Hoarding behavior can affect loved ones, not just the individual with hoarding behavior. The loved one who is hoarding has a relationship with his/her belongings, which can impede upon other relationships. Significant others – spouses, fiancés, boyfriends, girlfriends, whatever the case – will feel the effects of the hoarding, and the hoarding conditions may begin to impair the relationship.
If the significant other is living with the hoarder in the same residence, then the clutter will physically disrupt his/her life as well as the hoarder's. There may be arguments and fights erupting over cleaning the house and getting rid of “junk,” and there may be a continuous battle for attention and for stability. The clutter may feel like a “third person” in the relationship, as expressed by Lauren Libbert in the Daily Mail, providing her perspective as the wife of a hoarder. The significant other of the hoarder may not feel that the items collected are of value and may not understand the desire to hold on to such objects. He/she may feel that the hoarder is choosing material objects first, neglecting the needs and desires of loved ones. Before giving up on your partner and state of affairs, try to work together to overcome this condition and its trials. It may be difficult and it won’t be resolved overnight, but it is possible to overcome hoarding.
Attempting to dispose of items without the consent of the hoarder will only make matters worse. You would not wish for someone to come into your home and throw out all of your things; to the hoarder, those papers, boxes, books, and miscellaneous items are all of value, these are their precious possessions. Throwing away these items will feel like the ultimate betrayal to the individual and immediately make the person defensive and upset, worsening the situation. It is necessary to be patient and gentle with the individual for the best results. Setting aside judgement and acknowledging that a deeper issue is present will make it easier on both the hoarder and yourself.
Begin by educating yourself about the hoarding condition. A better understanding of hoarding will make it easier for you to address the individual and his/her habits. Try to convince the hoarder to seek help, physical and psychological. Having the person on board with the idea of external help is a crucial step towards overcoming hoarding. Finding a qualified, objective 3rd party to facilitate the situation can help to make more progress and minimize unnecessary conflict.
Don’t forget about your needs as well. In some situations, couples therapy can be beneficial to mending the relationship. The hoarding habits affect everyone – the hoarder and those in his/her life. An expert can aid in breaking down the issue and coming up with solutions with less friction. The way to overcome hoarding-related relationship problems is to overcome the overall hoarding problem. Your significant other is your partner and it is crucial for both parties to work together in order to stay together. It is okay to also seek the help of others if both of you are finding it difficult to work things out alone. Mental health professionals specializing in hoarding and relationships can help add some insight and advice to help you both overcome hoarding and strengthen your relationship. If the physical cleanup is difficult for you to address together, consider Address Our Mess, a professional hoarding cleanup service. Compassionate case managers and crews are providing help to those in need, cleaning up properties and helping to alleviate hoarding challenges.