DEAR DEIDRE: MY husband’s hoarding problem is taking over our home.
He’s incapable of throwing anything away and our garden now looks like a rubbish tip.
I can never sit out there if I want to relax, and I’m worried we won’t be able to sell the house.
I’m 58 and he’s 60. We’ve been married for 35 years.
He has always collected bits of junk – scrap metal, old tyres, bric-a-brac – and even built a garage to store them in.
But now that’s bursting at the seams and the excess has spilled into our garden.
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He never does anything with any of it, and he’s always promising to sort it out, but he can’t bring himself to do it.
It’s like he has an emotional attachment to this stuff.
I don’t understand why it’s so important to him and he gets angry when I ask him to do something about it.
Our neighbours sold their house recently, and when I asked the estate agent what ours might be worth, I was told we’d get thousands more if we cleared up the mess.
It’s such an eyesore. I’d love to be able to invite friends round for barbecues in the summer, but who wants to sit in a junkyard?
I’ve told my husband we could even make money by selling some of his rubbish at car boot sales.
But he still won’t let anything go. In fact, almost every time he goes out he comes back with more.
It’s making my life miserable.
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DEIDRE SAYS: Your husband’s attachment to his stuff – to the detriment of your living environment and your relationship – does suggest he has a real problem.
Hoarding is a recognised disorder, which is thought to relate to OCD and affects slightly more men than women. Stress can make it worse.
You need to explain the effect it’s having on you.
Perhaps you could offer to help sort out his stuff, and say you’re happy if it’s confined to the garage.
For more advice, contact Hoarding UK (hoardinguk.org, 020 3239 1600).
Cognitive behavioural therapy can help too, so please contact your GP.
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