Home Forums Challenges Living with Clutterers Purging Others Books

This topic contains 12 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  mosquitocontrol 9 years, 1 month ago.

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  • #158599

    So I’m the one in the relationship that is craving less ‘stuff’ lately. He could really care less. The main thing that irks me, especially after moving 7 times in 8 years together is the number of books and magazines. Many which just go untouched from place to place. Some have never even been opened and are just stocking stuffers from his parents. I’m trying to figure out how to convince him to slim down the collection. He even has every issue of a magazine dating back 5+ years that he never even refers to!

    The final straw came last night when the bookshelf (6 shelves attached to studs in the wall) came crashing down. Now there are stacks of books, and a full anthology of magazines all over. And we don’t have money to buy a new bookshelf either.

    I’ve tried suggesting several times to even get rid of a few (hoping it eventually will lead to more) but he seems to take it very personally. He never reads anymore but somehow think the books convey something about him or are sentimental. Anything else I can try or general advice you may have?

  • #166506

    Rosa
    Member

    Purging Others Books

    Oh, so much sympathy. That is so hard!

    I bet someone else here has done this. I haven’t, I’m the clutterbug in my relationship.

    But, from living with roomates & sharing space various ways (a friend uses half our garage for a shop; I mentioned on another thread I store stuff for family members who don’t have permanent homes) I don’t think you can declutter it.

    What you can do is demand equal space in the apartment, map it out and defend it (“I get half the wall space/half the cupboard space/enough floor space in the hall to walk comfortably”) and let him work out how he’s going to stay in the part that’s his.

    It’s still a big struggle, especially if you’re demanding space to keep empty instead of having equal amounts of stuff. But it makes the conversation be about fairness and sharing, instead of what is wrong with him that he needs to keep 10 year old magazines. And it puts the problem solving on him, which is appropriate because this is something about his brain and his feelings, so you can’t really solve it.

    And of course he may choose to solve it by renting a storage space or deciding he doesn’t need to sleep in his half of the bed 🙁

  • #166508

    lucy1965
    Member

    Purging Others Books

    Oh, that one’s tough. I’m sorry.

    What worked with my DH was finding out that most of the tech books/magazines he reads are available as .pdfs as part of his subscription benefits. We’re moving overseas next year, and my gently pointing out how much it would cost to ship/store all of it was motivation enough.

    It may not work for your husband’s things, and it could lead to digital clutter rather than physical, but I offer it in an effort to help. Good luck.

  • #166514

    chacha1
    Member

    Purging Others Books

    Argh. Similar issue here, though not to this extreme, thank goodness.

    In our case, I’ve seriously considered seeing a counselor about it. There does seem to be a very personal attachment to the (un-used, un-consulted) stuff that I simply don’t understand – and more to the point, don’t sympathize with. I have achieved nonattachment with much of my own stuff – I am happily getting rid of things I once thought would be with me Til Death.

    So I can’t quite get the empathy that’s necessary to help DH address this issue (and it is an issue. Just because we don’t have shelves falling off the walls doesn’t mean the amount of stuff isn’t a problem. It is locking us into a bigger living space than we need, and space = money).

    There are times when an objective outsider, even just talking things over for an hour or two, can make the difference in a troubled relationship.

  • #166518

    JuliaJayne
    Member

    Purging Others Books

    People don’t think of their things being clutter, so they feel threatened if you tell them to get rid of their crap. My husband did that to me, which made me feel like I was being bullied even though deep down I know he was right.

    Once I started decluttering, and got the bulk of the stuff out of the house, the husband realized the rest of the excess was his. Then he decluttered.

  • #166524

    chacha1
    Member

    Purging Others Books

    LOL JuliaJayne, turnabout is fair play! Maybe that’s all it will take: the virtuous example.

    mosquitocontrol, it sounds like you’re in a position where something MUST be done. What do you think of taking all the contested stuff into your main living space and sorting through it together piece by piece, agreeing that each piece has to have a reason attached to it before it can go back in its room? It may be that having to live with it, as opposed to having it in its own space, may make him look at it differently.

    How many of us dislike our stuff most when we have to see it all the time? (raises hand)

  • #166552

    morfydd
    Member

    Purging Others Books

    I don’t think it’s fair to unclutter someone else’s stuff (except for very specific cases).

    I do think it would be fair to buy a bunch of plastic stacking boxes and dessicant and say, “If you don’t use these regularly they don’t need to be kept in our living space, or even unpacked after a move.” And then you can throw it all in the basement/storage-room/closet/etc.

  • #166566

    Demerna
    Member

    Purging Others Books

    I don’t think you should unclutter his stuff. However I just helped my husband purge a bunch of his books. For the life of me I couldn’t understand why he was keeping novels from when he was a teenager. So I started months in advance asking him why he was keeping certain books (I was upfront in letting him know that I knew certain books are keepers and I would not question those). After several months of asking him to sort through the novels, when it came time for us to pack up I let him select a tote for his books and as he started packing them away he sorted them. Pretty quick if he was getting rid of one than keeping some of the others didn’t make sense so he donated 20+ novels to Salvation Army.

  • #166576

    bandicoot
    Member

    Purging Others Books

    very tough situation.
    i think that mapping out space as suggested by rosa is quite simple and brilliant and effective.
    good luck, it isn’t an easy one, but with some mutual respect and care, you’ll get there.

  • #166614

    Periwinkle
    Member

    Purging Others Books

    If you now need a replacement bookshelf, perhaps you could suggest that he sell some of the books/magazines to raise the money to get a shelf to put the others on? Possibly if you can convince him to start, he’ll find it easier to keep going.

    Magazines – have you looked into CD copies? Some magazines will now let you have back issues on a CD so you don’t have to keep the physical copies and often they don’t charge if you’re a subscriber. He might be happier to get rid of them if he can still have a digital copy that he can search more easily if he ever does want to use them.

    Does he have duplicates at all? They should be a no-brainer to get rid of.

    And finally, are you library members?

  • #166762

    Rosa
    Member

    Purging Others Books

    I dunno, it’s not her stuff but it’s not all his space, either. It’s an inverse relationship.

    When they’re at the “falling down creating a hazard” stage, they’re not just making a wall.

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