How to Find Peace When You’re Married to a Hoarder

According to the International OCD Foundation, hoarding is most prevalent among people who are 50 years or older, however, it’s a condition that affects the entire family. Hazardous materials and pest infestations that result from neglect can make the home dangerous and unlivable.

It is difficult to watch a relative sink into the abyss of hoarding, but when the hoarder happens to be your significant other, you may be left feeling hopeless, frustrated and depressed.

Finding Help

The first step in finding help for your partner’s hoarding lies in figuring out whether he or she is actually a hoarder or just a really dedicated pack rat. If all or part of your home has become unusable, if you’re hesitant to allow people in, or if the items accumulating are generally useless, your spouse is a hoarder, notes hoarding psychology expert Randy O. Frost in a recent interview with Huffington Post.

All of the pleading, threatening, understanding and tough love in the world is not going to change your spouse until he or she is ready to change. If yours isn’t, and the situation has become intolerable, it may be time to move out and find your inner peace. Even if it’s only temporary—taking a step back might be the best thing for both of you, and sometimes change can evoke other changes.

Cleaning Up

Once your spouse has made the decision that change is necessary, it’s time to seek professional help to get the ball rolling. A third party will be able to assist with the clear-out decision-making process, and will contribute an expert, unbiased voice. You’ll likely be advised to work with your partner to go through your household items one-by-one, assigning each item to a pile: Trash, Maybe, Keep. Extreme hoards often pose health hazards and fire risks, and trying to tackle a hoard alone can be overwhelming.

Depending on the level of debris and hazardous waste on the property, it may be necessary to call in a professional trash removal company. You’ll also want to have a dumpster rental on hand. Enlist the services of a company like Next Day Dumpsters, which handles delivery and pick-up all in one fee.

Keeping the Momentum

Once you’ve cleaned up and cleared out and there’s room and space inside your home, two experts may be in order:

  • A mental health professional who specializes in hoarding
  • A professional organizer

Occasionally a hoarder can recover without counseling and/or therapy, but more often than not, without some type of long-term intervention services, the hoard will accumulate all over again over time.

To rid the habits of compulsive hoarding, your spouse must understand the whys, whens and hows of this insidious disease. A therapist can help your loved one move safely toward this self-discovery.

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