When a friend or family member is affected by hoarding, it can be hard to be a bystander. Living with a spouse who has hoarding tendencies can be even trickier to navigate and puts a strain on your relationship. People who hoard usually have other emotional issues or suffer from mental health, and their spouse needs to approach these problems with empathy and acceptance. The first step is identifying whether you spouse suffers from a disorder, or if they are simply disorganized.
Signs Your Spouse Has Hoarding Disorder
- A compulsive need to own items, has a spending problem, or can’t turn down a “good deal”.
- Emotional attachment to items and are unwilling to get rid of anything.
- The mess affects your daily life at home. For example, cooking and eating together in the kitchen is a difficult task from the build up of items.
- The items and behaviour effect your friends and family, especially if they visit your home.
- Your partner suffers previous disorders such as ADD, anxiety, or depression.
- Your partner avoids the topic of their hoarding behaviour and feels ashamed.
- Issues with organization and maintaining a clean space.
How to Cope
If you believe your spouse may be affected by hoarding disorder, it’s best to approach them with empathy and nonjudgment. It may feel as if your partner does not care about your needs to live in a clean space, but they are struggling with something much bigger internally. The next step is to take the time to understand what hoarding disorder is. We recommend the International OCD Foundation as a resource that covers the complexities surrounding hoarding. Once you have an understanding of what is happening, you can help them get to a place where they feel safe and are willing to work with you to overcome it.
Managing Living With a Hoarder
- Install smoke detectors in every room your partner hoards. A sprinkler system may be necessary depending on the extremeness of the situation, as the mess can pose a threat to your family’s safety.
- Do not move or throw anything away without consulting your partner first. Throwing out their items can lead to negative emotions and issues between the both of you.
- If they are willing to meet with a therapist, this is always an incredible option. Going to a therapist may take some warming up to. Once they are ready, go with them and bring photos of their hoards.
- After an open discussion with your partner, try and see if they are willing to move some items to a storage facility.
Once you have established trust and they are willing and ready to work on their habits, then you can begin helping them on their road to recovery. It’s best to remember this is not your journey, your role is to be their cheerleader. Take baby steps, guide where possible, and do not overstep any boundaries.
Tips for Showing Your Support
- Celebrate the small wins.
- Do not enable/encourage their shopping habits.
- Give them small nudges but try to avoid putting a lot of pressure on them.
- Volunteer to help organize stuff with them.
- Create a “maybe keep” section when getting rid of items to help and encourage them to let go.
If a loved one you know is affected by hoarding, they are not alone. Here at 1st Hoarding Clean up, we strive to approach our clients with empathy, compassion, and discretion to help them get back on their feet. Contact us today by calling us at 855-465-2597 or by filling out a contact form here.