Need advice - Cleaning arguments with my wife.

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Dreamerguy
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Post by Dreamerguy »

I don't know if this is an unusual problem or not. The biggest thing my wife and I argue about is tidying the house - the problem is not that I don't do it but that I do.

We just had such an argument. The dining room table and china cabinet had become storage magnets. About a 2 months ago I started tiding it and my wife told me to leave it because there was some things she wanted to go through. Well it didn't happen. So last Friday I had a day off and I couldn't stand the mess any more. So I made 3 piles: 1 into the recycle box, 1 for filing and one of my wife's stuff that I brought up to the spare bedroom for her to sort out. I only threw out what I considered to be obvious garbage into the recycle box - old Christmas cards and Christmas letters, envelopes, old unimportant school papers and such.

So my wife gets home and is angry that I threw out "her" stuff. She goes through the recycle box to go through all the paper. She's mad that I didn't leave it for her. How long am I supposed to leave it?

The last time this happened was an even bigger argument when I cleaned the furnace room about a year ago. I had made everything so compact by putting suitcases inside other ones and making use of storage containers that she was sure that I had thrown away some of her stuff (I hadn't - even though some stuff IMO should be tossed).

She is usually quite easy going but this is the almost only thing we argue about. She still has the closet in the spare bedroom filled with young children's toys and books. Our youngest is 15 and our oldest two are young adults, with no significant relationships, let alone near-term hopes of grandchildren. My wife is usually quite sensible but she seems to have an emotional attachment to things.

Is this a normal situation?
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Accountable
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Post by Accountable »

Dude, you have adult children and you still haven't learned?? You messed up her nest. Do you have an office, workshop, or some other area you call "mine"? Would you appreciate somebody coming in and throwing half your crap (yes I know, to you it's stuff) out and rearranging the rest? That's what you've done.

Solution: let her know what you want to do before you do it, discuss with her your plan & alter as necessary, and try to actually begin when she's still there.

My beloved and I had this series of fights and ironed this out fairly early in our marriage. I'm surprised you lasted this long without that particular conflict. Are you recently retired or something?
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valerie
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Post by valerie »

Don't ever throw out anything that might some day mean something

to someone else, or that means something to your wife NOW.

Because my Mom saved things, I have the piece of paper with ladies

names and gifts they gave... at the baby shower for ME. SIXTY-ONE

years ago.

We have my husband's very valuable astronaut G.I. Joe.

I can see how you don't want to look at mess, so maybe try

and figure out how stuff can be kept but be hidden away

from sight. Under bed storage boxes, maybe? Would that help?

Or old dressers/armoires, picked up for a song at a garage

or church rummage sale. Put papers etc. in them and close

doors/drawers.
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Dreamerguy
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Post by Dreamerguy »

I'm not sure if you are saying that a fellow only has control over a workshop or garage and has no say over the rest of the house. These things have come up in the past but now that the children are almost all adults, I am at the point where I figure we deserve to have a little more order. I don't find it relaxing to come home and see the dining room table piled with papers, books, etc. and the china cabinet used for overflow. As I mentioned I offered to clean it well over a month ago, but she said to leave it to her. Some of these things, like Christmas cards have been there since December. And all that was put in recycle (which is just used for paper) was old Christmas and school correspondence, which she was free to check and salvage if necessary.

Of course, this scenario of extra clutter is somewhat repeated throughout the house.

Do I as a guy, just have to live with the mess and not be allowed to straiten it up? What if the situation was reversed and the dining room table was piled with my tools, papers, books, etc.?
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Accountable
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Post by Accountable »

Dreamerguy;1431224 wrote: I'm not sure if you are saying that a fellow only has control over a workshop or garage and has no say over the rest of the house.I don't think it's a guy/girl thing. It's just the way your situation seems to have worked out. Our situation is just the opposite. I'm the clutterbug and my beloved's the neatnick.

Dreamerguy;1431224 wrote: These things have come up in the past but now that the children are almost all adults, I am at the point where I figure we deserve to have a little more order. I don't find it relaxing to come home and see the dining room table piled with papers, books, etc. and the china cabinet used for overflow. As I mentioned I offered to clean it well over a month ago, but she said to leave it to her. Some of these things, like Christmas cards have been there since December. And all that was put in recycle (which is just used for paper) was old Christmas and school correspondence, which she was free to check and salvage if necessary. I'm not saying what you did was wrong, or even necessarily inconsiderate. I'm just recommending you add the extra step.

Dreamerguy;1431224 wrote: Of course, this scenario of extra clutter is somewhat repeated throughout the house.

Do I as a guy, just have to live with the mess and not be allowed to straiten it up? What if the situation was reversed and the dining room table was piled with my tools, papers, books, etc.?That's not at all what I'm recommending, and I hope I explained it a little better.

One thing though. We never ever throw out Christmas cards, or any other correspondence from friends & family. I don't get it, since we also never ever revisit any of that stuff to re-read & reminisce. She wants it so we keep it. Fortunately, she's also the neatnick of our team. Surely you understand how disrespectful it is, putting such things in the recycle bin so that she can pull them out if she wants? Box 'em up with her. Maybe she'll agree with you that they should be tossed, but at least she will have a chance to give her input.
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Scrat
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Post by Scrat »

Dude, you have adult children and you still haven't learned?? You messed up her nest.


x2, do not foul the nest!!!!
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Lady J
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Post by Lady J »

"Yes Honey."

words to live by! :D

I'm not married but in dealing with clients in our remodeling projects and home building I can tell you the man never wins (well very seldom). I agree with Accountable...pack the clutter up in boxes for her to sort thru as she has time and ambition but never throw it out! Recycling is the same as throwing it out by the way.

BTW....welcome to FG Dreamerguy.

Lady J

PS Good luck
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Post by Oscar Namechange »

I don't think this Is a cleaning Issue but more of a hoarders problem.

This site may be of use to you.

Discovery Health "Hoarding Signs and How to Get Help"
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Týr
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Post by Týr »

Dreamerguy;1431221 wrote: Is this a normal situation?
Very. Anything else would be exceptional.

I know of three possible guaranteed solutions: divorce, death and downsizing. Anything less is just asking for trouble.
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jones jones
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Post by jones jones »

Welcome to FG.

Either your wife is a hoarder or she is unable to let go of her past. Either way you in a lose/lose situation.

The nature of my day job so to speak, requires that I am often present when elderly folk are down-scaling to a smaller home or about to go to a retirement facility. In most cases their children are involved and I am so saddened by the way in which they casually make the arbitrary decision to sell off what they believe the parents will not require in the new place of abode.

Often their mother or father will protest and mom will go: "But Jane, my mother gave me that tea set/painting/lamp for my 16th birthday."

And Jane goes: "Mom, there is absolutely no space where you're moving to for clutter. We'll sell it."

And so on ...

And mom and sometimes dad sit and watch all their memories leaving their possession.

Small wonder that within a year they often pass on ...

(Just a "parable." Not suggesting this will happen to your wife.)
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Post by Patsy Warnick »

Dreamerguy

welcome to FG

You were already told NO.

Good luck as I'm sure your wife is still mad.

Patsy
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Post by along-for-the-ride »

My hubby likes to collect things and sometimes they are left on a table or kitchen counter. Slightly annoying, but I love him dearly, so I quietly re-arrange these things so they blend into our home. We do have a lot of clutter, but we still have room to live comfortably and safely .:wah:

I'm not saying your wife is a hoarder per say, but the link below may have some helpful tips:

What to Do If You Live With a Hoarder | Gaiam Life

Hello and welcome to Forum Garden, Dreamerguy :)

Here's a welcome mat for you...........

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Dreamerguy
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Post by Dreamerguy »

Thanks for all the helpful advice and the friendly welcomes. I think my wife has calmed down and I have too.

I believe that my wife is a bit of a hoarder - not anywhere near like those TV shows. However, we have 30 years of income tax and other files such as letters, a closet full of young children's toys and enough canning jars to supply a small farm (about 10 boxes of them) when we live on a small city lot. That's just to name a few of the things.

I used to be more that way too but now I think I'm getting to the point where I see the value of empty space - Sort of Zen like - It's very relaxing.

Part of it too, is that there are probably people who could make use of some of these things rather than them gathering dust in our closet and eventually probably tossed by our children one day into the future. I also can't see giving old toys to our future (hopefully the distant future) grandchildren. I'm sure we will want to buy them new things rather than giving them battered old toys and torn books. I don't think that I am totally unsentimental though, I don't mind keeping one or two of the children's special toys but we just seem to have overdone it.

We've agreed in the future that I will just put everything in a bag and let her deal with it. (Although from past experience, even that doesn't always work.)
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Post by ecotime47 »

So your wife clearly has attachment issues. Typically that kind of behavior is to compensate and fill a void for something in the past. From now on, you two should clean together to keep her from getting upset. You also may want to explore what might be underlying, unresolved issues in her life. If she doesn't deal with them now, the hoard will just get worse!
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Post by Snooz »

along-for-the-ride;1431267 wrote: My hubby likes to collect things and sometimes they are left on a table or kitchen counter. Slightly annoying, but I love him dearly, so I quietly re-arrange these things so they blend into our home. We do have a lot of clutter, but we still have room to live comfortably and safely .:wah:

I'm not saying your wife is a hoarder per say, but the link below may have some helpful tips:

What to Do If You Live With a Hoarder | Gaiam Life

Hello and welcome to Forum Garden, Dreamerguy :)

Here's a welcome mat for you...........


Did you miss Oscar's post where she suggested the wife might be a hoarder and included a link? I don't understand why you always do this.
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Post by Oscar Namechange »

I must be on Ignore.
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Snooz
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Post by Snooz »

oscar;1431277 wrote: I must be on Ignore.


I must be too since it's happened to me several times.

Anyway! How about a small storage rental. She can set it up with some inexpensive filing cabinets, a chair and she can peruse to her hearts content.
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Post by Oscar Namechange »

SnoozeAgain;1431278 wrote: I must be too since it's happened to me several times.

Anyway! How about a small storage rental. She can set it up with some inexpensive filing cabinets, a chair and she can peruse to her hearts content.
That's a good Idea.

My husband has his shed and garage for what I won't let him bring In the house.
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along-for-the-ride
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Post by along-for-the-ride »

SnoozeAgain;1431276 wrote: Did you miss Oscar's post where she suggested the wife might be a hoarder and included a link? I don't understand why you always do this.


Snooze.....I do not ALWAYS do this. I did notice oscar's link and just wanted to expand upon it with another link. The OP was asking for advice and I was willing to help. My link does not go to the same site as oscar's does. Extra info...extra suggestions...that's all. Is there a "one link per thread" rule that I do not know about?
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Post by Patsy Warnick »

Dreamer

You & your wife have allowed to store/collect stuff over the years & I understand.

It's getting the energy to finally tackle one stack of stuff & working through to another.

I have a difficult time throwing jars away. Now that most containers are plastic I keep my jars.

Do I need them all - NO, I sure don't. I would have to donate my jars - I still couldn't throw them away.

I'm a collector of stuff - it's organized & displayed well - I don't need to add to any collection but if I run across a great deal?:wah:

Always allow your wife to filter through stuff you've boxed

so, you box stuff up - wife filters through the stuff & you both donate... win win

one stack at a time

Patsy
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Dreamerguy
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Post by Dreamerguy »

I don't know if any of you have read the book "Your Money or Your Life" but it has an interesting take on possessions. The authors basically say that possessions bring us pleasure until we reach the point of what they call "enough". After that point possessions have a negative effect on pleasure - more stuff to organize, insure, maintain, clean and store. I think that is perhaps one reason we find vacations away so much more relaxing than a vacation at home - It's a vacation from our stuff.
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Post by Accountable »

Seems like you have the right attitude on possessions. I don't like to throw things away, but when I finally do I really feel better. When dealing with your wife, I think if you do what you're describing with a bit of humor then it should work. Maybe give a deadline, such as "I've gathered all this stuff, I'll leave it for you to go through before I throw it, *oops*, take it out Friday (or trash day, or whatever).

As for the people that diagnosed hoarding, you gotta forgive them. They watch way too much reality TV.
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Lady J
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Post by Lady J »

George Carlin Talks About "Stuff" - YouTube

Couldn't resist! :yh_rotfl
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Post by Patsy Warnick »

:yh_rotfl :yh_rotfl

That's always been my favorite George with Stuff

good job Lady J

love that..!

Patsy
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Post by valerie »

oscar;1431277 wrote: I must be on Ignore.Don't feel like the Lone Ranger...

I must be, too, or he didn't like what I posted!
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Post by Ahso! »

As should be demonstrably evident to you by now, Dreamer, it's all about validation. And sex, of course - if Freud's still relevant, that is. He'd prescribe a little coke to try and shake the situation loose.

And, yes, there's apparently a right and wrong attitude regarding personal possessions.
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Post by Oscar Namechange »

Dreamerguy;1431221 wrote: I don't know if this is an unusual problem or not. The biggest thing my wife and I argue about is tidying the house - the problem is not that I don't do it but that I do.

We just had such an argument. The dining room table and china cabinet had become storage magnets. About a 2 months ago I started tiding it and my wife told me to leave it because there was some things she wanted to go through. Well it didn't happen. So last Friday I had a day off and I couldn't stand the mess any more. So I made 3 piles: 1 into the recycle box, 1 for filing and one of my wife's stuff that I brought up to the spare bedroom for her to sort out. I only threw out what I considered to be obvious garbage into the recycle box - old Christmas cards and Christmas letters, envelopes, old unimportant school papers and such.

So my wife gets home and is angry that I threw out "her" stuff. She goes through the recycle box to go through all the paper. She's mad that I didn't leave it for her. How long am I supposed to leave it?

The last time this happened was an even bigger argument when I cleaned the furnace room about a year ago. I had made everything so compact by putting suitcases inside other ones and making use of storage containers that she was sure that I had thrown away some of her stuff (I hadn't - even though some stuff IMO should be tossed).

She is usually quite easy going but this is the almost only thing we argue about. She still has the closet in the spare bedroom filled with young children's toys and books. Our youngest is 15 and our oldest two are young adults, with no significant relationships, let alone near-term hopes of grandchildren. My wife is usually quite sensible but she seems to have an emotional attachment to things.

Is this a normal situation?


I have read this OP again and subsequent posts and I have changed my mind that your wife may be a hoarder. Reading deeper, I feel It Is you that has the problem and not her. You come across as controlling.

The paragraph I have highlighted stands out to me. These things she has hung on to may have absolutely no significance or emotional attachment for you but you seem to be oblivious to her attachment to them and frankly, I find that quite cold and controlling.

Again, reading through your posts, you are talking about clutter on a table, a display cabinet and a storage cabinet not the entire house and that Is perfectly normal.

She may be your wife but she's an Individual who keeps possessions for her own reasons and not because you may like them or not.

My advice would be to show your wife some more respect and let her sort her things out In her own time. What Is causing the arguments Is not her clutter but you wanting to control what she keeps and what she throws away.

What you have said here, Is that she has agreed to sort her belongings but she hasn't sorted them quick enough for your liking..... and that Is the problem... not her.

By arranging her belongings Into recycle etc, what you have done, Is Invade her personal space and decided for her what she can keep and can not.... how about she does the same with your clothes?
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Dreamerguy
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Post by Dreamerguy »

oscar;1431313 wrote: I have read this OP again and subsequent posts and I have changed my mind that your wife may be a hoarder. Reading deeper, I feel It Is you that has the problem and not her. You come across as controlling.




It's funny that you should say that because, I feel the situation is just the opposite. I'm typically, in my admittedly very biased point of view, very easy going. Remember I put up with the table like that for months. And I put up with the spare bedroom being unusable (I didn't mention that there is also a crib in there.) My wife tends to have a streak of perfectionism and a need to control situations. I think that perfectionism, is related to the issue as I've heard it is a common theme among those who can't let go of things. But I will consider the criticism.
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Post by Oscar Namechange »

Dreamerguy;1431348 wrote: It's funny that you should say that because, I feel the situation is just the opposite. I'm typically, in my admittedly very biased point of view, very easy going. Remember I put up with the table like that for months. And I put up with the spare bedroom being unusable (I didn't mention that there is also a crib in there.) My wife tends to have a streak of perfectionism and a need to control situations and often the things I do (or people at her work, etc.) are not good enough. I think that perfectionism, is related to the issue as I've heard it is a common theme among those who can't let go of things. But I will consider the criticism.


Put It this way...

my husband has a corner of our lounge where he has his desk, filing cabinet, his pc and his clutter. Lord knows whats In and around his desk because I never bother looking but It is cluttered.

He could have his desk In another room but It's In the lounge because we like to be In the same room In the evening while he's doing his e bay stuff at night.

It doesn't bother me because It's his personal space exactly the same as the shed and the garage Is his personal space.

What I would suggest Is compromise.

People find It very Insulting when another, even our partners suggest that something we hold dear, Is worthless and should be thrown away. Our homes are where we can be ourselves. That's why we never really feel at home In a hotel room because It's devoid of our personal belongings that mean something to us.

Sometimes It's not about clutter per say but when we look at an Item, we can remember the time we were happy and they evoke happy memories. They may not to you but could to her.

Is It out of the question to buy another display cabinet for her things so the one you have Is not so cluttered?
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Post by Dreamerguy »

The china cabinet is fairly tidy. It just gets messy when excess mail and papers get stored in there. I wonder if some of you may be misunderstanding me - the only thing that I threw out was papers - mostly Christmas cards and old school correspondence (not report cards). And it was in a recycle box (which just contains paper), not amongst garbage - so my wife simply had to pull them out. But point taken - perhaps these items should have been set aside. I just know that wives typically make these kind of judgement calls on a daily basis and I suspect they would just be seen as keeping the house tidy.
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Post by Oscar Namechange »

Dreamerguy;1431352 wrote: The china cabinet is fairly tidy. It just gets messy when excess mail and papers get stored in there. I wonder if some of you may be misunderstanding me - the only thing that I threw out was papers - mostly Christmas cards and old school correspondence (not report cards). And it was in a recycle box (which just contains paper), not amongst garbage - so my wife simply had to pull them out. But point taken - perhaps these items should have been set aside. I just know that wives typically make these kind of judgement calls on a daily basis and I suspect they would just be seen as keeping the house tidy. That's the thing.. I wouldn't dream of going through my husbands cards and papers because I would not know what he believed to be Important. My theory Is that If he's kept It, then he's ept It for a reason. If It got to the stage where It was taking over, then I would suggest we went through It together.... It's just about respect for your partner....
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Post by Patsy Warnick »

Dreamer

you sound fed up... fed up with clutter that is.

just start working together separate stuff and get some donated.

good luck

Patsy
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Post by Accountable »

Dreamerguy;1431352 wrote: The china cabinet is fairly tidy. It just gets messy when excess mail and papers get stored in there. I wonder if some of you may be misunderstanding me - the only thing that I threw out was papers - mostly Christmas cards and old school correspondence (not report cards). And it was in a recycle box (which just contains paper), not amongst garbage - so my wife simply had to pull them out. But point taken - perhaps these items should have been set aside. I just know that wives typically make these kind of judgement calls on a daily basis and I suspect they would just be seen as keeping the house tidy.
It was the cards that raised the red flag for me. Cards are almost never thrown away in this house unless we're packing for a move or something.
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Post by Oscar Namechange »

Accountable;1431363 wrote: It was the cards that raised the red flag for me. Cards are almost never thrown away in this house unless we're packing for a move or something.


I totally agree.. I even keep an old shopping list my mother wrote once.

Some of her old recipe's are written on the backs of old cards also.

One mans trash Is another mans treasure.
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Post by Dreamerguy »

Part of the reason I like posting these types of questions on a forum rather than asking someone in person is that someone in person will probably give me the answer they think I want to hear. So I honestly appreciate the feedback.

I'm not against anyone keeping anything that they find sentimental, provided it doesn't hinder practical uses for a home. I think part of my point is that if something is special, then treat it as such by putting it in a special place. Don't leave it on the table for months. I don't think my wife did keep any of the Christmas cards in the end, she was just more upset that I didn't give her the chance to go through them - which I admit is a valid point. I was wrong on this level.

But I also can't help but believe that some of you who criticize me would also not have your limits. For example, oscar, let's say your husband collects fishing magazines and correspondence from some club he's a member of. All of this starts to pile on the dining room table. Not some unseen corner in the house but the dining room table. You ask him to tidy it up and he say's not to touch it; he will deal with it. A month passes. Another month passes. Would you just keep leaving it indefinitely? Would there not be some point where you would at least move the stuff?
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Post by Oscar Namechange »

Dreamerguy;1431395 wrote: Part of the reason I like posting these types of questions on a forum rather than asking someone in person is that someone in person will probably give me the answer they think I want to hear. So I honestly appreciate the feedback.

I'm not against anyone keeping anything that they find sentimental, provided it doesn't hinder practical uses for a home. I think part of my point is that if something is special, then treat it as such by putting it in a special place. Don't leave it on the table for months. I don't think my wife did keep any of the Christmas cards in the end, she was just more upset that I didn't give her the chance to go through them - which I admit is a valid point. I was wrong on this level.

But I also can't help but believe that some of you who criticize me would also not have your limits. For example, oscar, let's say your husband collects fishing magazines and correspondence from some club he's a member of. All of this starts to pile on the dining room table. Not some unseen corner in the house but the dining room table. You ask him to tidy it up and he say's not to touch it; he will deal with it. A month passes. Another month passes. Would you just keep leaving it indefinitely? Would there not be some point where you would at least move the stuff?


Then you have a point...

My husband does have fishing magazines but he doesn't let them mount up. As soon as they mount up, he gives them away.

Now you have gone Into more detail, I will repeat I think Its about compromise because to be honest, I'd hate It If clutter was piled on my dining table. How would your wife feel If you suggested that you spent an evening together going through It all and deciding where It's going to go. By repeatedly asking her to clear It may be making her feel a little henpecked.

Once you have decided on a home for the cards etc, she shouldn't have any problem next time you tidy up because you can just say that you've put It with the rest of the cards etc.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them. R.L. Binyon
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Accountable
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Need advice - Cleaning arguments with my wife.

Post by Accountable »

Dreamerguy;1431395 wrote: I don't think my wife did keep any of the Christmas cards in the end, she was just more upset that I didn't give her the chance to go through them - which I admit is a valid point.
This is all I was getting at.
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Dreamerguy
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Need advice - Cleaning arguments with my wife.

Post by Dreamerguy »

ecotime47;1431272 wrote: So your wife clearly has attachment issues. Typically that kind of behavior is to compensate and fill a void for something in the past. From now on, you two should clean together to keep her from getting upset. You also may want to explore what might be underlying, unresolved issues in her life. If she doesn't deal with them now, the hoard will just get worse!


This comment was very perceptive.
stacyjmes1
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Need advice - Cleaning arguments with my wife.

Post by stacyjmes1 »

valerie;1431223 wrote: Don't ever throw out anything that might some day mean something

to someone else, or that means something to your wife NOW.

Because my Mom saved things, I have the piece of paper with ladies

names and gifts they gave... at the baby shower for ME. SIXTY-ONE

years ago.

We have my husband's very valuable astronaut G.I. Joe.

I can see how you don't want to look at mess, so maybe try

and figure out how stuff can be kept but be hidden away

from sight. Under bed storage boxes, maybe? Would that help?

Or old dressers/armoires, picked up for a song at a garage

or church rummage sale. Put papers etc. in them and close

doors/drawers.


Yeah I agreed with your views valerie
Con6tY5efs
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Need advice - Cleaning arguments with my wife.

Post by Con6tY5efs »

have an emotional attachment to things.

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