A cohabiting couple struggles to unpack their ‘stuff’

Dear Amy: I am a middle-aged man. My fiancée recently moved in with me.

My family has had storage issues for generations. Long before Marie Kondo and intrusive television, I was medicating and dealing with this successfully.

I got rid of many rubbish of my grandparents’ things, in order to have living space in my inherited home.

My possessions bring me joy.

I specialize in design and have a lot of experience working with clients in their own homes.

I understand that hoarding is an obsessive-compulsive disorder, but I also see hoarding as a major problem. I was inside houses that were almost empty because of this.

While visiting a friend who was downsizing, I realized how unsettling things, boxes, and clutter had created my fiancée. We had to end the visit early because she was so anxious!

When she’s stressed, she’ll “cleanse” things and sometimes buy other things, only to give them back or give them away. Some of the things I hold most dear are “disappeared”.

I make room for her in our house (by removing my stuff) and she leaves it empty, but then she complains that there is no room for her things.

We don’t have pictures or artwork on our bedroom walls because the visual mismatch makes her anxious and restless.

If something isn’t used now (even if it’s needed or useful later), it’s deprecated.

She donated an old, occasionally used kitchen appliance, then bought another on the same day.

I’m not sure how to help her (or keep my stuff), as she says I need help with “storage”.

Please raise awareness of compulsive elimination.

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How can I defend decisions when I’m “hoarding” useful/needed/cherished things?

– R

Dear R: Several years ago, I sarcastically suggested that de-cluttering expert Marie Kondo had a compulsive disorder (sending many to the landfill!). Then earlier this year, Ms. Kondo announced that the quest for tidy perfection had taken up too much space in her life, and that she was now reprioritizing in her quest for more balance.

Compulsive hoarding is similar to compulsive hoarding, where intense anxiety and compulsions drive an obsessive desire to remove “things.” People who suffer from this will get rid of things they will need later, replace the item, and then remove it as well. So yes, according to your description, your fiancee may be experiencing some version of this.

But she moved to “your” house. Like every cohabiting couple, you will have to negotiate the issue of combining your assets and come up with a lifestyle that both of you can manage.

It is essential that she feels comfortable and secure in her home.

Since you both have opposing styles — and are quick to label each other as seriously disruptive — it will be important to sit down with a couples therapist who can help you arrange, rearrange, and unpack the large baggage you bring together. in this relationship.


Dear Amy: I must admit I am often impressed with how you approach questions about addiction, and wonder how you gained such insight.

I hope it’s not too personal, but I’m curious.

– curious

Dear Stranger: Addiction is an issue that I have studied extensively. Fortunately, I don’t have personal experience with addiction, but the relationship problems that addiction causes are devastating, and it’s important to understand them.

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(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or message Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @employee or Facebook.)

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