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Husband is a pack rat

Moms View Message Board: Get Organized: Husband is a pack rat
By Emily7 on Sunday, April 18, 2004 - 06:28 pm:

One of my new favorite shows is Clean Sweep on TLC, my husband hates it. We just moved & we moved 9 boxes of books. I have gotten rid of a lot of stuff, but husband refuses to. Does any one have a suggestions on how to get him to get rid of stuff. I am having a yard sale in June, but short of sending him out of town & selling some of it I don't know what else to do.

By Coopaveryben on Sunday, April 18, 2004 - 10:13 pm:

I love that show too. Does he have any book shelves? If you got a book shelf and asked him to please put only what will fit and to get rid of the rest?

I used to have a boyfriend in high school, his parents were the biggest pack rats I have ever seen. It took him 2 years to work up the nerve to take me into his house because they were so bad. They had boxes everywhere, I don't understand the point~ you couldn't find it if you wanted it and you can't enjoy the space you live in because it is so cluttered.

I am in the process of downsizing myself, I am tired of cleaning so much because we have so much stuff we don't need and the kids pull it all out.

By Feona on Monday, April 19, 2004 - 07:43 am:

If you have any ideas, I am interested too. I keep telling him we will have to move him out to store all his junk but he doesn't listen. There really is no room.

By Ladypeacek on Monday, April 19, 2004 - 11:51 am:

I just laughed when i read this! My dh is the same way, Now i know most people have something they like to collect ut my dh collects coke stuff, trains, lighthouses, racing stuff, hot wheels, and civil war stuff. GEEZ!!! I collect bells. All my stuff takes up ONE shelf while his takes up the house!! I always wanted to decorate my house but it was SOO hard to do with all his junk. When i met him he actually had coca cola folders HANGING ON THE WALLS!!! YUCK!!!! Well he went to the desert for 3 months and his stuff was gone when he came back, What was still nicely taken care of i kept and packed up but the majority was yucky i threw out. I threw out over 200 cans of exploded coke! And everytime i clean i sneak a few more things out. He had so much he doesn't even notice its gone!

By Momaroze on Monday, April 19, 2004 - 01:51 pm:

I was to embarrassed to post. Thank goodness there are some ladies on moms view with the same problem. I don't know why I always think "I am the only one"! I had a box of stuff to give away all boxed up and ready to go. Nope, dh got ahold of it and lord knows where it is at now. Stored somewhere around here, outside I'm sure. I...secretly box things up and bring it to goodwill now. As far as what I consider JUNK, my ds said "mom just put it underneath all the garbage in the garbage cans". Now why didn't I think of that, really.

Try getting rid of some of dh's "stuff" little by little, you know the stuff that he will never use and does not need. We know better than they. I am betting he will not notice! Good luck! I am on a mission of getting rid of stuff too but it's taking me along time (I have to sneak LOL). P.S. If he keeps telling you that he is one day going to yard sale his stuff DON'T BELIEVE HIM. If he tells you that those blankets, and old ratty towels are great to cut up to use for rags but he already has a box car full of them ....well you know what to do. :)

I have put up with my dh's pack ratting for over 10 years now, long enough. I have learned that even though the "stuff" is organized (sp), you still can't find anything because you either forget where it has been put, or can't get to what you want as in my case, the stuff, in the stacked up boxes! LOL

I would love to hear more on this subject!

By Emily7 on Monday, April 19, 2004 - 01:51 pm:

So I should slowly empty the house out? Just take a few things out that he hasn't seen in a while.

By Momaroze on Monday, April 19, 2004 - 02:01 pm:

I just read your post Kenna, good for you. It's true though isn't it, you really do have to sneak things out. Not sentimental stuff, or work related, or something he uses and needs just plain stuff he is never going to use or miss. If he does mention something down the road like an old book of some sort well, by then you won't remember that you got rid of it anyway! Truthfully my dh has not missed anything so far.

I could only wish "clean sweep" would come to my house. I do have a hard time parting with stuff too but am slowly releasing alot of my things and feeling better for it. I think men are different, clutter doesn't seem to bother most like it bothers us? Not speaking for all of course.

By Momaroze on Monday, April 19, 2004 - 02:09 pm:

Emily, yes. Slowly is a good idea. Put the stuff in boxes and put it away for awhile (closet, outdoors wherever) if your not comfortable with getting rid of it right away. Then a month down the road or whenever you are comfortable, yard sale it or give it away. You know yourself what he needs, uses, doesn't use, never will use again.....that is what I would do I certainly don't want you to get into major crap over getting rid of his stuff. I think we all know what our dh's need/use/is sentimental to them individually. At least, I do. Best wishes!

By Emily7 on Monday, April 19, 2004 - 04:44 pm:

My husband decided to surprise me by coming home for lunch. He snuck up behind me & read the post and said,"You better not do that". After jumping through the computer screen, I told him I wouldn't. I lied!!! I figure I will give it a week or two & then start. Is that wrong???

By Tink on Monday, April 19, 2004 - 05:47 pm:

Not as far as I'm concerned! If he's been saying that he "would go through it someday" or "sell it next summer" he's been lying to you, and maybe himself. I have to do the same thing with my DH. Kenna, have we married the same man? I hate clutter and don't collect anything but dh collects it all! He doesn't just keep the best stuff, or the most valuable, or the stuff that means the most to him, he keeps it all! I just get rid if it 1 or 2 things at a time. It's taking me a long time, but I'm getting rid of more than he's bringing in and that's progress.

By Momaroze on Monday, April 19, 2004 - 09:23 pm:

Emily oh no! Was he able to read all the postings? Well, I'm sorry but you have a right to a clutter free home too LOL. I'm not going to say anymore, you are on your own here. Definately your decision. I can tell you what I would do, and that would be exactly what I've been doing all along. Sneak it out! LOL

Today,I packed up a box to take to goodwill, just some of my ds's clothing and the odd toy etc.... nothing of my dh's because he is home today. Well my dh walks by and tells me to pull all the t'shirts out because he can cut them up for rags...RAGS as mentioned above, he has a use for everything. I understand he is a mechanic and needs/uses "rags" often, but he has more than enough. I took the odd T'shirt out and put it into the marked bag that he gave me. I'm just shaking my head right now. I also wanted to donate my ds's car wash (he's grown out of it) but dh said no keep it for the yard sale! Yeah right, the yard sale. We have so much stuff to "yard sale" already. I would have to spend the entire summer having yard sales. I would not mind doing that but I have a 5 month old! and 2 other ds's. Besides I would like to give to the less fortunate because we have so much already. Oh well, I still will. Keep us posted.

By Ladypeacek on Tuesday, April 20, 2004 - 04:18 am:

well my dh never noticed when he came back after 3 months that half his stuff was missning LOL! If i come across things that look to be of sentimental value i put in box clearly marked memories! That way if he wants to share with the kids he can pull out ONE box and there ya go. I have dedicated the kitchen for coca cola and we have display case in there for his coca cola things that are of value and nicely taken care of (BY ME!!) His trains that were not broken are now wrapped nicely in a a plastic storage container for when we have room to have them out!!

By Emily7 on Tuesday, April 20, 2004 - 10:11 am:

No he didn't see all the postings just my would be reponse to them. He wanted to read the rest & I told him "no".
I have every intention of cleaning out his stuff. This has been a going on for years. I have a very extensive salt & pepper collection as well as a Campbell Soup collection that I have no room for. It has been stored away until the yard sale. These were important to me at one time, but we have no place to display them now.
I want to be able to find room for my children, not junk. Posters of Paula Abdul, before American Idol, what does he need that for. Or those stupid 3-d pictures that had other things hidden in them. In the 9 years that we have been together they have not left the box.
If he can get them to his Moms house before I get rid of them, then kudos to him. But he has meaning to store the stuff at his Moms since we find out we were pregnant in 1996!!!
Sorry for venting!

By Momaroze on Tuesday, April 20, 2004 - 06:40 pm:

Yeah it's amazing what some people keep. Paula Abdul posters! Good luck. I would love to know how things work out for you!

By Hol on Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - 04:53 pm:

I've been reading these posts with interest. In our house, we are BOTH pack rats. I USED to be neat as a pin, and a minimalist. I grew up that way. However, DH has ALWAYS been a slob. When we were married, 36 years ago, we had NOTHING. However, thirty years in the military, he kept EVERYTHING! Awards, certificates, shadow boxes with his medals, uniforms, regulation manuals, correspondence courses, you name it. He's been retired 8 years, and we still have four pairs of combat boots in the basement, and about four briefcases in the attic.
NOW, he's into SPORTS memorabilia. Plaques, framed pictures, clocks, blanket throws. My house is decorated like a club house. If I say anything, he reminds me that HE is the breadwinner.
It used to be, that if there was an empty space, he would PUT something there. Bookshelf, table top. His stuff would start to ENCROACH in every nook and cranny of our small house. The only way that I could combat this, was to put my OWN belongings there. I have mostly books and craft items. I HATE living like this, but if I didn't stake out my territory, he'd have his stuff everywhere.
He hangs jackets on the backs of chairs, belts on doorknobs. He will go to Walmart and buy fishing tackle, etc. and hang the bag on the back of the chair and leave it there. It USED to drive me nuts, but I just lowered my standards so I wouldn't kill him. He takes up an activity or sport, and buys EVERY item that you could possibly have for that activity. When he is sick of it, it goes in the basement. Our basement gets water in the Spring, so I make sure that MY stuff is all stored up high. Just last week, I went downstairs, and I found a bag of miscellaneous items of mine sitting in the water, because he had moved it to make room for his. I was FURIOUS!
He always says "WE need to clean things out", but what he means is, "We need to get rid of YOUR stuff". I would like to make a clean sweep, because we are getting older, and I don't want to leave a nightmare for our kids to deal with. However, if I get rid of MY stuff, he'll buy MORE!
I am a sentimental saver. I save letters and items that my kids made. After we lost our oldest DS, HIS possesions became very precious. I even saved some of his clothes.
So, I guess the point that I am making is, DON'T get rid of your DH's possesions. NO ONE has the right to do that to anyone else, even a spouse. I would be SO mad if he did that to my stuff. Only that person knows what is precious to them.
And, if he's thrifty, and reuses items, such as shirts to rags, good for him! I cut buttons off items, and take zippers out of clothes that I am throwing away. They can always be reused. I use junk mail to write shopping lists, etc. Our landfills wouldn't be so full if Americans weren't so wasteful.
So, give the guys a break. LOL!

By Hol on Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - 04:58 pm:

As I sit here typing, I have the following items on the desk that belong to DH: the chemicals for his outdoor fish pond, his chamois that he uses to dry the car, his binoculars, and three cans of pineapple juice that he uses to make his favourite mixed drink, a "Pearl Harbour". LOL!

By Momaroze on Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - 08:48 pm:

LOL Oh my! You do have a great point about re-using stuff, I do it all the time too, that is a good thing. I guess when I see a nice t'shirt I don't have the heart to tear it up into rags like my dh does. I want it to go to someone who needs it.

How long did it take for you to adjust? I cannot stand clutter, honestly it stresses me to no end. Believe me my dh has every outbuilding full of metal scraps, boxes full of stuff etc....He even has his own storage room. I just don't want 1970's sweatshirts, brand new pants that he bought years ago that I KNOW he will never wear....stuff like that and if he had a Paula Abdul poster that would be gone too! Ancient books that have no essence, old health books (outdated), work shirts that our now way to small for him to ever wear again. He still has a few in his closet, just the nice ones. He will never wear them again but... LOL Our house is way too small to keep everything, we are raising 3 boys and have to make room for their stuff. If I had a basement it would not bother me that much. I like, no love junk drawers and even junk rooms are fine, but that is if you have the extra rooms to do that. He has nicely boxed up many of my things, we had lots of our own stuff before we got married. My stuff is put away somewhere, as far as I know? LOL

I have to give you alot of credit.....your dh should be very proud of you!!

By Momaroze on Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - 09:02 pm:

Holly, I can't help but laugh reading your post. You both must be great people. Sounds like you are very down to earth so to speak. I like to think of myself that way but maybe I'm off a little LOL. Seriously though, I really can't tell Emily or anyone else what to do about their dh's "stuff" I can only speak for myself, obviously I know what my dh will truly never miss if I packed it off somewhere. And I reeeaaally do understand about not having the right to get rid of someone elses stuff but my ds's will have to move into the barn if I don't do something about it LOL! Today I went through my nick nacks and boxed them up too. I don't know if I like the look of my living room now. It seems so bare....My dh says I like the gramma look. Well, Maybe I am becoming like him. I might have to go unbox some of that stuff?

By Hol on Thursday, April 22, 2004 - 09:16 am:

Lynn- I laughed reading YOUR posts! I know what you mean about not having enough room for the kids. LOL!
I don't know how long it took me to adjust. I think I just kind of EVOLVED over 36 years. I HAD to, to preserve my sanity.
I confess, that I DID get rid of something that he had once. It was a mirror from the seventies, with a picture of Linda Ronstad on it. I couldn't stand HER, or the mirror, so it went. LOL! (shades of Paula Abdul).
I don't throw out GOOD clothes either. I donate them to a good cause. I try to recycle or donate anything that we can't use, rather than toss them. Wasting good items makes me sick. If it's an old t shirt or night shirt, I do tear it up for rags, because it's usually pretty thin by then. Men's t shirts make great dust rags. (So did old cloth diapers, but it's been MANY years since we've had any of those).
I guess that we are pretty down to earth. What you see is what you get, with us. Two years ago, we opened our home to two teen-aged brothers, and adopted them. Our daughter was 29 at the time, and our oldest son WOULD have been 26. He passed away in 1997. We had been just the two of us for 8 years, and had moved into every corner of our house. Our home is small, too. I made our daughter's room into a guest room/sewing room. Hubby took over Dan's room, and made a den, that turned out to be more his catch all room. When we got ready for the boys to move in, I did some scrambling to make the two rooms into bedrooms again.
Clutter unsettles me, too, at times. In fact, I just ordered the FlyLady's book from Amazon. However, short of moving my husband out to the shed, I don't hold out much hope. LOL!

By Hol on Thursday, April 22, 2004 - 09:25 am:

I know what you mean about the Gramma look. I used to wonder why my Grandmas had knick knacks and candy dishes everywhere. Now I know that it's because you AQUIRE these items over the years, and you hate to pack them away, because life is short. You might as well enjoy them.

By Kalensmom on Thursday, April 22, 2004 - 10:42 am:

My dh is the same! We have so many things in our house that we never use, but he refusing to part with it...because we MAY need it sometime! We have a thing for lifting up a car to change a tire...but we don't EVEN HAVE A CAR!


I love clean sweep....would love them to come to my house...but I think my dh would KILL me if I ever volunteered! :P

By John on Monday, April 26, 2004 - 12:48 pm:

I think a lot of the problem is one of perspective...

My treasures are my wife's version of junk and vice versa.

Is a sewing machine that someone hasn't used in 10 years a piece of junk?

Is a knitting kit with balls of yarn that someone bought 10 years ago and never used a piece of junk?

Are science and chemistry textbooks occupying one shelf of a bookcase junk?

Is artwork your son made when he was 2 years old junk?

It's important to understand that the things that are important to a person (or represent important moments in their lives) CANNOT be identified by another.

Of course I'm not talking about people collecting things from the garbage! If someone has an obsessive collecting problem then they need to get mental help of course...

By Emily7 on Monday, April 26, 2004 - 01:41 pm:

Okay his stuff may not be junk. How important is it though if he is willing to trade it for 5 golf games, $50.00, a new 1/2 inch cordless drill ect. That is my solution to just getting rid of it...bribery!

By Momaroze on Monday, April 26, 2004 - 04:51 pm:


(speaking for myself)

No, no, no, that is not the kind of stuff "I" am talking about. It's mostly the "things" that can be replaced in a heart beat. Things that I know 100% has no meaning. Dh has his own drawer and area where he keeps his "special" items and I would never toss anything pre-us either. Well, maybe a Paula Abdul poster though :)

Seriously though, how many boxes can a person keep. Rags, cans for nails that he may need one day. He already has enough cans, now he is collecting my Formula cans...really. I am seriously not going to let him have them all, I am already overly generous with them. He has most of his clothes from 20 yrs. ago, and yes that is pre me, but I know these clothes have no meaning. How about ashtrays, he doesn't smoke anymore, I can't imagine what kind of memory that would hold looking at an ashtray. Yes, I kept one just in case we have a smoker come for a visit. Old hotel towels, pre-me, yes, they are gone, I wonder why? LOL

I can't speak for everyone else but I think most or all of us....DO know 100%, what is of true value to our dh's. We are not talking about going through his things randomly and tossing whatever to suit our needs. I would never want him to do that to my stuff.

I have to give my dh credit because alot of his "junk" metal scraps, rubber this and that etc...has served him well when working around the house, building etc.....He can do just about any job....This stuff is at least stored outside.

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