Guest Blogger,  Housekeeping

What to Do When You’re Married to a Pack Rat

Special Note: This article is part of an intentional home series by Davonne Parks. To view the rest of the articles in this series, go here.

A reader once emailed in and asked me the following question:

“I want nothing more than to declutter and simplify but my husband is a pack-rat of epic proportions and absolutely refuses to let go of anything at all. We live in a very small home with very limited storage space so I definitely need advice!” – Sue

Since I know some of you are dealing with a similar situation, I want to share the answer I gave her:

Sue, I feel your pain! My husband used to be a little bit the same way – he didn’t think our possessions were hurting anything so he wanted to keep everything, “Just in case.” He’s come a really long way, but it’s taken some time!

Here are a few suggestions for how help your husband work through his pack-rat tendencies:

1) Donate your own things first

Even if you don’t have a lot extra and he has a ton, get rid of some of your own things before asking him to get rid of his extra stuff! After-all, you probably wouldn’t want him to hang onto all of his own things while simultaneously suggesting that you take your treasured items to Good Will!

2) Kindly tell him how you feel

Don’t talk about this when your husband is stressed or tired or distracted – choose a good time. Say something like, “Honey, I love you and I’m glad I married you. I want to make our home a nice, warm, calming environment for us to relax in, but right now that’s hard for me to do because I just don’t have enough places to put all of our things. I’d like to pick out a few items to donate to someone in need. Would that be okay with you?”

3) Listen to his concerns

Don’t belittle him for feeling the way he feels. Most of the time when someone has a hard time letting items go, there’s a deeper emotional issue. Sometimes it was simply the example their parents set. Other times there may have been a traumatic event such as a divorce, house fire, or death that caused a sudden unexpected loss of possessions.  Take time to get to the heart of the issue.

4) Think of a temporary solution

Trying to declutter my home was a little frustrating at times because I knew we didn’t need something, but my husband wasn’t ready to part with it. Our solution was one closet where I could put things I came across that I thought we could get rid of but I knew he’d want to keep. It took a few years (and a very full closet) before he was ready to clean it out, but at least the items were out of my way during that long wait!

{When my husband was ready, it only took us 5 hours to clear out 19 bags worth of things that had built up in his closet!}

5) Choose patience

Just as we want others to love and accept us how we are, we need to love our husbands how they are, pack-rat tendencies and all! He won’t grow out of this overnight, so be patient and kind as he slowly works on himself.

“…The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” Ecclesiastes 7:8, NKJV

6) Never make things “disappear”

There are women who will make things “disappear” when their husbands aren’t looking – I don’t recommend this! It’s like slapping a band-aid on the actual problem and it also weakens trust in the relationship. Instead, follow the other five steps and pray that God will soften your husband’s heart about your desire to have a welcoming home.

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Personal Thought/Application Question: What tips do you have for someone who is dealing with clutter their spouse doesn’t want to part with?

Davonne Parks believes that your role at home is valuable and she wants to help you thrive in your environment. Click here to receive immediate access to the FREE printable library she created just for you.

2 Comments

  • Dean S

    My wife is the packrat in our home. Our 2700sq ft house is packed with stuff. We also have 2 10ft by 12 sheds, 24 by 24 garage and 2 10 by 24ft storage units full of stuff.

    We are cleaning out her parents house ( it is 5 hours away) and instead of getting rid of unwanted stuff there, my wife wants to get more storage units and bring it all here to sort out.

    I am at the end of my rope. Nobody needs all this crap. We moved here 8 years ago and have not opened most of the boxes we brought.

    Did I mention her parents were very well off and have a 7000+ sq ft house.

    Here dad was a horder as well. Their house is large enough that the baeement hld most of the crap so you never had to deal with it.

  • Deb

    I just make sure that my side.of the bedroom us clean clutter free and just pllane nice. That way I’m in control of me….I cant make him get rid of anything. FAIR.. of course not but this is my.Debladt resort