I am thirty years old and married to a well-known sculptor who is twenty-five years older than I am. He’s very talented and eccentric, not always easy to be with. For him it is a second marriage and I suspect the former wife left him for the same reasons I’m having trouble with him. He is a hoarder. I’m not allowed in his studio (no one is, except the cleaning lady unless he has a visit from a gallery director). I keep the house extremely neat and clutter free — at least that’s my goal. I run a small home graphic design business and I need things to be organized and tidy in order to function. We own a house in the Hudson River Valley. My husband travels a lot and keeps bringing stuff home with him — books, clothing, souvenirs, artwork and prints, exotic jewelry, feathers and fans, old handbags and briefcases, dishes, silverware, glassware — basically anything that pleases his eye. All this stuff gets put into boxes which he piles in towers all over the house. This has been going on for years. I didn’t notice at first because it was so gradual, every week a few new items from trips to the city or second hand stores in outlying towns. We now have two rooms in the house, the guest bedroom and dining room that one can’t really enter because they are filled floor-to-ceiling with boxes. If I try and talk to my husband about the situation he acts like he doesn’t know what I’m talking about (or like I’m just being stupid and childish). It’s become a very sensitive topic and I don’t know how to handle it. Can you please help? I love my husband but feel like I’m at my wit’s end. I forgot to tell you that he’s Romanian by birth and grew up in a household that had experienced a lot of shortages.
All the best,
Married to a Hoarder
Dear Married to a Hoarder,
Well, I’m going to keep this short and sweet. Unless you have a lot of patience and are willing to devote a large portion of the rest of your life to your husband’s problem, you are unlikely to have success. Please do some research on hoarding. It is a mental condition related to obsession-compulsion disorders and needs professional treatment. Most often the sufferer has no idea there’s anything weird about his/her habits, even though the evidence is right there in front of him. Put simply, he needs these objects he’s hoarding for his mental and emotional well being, and nothing is going to stop him. You can hire a professional organizer to clear out all his towers of boxes, but, unless he has serious therapy, the whole problem will start all over again. If he were to even let an organizer in the house. You could also consider a family intervention. As you said, this is probably the reason his first wife left him. So my suggestion to you is to think very carefully and decide if you can live with your husband and his encroaching mess or not, because this is a problem that’s not going away for a long time, if ever. Sorry I can’t be more positive.
All the best to you,
REACTIONS TO MOTHER OF A TRANSSEXUAL CHILD
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Disclaimer: CD Knowles is not a doctor or psychotherapist. Any opinions expressed on Knowles Knows are just that — opinions.