is, is your partner agreeable to having your shared space be clutter-free? And does she acknowledge that she has a problem? If she is agreeable, then you can, indeed, set some rules. First, you need to designate a room that’s just for your partner so she has a place to put all of her clutter. And then you two can agree that in fairness to your own sanity, she needs to do a sweep of the shared spaces every night and put her clutter in her own room. If she is not agreeable to this, or if she doesn’t acknowledge that she has a problem, then I suggest you go to a hoarder’s anonymous meeting yourself to learn how to deal with her.

    2. I have just broken up from my boyfriend because of the hoarding. We have been together for over 6 years. I moved out a few years ago thinking if I did, I could better deal with this. I would still go over, but it has gotten worse without me there to help clean up some. It got to the point where I just couldn’t stand it and haven’t been there since last year. The hoarding is everywhere, from his vehicles, house, 2 businesses he owns, his mother’s house etc. He also has a ebay business, but more and more stuff is accumulating that he hasn’t sold. I have stayed with him because I really do love him and he has been so supported of me with my life trauma before him. I can’t handle this anymore. My heart breaks so bad making this decision, but my mind can’t take it. If anyone on here believes in prayer, please pray for me.

  6. My husband of 4 years is a hoarder. I now understand some of the items he can’t let go because of memories. His space is in the garage and it is driving me insane walking around the clutter to get into the house. I now understand I need a lot of patience and an appt. with my psychiatrist to learn more about dealing with him.

    1. What do we do if they won’t agree that they have a hoarding issue? I’m living in clutter and he refuses my help in organizing or keeping it to one area like the garage. He won’t get help or do anything about it.

  7. I have a husband who has so much stuff he builds more space in order to keep his stuff. We now have 4 new outside buildings full. I feel like I live at the junk yard. Trying really hard to understand. I will see a professional for myself. I have started a business, but i have to give up on it because people can’t come here.

  8. My husband is an expert at avoiding dealing with his “stuff”. After 32 years of marriage, I told him today, that if he doesn’t stop avoiding responsibility and begin dealing with his “stuff”, I will file for a divorce. I feel as if I have been held hostage, due to his overtaking of our entire house and garage, with his “stuff”. I haven’t parked in the garage in over 20 years! I can no longer do my art, due to his overtaking of space. He has told me that, “I will do whatever you want, yet he Always has a reason , or puts some other activity ahead of what he needs to do. I wake up in the morning, walk about the house for a bit, and BAM, the clutter, the dysfunctional use, (or non-use) of space right in my face. I am sick of not having a table to eat at! If anyone knows a way to legally “force” a spouse to begin the process of de hoarding, PLEASE let me know. I am starved for a life of simplicity, happiness, and productive creativity that is akin to true peace of mind. Blessings to all of you who live with TOO MUCH. May simplicity rein forever!

    1. I have the same problem with my partner who built a shed outside. I am realizing that the more space he has, the more he uses. It will never be enough. Aquiring more space will just exacerbate the situation, in my opinion.

      1. I feel like I need a counsellor that I can call at any time for support. Being married to my husband for 33 years I am also at wits end for simplicity and a peace of mind. I feel like Iam drowning in stuff.

    2. Gayle. Did I write that? I am having to deal with precisely the same thing as you – Except – I am a he. I sympathise with you, I am at my tethers end right now. Dave

    3. Gayle, this is exactly my situation! We’ve been married 37 years and I’m worn out picking up after my husband. He attaches sentimental value to each and every item in his ‘collections’. Nothing can be sold or given to Goodwill. I can’t take it any more. This stuff means more to him than our marriage. The piles have worn me down and I am exhausted from trying to de-clutter. He has magazines from the 80’s. They reek of mold and mildew, but he can’t toss them. I know this is almost August, but I am just seeing this post now, as I have reached the same conclusion you did.

      1. Hear hear to all of you! I have a husband who hoards everything from store receipts and plastic bags. Once he kept a cake his mom made for years!!! I’ve separated myself(he’s downstairs ans im upstairs). We haven’t had official visitors EVER. My mom and dad come. When they do, he tries to ‘clean’ up. That usually means moving junk from one place or another. I become very sad thinking of my life as a senior here…

    4. ❤️I also tried the ultimatum route. It is totally useless. True. He knows I am very upset but it still has no effect. I liken our spouses to junkies. Instead of drugs, it’s stuff:/. Know that I am hoping for you to get thru this just as I hope to. Good Luck to ALL of us here.

    5. Gayle – I hope that as i write this in 2021 – you are living the life of happiness you deserve. I want to say to everyone who is suffering and miserable over someone’s ELSE’s behavior – DO THIS ; LEAVE.
      Yes leave the situation and the relationship and heal yourself. There is never a good reason to allow yourself to be abused.

  9. I wound up moving to my own trailer…he is not welcome to bring anything over. We now live separately, as I was going stark raving mad. I am also calling code enforcement and letting the officials take care of it. I’m done.

  10. Does anyone here have advice on how to cope with knowing the stuff was more important than you are? I am no longer living with the hoarder but this broke my spirit.

    1. I know exactly how you feel I just recently moved out from my partners home due to his hoarding and told him the same thing that he loved his junk more than me I stayed stressed out constantly now maybe I can have less stress in my life

  11. I have been dealing with a hoarding husband for thirty years. He has filled our lovely half acre parcel with every imaginable type of junk…because someday he may need it. Of course, on those rare occasions when something in his piles may actually be useful, it can never be found because it is buried in twenty years of clutter.

    We have cleaned out the mess several times over the years, which he promptly fills back up. Our kids were too embarrassed to bring their friends over and I feel the same. Simply suggesting a clean up is enough to make him furious and we inevitably wind up in a huge fight.

    Not sure how much longer I can take this. I’ve been patient, too patient. I’ve been understanding…too understanding. I’m ready to bring in a crew and have all his precious crap taken to the dump. I want to be able to walk in my yard. I want to be able to let my grandchildren play outside. I’m sick of living like this. I’ve had enough.

  12. My husband is a hoarder. I am tired of the clutter that is everywhere and I’m tired of other people looking at me as if I’m a slob who doesnt clean. We are having our first baby in August and I’m stressed to the bone about getting our two bedroom apartment organized before then. I have decided to try having him put everything in our second room so we can have our kitchen, living room, and bedroom back. Then I have until August to make him throw the stuff away. Hope this works.

  13. He also hoards broken down cars and wants me to move to an acreage so that he can hoard more. His mother’s place is starting to look like a junkyard as she is enabling him!

  14. im on the verge of getting a skip and by the time he comes home, the skip will have been collected, taking away all his junk

  15. I hear you. I too, live with a hoarder. By hoarder standards, it’s mild, but it keeps me up at night. I HATE it. Give him his own space, he outgrows it. “Be patient”??!! Ha. Those of us that live with it have already BEEN patient, because it’s still a problem, wrecking our lives. Get out. Move on. YOU be happy, not just the hoarder. Baby steps progress does NOT ever get it done. Endless battles, & the hoarder always wins, because we must be patient & understanding? At our own expense, yr after yr? Love can only gloss it over so long b4 it’s a health risk, a fire risk, eviction, uninhabitable, or condemned. That’s the reality. His Nana had (deceased now) a home worth 10.5 MILLION, filled with…crap. 30 yr old candy bars! 1/2 eaten. Mum has 700k home…yup, filled to capacity. Complete with wool moths, & carpet beetles. Any more “patience” & I’ll be buried alive.

  16. I am so glad to hear I am not alone. My husband has invaded every bit of space outside the house, in all 4 cars but mine, and every room in the house but my room and the bathroom. If I hadn’t complained as much as I did and do I would have no space. We are going on 35 years of marriage, and I don’t know how much more of this horrible habit I can take. He’s been a great provider for both myself and our 5 beautiful adult now children. He’s recently retired and I am ready to move on to the next phase of my life without the clutter. Help!

    1. Omg! I’m reading this and it’s like I wrote it myself! I can’t live like this anymore! I’m bitter angry and frustrated! I’ve been married almost 30 years and it’s just getting worse. Now are adult kids bedrooms have been filled with stuff and I don’t even have a place to put my grandchildren Who I watch 3 days a week.

    2. To ‘Chaos’
      I live it too. I just can’t take it anymore. It’s killing me. My life has been destroyed by my wife’s hoarding, I don’t wish a divorce, but I’m at the end. It’s been going on for 30 years and I’m 60 now. Should not I have a little cleanliness for my last years…?
      Roger

      1. I thought I was alone in this scenario. Many of your statements mirror my life. I have been married for 33 years and his hoarding have progressively gotten worse over the years……. I have resorted to insisting that our bedroom remain clutter free and it has become my oasis in the chaos. Thank you for sharing your stories!!!!

        1. Mine lives in our office now. I was getting sick from the dust and hurting my self trying to make the bed while we shared a room. I have to get allergy therapy as I can not clean properly. He makes sure the outside looks normal but once you are in the door? You need Morse code flags above the hoard to show where you are!

    3. I live with a hoarder, we have been married 14 years. A lot of your stories resonate with me. He is addicted to shopping and has tons of stuff and when I put it away he gets more. It’s like if he sees a clear empty space he has a compulsion to shop and fill it with piles of shit. So much of our money and hours upon hours of my time are wasted cleaning up his crap and throwing away packaging, papers, junk mail, periodicals (most never read or opened)duplicates of useful things like tools, papers that he refuses to throw away, empty pill bottles, spent batteries, fast food plastic utensils, tiny toiletries from hotels and hospitals, not to mention that he has more clothes, shoes, and coats than anyone else in the family, and basically has an entire rack of clothing and boxes and boxes of clothing in the basement in addition to his closet full of clothes. When I complain that he has more stuff than anyone else, he just says that we can all have more stuff too, if we want. He doesn’t see that we get rid of as much as possible, including things we want, to make room for all his shit which he doesn’t even know he has. He thinks old socks, underwear, and t-shirts are “rags” and therefore must he kept. So basically whenever he leaves the house I get several trash bags and dump huge amounts of stuff without his knowledge. When he asks where is all my stuff, I tell him I put it away and tidied up because I don’t like stuff all over the floor. I feel like a bad person sometimes but I don’t think he will ever change and this is the only way I can stay sane. When he is looking for something I usually know where it is. There is that one or two times I threw out a receipt and he needed it to return something, and he never lets me forget “that’s why we never throw away receipts” but I still do. There is a huge pile of receipts every day from his compulsive shopping. It’s all a waste of money too. He used to buy a new suitcase instead of cleaning it out, and he did the same things with computers, instead of cleaning out useless files, he would just get a new computer. He won’t even throw away a computer that is old and doesn’t work. He upgrades and buys new things but will NOT throw the old thing away. We have2 clothes dryers and there are people who don’t even have one. So now I’ve convinced him that hoarding things is hurting the poor people who could actually use the stuff he hoards and isn’t using, and doesn’t need. This seems to be having more of an impact than anything else I’ve tried. It doesn’t stop him from shopping, though. You all have my sympathy.

      1. My wife is a hoarder and refuses to dispose of old clothesline, towels and sheets, in fact you name it and she stores it, in every part of the house. If I was a passive husband I would probably have already
        Separated, but instead I try to deal with her problem as she insist on holding on to every thing. I would stand firm on her bringing in anymore stuff in our home. Everywhere is overfilled but she doesn’t care.

  17. This has been very helpful. Thanks to all of you for stating what I have been feeling for 11 years. I had already told my sweetie that I would not marry him nor move in with him because of his inability to throw out old useless junk. I don’t care if it is needed somewhere down the line. If it hasn’t been used in 6 months and takes up valuable space it needs to go. I was in denial about his issues for several years. I stayed out of his house for 6 months and was shocked when I finally went back in. The situation has gotten worse. I would never have believed it was possible. I care and love this person but I love myself more. I don’t have the patience this would take and may have to bail.

    1. To everyone who has commented on this blog post, I hear you! I’ve heard the deep, deep frustration of living with a hoarder. I want you to know that your comments inspired me to update my information on hoarding, and indeed, I discovered that it’s a pretty serious psychological disorder that you need to understand if you’re living with a hoarder. So, rather than respond to each comment individually, I wrote a new blog post with updated information. My new post is titled “Take it seriously – hoarding is a psychological disorder.” You can find this post by typing the title into the search bar on the homepage.

  18. I am dating a hoarder, we have been dating for six years, I can never marry him, I could not live that way. He owns over a thousand cars and none of them run. Some are true antiques and classics but they are just rusting away. He doesn’t even let anyone in his house anymore. It is so sad, he is a good man in many ways, but he won’t even discuss cleaning it up. He is so cheap because every penny he has goes to collecting more junk.

  19. I have solved the problem. I have been so frustrated and miserable that I have come to the conclusion that everything we have is mine, all mine. See that? And see that over there? That’s mine, and it will look and be like I want it to be. If he wants to be married (and he does), that’s the way it’s going to be. This is the last time we go on this merry-go-round.

  20. My partner and I have been together for 10 years first he just had his things in our bedroom now it has overflowed into two other bedrooms. I do not know what to do every day he goes to thrift stores garage sales and consignment stores. He is a good man but this is driving me insane. What should I do?

  21. MY Husband has the same problem, the garage is full of stuff, some areas that we do not use that much inside the house are full of boxes with papers, computers etc… one day he bring 2 big plants to put inside the house just because at his work they were going to throw to the garbage, and he does the same with computer monitors and keyboards (when at his work they no longer use them)he keeps lots of papers/ store receipts from 20+ years ago, the house is full of books that he will never read, I want to have a nice, clean and organized house but is so hard, I get very upset that he can not get rid of so many things that he doesn’t need…

  22. It all sounds good until you realize the one who hoards has to buy into the plan, will never do it. You need a damn dumpster for a month and if the hoarder hates it, too bad.

  23. I too live with a hoarder. My husband hides his hoarding. He has 2 storage units that I know of 1 shed and a garage 1/2 full. I demand using my 1/2 for my car! He also claimed one bedroom which is full of stuff. I keep the door closed for my insanity but it stinks!
    How do you keep the smell from the rest of the house?

  24. Some terrible stories here. And a lot of similar ways to living with an alcoholic, trying to fix things, trying to solve things, getting isolated because the partners behavior is embarrassing to be around so you can’t invite people over. For a lot of people I’m afraid the solution is the same as living with an alcoholic, ‘detach with love’. Accept you can’t change them but you owe it to yourself to not live with them or enable them as the long term effect will be so bad for you. Leaving can be very difficult (not least because selling the house is so hard if its full of junk), but not leaving is ruining your life. May be it will give them the wake up call they need, but if they won’t seek help even though they are heartbroken you are gone there won’t be anything they can do. Painful but in the long-run you have to look out for yourself. Good luck to you all.

  25. I love my husband very much, but the frustration over the hoarding has caused me to have so much pent up rage that when the topic of hoarding comes up at all between us, I feel very out of control. I appreciate everyone’s comments and the info in the article, everything I read actually is helping me to understand that he just can’t help himself. My making threats or casting ultimatums just causes bitterness between us, and I really don’t want to spend my time with him feeling like that. For the most part, his hoarding is confined to our garage and spare bedroom. We have never parked a car in our 2 1/2 car garage – EVER. We just had a battle about this tonight, and as I predicted (I went ahead and said it out loud…) “now you’re going to be mad and go and sleep in the other room and not talk to me”. Yup, that’s where we are as I write this. That old expression “choose your battles wisely” comes to mind. After reading everything here, I know in my heart that I can never beat this. I really like the idea of confining the hoarding to certain spaces, and he has talked about getting a building for out in our yard.

    1. I have the same issue, he fills our third bedroom, including the en suite bathroom/the double garage/the loft all the areas around our beautiful property. I fight to keep the home beautiful, now in separate bedrooms, because it is creeping into the master bedroom. I want to sell up and have my own home. He won’t clear so we can put house on the market. So I am trapped. Hoarding is a form of mental abuse to the partner. I cannot have family to visit/stay. It’s a nightmare.

  26. I am in the same situation seeing things build up more in the spaces he has. I am so embarassed when my family members come to stay from out of town. his stuff is in the basement where he works at a crowded desk lucky to hold a cup of coffee, he shows them around like he doesn’t realize how cluttered it is. Every day i also see more shoes bought stored in his closet he uses with jackets. i’ve had enough. i want to know if there are grounds for divorce when you are living in unhealthy environment with a hoarder.

  27. About 4 years ago my husband’s brother died. I’d never been to his house. His children wanted to just “bring in dumpsters” and throw away everything. I (sort of) understood why when I went into the home. It was PACKED. The living and dining rooms were impassible, the family room and bedrooms had just enough room to walk. He had one place to sit for TV and one small place to sleep. The kitchen and bathrooms were unclean but not cluttered. There were no dirty dishes or things on the counters. This wasn’t exactly like TV hoarders.

    My husband spent an entire month clearing out the house (which had once been his mother’s). Instead of getting rid of most stuff, he rented two storage units (he’s still paying) and brought most of the rest of the stuff home. “A family member might want something” (even though NO ONE went to the house as it was being cleared), “there are memories.” He has the entire huge family room filled floor to ceiling, every single closet is filled (where there should be linens there are old paint cans, old computers, etc.). Code enforcement forced him to move 2 vehicles out of our front yard and lay gravel. He won’t even let me get rid of two of my own vehicles that don’t run. He bought a whole (old) boat for one part because it was cheaper than buying just the part. I recently listened to him decline a neighbor’s offer of “$5000 cash today” for one of his blackberry ridden cars that hasn’t moved in 7 years (and won’t, because he isn’t physically capable of fixing it anymore).

    I’ve pleaded with him (“I can’t stand it!”) and he has his excuses or he will say he’ll do it when he feels better. But I’m often silent because I think, I have to get rid of my own clutter first. But really, my clutter is because of his clutter. I have stuff in the bedroom and even in the living room because it can’t go where it should go. The vacuum, even towels and blankets, all just piled against the walls or in boxes. He recently put some of our camping equipment in my office, which is my personal space since he moved into the family room. I painstakingly decorated and furnished that room and there is NO clutter… till now. He can’t get to the old truck he normally stores the camping stuff in. I can’t open my curtains because of the eye sore on the patio. On a quarter acre lot we have 5 non-running cars, a non-running boat, and two utility trailers in addition to 3 running vehicles. We have zero use of any yard for our 1 year old grandbaby who lives with us. And she is growing up to think the way we live is normal. I never let anyone visit me at home (he does; I hide in the bedroom).

    He is not dirty or messy… well, I guess outside the house is. It is awful. Best of all, the house is only in my name. Sorry to vent so long. I’m finally admitting I live with a hoarder. It’s a hard admission to make.

  28. What do you do when your wife of many years refuses to even to discuss the issue. She had come from a family where her grandmother committed suicide and mother was paranoid with mental issues. I have few options unless she agrees to professional counseling. She feels threatened.

    1. I can relate. I used to say he was on the hoarder spectrum but the more I read I think he is a mild hoarder. It is not as bad as some of you and you have my sympathy. Does anyone know of an support group for family of hoarder that is online. Thank you.

  29. Im 60 and I’ve literally just met a man a few days gao after not having had a relationship for a few years, he seemed very nice and a good match. However we went to be house and it’s just horrible. He has stuff absolutely everywhere in every room, old stuff from his parents and newspaper cuttings DVDs CD videos stereosz old furniture ornaments etc etc
    as an introverted person I find this all very depressing and dark, I tried to ignore it but it’s very difficult as we are in a new relationship I am not sure if I want to move forward because he suffers anxiety and depression and he talks a lot about things that are fairly nonsense or things I know nothing about. I find myself exhausted listening. I’ve given it 3 dates now and feel sad that it may not move forward because of this

    1. Run! No matter how much you love them you cannot “fix” them. I stumbled upon this blog by accident. For the first time in a long time I don’t feel as if MY inability to deal with growing “collections” is the problem. Best of luck to all the partners of hoarders as the giant 127 yard sale weekend approaches.

  30. My husband of 42 years is a hoarder. We have a very small house to begin with with very little storage space and no garage. I cannot clean because stuff is everywhere. I am so depressed because I can’t invite friends over and of course when someone does drop over unannounced I am the slob who does not keep my house clean. I have talked to my husband about this and he keeps saying he will clean it but he is always too tired. If I try to clean it he tells me not to touch his stuff. I feel trapped.

  31. My husband is a hoarder. If he wasn’t very ill at this moment, I probably would’ve walked out. I had ordered a dumpster and had help lined up to do a clean up and he flat out freaked out and I had to cancel which cost us 150.00!!! I am So done. If he gets better, I may think about leaving after our son graduates. I simply can’t Take this anymore. It’s so sad because I do love him but sane people have limits.

    1. Run. I was married for 17 years to a hoarder. It was a constant struggle to care for 3 children, work full-time and deal with him. I got the silent treatment whenever I brought the issue of cars he never fixed, a bathroom that backed up sewage, vehicles in one of the cars, a jam packed two car garage — it was a relative success to keep moving his collections of stuff he never used in that entire garage space. Because we fought about it, his behavior worsened and two years later I learned he was having an affair. Lucky for me I finally had enough and divorced and have never been happier. He to this day hoards things, and money, has not changed but is not living with me! I have never been happier and never looked back. He consistently blamed me for being a problem while every person that ever met him noted his ways. A note to all out there — have the courage and self-confidence to move on. A huge weight will be lifted from your shoulders.

  32. This article addresses helping the person who seems to be aware that they need help. My husband is angry when I refer to him as a hoarder and yet he is truly a hoarder in every sense of the word. Despite my in-laws hoarding themselves out of every room in their house, they could never admit they had a problem. They saw it in the other one but never in themselves. My husband sees that they are hoarders but doesn’t see himself as one. The fact is, I have spent 25 years of my life organizing, reorganizing, figuring out the best use of space, buying new tubs, shelves and other organizing tools. I have purged my own things in an effort to make more space and I have purged his things behind his back because he doesn’t even remember what he has. We have been arguing about this our entire married life. It consumes me because he takes up so much space and keeps demanding more and more all the while I’m constantly cleaning and coming up with ways to keep it our of our living space. But he has never been the one to manage it. If I wasn’t always fighting to keep it out of our living space and with some semblance of organization, he would be hoarding himself into the corner like his father. I have been on anti-depressants a few times, usually as a result of feeling that I’m losing the battle – that I’m digging a hole and he is throwing dirt back in faster than I can dig. When I try to tell him how it stresses me out and affects my mental health, he tells me that I need counseling. I’m at a loss, back on anti-depressants and I’m losing the battle. I’m old, I’m tired and this has consumed my life for 25 years. And yet any talk of getting rid of any of his stuff is an insult to him and I get accused of “trying to take his childhood away from him.” In reality only half is his childhood stuff. He has at half a dozen “collections.” I feel like his THINGS have always been THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN HIS LIFE. I just don’t get it and I’m done with patience. It hasn’t worked to cure this!

    1. I am in your boat, Amy. Wanting to have a clean, organized life makes me the bad guy. We couldn’t sell this place if we wanted to because of the mess it’s become. And he just keeps bringing more in. He buys “stuff” from Goodwill, and when it comes he hides it from me. I have no idea what he’s buying. I’ve been to a counsellor and she said there is nothing I can do to change it – I have to accept it! I have to much invested in this place to leave. I will have nothing I worked the last 25 years for.

  33. Wow! So much encouragement!
    I’m reading it’s not only about stuff,
    but, time!
    Time goes by;
    days,
    months,
    years,
    decades,
    half centuries!
    Oh my!!
    It’s truly time!
    Time to clean out home and garage of so much unnecessary stuff!!
    Thank you again!
    May God bless all of you for
    your insightful help!

  34. Hello. My father is 91 years old and he lives in a big home with his 61 year old hoarder son. I feel bad that he took his son out of a shelter 15 years ago because his marriage tanked. It is disgusting what decades of hoarding junk has done. (Used tissues, newspapers, clothing, etc.) He knows where to take his junk and throw it in a dumpster but does not. I feel bad that my father has to live with him at this point in his life. Thank you for all you do.

  35. My husband has a room filled wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling with stuff- not junk- actually quite expensive photography and computer equipment that he can’t use because it is a packed, disorganized mess. In trying to organize it, he expanded into the hallway, guestroom, guest bath and part of our master suite. OK. I was supportive but gradually lost patience over 8 months. Knowing he has a serious disorder, I followed all the advice about being loving, respectful of his belongings, offering to help organize, renting a 350/month storage space, and asking very infrequently (once a month) if we could agree to clear out our shared spaces. Each request was met with eye rolls and “yes, I am working on it.” It hurts to be working so hard on respecting his hoarding while being disrespected when I ask for my needs to be considered. When I finally asked to set a date, I said I was really uncomfortable with all the stuff, and I wanted to have the guest bath, hallway and guestroom working for their intended pupose, I asked if we could couldn’t organize it in his room by the end of the year, could we move it to the garage or storgae to be soreted gradually ito his room. He responded by jumping up and shoving ALL of it into his room so that now it is a solid wall of stuff and you cannot enter the room. And he is not speaking now- this has gone on for three full days, and I can only face the possibility that I might actually be getting a divorce over what seems like a ridiculous issue. But the fact that he can sink to the level of the silent treatment over this is the real issue. Living with a hoarder who is in denial; and refuses to get help leaves me with the choice to accept it or leave a person who claimed to love me but is actually capable of ignoring me for days on end. Does anyone have any other choices to suggest for me?

    1. Sue – you have nothing to be ashamed about! This is exactly my situation. We have been married for 15 years and in every home we have owned, all our spare rooms/cupboards are packed to the ceiling with boxes of his shit. We have fought continuously over his inability to get rid or even try to sort through boxes that have been unopened from God knows when! To be fair – he is now trying to ‘clear’ the rooms but it takes a whole frickin week to carefully go through a couple of boxes and I don’t see anything actually going to the dump or to charity shops. Just reorganised and put somewhere else. I’ve had enough. I will kick him and his shit out if this goes on any longer.

    2. reading what you have been through – you have been practicing excellent communication skills and empathy, but your husband’s brain is not able to receive or decode any of that. I feel hoarder’s have a real dis-connect to reality most obviously shown in their complete shut-down and denial to anything that competes with their world. I think of it this way: a hoarder has worked very very hard building this shelter of clutter because something inside them needs to be absolutely smothered. His hoarding is not about you or a relationship . You do not have to live like this – leave and heal yourself from this trauma.

  36. As I sit here searching the web for help and answers, I find comfort in everyone’s stories. Thank you so much for sharing. Hoarding is a very serious mental disorder. After many conversations, arguments, and even research, my fiancé has finally accepted that he is a hoarder. Thankfully he is open to the notion that his “collecting” is much more than just that. But he also has a shopping problem. He claims that he has stopped shopping for new things but I will go to the basement periodically and find new things. And then he gets mad that I went down there because he says that I am trying to find reasons to fight. Also, the only times he goes through a box to declutter is after a long fight in which I have to remind him that he acknowledged that he has a problem. I have read many articles and the most common suggestion, other than therapy,(which I keep asking for) is patience. My only problem with that is that we do want to start a family soon(I am 30). And my fear is that the hoard in our basement and other places in our home are hazardous. Also, babies need things, and with his stuff taking up all of our closets and spare rooms, I don’t know where their things would go. And with his shopping problem, our house will become even more hoarded. I fear that I will be waiting many more years until I am able to start a family in a hoard free home.

  37. I live with my hoarder girlfriend who is a “business woman.” She lived on her own in an apartment filled with organized but towering stuff and in my love blind state (I was 25, now I’m 30) I still dated her and believed things would improve. Well, we got a place together moved all her stuff in the house/storage space and every time we have a fight, in comes more stuff. I’ll be honest I haven’t been the best at being patient but I try. She says our fights and relationship issues is why her hoarding doesn’t get better. She also has back problems and has trouble doing many boxes at once, although its usually just reorganizing which is moving from large boxes to small or medium sized bags. Knowing her physical challenges, I try and be patient even though she spends a lot of time on online business stuff which I also try and support and respect (although it’s part of the problem.)

    I love her and I’ve tried to accept this but I dont know if I can anymore. I don’t want the rest of my life to be about this. I miss having a dinner table, an empty living room, hell any room that’s actually clean and spacious. When people ask me what my favorite room is, I jokingly say, the laundry room! Haha oh man how sad. I feel for her emotional trauma and issues but I think and feel I wont be in this relationship much longer. I love her but sometimes the best kind of love is letting someone go so they can heal themselves.

    Good luck to everyone and thank you for sharing your stories. It has helped me not feel so alone in dealing with this.

    1. Hello. Do not marry him or have children. Get out of the relationship. I have battled this for 20 years and wasted my life. I am 57 and have two children that grew up with their mom hoarding. Stress induced more hoarding and so does aging. It sounds harsh, but this will Ruin your mental health in the long run and kids, finance stress, hoarding grow into codependent life. Good luck

  38. At some point while I was reading through these posts, I laughed until I cried because I recognized myself so well. My husband and I just celebrated our 30-year anniversary, and this has always been an issue, but lately it has escalated, and my husband’s attitude about it has hardened. It’s difficult not to take this personally, as he has a good idea how it affects me but apparently doesn’t care…enough. But I’ve allowed it. He’s high-anxiety and tightly strung, and a prostate cancer diagnosis four years ago made this worse, though his radiation treatments have eliminated the cancer. I had actually filed for divorce, over this and other issues, before he was diagnosed, and we reconciled when he started treatment. We had a year of couple’s counseling that has made it easier to communicate about most things, but about THIS, he will not move. (One time, he actually cleaned up his mess pretty well — he CAN do it — but it didn’t take long for the clutter to return, as with someone who gains all the weight back after a diet.) Closets are packed solid with boxes of god-knows-what. The fridge/freezer/cupboards are an impenetrable wall of food, with nonperishables now expanding to the garage. I counted 20 opened boxes of cereal once. Drawers are so packed with assorted items that I can’t even open them. I’ve been to the ER twice with injuries caused by tripping over things, and in the past few weeks we’ve been invaded by mice. (He blames our pet birds for the mice, unable to admit he’s a huge part of the problem.) I have lovingly restored our vintage ’50s home but never have company over. It’s impossible for me to clean out the garage without help, and we’ve never had our car inside it. We’ve also got a storage unit that I need his help to clean out. As I’m describing this, I realize just how bad it is! I can’t “hold the line” any more; IT TAKES BOTH OF US TO TACKLE THIS if it’s to be done “respectfully,” AND HE WON’T HELP. I’m just going to have to START DOING IT MYSELF, respectfully or not, and he’ll have two choices 1) help me “fix it” to my satisfaction, and keep it that way, or 2) pack up (ha) and leave. Reading these other posts has helped me decide: After 30 years, it’s my way or the highway. Thanks for helping me reach this conclusion!

    1. I just started a website you might be interested in. It’s about how to clean without your husband’s cooperation.

      You are entitled to a safe place. The burden is most likely on you to do that.

      My first tip is The Never Full Box, https://myhoarder.blogspot.com/2020/09/the-never-full-trash-box.html
      The idea is that you put things he collects, such as plastic bags, empty prescription bottles, etc in a single box and periodically toss out the top 1-2″ so there is always room for him to add more.

    2. Laura : I have battled this too. My legs scratched up because our hall way is cluttered with things, I was told I am clumsy. The final straw for you should be the fact you went to the ER and hurt yourself. If you had small kids who hurt themselves due to this environment, doctors would be calling social services. It is hard to move on, after 20 years I feel helpless, but realize I have to save my self. I have become angry, stressed, obese over all this and hurt my relationship with my kids. My daughter doe not like the environment but tells me if I don’t like it I can leave. I have lost respect and dignity. Good luck

  39. Sorry, but giving a hoarder “a room” doesn’t solve anything. My husband is a hoarder who understandably thinks that our kitchen, pantry and bathroom are as much his as mine. He therefor crams as much as he can into storage spaces that we share. His need to hoard is connected to the HOME that we live in, not to a specific space. Initially, I tried discussing his “tendencies” with him, to no avail. He’d go into panic mode if I suggested that we really didn’t need 35 frying pans, a truckload of paper towels, 14 loaves of bread crammed into a space above the fridge, or 500 saved paper grocery bags.

    I’m not a “neat” fanatic, but I hate seeing all of this. It looks insane to me. I also dislike having to move things to get to things. Every shelf in our place is crammed with items right to the very edge, no room to move things to the side to see what’s in the back. I can’t open the fridge door or a cupboard door without something falling out. Drawers are crammed full too. We’re at the point now where he insists on looking for things that I can’t find. Then there’s the matter of wasted food. He buys the groceries (he insists) and gets more than we can eat in a week.

    My present response is this: I no longer suggest, plead, or insist. Instead, I remove things myself when he isn’t around and get rid of them. He doesn’t notice. If he does notice, he may get miffed for a while, or even agree with my efforts, but over time he’ll replace what was removed. I at least get satisfaction in having some of it gone for good. I try to keep things in perspective. Despite his hoarding, he’s a good, loving and thoughtful person, even if he does think that I’ll be pleased because he brings home 17 different kinds of tea after I ask if he’d “pick up a box”.

    1. THANK YOU ALL FOR WRITING!!! WHAT A RELIEF!!!! I AM NOT ALONE!!! 
      After so ….many…. years…. of being told that it’s ME who is overreacting or ______ – fill in the blank. It really doesn’t matter what you put here because the denial steamroller will flatten whatever sane and logical suggestion you verbalize. Example: I am scared to open the cupboard doors in one of the utility room closets for fear of what may fall out. The shelves are BOWING under the weight of the crap in there. He (my husband) doesn’t actually know what is in there, of course. He is always looking for a can of disinfectant spray or whatever, because he thinks we don’t have any. So he buys another 6 pack at Costco only to find the one he originally bought, unopened, in a cupboard elsewhere….. I suggest he clears out the cupboard so the shelves don’t give way and it all comes crashing down. His response is classic: The problem is the shelves. They are made out of crap Ikea / poster board. What we need is a metal shelving which is stronger and can take the weight. How can you argue with this logic? He is right. The shelves won’t break if they are made of iron – but they shouldn’t have to be!!!! And therein lies the problem. You cannot argue or talk to a hoarder. It’s impossible. And I have finally realized I have to accept this and move on because I think I really will go insane if I stay. 
      I have moved out 3-4 times in the last 10 years trying with every ounce in my body to work on “my” issues. I haven’t stopped trying. Yet there is no change at the house. In fact it’s worse every time I’m there. The filth disgusts me and I have long since stopped cleaning. But it’s my home too. I love my house and everything it should have been but was never allowed to be. I am from England. I have no family here and have lived here for 23 years so the house and our 2 cats mean everything to me. Moving out has been excruciating every time and I hoped things would get better” this time”. Who was I fooling? They never did. And it’s only now, reading all these posts and having time and the essential emotional energy to really research hoarding that I see I have been living in hell for 10-13 years. It’s no wonder I felt I was losing my marbles. But now I know I’m not. 
      To start with I had only furniture whereas he had “stuff” and no furniture. So it was fine. Then we bought our first (and only) house. I had seen the flags but didn’t realize they were crimson red and flaming. I should have known when he had a friend drop off a piece of machinery – I think a table for cutting things? – which he covered in tarpaulin BEFORE we had even moved in. It has sat there ever since. We bought the house in January 2002. 18 years it has sat under the deck. 18 years.  My ONLY victory in all this time has to veto him getting a shed. For the obvious reasons. 
      I took voluntary redundancy in July 2019 after 15 years at one company. I wanted a year off (from Life. Work. Husband. Dilapidated house.) I needed a break because it was all slowly killing me before finding work again and had money from the redundancy to see me through. All my furniture and clothes have been in a lock up because even though he is a single man, no kids, there is NO ROOM in our 3 bedroom / 2 bathroom house which is on a 1/3rd of an acre plot for any of my things. I have literally been living out of a suitcase which is in the bath in the downstairs bathroom…… Yes. In the bath. I am a lodger in my own home, A friend pointed out to me that for what I pay in my half of the mortgage and the way I am forced to live, I wouldn’t live elsewhere under the same conditions. I have a single shelf in the kitchen, one in the bathroom and no space in the fridge. 
      People who do not live with this mental issue in their spouse do not understand how utterly debilitating it is. Family members are a different burden and one which can often be shared but your partner/spouse is a whole other ballgame for a number of reasons. Not least you don’t necessarily dislike them or hate them. You may not argue with them (except for the hoarding). You may even still truly love them or at least feel much caring towards them after so many years especially as you can see they are screwed up. And they may well love you (in their way). But the truth is I feel utterly and completely disrespected. I have been completely stunted and I have very little sense of self worth left. My husband has a narcissistic and manipulative personality (I now know) and was attracted to me because I was everything he wasn’t (an INFJ empath). I honestly do not know how I’m going to get out of this situation. The only thing I am absolutely certain of is I cannot continue to exist in this mess. It has affected and effected every single aspect of my life. And writing it down and talking like this helps.
      I know I need help. I know I have to set some boundaries and stick to them. And I know I have to divorce him. I’m not on a pity party here but I am utterly hopeless and miserable because I am alone and have no friends, just some people I know. And now I am going to have to give up my house and my cats for good. And frankly, I’m exhausted. 
      But at least I know now I am not alone and I am not going crazy but I am heartbroken that I’ve spent so much of my life living in misery due to his issues and manipulation. 
      Send warmth and karma to me if you are reading this and any coping or professional assistance suggestions are so welcomed. 
      With warmth. To All. 
      Me. 
      Me. 

    2. Aenne,
      Do you have curbside grocery pickup? Our favorite grocery store in Texas offers curbside pickup with just a 3% surcharge. You could order on-line and have him pick it up.

      As for the grocery bags, 50 could disappear each week (preferably in a neighbor’s recycle bin, with their permission) without him noticing.

    3. I feel your pain, our space and cupboards same. It will not improve, my research indicates it will get worse with age and stress events. I have seen this for 20 years and it has wreaked havoc on my health.

  40. I’ve been married for 41 years now. Amazingly enough I didn’t recognize He had an issue until the past 20 years. However about 30 years ago, when we had our first child, I had to give up my sewing room(which I used) for the child. His “room” didn’t get emptied. All his excess stuff he never used but had to keep-like a huge desk he hasn’t sat at since we moved in 35 years ago! Second child had to sleep in a bed against that desk. Third child came and no place to put him, so we had to build an addition. We built a pole barn in our back yard. 24×36 and he convinced me to go to the city to get a varience for height. He said it was so we could store our pop up in there and open it up. Well it is now full, basement full, 2 car garage full and his junk room full. Kids left and their rooms are filling up. We have a junk car in the driveway he can’t part with. It too has stuff in it. He lives Menards cause they have “free after rebate” stuff. And because of that my dog just got 45 balls. Of course, he can’t play with them because they might get wrecked! I came on here to figure out a way to motivate him. I’m not too sure how. Any mention of cleaning up our life brings tons of anxiety! Any suggestions?? Of course, to him, the problem is me.

    1. Cathy P.
      Perhaps you didn’t recognize he had an issue because it wasn’t an issue at first. According to a wedmd article, people age 55-94 are 3 times more likely to be hoarders than people in the 35-44 age group.

    2. Do you have curbside grocery pickup? Our favorite grocery store in Texas offers curbside pickup with just a 3% surcharge. You could order on-line and have him pick it up.

      As for the grocery bags, 50 could disappear each week (preferably in a neighbor’s recycle bin, with their permission) without him noticing.

    3. Cathy, sadly it is not you. My partner of 20 years says same thing. Reality is that few hoarders are strong enough to get over this. It will get worse and have negative impact on you. It is sad I am in my tidy car, only space I can control to respond to this posting. The stress is bad for your health.

    4. This is me too with length of marriage and the problem is me. I found a place to recycle his wetsuit from 40 years ago that he’s worn twice since I knew him. I mention this to him and he shuns me and cancels our nightly card game, the consistent quality time we have together. I’m trying to make space for our daughter and her family as well as maintain my sanity and I’m the bad guy. I read these posts and although it not nearly as bad as some my husband is a hoarder. But why. I read here that the primary reason is depression and it’s a kind of OCD. He’s insecure and constantly performing and trying to get people to like him. And they do. My mom had dementia and I am afraid. I am heading in that direction. I’m counting on him taking care of me. I guess if I get bad enough I won’t care if there’s room for family. I feel stuck.

  41. Hi, my partner is a massive hoarder, we moved into our first home less than a year ago, he promised things would be different but it is so much worse, we have a massive backyard with 2 massive sheds, they are both full aswell as my entertainment area, i don’t invite anyone over as I am embarrassed. Our house looks like a tip. He spends most of his days looking on Facebook marketplace at things people are giving away for free and he just keeps bringing more and more stuff home. We fight almost on a daily basis over this and I am almost at my witts end, he says he gets things to sell and make money but he doesn’t sell anything he just keeps it. Everything to him is worth money and is so valuable. He won’t admit he has a problem. He says he will clean it but it never looks like anything has been done. I feel like a pig and I get so depressed and my anxiety plays up when I look at my backyard which was once beautiful. I honestly don’t know what to do anymore, i am almost at the point of ending our 9 year relationship.

    1. Hi Ashlee. Sorry to read that you are going through this. My partner of 20 years brings home stuff that folks discard. Our garage is full of stuff and so is the house. Getting free stuff feeds the compulsion. I have two kids, if it were not for them I would have left after a couple of years. Now it is 20 years later, wasted life for me. I have blamed me for feeling like I am not patient enough. Hoarders also most of the time have other problems. I have seen the hoarding get so much worse. It will not get better, trust me on that. Good luck.

  42. I can relate to all of these posts. My husband has several sheds, the entire basement, a spare room, a 2 1/2 car garage, shelves in our bedroom & other rooms of the house, a new 30 X 40 pole barn & 2 acres of land all full to the max of junk. I mean there are old crock pots laying out in the far back of this land where we, a second marriage, have built a nice new house!
    I feel deceived by his hoarding.
    We have been married 13 yrs now & as hard as I try to get things cleaned up, the more he collects. I can’t keep up. We don’t have anyone over anymore or have any parties at our house & I am a very social person. I love him dearly but cannot live like this. Giving him space is not working, he fills up every square foot. I desperately need help.

  43. My boyfriend I think may be a hoarder. He complains that he gets no help and that’s why his place is like that. But he buys things there’s no room for. The stuff is useful but if there’s no room… A bunch of appliances in a tiny kitchen, exercise machine and he does have a big living room but he had stuff in the place he put his machines so now it’s just moved somewhere else. Lots of clothes, there’s no way you use all that stuff. Now there are clothes on the floor in many areas, and a few roaches where there weren’t any before. And now a smell. He seems overwhelmed but we got into it because he says I could have been helping him so it didn’t get to this instead of staying home because we were fighting about other stuff. I said I’ve been telling him for years to throw stuff out and stop buying new stuff. Also a lot of boxes that stuff comes from ups in. Empty boxes that he just doesn’t bring to recycling. Thinking of getting a cleaning service to go in there. Do they deal with that? The advice is it’s better to go piece by piece than it is to get a cleaning service but I think a few times of that can really get a jump on it and maybe he might feel better. He has so much he won’t realize most of what’s thrown out probably.

    1. I’ve had some success dealing with hoarders and have been commenting on several posts with coping tips on how to cleanup. But no tips for you. Ask yourself, “Is he worth it?”
      Maybe he is. When you contemplate whether you stay in the relationship, consider that you may never be able to live together.

    2. Hi Stacy. If he truly is a hoarder, then you can not touch his stuff. You will see a side of him that can not be reasoned with. Read the posts here, this real I am lived this. 20 years and two children later, it has crushed me and impacted my life. It sounds like you love him, but it will get worse and he will fill up a bigger space. This is very difficult problem and it gets worse with age. Ask your self if you can envision living like this 30 years from know and raising kids in that environment. Sometimes love is not enough to stay. Good luck

  44. My husband was not originally a hoarder. He started when he lost his job at age 60. He had a friend who earned extra money by selling things in local flea markets and decided to join him. Things were ok for awhile but when his friend moved he tried on his own but could not cope with all the lifting etc on his own. He did not stop looking for things to sell though Items were kept in dining room we did not use much. At first he had weekly yard sales but gradually lost interest due to lack of customers. He then discovered dumpster diving and regularly brings home stuff he is amazed people throw away. This started ten years ago and the room is now packed ceiling to floor but nothing ever comes out. He has done some acting and made a few indie movies with a friend. He now also collects clothes etc that could be used for a character. These clothes have taken over the spare bedroom although it’s several years since he did any film work. He is adamant that everything is worth money. He tries to store stuff all around the house and I am fighting a loosing battle. I throw out what I can when he is not around and then have to just squash what I can into his main rooms. I am 80 now and it’s all getting too much. He has recently found a place that gives out free food and now freezer and fridge are full of items we do not need. I have been able to pass some of it on but he keeps an eagle eye on things!

    1. Chris,
      Do you have children (or maybe a niece or nephew) who can intercede on your behalf? Don’t be embarrassed. You need help. You are entitled to clear, safe paths to every door and window, and a home free of tripping hazards.

    2. Hello Chris. I am sorry you are dealing with this at your age. There is no reasoning with a hoarder. Aging and trauma triggers more hoarding. I am 57 and have been with my partner 20 years. She has gotten worse and told me it will not change. Best of luck

  45. Ladies: you can have a neat, sanitary, dust-free home and live with a hoarder without daily conflict (there will be occasional conflicts as you learn how much leeway you have).
    First, a new frame of mind: Many people are addicted to video games that essentially create order out of chaos (tetris, candy crush). If this is your case, you have a live action video game, with endless levels. Enjoy!
    Second, hoarder are in denial and have no idea how much stuff they have. Make that work for you.
    Example 1: The box or drawer that never fills up.
    The hoarder saves things that most people consider trash – empty prescription bottle, empty plastic food packaging (butter, whipped cream, cottage cheese), unmatched socks. Tell him you need to reduce dust and the items need to be in a box with a label. Best to fill the box yourself, but show him where the box is stored and request he puts any of the items he finds in the box, and that he not mix any other items in the box (even if it is only 1/2 full). Check the box every few months; keep it less than 90% full so there is always room to add more; keep it at least 80% full so that he doesn’t realize any have been removed (and tossed out).
    If you do 1 per month, you’ll have 12 boxes to check each month.
    Sneaky, yes. Win-Win, though. Over time, you are reducing not only dust, but his shame, frustration, and you will avoid his anxiety over making a decision.
    Never, never, never discuss this, even with people who support you. They might let it slip. I once missed out on getting rid of 50 broken power drills because my father-in-law got wind of my scheme.

    1. Sarah interesting post. I tried to toss old magazine and newspapers covertly. It gets exhausting, since it never seems to end.

      1. Thank you for posting this, it seems that a few people have had success with serruptitiously throwing things out.

  46. Wow I could have written some of these posts. My husband has gotten much worse after the pandemic and my chronic illness. I have been in bed for the last year because of a connective tissue disorder. In that time I have not been able to do my regular decluttering of our house. I was finally well enough to go downstairs yesterday and it was appalling. There was food and toilet paper everywhere. Our daughter is having one friend over, we haven’t been social because of covid, and she’s very embarrassed. My husband has cluttered almost every room. I’ve told my daughter she can go through and deal with his stuff and I’ll FaceTime with her to give guidance but we have to wait for him to be gone first. I don’t like living like this. Sneaking around to clean is insane. I do think he must have anxiety issues that motivate it.

    1. You are telling my life story. I have connective tissue disease (lupus) and other autoimmune diseases. I left work in Jan at the time undiagnosed, but very ill. I’ve finally started to recover and I feel like I can’t breathe. I almost hate my husband. I can’t take anymore. When divorce was on the table he straightened up and let me get rid of a lot of things. I was cleaning out our basement for a playroom for our three toddlers and a bedroom for our teenage son. I’ve been sneaking stuff out and burning it or tossing it for years. He would catch me sometimes. He digs through the trash.

      I have always felt like I had to make myself smaller to make room for him. Our basement is mostly clean, but I had to move stuff out to the patio and it’s full. Under our bed is completely stuffed with stuff.

      Now he’s all pouty because he feels like I’m throwing him away. He basically equates getting rid of the stuff as getting rid of him. His truck is completely full too.

      I know it’s anxiety driven and I should have mercy, but he’s literally smothering all of us. Every.Single.Day. He’s taking medication and doing therapy, but the same issues are bleeding through. I want to leave.

      I wish you wellness. I wish your partner wellness. Thank you for sharing. Sometimes I feel so isolated being sick. I left a busy career to be stuck at home in his overwhelming crap.

    2. My husband usually goes on a a couple golf trips a year and I weed out stuff. But with Covid I didn’t have the opportunity. He is usually angry when he is looking for some obscure thing I tossed but it doesn’t see to last more than a couple days.

  47. When I read about hoarding, what I hear people talk about is the stuff. That does not make sense to me. What I see in my partner is that he compulsively buys something when he is feeling stress, or tries to organize or get rid of something, it triggers very painful experiences from his past that I don’t think he has the ability to process. I think the situation is deeply related to severe, long term trauma and the stuff is a coping mechanism, much like the impulse to smoke a cigarette or drink alcohol. I think that dealing with the overwhelming pain and fear of what happened that he is subconsciously blocking with the stuff is why it is so hard to get rid of something. Because you are asking someone to relive something horrific, with an enormous amount of inner turmoil and something in them just kind of can’t feel that- so the chaos is visible all around you.

    I also think that accepting that this is the behavior, and acknowledging it, does not really change anything, but puts it more in focus. If we can’t get rid of anything, and you keep buying stuff- what is that going to mean over the long term? Is there a better place where we can keep it? Can we buy fewer items? What are the triggers of choice and if we already have X of something, are you sure you want that, even if it is cheap or rare or a certain brand? I understand you want to buy it and that is okay. Certain things trigger me too and I have my own coping mechanisms, so even if it frustrates me, I understand where it is coming from.

    1. Hi JR – yes I agree with your ideas about repressed trauma and stress triggering deep dive into hoarding behaviors. New Neurobehavioral science research is examining idea that the brain gets re-wired with stress and trauma. That re-wiring is all about survival and primitive coping skills to threat. Somehow hoarding is a coping skill and taken to extreme it can provide a protective world that completely ‘smothers’ threats.
      Maybe hoarders are not able to manage life, relationships, responsibities etc because their thought process is abnormal. You say ‘enough!’ but they say ‘never enough’.

  48. I am 78 year old widow living on the South coast of England in my own house . My husband died nearly 5 years ago after a long illness, he always had a drinking problem. I stuck with him for 50 years and the last 20 were virtually impossible as I was caring for him but couldnt do anything right in his eyes. Thank God for my supportive friends!a
    Well now I have a boyfriend who has moved in to my house with all his stuff! A real hoarder ! He had 3 large containers of stuff in storage. Now he has moved he contents of 2 of them here. My large terrace is now covered in boxes hidden under a huge tarpaulin. My double garage is full ,the shed , the covered porch, the spare room is jammed full . one of my two wardrobes my book shelves . The dining room has a large tent and several doors in plastic wrappings. Everything smells strongly of mould. Also he brought masses of books and clothes belonging to his next door neighbours who have died. It is ALL rubbish !
    I am trying to chuck some of it behind bushes in the garden !
    Think I am going mad myself!!!
    There is no way out .

  49. My partner has a slightly different version. She wants to save to world by keep things from landfills. She used to keep tabs on a FB page where folk posted stuff they wanted to get rid of and if she thought she couldn’t find a home for it she went to get it. And granted some things did find home, good homes. But other stuff is still here.
    Now she works at the local tiny general store. When food passes the best buy date and has to be disposed of, she brings it home. If it can go in the freezer, we do use it later. But produce…. She tries to keep up by salvaging the what can be salvaged and makes jams, sauces and chutneys (much of which we really don’t eat, so the fridge is full of that, but at least she can also give it away). When she can’t keep up, the stuff just rots. So there are boxes of produce in various stages of decay on the veranda and in the kitchen.
    She also brings home the recycling; cardboard, plastic, outdated newspapers and magazines, etc…. The cardboard she uses to heat the house, which is fine I guess but it takes a lot more time then using firewood (which we also have plenty of). The plastic she sorts and takes to recycling, which is also very time-consuming and as we live far from such centers, the stuff piles up until she has an opportunity to drive out there for other errands. Some of the paper stuff she has regular people to take them to, but others wait in piles until she can find someone.
    I know her doing this is coming from a good place in her heart, and she does keep it for the most part in only certain parts of the house (kitchen, veranda, basement) and everywhere else is not bad, but I hate to go into those parts of the house because the odds of my finding something gross or disgusting is great.
    Is this hoarding? I don’t know but it is hard to live with.

    1. My husband feels the same way about the landfill. He think it’s horrible to take anything to the dump so our home and yard is a dump.

  50. I have been married for 46 years. My husband is a hopeless hoarder who has never admitted that he has a problem. He has filled in every part of our home, the attic, the basement, the yard, driveway, and cars. He trashes everything he touches. Our children grew up in this nightmare and were ashamed to have friends over. Anytime anyone has come into the house I always feel like they think I am a slob for living in such a mess. He constantly narrows in walkways and creates safety issues. I have tripped and fallen so many times and I have gotten injured. I have back and knee problems and can’t do heavy lifting. But I get desperate and move things when I can’t take it anymore. He is a compulsive shopper and constantly brings home stuff;. groceries, blankets, towels, and clothes, kitchen ware that we can’t store. He can’t bear to throw anything away or let anyone else throw something out. He picks the trash and takes anything out he thinks he can use. He brings things home from work, and collects things other people are throwing away. He has spent thousands of dollars paying for a storage unit on things he thinks he can sell on eBay that he’ll never do. I have been fighting with him all these years and am always depressed. I wanted to leave him so many times, but my back is so bad I couldn’t live alone. I empathize with everyone who has posted here. Blessings to you all. You are not alone.

  51. My husband is a hoarder, and our home is full of magazines, books, stamps, cups and now his new hobby is collecting electronics from the dumpster. He has been bringing home laptops, TVs, computers, ps 3, game boys, printers, scanners, and is spending tons of money buying parts to repay these things. He really cannot control his behavior, he knows how upset and angry I am but he really does not care. I feel sorry for him but I really want to leave him with all his mess!

  52. My husband of 50 years has always saved everything, but until about 10-15 years ago he kept most of it in the basement and garage. When he retired some years ago it got much worse and now I can’t answer the door because I’m so embarrassed by the clutter all over. I can’t decorate for any holidays or have anyone over. I’ve taken several falls over his stuff. It’s getting harder for both of us to climb stairs and we want to move into something on one floor,but with the way our house is we couldn’t list it or we would get nothing for it. In the past I’ve gotten angry with him and we fought but since I have to live with him I try not to bug him about it even though it’s making me very depressed when I think about all the things I’ve had to give up for his junk. What can I do to clear out our house so we can move somewhere safer and better for both of us? I’d like to live a normal life again. Help, sometimes I feel like I’m being buried alive.

  53. I think this advice column was written by someone who has not lived with a hoarder. The advice given will not work, because a) the hoarder will not be able to abide by the “shared space must be clutter free”, and b) the “room” given to the hoarder will soon be full, but they will continue to accumulate stuff. More importantly, th3 article ignores the psychological defense mechanisms that the hoarder will employ to avoid dealing with the problem, which will result in fights and blame and lashing out at people around them.

  54. Have to say I don’t feel any better knowing others share this problem. I do agree that the advice to be patient, get sheds, etc., is no help. No matter how much room you give them it isn’t enough and if they were willing to see someone and work on it, the problem is basically solved. The other solution recommended seems to be leave the relationship, which some of us cannot do for financial reasons or because we love and feel sorry for the hoarder. I think I am looking for ways to live with this. My own stuff is so minimal as a reaction to all my husband’s hoard of everything – I have 4 pairs of shoes period, for example, and zero interest in ever shopping, apart from food. I lost my job, which was my escape hatch where I had a nice neat office – a space I could fix the way I wanted it. I am 64 now, so I cannot get another job and now I am stuck with this depressed, cluttered house.

  55. I’ve lived with my husband, a hoarder, mostly books and magazines – everywhere. I’m ready to leave!! I can’t stand this any longer and now hate him! People are saying have patience as it is a disorder! No one thinks of the damage and stress it causes to the person/people living with them! I hope I have the guts to leave him with his mess!

  56. Apparently, hoarding is actually encouraged in some churches. My fiance grew up LDS and his mom buys a package of toilet paper, for example, every time she does her monthly shopping, even if we have at least one full unopened package at home. She’ll not even bother looking to see if we need something before she buys it, and then we end up with 3-4 of the exact same item. And when I get stressed out over all the mess, she prints out something from the LDS church and has my fiance talk to me about how they encourage everyone to have at least three months worth of necessities stocked up. But first of all, a lot of what she brings home aren’t necessities, and when she does buy things like food and other kitchen essentials, she just leaves them in grocery bags in the floor. She never checks expiration dates on food, but buys more of the same item so we’ll have moldy or expired food in the refrigerator and she’ll just put the new stuff in without clearing out the old. The other day, I spent several hours cleaning the refrigerator when it should’ve only taken 30 minutes. I’ve talked to her about needing counter space to cook, but she continues leaving things on the counter because she doesn’t want to take the time to put things in cupboards. When I first moved in, my fiance had one garbage can in the kitchen near the doorway because that’s where his shelf is where he makes his coffee and he kept it there to empty the coffee grounds into the trash. His mom would leave trash in the sink because she didn’t want to walk across the kitchen to throw it away. So when I moved in, I brought my own trash can from my kitchen and put it closer to where she’d work when she cooks, and she STILL leaves garbage in the sink or on the counter. She only moved in because his dad is having health problems, but I worry about him slipping on paper she leaves in the floor or tripping on something left in the narrow walking path from the living room to the kitchen/bathroom. Of course my fiance won’t make them move out because they’re worried about his dad needing help if his mom needs to go somewhere. And I don’t expect him to kick them out but I feel like he needs to set some boundaries and stick to them. He says it doesn’t bother him as much because he’s used to it, but he has also talked about how much he hates walking in dirt or finding garbage in the sink and he said before his parents moved in he kept it cleaner and more organized. But apparently it was still pretty messy even then. There was just not as much stuff. I think if we could actually get this house cleaned up and looking like a home is supposed to look, we’d all feel less anxious and less depressed. Not to mention physically healthier – my fiance has allergies and I think if we had less stuff, we could get better control of the dust and his allergies wouldn’t be as severe.

  57. It took me a long time to realize that I lived with a hoarder. My husband and I have two small children with special needs, and we couldn’t eat at our kitchen table for 7 years because he had to have a 2-foot high pile of stuff on it (it’s 6′ in diameter). I would clear it so our toddler could eat, he would get irate, build it back up again. Repeat, repeat. In 2017, we had people stop by the house before the Women’s March and we had to feed our guests lunch standing…because they couldn’t eat at our disgusting table. Now, our family can finally use the table because I told my husband ENOUGH, so I have that one small victory.

    But like everyone else here, our basement is full of his crap (dry-rotted furniture from relatives who died in the 1980s, etc), our garage is full of his crap, and we have two sheds…stuffed full of his crap. And we live on a small suburban lot in a wealthy suburb. Our son has tripped in the garage and ripped his knee open; he had to get stitches in his leg, all because he couldn’t make it through the garage. My husband STILL did not clean it out (his excuse for our son’s injury? “I cleared out paths and you wrecked them when you put stuff away in here”).

    Like others, I throw everything that I can away. He knows this and he digs through the trash, even going out to the street to “rescue” his garbage in full view of the neighbors. I know which dumpsters I can use near me that I can get away throwing stuff in; on days when he’s gone, I make trips to get rid of the garbage. He doesn’t even know most of it’s missing because there’s just.so.much. I just recently got rid of a Compaq computer–a freaking COMPAQ computer circa 1985! And just one of several old, broken computers in our basement. I have learned to shove small things inside potato chip bags and cracker boxes to hide them inside the trash, because if I don’t he can see his beloved items through the trash bag on the way to the can and he will get them out. (this has also taught me to triple-bag the trash) My husband has more coats and shoes than anyone in the house. He probably owns a hundred pairs of underwear and 200-300 pairs of socks. He can’t shut any of his drawers.

    I agree with other commenters: the person who wrote this blog has never lived with a hoarder. All this business about “don’t throw their stuff out or move it” is utter nonsense and completely disregards the anguish, distress and unsafe conditions that non-hoarders are forced to live with. The stress and anxiety of dealing with someone’s garbage–both literal and metaphorical–is almost unbearable. Forget “patience.” I literally laugh as I read that on this site and every other site. And honestly, I don’t even give a hoot at this point that it’s a mental disorder…compassion fatigue crept in 7 or 8 years ago.

    1. I can relate to this post. I have a son with a disability and just dealing with that alone is so much to handle it makes me even more upset that my wife would invite more stress into the relationship.

    2. Thank you so much for your post, I swear that I thought we were married to the same person. It’s extremely exhausting!

  58. I agree with most of the comments that I have read. While the hoarder may be suffering from OCD, as the wife of a hoarder I feel very disrespected. Both by my husband and the article. The fact that you can’t have people in over because it is so embarrassing. You can’t have work done on your house or your appliances because it is so embarrassing. You don’t celebrate holidays like other people do because of all the clutter. It is so bad where I live I’m resigned to living and eating in our bedroom because there is no place else. The only thing that isn’t cluttered is our bed. The bedroom is cluttered though, but that is where we live watch TV eat and sleep. How embarrassing! To have to live this way is very depressing, isolating. What about our anguish!!! I clicked on this article expecting help and advice. I found the article to be very misleading. Very upsetting when you’re looking for help.

    1. I also clicked it looking for help.

      I’m the male, totally opposite of hoarder, I’m more of a minimalist but my Mrs just keeps buying junk that clutters the house even more. Then takes it out on me that our house isn’t as nice as everyone else’s.

      The clutter is so disorganised we spend all our living time cleaning round things.

      Example. We have a bookcase in our living room with about 500 DVD’s but no longer possess a dvd player, but I’m not allowed to move them!!

      So so frustrating.

      1. Mike. It will not really get better. My partner is the same way. She brings home stuff that most people would discard, or give to goodwill, heck some of it is not goodwill worthy. In 20 years I have seen it get worse our house is not really functional anymore. She indicated that I can only change myself and not her, true. She said she will not change. Not for me or the kids. I have wasted 20 years of my life an mental health. Best of luck

    2. I agree with you Diane. I find it very dissapointing that everywhere I look for help it seems to always result in “be patient”. Like I haven’t already done that for so many damn years.

  59. My husband has to many items in our house, electronic record players stereos tube testesters a d many othereasons items he sells some on ebay and gets really
    Donates others but me his wife is frustrated which he knows he has to many things on his plate. It will be garden time e soon the iinside of house won’t be done. He knows how I feel. Help what can I d
    o

    1. The years sure pile up when they won’t throw anything away, & yell at you if you try touching it or moving it. It’s a control thing. He likes to keep complete control over what comes in & what goes out. He won’t help me work on the projects together. I want to clean, pick up, paint, fix, all I hear are reasons why it can’t get done, “not now, maybe tomorrow, soon, the weather” You name it , I’ve heard it.

  60. I am not an overly religious person, but after living with a hoarder for many years I can honestly say that these people (hoarders)are demon-possessed on some level. Give me a break. Live under their control (with the chaos, fifth and defiance) or get the heck out of Dodge. They are SICK!!!!

  61. These comments here are revealing. I have lived most of what is said here. Has made me miserable and hurt my life all around. I have done reading on this topic and reality is that hoarding is difficult to overcome and other problems plague hoarders usually. But in the end it has impacted my health all around for the worse. I am 57 now and 20 years has worn me out. Can’t imagine this for the rest of my life. Good luck to everyone who lives with a hoarder and how you personally come to terms in the long run. No one understands this problem unless you live it day in day out. Hoarders can’t be reasoned with through logic. I truly believe it is a mental disorder that also destabilizes the mental health of the bone hoarder partner.

  62. Please, When is it called just plain LAZINESS? There must be a fine line between the two. I have done everything, from beg, plead, even threatened to divorce! He will NOT take charge, & start cleaning! Everything is “something he is going to do” but it never gets done! I don’t want to be left with this mess! We can barely walk thru the basement right now. And a lot of things are still in the boxes they came in! This is a HUGE house he built, when he was young. We always said we’d sell in our later yrs.now, at 64, he says he’ll die here! I’ve been cleaning up after him for 45 years already!

  63. My husband is a serious hoarder. He cannot be in any space without creating clutter. Both of the back seats of his 2 trucks are filled with clutter. No one can sit in the back seat. Whenever we go grocery shopping we go in my car because there is no space to put anything. He said they were work trucks when he had a lawn service but he sold the business 2 years ago and refuses to clean out the trucks. There is still grass seeds, fertilizer, tools, and god knows what else is back there. Once there was grass growing on the floor of the truck from spilled grass seeds. He has three storage houses full of stuff in our back yard and also has the one attached to our house that is full of stuff. A couple of years ago we had our patio screened in and I thought that would be a place for me to sit since the whole back yard is filled with clutter. In 6 months he begin to clutter that area with all kinds of things on the patio table and in the chairs. When you look out there you can’t even see the patio furniture, it just looks like a storage area. I paid someone to clean it up once only for him to clutter it up again. He actually got angry with me for cleaning it up.I have asked him to clean it up several times and he told me he knows what he needs to do and to stop bugging him about it. It is all I can do inside of the house to keep things uncluttered. I am a neat freak and like everything clean and in place. He orders all kinds of things off of QVC and HSN and leaves boxes stacked everywhere and ask me not to move them because he plans to use them eventually and he will forget he has them. After a week I will tuck them away in a closet because I cannot stand it.Every closet I have is full of boxes of unused items that he never should have ordered and never use. Imagine someone ordering 16 tasers and 15 pepper sprays. He was ordering them for us and decided to order enough to give to other people. Well they are still in boxes. I have virtually nowhere to put my things. His things take up most of the space. I have a small walk in closet . He has even decided to hang his suits,ties,and shirts in my closet since the other three closets are filled with his boxes. His mother died six years ago and he brought her Jazzy scooter home and put it in one of our bedrooms. After 2 years I decided to make myself a diva den and asked him to move it. He had dismantled it piece by piece and said he was going to repair it when it only needed a battery. I put the seat in the closet and my brother and I brought the base of it to the family room and sat it on the edge of the fireplace hearth where I thought he would move it outside to one of the storage houses. It is still sitting on the fireplace hearth after 4 years. His excuse is that one of us may need it one day. He and my son cleaned out the attic some time ago when we had a new air conditioning unit installed and the installer put the unit in the attic. There was a dump truck full of boxes with invoice receipts in them dating back to 1987 of stuff he had order and not used. These are things I had placed in the attic to get them out of my living space. That day my dream house left in that dump truck! I keep the living space neat no matter how much he fuss about me moving things. I will not live like that. He is stubborn as all get out. I am so tired of dealing with his mess after 54 years of marriage. I just don’t understand his madness! I should have left years ago but thought he would get better. If he passes away before I do , I will have the dubious task of getting rid of all of this stuff. I shutter to think about it. The money he leaves me will be spent getting rid of worthless stuff.

  64. I thought I had problems with my husband but some of you ladies have far worse to contend with. I no longer feel ‘alone’.

  65. OhMy! So today is the day I decided to fast and pray for my husband of 48 years. His first day of retirement…and looked up on internet ways to pray for him. Came across this article and am shocked…he is and has been a hoarder all the years of our life. Causing a rift in our marriage…he says I am a nagger and complainer…yes, to clean-up after himself…Oh Lord. every comment from readers choke me up, that’s been my life. I have been so blind that it was hoarding. Thank you for the resource. Praying now that I can help him. Please pray for Rod and I. Thank you.

  66. I have a similar story to the others with my wife as the hoarder. I ended the marriage a few years ago after 15 years. I have thought about it all a lot since. A very lot! It is fair enough that the psychologists write from the point of view of their patient, that is their job. But you are a person too.
    My opinion is that there is no hope for a marriage with the hoarder. You can’t have have a marriage when one partner will never compromise on an issue that is making the other one so unhappy. Also the fact that they do not even acknowledge the problem has an effect of cruel gaslighting for the long suffering partner. For so many years, you are so unhappy, but you also doubt yourself because they single-mindedly fight you so strongly. You worry, “Is it really that bad? Didn’t we marry for better or worse?”.
    Yes, people will judge you if you leave the marriage. The hoarding partner will still not understand at all. They will probably tell people how terrible you are for leaving them (and people may agree with them). You will probably also judge yourself in the bad moments.
    However, my advice from the other side would be to leave and make a life for yourself. You are a person too! You are allowed to have a life. Go. It will probably be hard, but you deserve a chance for a better life. Good luck 🙂

  67. I showed my husband patience and compassion for many years. It doesnt work. I should have known early on when I came home one day and he had erected a working out machine in the bedroom that should have been in a gym! That was the start.Living in a 1st floor two bedroom flat added to the stress.Requests to move clutter was met with resistance and unfortunately one day I snapped and threw clutter out the window. My mental health was badly impacted too.

    1. I am always decluttering my partner clutter. I try not to give up. I Clean and I throw staff when I can . He really doesn’t know how much he has. My holidays and free time is for that. Sometimes you want to leave him. I get sometimes anxiety when I de clutter and he brings more staff.I put things away and throw o take to charity later. I Don’t feel guilty for it.And take time to do other things to be happy. Sad situation for all us.

  68. I’m in exactly the same boat and getting more frustrated by the day. I don’t know what to do but I’m running out of patience fast. My husband just complains I’m nagging him and unreasonable and offers to pay for a cleaner – a cleaner won’t help with the 28 pairs of shoes on our bedroom floor or the 33 shirts and 20 suits hanging in the wardrobe, or the piles of clothes he has bought and never worn that I can’t even chuck out… Or the 8 stereos or the 1000 plus DVDs…. FML

  69. It is terrible and it is ruining my life. Bottomline, she doesn’t care no matter how I approach the issue. Of course I love her and in strong moments I tell her and myself I rather live with her and her mess than without her and without her mess, but eventually it really gets to me again and the conflict reemerges. I am 60 now, invested 28 years in our marriage, three kids and only because of this hoarding thing I am ending up alone, divorced with feelings of guilt that I ran and didn’t fight to safe the marriage more and on the other side intens regret that I have wasted my life.

  70. All the comments sound so familiar. Hoarders do gaslight as I read in a previous post. I think if MAYBE in the beginning(we’ve been married 47 years) you refused to live with any of their excess might help a little but in all honesty a hoarder is a hoarder and it runs deep. My house looks clean and even minimal BUT we have an unused bedroom and he constantly tries to fill it up! It is a constant fight to keep him from hoarding up the entire house. Our storage shed is busting at the seams. I won’t even get in his truck(really can’t it’s so full) and talk about nasty! Mine probably doesn’t sound that bad because the house is livable but it’s a constant draining fight. I’m just worn out. I have to constantly clean out because he brings so much in. He tries to hoard everything we have. Yard,sheds,vehicles. If he uses my vehicle when I go to use it he has stuffed extra napkins,handfuls of salt packet,ketchup, canned goods from a food pantry(like we don’t have money and food?) you name it. I just pick them all up and through them away. Talk about a strain on your mental health I don’t even want a napkin in my vehicle anymore. With him 1 leads to 10 leads to 100! As I said so exhausting! The needless work I do. Trust me I do understand all too well.If I would have realized early on what I was dealing with would have left.

  71. Reading each post made me cry because that’s my life. I could drop the mortgage payment drastically but the appraiser needs to be able to access all rooms. The garage floor is waist deep which he says he needs to rent a pod so he can sort it out. I wanted to rent a dumpster but that’s a battle I can’t win since nothing in there is trash although he walks on top of it. We’ve been paying a storage unit for years plus he has 2 storage sheds filled in the back yard plus the back yard, front & side of the house is embarrassingly cluttered. I continually fight for the rest of the inside of the house. I can’t have friends over for dinner. I can’t sit outside. I couldn’t have my mom over before she passed. I don’t know how to help my husband. I feel hopeless, sad & defeated.

  72. It’s about 3am in Beautiful Hawaii. I’ve been sitting up reading these comments & feeling everyone’s pain. It’s been 40 years living with a hoarder & it doesn’t get better. My husband retired prematurely & took over the entire house. It’s the battle that’s exhausting & we are not living, we’re struggling to live. Hoarding is a mental illness & it doesn’t go away, it’s simply not going away! Sadly, a lot of us have invested a lifetime of patience, understanding, compassion
    & reason so the hoarder can continue to live exactly the way they want to. For the rest of us, we continue to clear pathways so we won’t fall. We continue to deal with this mess until we accept the fact that we are truly stuck until we have to courage to leave it all behind and start anew. Best wishes everyone.

  73. I at least feel like I am not alone. There are many degrees or hoarding and I can be thankful in some ways. I have watched hoarders with my husband and he say wow. But does not see that he is close to that. If I would give in we could be on the show. I am 60 married over 35 years and feel bad for the money and time we have wasted. I will stay and only hope I can keep it at bay so that my boys don’t have to clean it all up when we are gone. Everyone has too much in my opinion. I ish we could have a less materialistic society!

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