Should I Throw Out My Husband’s Clutter

To Throw Away the Messie’s Stuff or Not?

This is an even bigger question than whether to move the Messie’s stuff out of your way. I can tell you from the perspective of a bona fide Messie—Messies take their belongings very seriously.

Before we go any further with this hot topic, let me remind you of one of the tenets of this book. We do not consider dealing with the Messie’s things for the benefit of the Messie—to do him a favor. We focus on ourselves. If the junk the Messie has is significantly interfering with our lives, we consider the possibility of removing it from where it is doing that interfering to some place where it will not interfere.

This is not an easy thing to do because Messies have a feeling—not a thought, mind you, a feeling—that the cherished belongings are somehow alive like pets and that the Messie is morally responsible for their well-being. That is why Messies want to give them away to a good home where they will be properly valued and cared for. As with an old and faithful dog, the Messie does not casually evict his junk.

Messies also have the feeling—again, not a clear thought, but a vague feeling—that some part of the former owner is mixed with the belongings.

Messies live with fear of being without what they need. If they have a lot of stuff, they feel safe, cared for. To get rid of anything is to risk kicking up that old fear of being in need.

The Messie loves his things, but he hates the hold the belongings have on him. In some cases, it is a blessing for someone to come into the picture and move things along. In my case, the order and beauty my mother provided for me as a child—by handling the comings and goings of my things—was a real gift to me. Because I had all of the characteristics of a Messie even as a child, it would have been a burden for me to have had to make decisions about getting rid of things that obviously had to go.

I am suggesting that sometimes you do yourself and the Messie a favor to take over and move stuff out if you have his knowledge and permission. At other times, where the Messie strongly objects, you cannot get rid of the beloved possessions without hurting him and your relationship. Again, I recommend that you not consider dealing with any belongings except those that directly interfere with your life. If the belongings do not directly interfere with you either because they make the house hard to use or because they make it ugly, do not even consider moving them or getting rid of them.

Taken with permission from When You Live With a Messie by Sandra Felton.