There’s a pack rat in every couple

Hoarders: small business edition
Image by RobertFrancis via Flickr

There is no supermarket receipt, movie ticket,  trip brochure or stained t-shirt too old or banal for my guy. He cannot part with a single thing. We have piles of papers that collect and procreate on every surface he commandeers. He has a closet full of shirts from fashion’s past, t-shirts too shapeless and stained to wear “out” but are saved for “painting” or “home repairs” that he no longer undertakes. He has clothes from former body sizes, tech books from technologies that no longer deserve that descriptor (DOS for Dummies anyone? How about a box of 8 track cassettes?).

Our garage is filled with the detritus of hobbies gone awry or awreck, dehydrated paint, replacement parts for things we no longer own.  But, he is loathe to get rid of them because you never know…. And, on the rare occasion, we we find need of some old tool or book or whatnot, he says,   “See, I knew we’d need this some day.”

One year for Mother’s Day, he offered me the best present ever. He spent a few hours cleaning out the garage. He was right. I was thrilled. My load was lightened.

There is, however, a yearning in both of us for a more zen, more simple life and environment. The only problem is that zenifying and simplifying require having to sort through decades of books, receipts, t-shirts, broken appliances, etc. to decide what to stash and what to trash. It isn’t easy going simple. So, crap continues to stockpile.

I do not want to end up on a reality TV show like Hoarders or Hoarding:Buried Alive. I do not want to have our family have to painfully sort through  (after our demise of course)  all the flotsom and jetsam of our well-lived life. But, in truth, keeping a long term relationship is a more important than the stuff he’s keeping.  So, while he continually collects,  I  perpetually sneak stuff into the trash or off to Goodwill. Between us, the rising tide of trash somehow remains below flood level. I can live with that.

Every couple has a pack rat in it. When I detailed this problem to a friend, she confessed unsympathetically that she’s the hoarder in her house and understands his perspective completely. Are you harried by a hoarder? Or are you the pack rat in your relationship? And how do you handle it?

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