Dear Amy: My wife doesn’t throw anything away!
Because of their habits, our homes are completely overflowing with all kinds of things.
All the closets are filled to the brim with clothes on everything else.
The pantry is so full that groceries are now on the floor.
Our dining table only has about a quarter of the space we can actually eat.
The basement is so full that there is no room for anything else.
What should I do?
– I’m going to bury it worried
Better to be concerned: Your wife may have a hoarding disorder. This likely didn’t happen overnight, and you likely adapted to the conditions in your home as their hoarding behavior increased.
Hoarding disorder is a serious disease with underlying factors and your wife needs professional treatment and a lot of patience from you.
You might think that a massive purge would force them to change, but evidence has shown that hoarders continue to hoard after a purge. Hoarders don’t feel great about the condition of their homes, but they do feel extremely concerned when they think about getting rid of anything.
You should look at any of your own behaviors that might contribute to or facilitate compulsion. Does she do all the shopping, cooking and cleaning the kitchen? You could take on these jobs.
Approach this with honesty and compassion. Encourage your wife to seek help from a professional counselor (find one with this expertise).
Would she be ready to go somewhere outside of the house for the day while you tackled the kitchen and repainted the walls? This may be the best place to start as your wife may not be as personally attached to these foods that she has gathered.
If she can’t or won’t go, start with a harm reduction strategy: “We need to make sure we don’t have expired food because we don’t want to get sick. Let’s go through our pantry together.” and get rid of expired stuff. The food bank needs contributions from unexpired food. So when we have too much of something, we donate it to help other people. “
Anything you collect should be taken away immediately (otherwise it will end up in the house). Let your wife enjoy the generous feeling of donating needed items.
Celebrate small victories and use the success to inspire more change. If you are able to store a tidier pantry, refrigerator, and kitchen (it doesn’t have to be perfect), you can move on to other areas of the house.
One book that might help is “Unearthing: Help Your Loved One Cope with Clutter, Hoarding, and Compulsive Acquisition,” written by psychologists Michael A. Tompkins and Tamara Hartyl (2009, New Harbinger).
Dear Amy: I am a widow in my early 70s and have been with a widower (also in his early 70s) for two years.
In the past, when I noticed him making sexist remarks, I reluctantly reluctantly but let go of it.
These are comments like “honey, you should smile” for someone in another car referring to other 70-year-old women as “girls,” commenting on the waitress’s tight pants, or pointing out women with large breasts and how hot they are in Film.
It starts to annoy me and I want to say something.
I’m not sure this man brought this to his attention. Whenever I switch sex, it seems creepy to me to comment on men who to him are our children’s ages.
Is there a polite and friendly way of dealing with this?
– A fan
Dear fan: You may interpret your own silence over the past two years as a form of politeness, but you have actually passively tolerated this man who offends you and (possibly) other women. Is that fair to him?
Tell him, “You are important to me, and so I’m going to tell you about your habit that really bothers me. Please listen to me.”
Dear Amy, You have been far from grassroots regarding the offering of prayer from health care workers.
These people who offer prayer are taking advantage of the patients.
When I was post-operative after bypass surgery, a preacher came into my room uninvited and asked if I would like to pray with him.
I told him to get hell out of my room because the last thing I wanted to do was ask his supposed deity for help that she couldn’t give.
– Pure Life
Dear Pura: You had the right to ship this preacher box.
You can email Amy Dickinson at askamyamydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter, askamy, or Facebook.
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