Originally Published: June 12, 2016 10:49 p.m.
Dear Annie: My husband is a good, dependable man, but he is a terrible hoarder. A number of years ago, we agreed on separate bedrooms, so he could be messy in private. When we bought our current home, it came with a garage and he was in seventh heaven. All of his “treasures,” including things that had been in boxes for decades, would have a home. He would have the garage to himself, as well as the huge workroom in the basement. In return, I got the master bedroom, and the third bedroom would be for our books and household files.
Well, Annie, my book room is now a constant stash place for transient items and the downstairs workroom looks like an explosion went off. The garage is filled to the hilt with his stuff. I have one small shelf with gardening materials that I struggle to reach over all of the accumulation.
He never throws anything out, for fear he “might need it.” This includes mail going back weeks, which he leaves on the dining room table until the stack topples over. Then I put the stack in a shopping bag and stash it beside his computer. Where it stays for decades.
But the latest drama has me really irked. A few years ago, he bought a beautiful, expensive mattress, but claimed it made him sore. So he started buying one cheap air mattress after another. The original mattress ended up in my book room, so now I can’t even reach the household files. He wants to put it in my bedroom, claiming I have two bedrooms to his one.
Am I being too inflexible and strict? I can’t stand clutter, and I feel he is constantly encroaching. Every time I manage to create an empty shelf, he fills it.
How can I make this better? – Drowning in Stuff
Dear Drowning: Your husband will continue to encroach on any available space. He can’t help himself. You’ve been exceedingly tolerant, but everyone has limits. Please contact the International OCD Foundation (iocdf.org) for information on hoarding and how to help your husband. You can start by respectfully asking whether he will allow you to dispose of the mattress, since he will not be using it again and it is taking up a lot of space. Under no circumstances should you let it be stored in your bedroom.
Dear Annie: Your response to “Fearful” should have included advice to see her ophthalmologist for an eye exam. Her poor night vision may be due to developing cataracts, a common problem in older persons. Interocular lens replacements is a very short, safe procedure performed under local anesthesia. My surgery is scheduled, and I’m looking forward to once again driving at night. – Montana
Dear Montana: Several readers suggested that “Fearful” might enjoy driving at night once she has cataract surgery, if that should turn out to be the problem. It’s a great suggestion, although she may have other reasons for not driving at night that are unconnected to her vision.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.