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!
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.
You may also like:
- When Your House is Just too Small
- 5 Ways to Create Peace about Chores in Your Marriage
- The Most Important Thing to Remember This Year (written in 2015, but still relevant today)
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.