Dealing With a Partner Who Won't Part With Anything

Dealing With a Partner Who Won't Part With Anything

Sarah Rae Smith
Apr 20, 2010

When my husband and I were married, we were immediately buried under the "stuff and things" of our previous, single lives. We're both artists and pack rats, trained to think that everything can be used for something and storing it is no big deal and worth your time, as long as it's organized. Then we moved 7 times over the next 5 years!

Like many of you, we're not ones to hire movers when it comes to our relocation. It always seems like money that could be spent elsewhere, so we suck it up and get it all done. This quickly became my main motivation to thin out most of my belongings. It became apparent that if I wanted the job of moving to be easier, then we needed less stuff.

I quickly purged most of my craft supplies thinking I could always purchase what I needed or scavenge thrift stores for odds and ends. I went through my books to see if there was anything I wouldn't read again and could donate to the local library and even went through my ridiculously large backstock of 35mm film, negatives and prints. Having been born with a camera in hand, this wasn't an easy thing to do, but I made it happen.

While I was busy trying to shed physical weight from our belongings, my husband we still in against the whole thing. With hundreds of pieces of art supplies, shelf after shelf of designer toys and more clothes than any man should ever own, getting rid of things just wasn't on his to-do list.

For several years, I felt ridiculously frustrated with things; after all, I had gone through all of my items and had lived without them for quite some time — but as the one home during the day, I was still surrounded by his things. It sounds childish (trust me, I know) and I know people part with items at different times and in different ways along the road of life, but it somehow still got the better of us inside.

It wasn't until we moved from a 3300 sq. ft. open floor plan loft (where we both brought home any cool Craigslist find there was to be had!) into 900 sq. ft. that reality struck. No matter how many times I tried to influence his collective nature, nothing had the same effect as standing in the middle of a previously empty living room, 100% surrounded by boxes of our stuff.

I set to work sorting through my things in the usual manner and he stepped up to the plate to help as well. I couldn't have been happier and not just because I was getting my way, but because our home truly became "our home." It wasn't 4 walls filled with my stuff and his stuff anymore, it was our home, filled with cherished memories, supplies and decor we brought into the home together.

It might have taken me 5 years to help him see that all that excess stuff was really holding us back, but what's more important is knowing that the next time we move (which will hopefully be the last for quite some time!) and I'm carrying all of our items up and down the stairs, that we have both done our part to making the process as easy as possible.

There are many strategies to helping people thin out their belongings and guiding them to keeping only what they love. We're here to tell you that you should consider yourself lucky if those work the first time attempted and to embrace the idea of building "your home" instead of " a home with stuff in it." It might take a few years, but eventually, everyone will come around. Hang in there!

(Image: Sarah Rae Trover)

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