Saturday, November 17, 2007

Making Allowances for His Mess

For the past couple of days on Oprah, they've been featuring a story about the lives of hoarders. Specifically, one poor woman in her '60s who had turned her 3,000 sq. ft. home into a maze of paths through four- or five-foot-high piles of stuff.

And it reminded me that, while my husband is not anywhere near this bad (thank God!), he clearly does have a problem.

When we bought our house, it had a giant unfinished basement that we were going to remodel and make into his collection/music room. In addition to this giant space, he also had two bedrooms for his own use. One room was for records, the other for CD's.

In the six years that we've been here, none of his spaces has ever been organized and are now SO disorganized (because he's continued to add to his crazy collections) that you can barely walk into the rooms. A couple of years ago, I kicked him out of the record room because it was a dark and dingy hovel that you couldn't get into at all. Instead, I made it into an office that is light and bright and a usable space. But the other two areas have remained a mess and I just really can't take it much longer.

While watching Oprah, I made him watch part of it, too. And I couldn't stop myself from telling him that he has the same problem as this women, just not so bad. I also told him that I'm tired of having a home that's defined by his problem. With his stuff everywhere, it's not a fair representation of both of us. And it's certainly not the home I ever imagined owning or living in. Everything is a compromise to his clutter.

Now compromise is certainly key to marital harmony, but it's not fair that I'm always the one making allowances for his mess.

To be fair, he has gotten rid of some stuff in the past year or so. About a year ago, he finally parted with the dust-mite-ridden, broken, stained and downright ugly La-Z-boy recliner that he insisted on bringing from his old apartment to our new home. Once here, it had languished untouched in the basement for five years. To this day, it riles me up that we paid movers good money to transport that hulking piece of crap instead of just putting it out on the curb.

And as I've written about before, we did have a yard sale about a month ago and got rid of some stuff. But truthfully anything that Craze got rid of was just a tiny fraction of the stuff he's still hanging onto.

I'm a little bit at my wit's end. How do you convince someone that they need to purge when they don't see a problem? In the past, I've threatened him, yelled, cried, pleaded. Nothing seems to motivate him to get it organized and under control. He's perfectly content for our overnight guests to squeeze past thousands of dusty, piled up comic books and action figures to get to their bed in what's supposed to be the "Guest Room" (not the record, CD or comics room). To me, it's a sad, embarrassing and unacceptable joke.

And the worst of it? I often think that all these piles of musty stuff are so much more important to him than I am. After all, he actively reiterates this daily in his unwillingness to organize what he has and his constant purchasing of new items that have no place to go despite my pleas to stop.

And that's the saddest part of all.

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