Home Forums Challenges Sentimental Clutter Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

This topic contains 50 replies, has 23 voices, and was last updated by  RebeccaL 6 years, 8 months ago.

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  • #159997

    Sethanas
    Member

    I stumbled on this forum looking for ways to break my wife of her sentimental connection with seemingly everything in the house. I need help. I suppose I should preface this with a few things, though.

    I grew up as an Air Force brat, was in the Air Force myself, was subject to frequent room inspections in ROTC, and came into our marriage able to pack up all my worldly possessions in one car load in a Dodge Neon. My parents were very much the ‘clean up your own mess’ mentality, and paid me for the chores I did. As such I try to be a clean, just get it done kind of person. I am extremely passive aggressive yet hate confrontation and arguments. I will give up a fight in a heartbeat to stop the uncomfortable feelings.

    My wife grew up with a family that more or less treated her like an indentured servant. All stuff in the house was more communally owned, and she being the eldest was charged with cleaning nearly everything. She received little to no allowance for the work. Thanks to her domineering mother, she has conditioned herself to either flat out refuse or do the exact opposite if told to do something. When we began our marriage it took my Dodge Neon, a Chevy Tahoe, and an attached Uhaul trailer three trips to get all of her stuff. We were married 11 years this past June.

    She claims she wants to be clean, but is also scatter brained and has many, many hobbies that require lots of space (sewing, jewelry crafting, metalworking, spattering of woodworking and painting). I’m a gamer and dabble in leatherworking. Don’t need a lot of space. This doesn’t bother me, but the fact that projects are left scattered all over the house and never picked up, for months at a time, does. Any flat surface in our house has at least a handful of items from ribbon and thread to needles, makeup, forgotten papers, etc. Shelves have piles of magazines that are never read, art books collecting dust, and fairy figurines and flower sculptures never dusted and never set out. Countertops are mail to be sorted, dead plants she can’t keep alive (and I refuse to do anything with). The stairs have piles of stuff that ‘needs to be taken up,’ the hallway at the top of the stairs is lined with stuff that needs to be sorted, yet it all just sits there. Our front foyer is edged in piles of shoes.

    I can’t confront her because I hate fighting and she will either start crying or put up her wall and refuse. She considers all of it ‘our stuff,’ and I see the piles as ‘her stuff.’ I did not purchase it, I don’t use it: It isn’t mine.

    She is extremely sentimental. She can pull any piece of clothing out of her closet that she did not purchase and tell you exactly who got it for her and why. She has a full collection of angels (one for every year of her life until 21) her grandmother gave her that are sitting in the pile of boxes that extends floor to ceiling in our study. Who knows what else is in that pile. It’s been there since we moved in. Unhung paintings, dolls from her childhood. . .too much stuff.

    Any time we agree to go through some boxes we cannot compromise because I’m sick of it and want to trash it all, and she insists on keeping or donating nearly everything (even things like decorative tea candles and floral foam). I ask her if we need pretty much every item I pull out of a box because most of it hasn’t been touched in four years. I can’t unpack solo because I don’t know where she wants her stuff and can’t get rid of anything without running it past her first.

    I feel imprisoned in my own home. I basically have my chair in the living room (though she’s slowly taking over my small side table with her stuff), and my desk in the office. We have walk space in our bedroom, the rest is boxes and piles of her clothes.

    There are some things I’d never ask her to get rid of, such as a carefully preserved set of bed sheets that still smell like her sister who died at a very young age of Leukemia. It’s in a box. Somewhere.

    I really don’t know what to do. She’s now 6 months pregnant (our first after a very, very difficult three years of trying due to some medical issues), and we’re packing to move into a new home. I want to sort and get rid of at least half of our stuff, as our original move here from Texas forced us to downsize from 2600 square feet (full and lightly cluttered) to 1700 square feet (bursting at the seams). Our new place is a little bigger, but not significantly. I don’t want stray needles and pins and cluttered shelves and piles of stuff everywhere with a newborn. The prospect of trying to convince a pregnant, stubborn-as-a-mule, sentimental wife to declutter is daunting, to say the least.

    I love her to death, but she can be a real bear to live with sometimes πŸ˜‰ Appreciate the help.

  • #217107

    djk
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    Welcome, Sethanas!

    Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of practical advice to offer, but I would like to wish you good luck!

    That said, some suggestions which come to mind:

    Confrontation is hard, but I do believe you need to set boundaries over shared space. Tears never killed anyone–you might have to put up with some.
    Is there a space in the house which can be solely hers to clutter up as much as she wants? If you could assign a room just for her things, and declare an area just for yourself? (your half of the bedroom/closet, or begin with the side table to your chair?)

    Also, I think you have to give a hard look at your own things first. Even though you’re the uncluttered one, look through your own clothes to see what you can get rid of. Make sure your shoes are not amongst the pile at the door, but properly put away, make sure your gaming things are put away (I know zilch about gaming but I’m thinking about xbox-y-type thingies, controllers etc).
    I prefer to blame my husband for mess–more fun that way– but when I truly start picking up and putting away my things it’s amazing how much of “his” mess is mine.

    Also, anything you use in the house is also yours–meaning, if you use the bathroom mirror, you’ve got responsibility for that mirror’s cleanliness, if you use the kitchen table, eat on plates, you have the full rights and responsibilies over those things, and how and where they get put away. Maybe you already do that anyway.

    You simply cannot make somebody else become orderly. You can make it easier for them to get there though, by finding a spot where every item lives and putting it back there every time, even if you weren’t the one to pull it out in the first place. An overwhelmed pregnant woman probably needs a lot of loving “what can I do to help” type of support.

    Good luck! Please keep us updated here with how you’re doing!

  • #217108

    Anonymous

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    Welcome to the website! You will want to spend some time looking at the archives in the forum and the indexed posts. There are many people who have had to deal with the same kind of things you describe. You are not alone!

    It’s late for me, but before I sleep I wanted to respond with three places I can see an opportunity to make a point:

    1) The approaching move is a good time to declutter. If you have to pack and move it all, you begin getting sick of the junk. The longer it takes, the sicker you are of it. Pack the most important stuff first. By the time you get to the clutter, she might be in a “pitch it!” mood. Have plenty of garbage bags ready at that point.

    2) Setting up your new home is a perfect time to have the discussion of how it should function in order to serve both your needs and hers. Perhaps you can help her identify the reasons things have been left all over the house. Maybe the most comfortable place to work never had storage and the designated work space was too remote, dark, or in some way unappealing. Having a home for things is a good way to keep them corraled. Make sure she understands your comfort level about common spaces that need to stay neat.

    3) Keep framing the discussion about the new arrangements in terms of what you want in your “remarkable life” as Erin puts it. This includes her need to create as well as the needs of your growing family and the safety of the new arrival. Also, remind her that her sentimental objects are important, of course, but do they make her feel happy or do they invoke bad feelings? Why keep things that have negative emotions to drain your home of happiness? Some things she is no doubt hoping to give to the baby eventually, so for now you will have to be really loving and understanding. The bonus point I will leave you with is that pregnant women are not to be messed with. I am sure you have discovered this.

    Good luck and keep checking back on the website. People are very supportive and there are great discussions about the reasons the clutter happens. You will be interested in these complex thoughts that are described better than I by people who have been there and write about it here.

  • #217109

    ninakk
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    Welcome, Sethanas! I hear a few things from your description of your situation. I hear that you love your wife dearly, I hear that stuff has come between you and I hear a tricky communication.

    If your wife is six months pregnant, I’m guessing you might not move physical mountains before you are relocating to a new home, but what you could have is a life-changing discussion. If I was that pregnant, I don’t think I would care as much about stuff as what I’d feel for the life growing inside me and while I don’t have first-hand experience myself yet, I might also have mood swings, making the stuff discussion an even less exciting prospect. What I personally would care much about, however, is how my husband is feeling and if he would tell me we (not “I”) need to do something about the stuff in our home, since it is affecting him so much, I would try my best to listen carefully. I’m the queen of unfinished projects floating around and I’ve heard on a few occasions how stressful it is to have them out in sight constantly, but what took the sting off was that I was made aware of how that stuff affected another person’s feelings in his own home.

    What seems realistic then? In my opinion, getting rid of a lot right now may honestly not be realistic. But what could happen is, first of all, corralling all her crafting gear into boxes that will go into a designated crafting area/room in your new home. I’ve read many a sewing blog where the women are so happy about their private little space that you wouldn’t believe it; it’s their place to be an individual rather than a mommy for a while. Perhaps your wife is into reading blogs? Perhaps you could point out a few (I can suggest some for you to show her that she might like checking up on during sleepless moments in the middle of the night for instance!) to her already this week, so she could start building a dream for herself as a woman amidst all the growth of identity to include a new role, the one of a mother?

    If you would manage to make it clear to her that it isn’t just about shoving her into a room to lock her stuff up there, but about her “me time”, she might not feel as shocked about a conversation – that does have to take place between you guys… In the same go, you could introduce the idea of you having your “man cave”, where you can keep the space as clutter free as you please and your own rules of orderliness are reigning. And in the final step you could breach the subject of common areas, kids’ room(s), how to deal with all of it; because you have realised you guys need to meet half-way.

    How do you think she would know how you feel about all of this, if you don’t invite her into your heart and soul? If she begins to cry when you let her know of your thoughts, have you asked her why she cries? Is it because she is angry with you, because she’s angry with herself or because she feels disappointment or shame about something? While it might be uncomfortable seeing all those feelings so clearly displayed, I bet you want to know exactly what her feeling is, so you know what you’re “up against” or you won’t have any strategy for the upcoming move.

    On to “half-way”. Yes, you also have to move a bit πŸ™‚ It won’t do to wash your hands and say that it’s not your stuff, because it is your wife and she has stuff. And she seems to need your help. If she was on top of things, the things wouldn’t sail around πŸ™‚ When offering her your organising skills, make sure not to sound above her in any way, because her stuff is a personal preference and your lack of stuff is another one. Currently, the two of you aren’t on the same page regarding maintenance/storage of it, but that’s what you are going to talk about. That’s where you can move mountains. And that’s where you have to work on relaxing around things if you want to see her hair in a grey colour.

    You need to choose your battles and in this case I truly believe that corralling, packing like with like, will be a first step on your new journey as a couple talking to each other, working with each other and supporting the other one’s weaknesses. Attempting to make a lifestyle change is really hard and it helps to remember that the foundation, while being built slowly, is the essence of maintaining that lifestyle later on. Stress, frustration, anger, resentment and any other not so fortunate feeling is part of it, but if you’re friends with them rather than enemies, it’s going to be easier. And please don’t be afraid of tears, be proud of her for crying in front of you, for being so intimate with you.

    I might come back with new input once I’ve read more comments and have mulled it over for a while, so for now good luck and treat yourself to a good dosis of patience. The most important stuff is what is growing inside your wife right now.

  • #217123

    sleepykitten
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    I feel for you, Sethanas – this sounds like a tough situation, and it sounds like you love your wife very much. You are at a turning point in your life together, which I do think gives you an opportunity (both the baby and the move should be good motivators).

    I am different from you in that I am fairly hot-tempered. But I have learned two tips for effective confrontations over the years that you might want to keep in mind:

    1) Try to use “I” phrases when possible (if you can make it sound natural, which comes with practice). Don’t say, “You leave your stuff everywhere and I don’t know how we are going to manage with a baby crawling around all your pins and needles!” Instead say, “I am working to make our home as safe and clean as I can for the baby – is it OK for me to box up some of the craft supplies?”

    2) Only argue/debate about one thing at a time. If your confrontation starts dredging up a bunch of old arguments, take some deep breaths and focus on the current discussion.

    Keeping those rules and your love for your wife and baby in mind, I would then talk to her about recreating your home to be a safe space for your baby and a restful place for the two of you. Maybe you could focus your efforts on a couple of rooms – like, maybe you’d want to reduce your stuff so that both the nursery and your bedroom are nice and uncluttered, but you don’t mind a couple closets packed to the brim. It might also help if you make some sort of “grand gesture” – I know you aren’t the clutterer, but you could offer to get rid of something you have attachments to or possibly put extra work into rehabbing/decorating the future home.

    I am also very sentimental, and one of the things that helped me (though it took a while for me to process and I also WANTED to become less sentimental, which may not be where your wife is at) was when I read that if you truly love those sentimental items, they should be treated as an important part of your life and not boxed up in a corner. I started realizing that much of what I was saving did indeed evoke memories, but they were all piled in boxes. And I also realized that the most precious items were getting “lost” in a bunch of other items. Now I am nearing the point (not *quite* there) where I have only my most treasured items and they are stored properly. But, again, I wanted to change and it still took several years to get to the point where I was really uncluttered.

    Best of luck!!!

  • #217124

    liag
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    It is tough, no doubt. How would she react to your sharing your post with her? You appear very kind and caring in your frustrated effort to tolerate and with any luck alter.
    I have been married for 42 years, with two grown out-of-house kids. One has presented difficulties, which is hard on a marriage. One thing that has helped me is to write notes–sometimes lengthy ones–to my dh. He is anything but a problem, but even good guys have their differences. When something bothered me–past tense:we are quite in step these retired days–I found the written word gave us more success in resolution. Time to read, ponder, respond without heat!
    Good luck. Above all, don’t do nothing.

  • #217125

    ninakk
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    Okay, I’m here again. A discussion does not have to turn into an argument unless irrelevant things are said, personal attacks are made. Differing opinions is not the same as arguing. Just wanted to add this, since it sounds like honesty may be mixed with negative feedback in a hurtful way. Constructive, negative feedback is priceless when coming gently, respectfully from a loved one. And if our closest people can’t be trusted to be honest with love flooding through the message, then who will ever make us grow even as adults?

  • #217132

    Summer
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    “Any time we agree to go through some boxes we cannot compromise because I’m sick of it and want to trash it all, and she insists on keeping or donating nearly everything….”

    I have lived this, from your wife’s side but with your passive-aggressive tendencies. It is probable that your “trash it all” approach is making her more resistant. She may think some things should be saved. Work together to find a way to organize those things.

    There are some items that my husband sees no value in that I just can’t get rid of, and some things I couldn’t part with last year that I was able to “release” this year. There were some sentimental items that I literally hugged, said “I love you” to the spirit of the person associated with the item, and kissed the item goodbye.

    I personally find it easier (with some items) to donate rather than to pitch. Just be sure that the donated items make it out of the house (a good job for you) right away!

    Try to approach the project as a team. Talk about your dreams as a family. Discuss what your (that’s you and her!) ideal work/play/living spaces would be and then convert those to a real-life plan. Ask her how you can help her. Plan for rewards (dinner out?)

    Warning: babies lead to the possession all sorts of stuff that is adorable and awfully hard (emotionally) to get rid of. If you are planning on a bigger family you will be keeping some things, but try to limit the clutter problem by telling friends and family NOW that savings bonds or contributions to a college fund or books or practical stuff like diapers (or babysitting!)are a better gift than yet another toy.

    Best wishes to your family!

  • #217135

    luxcat
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    All this is very, very good advice above. Reading between the lines it sounds like your wife had a pretty rough time of it as a kid (domineering mother, sister passing away at a young age) and both she and you might benefit from some therapy, either marital or otherwise. Marriage counseling also might help both of you learn that it does not have to be all (throw it all out!) or nothing (keep everything possible!) and compromiises can be found.

    As a more immediate step I think I would try to convince her that she needs a craft room or a craft table and that ALL craft materials must go there and that if you find a pile of knitting on the stairs that you have the right to gently and carefully pick it up and put it on the craft table or in the craft room. This might corral some of the irritating stuff so you can get a bit of a breather too.

    The difficult steps to get pregnant-if you used IVF and hormones and all that- also can make women batshit crazy. I’ve seen my friends go through it. Once Baby is born it might even out a little more and she might become easier to talk to.

  • #217139

    J.B.C.
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    Sethanas, I just have to say you are a trooper, and congratulations on the baby! I know from personal experience as a past paper – hoarder, who thought every parking ticket stub and movie ticket and even the bill to plays I never attended was imperative to my survival. I am down from 20 bins of papers to just one still perpetually in progress. I used to have a small room devoted to my stuff, all sentimental or “what if” stuff. I was nothing compared to my mother so I used it to justify my keeping every paper to pass into my hands, and 15 or so bins of unused knick- knacks and glass ware. Many others here can also relate with her craft clutter and unfinished projects, myself included.
    Speaking from personal experience, I know the “nesting instinct” can kick into overdrive in late pregnancy, which may help motivate a purg. An otherwise tired and hormonal woman may make a mad dash to reduce clutter and dust, for all we know she could end up painting the ceiling in the middle of the night. That’s not always a guarantee, but you are guaranteed to full devotion to that little one when they come, especially if she chooses to breastfeed. There will be many nights of interrupted sleep, days of constant care between down time and basic chores. It is still fresh in my mind, I have two toddlers, and even as I write this I stop to change a daiper, retrieve the apple chips from the kitchen, try not to fall over some mega blocks. My point is, even in a clean, well- maintained home it’s tough, which I am sure you can already imagine. There will be no time after baby comes to deal with clutter, at least not for a while. If you are both feeling overwelmed now , I can assure you that feeling will only multiply.
    While ridding yourselves of the extraneous is the best possible scenario, I believe what others have advised that it is wisest to at least contain the clutter for now, and when you move to definately make a clear, safe place for baby. The master bedroom and a nursery area to escape the master bedroom throughout the day and night (with ours my husband and I took sleeping shifts, whoever was up would sometimes take baby away, making deep sleeping more likely for the other).
    I know for me, the reality of caring for my babies, born a year apart, was what gave me the gumption and wherewithal to deal with my room and purge it’s contents. I used to get so angry at my husband for bringing the overflow his metal recycling/tools/ mechanical/plumbing equipment into the house, and when about seven months pregnant I threw a fit and demanded he clear his stuff that was piled in the dining room, as we no garage. Mature, I know. But after the first baby came I realized the error in my cluttering ways, and turned our 1200 once stuffed- to- the -gills house into a minimalist oasis, and it stayed that way for two years until we moved. We are still working at it in a smaller place.My husband was so proud of the outcome he jumped right on board. So there is hope. My heart truly goes out to you, and your wife.
    I just want you to know and be mentally prepared that in the next little while it may get worse before it gets better, but if you do nothing, it will be phenomenally more challenging later on. You have opened the door to a supportive community at Unclutter, take advantage of it to vent and/ or boost your own morale, and recieve encouragement in every step. I can’t help but think that your Sweetheart may have some deeper issues that manifest in clutter. None of my buisness, but good for you for loving and supporting her at such a difficult (and wonderful) life transition. You will be an amazing Father. That is already evident in your desires to improve things for you and your growing family. Really, take advantage of the cheerleaders here. And all the best.

  • #217140

    Sethanas
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    I’m still reading over some of the replies, but it all seems like good, rational suggestions. I figured after a good nights’ rest (the last post was immediately after a packing session) I could approach this with a little more thought.

    Some of you recommended that she be given a place to store all these projects, box up some of the supplies, etc. Ever since our first home purchase (the 2600 square foot place), she has had a fabric room. This room is lined with four or five metal shelves completely packed with fabric. In addition to this, in our current place there is a ‘nook’ that is maybe 8×10 at the top of the stairs where her two sewing tables, three sewing machines (technically a Serger, an embroidery machine, and a regular sewing machine), beading and sewing supplies are. There is no walk space in this area save a small path to her chair.

    We have already allocated one of the larger bedrooms in our recently purchased home to fabric/crafting, and she is moving her sewing machines and one of her tables to the study downstairs so she is able to watch TV or something while she works. I’m hoping this will help with the living room clutter and keep her projects on the table, not on the couch.

    We had a bit of a blow up a few months back about the clutter (my wife and I never yell. We have heated discussions and know when to shut down and leave the room before it gets really bad). This was a big thing about ‘your stuff’ vs ‘our stuff’ vs ‘my stuff.’ In the end she said “I can’t do this alone,” and I relented and of course agreed to help. Our solution, which we’ve resolved on before but it never ends up happening, is that we do our own thing. If there’s anything I feel we can donate/toss, set it aside and she’ll go through it. Well 90% of the stuff ends up getting set aside, and it either sits there for months or she gets upset because it doesn’t look like I went through anything.

    As to my own clutter, you’re definitely right in that I’ve grown lazy. Partly just getting older, partly that I’m tired of fighting the flood. I’ve tossed/donated a good amount of stuff. Four trash bags of clothes donated that haven’t fit in years. Old Guitar Hero guitars, games I know I’ll never play again. In the shoes by the front door, I have four pair of shoes by the door. Boots, sneakers, sandals, dress shoes. We have a chest by the door that we had been storing shoes in, but she has long since choked me out of there. So mine simply end up in the pile. All told I wouldn’t be surprised if she has 50-60 pair between the front foyer and her closet. To her credit she donated 5-6 pair.

    I could probably be more enthusiastic in my support for her giving things up. I know I should be. I did that before. It just faded, because it was always one item in 100. It’s hard to be happy about one item going when five take its place.

    Any time there’s stuff to donate, I am chomping at the bit to load it in the car and get it out of the house. I don’t even volunteer. I haul it out to the car. If she wants things gone, she just has to say so and I’ll will make 100 trips up and down the stairs if I have to.

    This move we’re approaching a bit differently. She made a list of areas in the house that we need to pack, and broke it into days with an overall schedule. Day one went great. Some stuff sorted, plenty boxed. Car load of stuff donated (collected over the past two weeks). We even had a few hours of personal time in the evening after we were done (our reward). Day two started off well, but with her working on her half of the study and me in the dining room working on shelves, nothing but a few small things from her desk was in the donate pile. Her desk is piled up nearly a foot high in some spots and the sum total of donated stuff I could carry with one hand.

    In the dining room, every item save one that I asked about (a playdough set she was going to use to make some cupcakes that was never opened) was a ‘keeper.’ I asked her about the 20 or so Better Homes magazines and she said she didn’t want to sort through it right now. So it got added to the ‘sort through’ box.

    I left without a word this morning and got a call on the drive in asking if I was okay or was upset with her. Few things set me off, but I’ve recognized in the past few years that my major anger trigger is frustration. I said it’s hard to talk about, I’m just frustrated and need time to cool off. I clarified a bit about the move and sorting through things and said I was frustrated. She asked about a specific item I had mentioned last night. I stopped her and said it would just turn into an argument. She then started in on the defense saying she donated that playdough set, but I changed the subject.

    A few of you mentioned us talking about what we want our dream house to be. That’s something I don’t think we’ve ever really ironed out, and we likely have very different visions, but could be a good way to approach things. When I think she’s a little more receptive I might give it a shot. I like the idea of approaching it from a perspective of a safe home for the baby. I’ve tried the ‘asking how I can help her’ approach, but that only led to the ‘sort through later’ boxes. In more recent weeks I’ve kinda just settled in on doing the heavy lifting. I also like the point Sleepykitten made that the items that ‘really’ mattered were getting lost in the things they ‘thought’ mattered.

    I’ll read back through your comments. Thanks for the support and the suggestions. You’ve at least gotten me a little more optimistic about my prospects. As I’ve told our friends before, my wife and I may not see eye to eye on everything, but we can work through anything. Sometimes we just may need a little help πŸ™‚

  • #217144

    Sethanas
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    Luxcat, I’ve definitely noticed that the pregnancy has exacerbated her ‘scatter-brained’ness significantly. At least a half dozen times a week she’s thanking her ‘backup brain’ (me) ;-P

    And at the risk of getting a little too comfortable in here, my wife has PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), which was/is the main cause of our fertility issues. Drugs, shot regimens, a minimally invasive surgery and four or five IUI’s (we haven’t gone full-blown IVF yet, that stuff is *expensive*) got us our first pregnancy last year (miscarried after 8 weeks last December) and our current little boy due in November. It’s taken us three years to get to this point between trying ourselves and doing fertility treatment, and has definitely been stressful. I’m sure that’s a contributing factor, as stress always seems to magnify both itself, and every other little thing going wrong πŸ™‚

  • #217146

    chacha1
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    Sethanas, first of all very welcome you are, and good luck.

    Second of all: if you have any financial resources at all, GET COUNSELING. Both of you together. I am only an amateur psychologist, but everything you wrote in your original post spells “hoarder” to me.

    You MUST address these issues before the baby comes, because babies = stuff and babies need clean, safe environments.

    ETA: A designated fabric room is a great thing but ALL the sewing gear &tc must be in there. A table in the study is also a great thing but it MUST be kept clear when not in use.

    I know this is stuff you already know. A neutral and professional third party may help get it across to your wife by helping her identify her trigger points.

    You are correct that stress magnifies everything, and fertility-related stress is probably one of the worst kinds there is. Sorry for your loss last year, and fingers crossed that all goes well this time.

  • #217153

    J.B.C.
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    I think the counseling is a good idea. If not, this might be a good time to pull the “ace in the hold”. Is there anyone in her life that might be able to sit in with her a bit to sort or organize? Someone she trusts? I get the big family thing, maybe she isn’t terribly close to anyone in her immediate family. Sometimes a friend can help stand in for moral support, being non judgemental but still objective and removed enough to give her some insight, sort of hold her hand, so to speak.
    Even though you are obviously there with her and have a loving relationship, it may benefit both of you if someone steps in a bit.
    Even if money is a possible issue, you could maybe help her interview organizers to see if she is comfortable with one. Alot of them accept hourly pay, and can give “homework”, and come a couple times a month. It may be hard to accept, but it is fairly obvious there is some kind of hoarding problem here from the way you described the situation. I agree with chacha1, I also have a love of psychology, but with an unfinished degree I am not qualified to give advise for that.
    Still, when I read about the crying and blaming you for the unsorted stuff in the donation area, I see those as red flags. Perhaps you can go to speak with a counselor yourself and brainstorm about what can be done. It can be so hard to see solutions when you are trapped in a situation and feel alone. Getting professional support may be your next step. Just by coming onto the internet and reaching out shows that you are headed in the right direction. Take heart.

  • #217157

    ninakk
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    I definitely agree on the counseling, but when is it too much at once?

  • #217161

    J.B.C.
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    I don’t think it’s anyone’s intent to overwhelm further, he can get some ideas and work in a direction that’s best for them. Gently does it…

  • #217162

    chacha1
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    fwiw … I don’t know how much Sethanas and his wife have been “going it alone” with all these issues but I’m kind of reading “a lot.” Neither seems to have much family support.

    And so they’ve likely been kind of re-visiting all the same problems and arguments and habits over & over again while locked in the pressure-cooker of fertility problems.

    Rather than try to make changes themselves at this time – which can only lead to “you do this and I’ll do that” and then a fight when someone doesn’t DO – it might be wiser to immediately take the counseling route and do only what that neutral professional third party directs them to do. Because a professional is going to be able to see a lot of things we can’t.

  • #217164

    J.B.C.
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    Well said.

  • #217167

    Netleigh
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    Sethanas, welcome to the forum.
    I think at this stage of pregnancy you and your wife have got to realise that how the house is will not be safe for an infant let alone a toddler. If that realisation has not motivated her to already start to do something with the clutter I agree with the other posters about finding professional help and counselling.
    This sounds too big to be dealt with by you two alone and soon you are both going to be overwhelmed with the changes and time suck that a baby brings to your lives. No amount of other people saying it is exhausting with a new baby prepares you for the reality.

  • #217168

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    I’m wondering if Seth’s wife is holding onto a lot of creative projects because of the fertility problems. She sounds like she wants to create/nurture something/someone and for the moment the sewing and crafting has been filling that need.

    I have previously filled emotional needs with crafting and even when those emotional needs became met by human relationships instead, it took a couple of years to break free of the crafting supplies and understand that I could let them go. It has helped to find an adult day center with a craft room that I can donate good quality tools and supplies to.

    Good luck Sethanas with the pregnancy, the move, and the decluttering. You seem very sensitive to the issue even if you are frustrated. This is a good forum to vent and strategize on πŸ™‚

  • #217172

    Ella
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    I’m thinking that a good reading resource for both husband and wife would be Brooks Palmer’s newest book, which deals specifically with relationships and clutter. He cuts through all the messy entanglements with clarity, compassion, and, best of all, effectiveness:

    http://www.amazon.com/Clutter-Busting-Your-Life-Emotional/dp/1608680797/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1318878088&sr=8-2

    Buy two copies, if need be, but both of you should read it.

  • #217173

    ninakk
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    I do agree with latest posts on outside help, but I was also a bit afraid of pushing too hard at once. Therapy is unfortunately so taboo for many and especially men still. I was helped by my own sessions and warmly recommend it for everyone who would feel refreshed by a ‘stranger’ as neutral sparring partner.

  • #217176

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    I would highly recommend getting some training in communications — as sleepykitten said, just learning how to craft an “I” statement is a powerful tool, or at least it was for me. This will be even more important once there is a baby in the house — if you can’t discuss and come to resolution about a box of ultimately meaningless stuff, how will you be able to cope with the much more complex issues surrounding child raising? A counselor of life coach can provide this type of instruction.

    It seems to me like your move could be an ideal time to set some boundaries. And although having a craft station set up in the family room might seem like a good idea now, once there is a toddler in the house having scissors, needle and beads accessible to a curious child is not safe. Start the way you plan to continue. Maybe you need a TV in the craft room.

    Best of luck to you!

  • #217177

    JayEff
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    This situation is difficult. Add a move and a baby, and I’m feeling stressed just reading about it.

    Best of luck to the two (soon to be three) of you. If my comments are off base, please take no offense. I am just offering some observations.

    According to your posts, “She claims she wants to be clean . . . . She considers all of it ‘our stuff,’ . . . . In the end she said ‘I can’t do this alone.’ . . . . [S]he gets upset because it doesn’t look like I went through anything.”

    She seems to have no idea how to deal with the clutter and is giving you permission to help her out. She seems to want your help.

    When it comes to decluttering, you and she are not equal; she is lost. So, help her out. Not by being her equal (just in the decluttering context), but by taking charge of the situation. Be more assertive (in a calm, gentle way) and decisive, and get rid of more junk. If you let her decide what can be tossed/trashed/donated, your new home will be full of clutter.

  • #217180

    Sethanas
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    I’m not adverse to calling in outside help. People are throwing around terms like ‘hoarder,’ and maybe it’s just denial but I don’t think it’s to that extent. The logical part of me says that even hoarders start ‘small,’ though, and the danger is definitely there. I almost want to post pictures of what our place looks like to maybe give a more solid description of the house, but I’m still at work. We never have company except for extremely close friends because the house is always a mess.

    Both sides of our parents are great, but live on the other side of the country. Both sets came down a few weeks ago to help paint and prep the house for the move, saving us a few thousand dollars and a week of work. Since Melissa has moved out on her own her mom and she have gotten along great. It’s all the programming during childhood that I’m trying to break πŸ™‚

    We have a local friend that my wife has had for over 10 years. They’re like sisters. I’d ask her for help but they see so eye to eye and are so similar in mindset and opinion that I think she’d just back my wife up. Just my opinion though, and I hate commenting on what my wife or her friend are thinking without them able to defend. I also don’t know how my wife would take it if I linked her this thread.

    Ninakk, don’t be afraid to offer even drastic suggestions. You won’t scare me off. I may not take the advice once given, but I’m never going to refuse it. I appreciate as many perspectives as are offered πŸ™‚

    Susanintexas, communication is definitely an issue. I can only give you my side of things, but there are definitely hot buttons for her that I have to delicately skirt. Clutter is one of them. I’m not a confrontational person, and it’s true with my wife most of all. She definitely wears the pants because I can’t stand upsetting her.

    Ultimately the temporary delay may be what we have to do, at least until we get moved to the new house. Our schedule is tight, we’re both extremely busy with work and packing. We moved ourselves to the rental we’re in. Self-packing and mostly loading a full, packed to the gills semi-truck trailer and a third is a nightmare I don’t want to re-live, but I don’t think we’ll have much choice based on our schedule.

    Would this situation be more the domain of a life coach or an organizational specialist, or more in the vain of a marriage counselor?

  • #217181

    ninakk
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    To your last question: probably marriage counselor, because everything you do or leave undone stems from the communication.

    This is one of the most interesting newbie threads in a long time. You present your case, let people reply, create a dialogue and remain calm, not offended by it. Thank you for that, it makes the effort we make seem worthwile.

  • #217184

    Sethanas
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    Thanks, ninakk. I guess I’m more of the mindset that I came to *you* for help, and don’t have any built up expectations for what that help should be. I’m an artist by trade though more on the technical side of things, and giving and receiving constructive criticism is part of the job πŸ™‚

    Communication is definitely at the root of a lot of our arguments (debates?). Nine times out of ten it’s because we were essentially arguing the exact same point just phrasing it in a way that the other person didn’t understand, lol. But I do bite my tongue on things like decluttering. Of course, I’m sure she’s got a few things she does similarly on for me (my unconscious refusal to get my dirty laundry in the hampers and off of my closet floor springs to mind). She hasn’t mentioned them, though I can sometimes be a bit obtuse about things.

  • #217186

    sleepykitten
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    I don’t have much to add to my original reply, but I just wanted to say that I feel like I already know both you, Sethanas, and your wife – and I like you both! I’m rooting for you, for sure!!! πŸ™‚

    My husband and I argue frequently – and, yes, sometimes we realize at the end of it all that we weren’t really disagreeing; we were just phrasing things differently. So I understand that situation very well. Clarity is key.

  • #217188

    luxcat
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    Reading all you’ve said Sethanas it really sounds to me like you and your wife have a very strong foundation under your marriage, and that this, like other challenges, can be worked through. It might take a few tries to find the right trick (and timing) but you’ll both do great. Keep your chin up!

  • #217191

    Sethanas
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    Thanks, sleepykitten and luxcat. I’ll keep posts on progress and what we end up doing. You all have given me a ton of good info to mull over in a very short time πŸ™‚ I’m glad I found this forum. Having that support structure, in whatever form, is helpful. If nothing it shows that there are definitely avenues to get out of the rut we’re in.

  • #217194

    chacha1
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    My husband and I often also end up finding that we’ve been arguing the same side of an issue. πŸ™‚ As with so many things … we recovering clutterers seem to have some commonalities in communication style!

    Sethanas, thank you very kindly for your wonderful attitude. We are all very helpy around here and I think we are already very invested in your (and your wife’s) success.

  • #217197

    bandicoot
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    this is a great thread!
    i have nothing useful to add at present, except welcome sethanas.
    and i know from experience that simply considering our clutter is the very first step. it is ok to just get everyone thinking about it for a while.

  • #217205

    Rosa
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    I think the conversation about what you want the new house to look like, and what the purpose of each room is, and what the baseline of babyproofing will be, is a perfect way to start. As long as it stays a goal and not an overwhelming to-do list.

    And writing it down – the shared goal for the house, and the specific purpose of each room – is a good basis for both daydreaming and resolving conflicts. Consensus decisionmaking starts with setting agreed goals and values, so that when there are disagreements everyone in the group can refer to those goals and values – “You never get rid of anything!” isn’t a value, but “We want there to be space on that shelf for baby books” and “All the low surfaces need to be cleared before the baby learns to stand up” both are.

    I know for us, when my son got mobile is when I got serious about decluttering, but fertility treatments, pregnancy, and new parenting are all things that can dump you straight from untidy into near-squalor pretty fast.

  • #217208

    Ella
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    Here’s a blog post from Brooks Palmer about his work with couples and their clutter issues:

    http://brooks-palmer.blogspot.com/2008/12/clutter-busting-with-couples.html

    Also, if you can spare $10 and an hour of your time this Saturday, you can log on to his webinar and talk to him directly about your situation. It might be helpful for you to have another man’s perspective. And perhaps your wife would be willing to listen in. The webinar registration link is at the upper right of the webpage above.

  • #217211

    Anonymous

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    Great posts, everyone! Sethanas has really detailed the specifics of his issues and everyone is ready with such thoughtful comments and suggestions.

    It does seem like there is a need for a therapist to assist you two. Sethanas, you may get some resistance if you send the message that you expect her to go, but I would encourage you to go on your own and learn the words that you need to use, as the folks above have encouraged. The “I” wording is so important.

    Fabric hoarding is still hoarding. I got stuck in that cycle as a quilter many years ago and finally realized that the wall of fabric was hanging over my head. I donated it all at one point and it totally freed me! If she is not producing any results even with the large amount of supplies, it might be because of a feeling that the “money was invested and now the project is not appealing but I can’t waste the money already sunk.” If it takes six months to make a quilt and she has materials for 50 quilts… hmmm…time to re-evaluate/donate/take the charity deduction!

    Also, I would encourage you to get a TV for the place you want her to do her crafting. That way things won’t migrate as much to the place you want to spend family time. If you want to be together to watch TV as she crafts, she can bring a little bit into the family area and return it the same day. I limit myself to a gallon sized baggie of hand-work that I can do as I share a video with my hubby. Everything goes back into the bag and it can come to the crafting area after the film.

    One other suggestion is to visit model homes in your new area for inspiration. I always get motivated to declutter after I have been in a pretty hotel or at a home that looks serene and clean. Take some pictures of the “before” rooms in your house and then really look at them. Sometimes you don’t notice clutter until it jumps out at you in a picture. “After” pictures are VERY motivating as well. You CAN see a difference!

  • #217212

    Anonymous

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    Also, a magic phrase that helped me realize that I can let go of the fabric was “They will make more”. I discovered that if I donate extra household goods, it is like letting Goodwill store it for me. Most common things are super easy to find again.

    Today I decided that I wanted to re-read a book I had not read in many years (a 1978 Mitchner novel). By golly, there it was at the local GW! I didn’t even have time to put it on the “to look for” list!

  • #217213

    Sethanas
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    Thanks for the link, Ella. I ordered the book this afternoon, and I’ll start with that before seeking some more advanced avenues. Should have the book in hand tomorrow or Saturday morning. Yay Amazon Prime.

    Another Deb, that’s a great phrase to remember. “They will make more.” My wife has been good in the past, offering up fabric she’ll never use to friends that might. It’s pretty rare, but it does happen. I’ve gotten her to say a few times that she doesn’t really use something and she can always get it again if the need arises. Usually it’s small stuff, but hey, you start where you can, right?

    She makes dresses. She’s been sewing since she was 6, starting off with doll clothes and moving on from there. These days, she focuses on 15th and 16th century Italian and English dresses for a historical group we’re members of. Hand sews seams, does amazing work using fairly authentic methods (apart from bone needles. Those things snap at the drop of a hat). She averages one, maybe two dresses a year. Each dress requires upwards of ten yards of fabric or more, tons of embroidery, underdress, overdress, corset, the whole nine (heh). Each one is a labor of love, and she still has nearly every dress she’s made, whether they fit or not. They’re actually one of the few things I won’t ask her to get rid of because they’re what she loves doing. Do take up a good chunk of closet space, but only in the fabric room.

    I think I’m really going to go the ‘prep for the baby’ route in our conversations, and back off a little bit on the ‘can this go? how about this? how about this?, ‘ instead focusing on reorganizing what we have and at least getting it out of the way. We’re in no position currently to seek professional counseling, at least I don’t believe the time is there in our schedule. After the move, before the baby, there might be.

  • #217215

    Ella
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    I think you’re very wise to back off the decluttering pressure and focus your priorities instead on preparing for the baby.

    I’m very sorry about the loss of her first pregnancy. My instincts tell me that the pressures of this pregnancy – compounded by the pending move – are extreme stress overload for her. Add the worry about this baby, plus being forced to consider hard decisions on long-time possessions… it’s just too much.

    If you have to pack and move the clutter, then so be it. I had to do exactly that, three years ago when I downsized. At that time I was under such extreme stress from other corners, my clutter was the least of my worries. My health was top priority, and the clutter could wait. Now I am steadily decluttering thanks to the support of this forum, and thanks to a major light bulb moment that came while reading Brooks Palmer’s first book.

  • #217249

    Rosa
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    Sethanas, is all the fabric appropriate for that kind of clothes? When packing, it might be easy for her to just divide the fabric into “that was for modern clothes” and “this is something I’ll still use.”

    something you can do yourself (and maybe she’ll help with) when packing is to divide the boxes between “unpack right away” and “can wait” with the “can waits” being things you think might be discardable. Then in 6 months or so when things have settled down a little, you can open boxes and look them over with your wife and maybe discard some. If she’s not good with making choices about things, this is a very gentle kind of practice because you’re not actually getting rid of anything, just thinking “Do I use this often?” and “Will I need this in the next few months?”

    Those dresses sound like an amazing accomplishment. After the move and the baby’s birth, do you think she’d be willing to sell some that don’t fit her? I know that kind of costuming is expensive and it can be nice for a new mom to get some financial recognition for her non-mom self.

  • #217251

    Netleigh
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    Sethanas,
    I’m curious how many social rooms and bedrooms your new place has and how you are allocating their use.
    Because if one is a dedicated craft room, yet sewing machines are not going to be in that room because of watching TV elsewhere, then the craft materials are already escaping into territory that might be hazardous to a mobile baby. They do have a tendency when crawling to find the dropped pin, bead or whatever that is dangerous that can be eaten, put up a nostril or poked in their eye. I speak from experience of these, I put a button up my nose, DS found a pencil and poked himself just under his eye and a friend’s son ate a marble left around by an older sibling!
    My experience with my DS as a toddler was thatI couldn’t do any crafts while he was awake as he ‘demanded’ attention if I looked as if I was sitting down and available to play, so some changes of crafting locations may become a necessity.
    The idea of boxing things needed immediately and later is a good one. If you will have a spare room you could put all the boxed up stuff out of the way until the shape of life with a new baby has emerged.

    The historical dresses sound absolutely wonderful.
    However they will not need little sticky hand marks and dribble on them, so a separate craft area from normal living areas is a must!

  • #217252

    Irulan
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    People can get a little scared when confronted with marital counseling because there’s a popular idea that it’s only for people who are considering divorce, or whose marriages are “in trouble.” It’s not. If you’re concerned about suggesting marital counseling to your wife, keep in mind that many marriage counselors are also informally called marriage facilitators. They’re there to help you and your spouse learn appropriate emotional and social skills, and how to establish better communication and boundaries.

    If time is your concern rather than money, I really suggest making counseling a priority. It will help a lot, in both the short- and long-term. If you can afford it, your general practitioner can refer you to a counselor. You may be able to find a family counselor who specializes in hoarders. If that’s financially out of your reach, a pastor or social services person can help you look at reduced-rate options.

    Good luck with your move and your new baby! These kinds of changes can bring a lot of stress into any marriage, so good on you for tackling these problems now. It can be really scary to take the first step, but it sounds like you and your wife really love each other and that you’re doing your best to be empathetic to the issues that sparked the clutter and to recognize your own limitations.

  • #217256

    Ella
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    Sethanas: I wanted to add one more thing… I think it would be a big mistake to show this thread to your wife. I’m afraid it would only do damage at this fragile point in time. It’s a great forum here, but only for those who come willingly and of their own accord.

    Does your wife do any online blog reading? I can strongly recommend a non-threatening blog (Small Notebook) that gracefully captures the essence of uncluttered living. Here’s a blog post about being pregnant that your wife might appreciate. And if she likes that post, maybe she’ll keep reading that blog.

    http://smallnotebook.org/2009/11/17/getting-through-it/

  • #217257

    luxcat
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    I can second small notebook, very well done blog. rather oriented toward stay at home moms, but I still find it pretty inspiring and it is well written

  • #217259

    sleepykitten
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    Good idea, Ella! Yes, I agree that small notebook is a good uncluttering blog – I look at it from time to time even though I am not a mom. And the fact that the post Ella pointed you to has nothing to do with uncluttering might ease your wife into reading the rest of the blog.

    And I absolutely agree that you should NOT show this thread to your wife, if that is being considered.

  • #217260

    Stacia
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    Sethanas, I wish you much success & congrats to you & your wife on your upcoming baby. πŸ™‚

    This has been a wonderful thread so far w/ lots of great advice. Not that you probably need another book to read, but I’m reading one right now that seems so applicable for your situation (both now & down the road). It’s written by one of the therapists on the show Hoarders; the book is “The Hoarder in You” by Dr. Robin Zasio. (Don’t worry — it’s not just a book for & about hoarders. She says almost everyone fits on a continuum of keeping stuff….) She has lots of great advice, not just about hoarding, but also about clutter in general, from those who have small amounts of clutter to those bordering on hoarding to full-blown hoarders. It addresses a lot of the advice that has been mentioned here (ways to make helpful statements & help your wife through the thought-process of keeping vs. getting rid of stuff), as well as some of the issues you mention (such as your wife procrastinating on decision-making, etc…). I just had to jump in & post since I’m most of the way through the book & it seems to address so many of the questions & issues you’ve mentioned. I would definitely recommend it for you.

  • #217272

    Sethanas
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    Rosa,

    I’m sure 90-95% of the fabric is for either 1) scrap to draft dresses with and 2) making the actual dresses πŸ™‚ One thing I can say is that over the past few years she has backed off on picking up nearly everything on the $1.00/yard discount table and toned it down to stuff she will most likely use (maybe. . .for some project. . some time) ;-P

    Netleigh,

    Our current place is a three bedroom with a study and a little nook at the top of the stairs. One of the secondary bedrooms is her fabric room with a small bed that is unusable due to the sheer amount of stuff piled on it. The second is our guest room which, despite all reckoning, we have managed to keep clutter free. Our study is home to both our computer desks and our tower of boxes that’s been there since we moved in. The nook upstairs is where her sewing tables are, which there is only walk space to her chair. The rest of the nook is various crafting materials piled on the floor, on the table behind the machines, and under the tables.

    In the new home we gain another bedroom and lose the nook. We lose a little closet space, which we’re working with a contractor to remedy. We also gain roughly 200-300 square feet. The new bedroom is immediately taken up as the new baby room. My wife rarely uses her desk in her study, so we will be effectively cutting it in half to make room for one of her sewing tables there.

    Ella,

    Thanks for the recommendation. She does read a few blogs, moreso now with our first pregnancy. I’ll check out the blog and will probably pass it on to the misses. I’ve also thought about whether to share this thread with her, and I’ve erred on the side of caution in that I’m not sure how she’d take my initial post. I’ve realized that I worded some stuff pretty poorly in wanting to change our situation. Given she has been a bit more emotional than usual the past few weeks, I’m afraid she’ll take it more as a personal attack and less me simply trying to find avenues of communication and methods to improve the situation.

    Stacia,

    Thanks for the book suggestion. I’ll check it out.

    And thanks to everyone, both for the advice so far, to come, and the grats on the new kiddo. It’s good to hear. I had my reservations about wanting kids, but I realized my reservations were more anxiety and worry over the life change than actually having them. Since I realized that I’ve been warming up to the idea of being a dad πŸ™‚

  • #217295

    Jude2004
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    The baby will need a clean, uncluttered environment, but not immediately. It would be nice to get rid of stuff before you move, but at this point, I’d say that your primary job is to emotionally support your wife through the pregnancy. I’ve gone through three births with unsupportive (abusive) husbands, and it’s pretty much hell. I have major problems with my adult daughter, who will soon be moving overseas to work on her master’s degree. She’s always been a saver, a collector, and a slob. But it’s helped her to read minimalist blogs and to realize that she didn’t need to keep everything. Recently, she said, “I have to quit my job a month early so I can get all this stuff scanned.” The stuff was mostly old college papers which most of us wouldn’t have kept, but which she wants on hand. I suggested she delegate the scanning to my workaholic 82-year-old mother, and a week later, it’s all scanned. The next step for me will be to make sure she recycles all the college papers before she leaves. The other thing that might help is watching TV programs such as Hoarders and Obsessed. One single blog post that I think epitomizes the minimalist lifestyle (not that I’m minimalist, but it gives you an extreme to think about) is this one: http://www.missminimalist.com/2010/05/nothing-to-steal/

  • #217331

    lottielot
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    You sound like you’ll be a lovely dad. Just be there for your wife and support her, lots of stress in your lives right now and when the baby arrives. Having a baby is like a bomb going off in your life and you may find her attitude to stuff changes a lot.

  • #217517

    adragon
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    What a great thread!

    Devil’s advocate here – Sethanas, I’m wondering if decluttering is a thing you need to be thinking about right now. You’re moving into a large place, can you spare a bedroom or 2 (or a garage) to hold “sort through” boxes since those seem to be the big issue? I’ve never been married or pregnant, or lost a pregnancy, but I am a female with hormone-related health BS – it’s obnoxious, frustrating, and it can have a devastating effect on getting anything done. It seems to me that your wife is actively asking you for help, but something’s blocking her from making any decisions. I don’t want to say this is a hormonal thing (not a doctor, don’t know her) but it is the sort of thing swinging hormone levels can exacerbate.

    If I were in your position, I’d use the move as an opportunity to talk with your wife about your ideal space. Once you’ve decided (together!) on that, talk about some “ground rules” for the baby, things like keeping the craft supplies in a closed room, keeping surfaces clear, etc. When you move, set up the house so that it’s the ideal space, and things that don’t fit in at the moment (all the craft supplies?) can trickle in as “sort through later” boxes get unpacked. The trick is to keep the space baby-ready, and this won’t be easy for someone whose nature is to leave things lying around. It especially won’t be easy for sleep-deprived new parents! (The others, of course, are to control the new stuff coming in AND make sure those boxes really do get sorted through!)

    For the baby’s safety, a *lot* of stuff will need to be put away, and because you have a baby to take care of a lot of your hobbies are going to be shelved for awhile. There’s an organic process that can happen, as boxes get unpacked and stuff gets sorted through, you’ll be able to decide slowly what to let go. Once you have the kid, both of your perspectives are going to change; it’s likely she’ll have an easier time letting inconsequential things go. The thing that concerns me a bit is that your wife seems to be hanging onto EVERY memorable thing from the past, not editing her stuff to remember only the good + positive. Obviously I don’t know the full story, so this might be inaccurate, it’s just a feeling I get. I’d second (third?) the recommendation of smallnotebook and missminimalist as non-threatening blogs to show your wife, they give good friendly advice for beginners and strugglers.

    I’m also a little worried about the influx of baby things – even if you’re minimalist parents (which I don’t think you’re going to be), babies generate STUFF. If you’re planning to have more kids the big stuff can stick around awhile, but if you’re not, is your wife going to want to keep every onesie, stuffed animal, etc? Are your friends + family aware of the clutter issues? Can they be counted on to give smaller, consumable, or investment gifts (bonds, college money) or will they give STUFF?

    You sound like great people and I’m hoping things work out well for you – keep us posted!

  • #217674

    Ella
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    How are things going, Sethanas? Any new developments or insights?

    If you haven’t yet had a chance to check out the Small Notebook blog, the current topic’s a good one: Uncluttered Baby Gear…

    http://smallnotebook.org/2012/08/08/common-sense-advice-for-less-is-more-baby-gear/

  • #217720

    RebeccaL
    Member

    Dealing with sentimentality, stubbornness, and motherly conditioning

    First- congratulations on the upcoming new addition to the family!

    Have you considered hiring an organizer/moving specialist to assist in this process? It sounds like you and your wife could benefit from having a third party involved, who can look at the situation with an unemotional, unbiased outlook.

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