My ADHD wife with hoarding tendencies

When we first got married right off the bat there was a clutter problem, it was in all rooms of the house. I refer to the clutter as piles. They would develop faster than I could clean them. We would fight about them all the time. Im the type of person that needs organization in the house. I need it so I can think clearly, I know it sounds OCD but I am far from it. I just need organization in the house.

Over 8 years of marriage I have been able to gain some control of the house especially in the main living areas of the house where people walk in. There is still clutter but its easily maskable with some cleaning. When it comes to the rooms of the house its a different story. Our bedroom looks like a bomb went off. One example I can use is about 4 years ago we were robbed and they hit our bedroom. Even though it didn't really look any different than it did before they ransacked the room. About 2 years later my daughter walked into our room and said "Daddy did we get robbed again?" I knew exactly what she was talking about.

Our kids rooms are the same way, I feel its such an injustice to the kids because they can have their room the way they want it. If my kids are just as messy fine, I can deal with that, but I feel its their right to produce their own mess and not deal with my wifes. 

The garage is another story, yes I know that most garages are the storage for the house but I would love to be able to park my car in it. We can park my wifes but the other half is getting worse. It goes in cycles, we clean it then it gets bad again. I have a workout area of that side that i am trying to keep clear but as more stuff comes in I have to move the stuff to the sides and build a wall. Literally there is a wall on either side of me.

Im so sick of it that I hate her now.

Of course not only that she has others issues she has. We finally started going to a marriage counselor. He determined she was ADHD, he diagnosed her and she was rated a sever. Along with that she also has a Auditory Processing Disorder. Her father has Borderline Personality Disorder and I am detecting some of those signs as well. What does this tell me? She has a necrological issue most likely passed down from her father. Her brothers and sister also have some disorders so I can put 2 and 2 together to figure out this was passed down to them.

So far she has not started taking medication, she does not like that fact that she has to do it but she is going to try.

Here is my problem, I am sick of everything and sick of the mess. I dont even want to try anymore. What she is struggling to understand is that because of her actions for so many years it makes you feel like she has never cared about me. Why would I want to even try with someone who does not care? Yes I know now she has a disorder but Im just so far gone now.

Another issue is even now after going to marriage counseling and knowing both her and I that our marriage is pretty much over she still does not even take the steps to even show me she can start cleaning up the mess. I would think even though she is ADHD and she has a hard time focusing that with the marriage at stake she would gain an interest in cleaning up.

What I need to ask you guys is this:

  1. Is there any hope of our marriage functioning at some "normal" state
  2. Even with medication is this something I have to come to grips with that is going to be a struggle for the rest of our marriage and lives?

I need to know, I hate her so bad now that I need to see what the medication is going to to. Thats where Im at. She is worried because she feels that she is taking the medication just for me (even though the marriage counselor is telling her that she should be taking it for her and not just for me) and I cant give her a definitive answer that I am even going to stay with her even after she takes the medication. I want to see what its going to be like because the way I feel is if it does not improve, Im out.

Anyone else feeling the same way? Please talk to me people.


Hoarding Tendencies

I hate to say it because the hope of this site is to help keep marriages together but in my experience, 1. Normal, no.  2. Come to grips with for the rest of your life?  Yes.  It does not go away.  You / she won't change that behavior, in my experience.

My wife is a hoarder, too.  She stacks, re-stacks, re-re-stacks and moves things about but hardly anything ever leaves the house.  Her idea of cleaning is to stack things in another room, even higher.  We have unused wedding gifts (over 25 yrs) and she still won't part with them.  She saves all sorts of stuff.  Most things could be tossed. Several are un-filed tax and financial records.  She just hates to put them in a filing cabinet or records box.  I have made several available to her and she stacks the stuff next to them.  I find myself doing the same because there isn't room left to set things down to file.  The filing task becomes a long process each time.  I have cleaned two separate rooms out to remodel them and she had both refilled within three weeks each time! Just loose piles of stuff on the floor.

I gave up and now just throw things out and suggest you do to.  Find a time when she is out to start.  Just move remaining things around and toss a quarter or more of it at a time.  Oldest to newest.  Don't leave it lying around in the house or she may dig through it.  Make sure you toss some of "your" stuff.  I prominently move some of my things into her stacking room or by the front door about two weeks ahead.  Then I one day toss my stuff and lots of the things she has been stacking.  Most things go straight to the trash or perhaps donation centers if good quality clothing or furniture / household goods / toys are in the mix.  You could also say you need to dust and show her some of the filthy dust cloths.  You can redistribute smaller piles until you get rid of them all.  I also have moved things out to block walking paths, then gotten "permission" (acquiescence) to toss those things.

I found she didn't object to the things being tossed. She just didn't want to be responsible for the disappearance of the items.  In her mind, if she does not make a decision and ignores a situation, she is absolved of all responsibility; even though not making a choice is a choice in itself. Either get used to it or make alternate plans.

mushtodo's picture

Hoarding Tendencies

Hello, I'm a newly diagnosed ADHDer (March 2010). I won't go into all of the diagnose but I'm much like your wife. 

I am glad that at 30 years of marriage we have an answer to the problems we have experienced. I guess you could say I'm a small hoarder. Over the years, it has gotten continuously worse and the diagnostics came after I went to take courses as a Community Support worker. My husband is burned out being the caretaker and we had 4 children now in the 20's. Our house is a bit of clutter. Not dirty. But I'm finding it hard to let go of things. Emotional attachment. OCD is also a pain for me and the ADHD is a combined type. Where I live there is some supports but I've mostly been searching online. We don't have money for counseling and I need to talk about it. Journal writing is helping but it doesn't have the skin on or the one-on-one help. I myself am using the "Disorganized Mind" presently. The part that will be hard is the coaching in person.

When I was little I would have my sister do the cleaning up in our bedroom and I traded by doing her dishes. But now being married, my husband has done mostly everything. I have done things in baby steps to improve. I took things from the living room that were on a clothes rack last night that I was taking to a second hand store. (I heard comments from my husband and daughter how the living room was cleaned up. I moved it to my closet for now.) I went to take them there and I saw their hoarding piles at the Salvation Army all the way to the ceiling. I think the workers were getting frustrated in this town of ours. The Consignment stores donate their stuff to the Army etc after 6 weeks to keep up with the seasons. I just couldn't take my stuff to them after I saw all of it in the Army. I'm overweight and many clothes just don't fit anymore. I want to sell them all for a dollar each just so I can make a MC payment. I had to go on EI when my job ended, them medical EI, now I have to wait for the EI reassessment again now that my meds are stablized.

So as a small hoarder it still looks big in my eyes, but to the person who can help me and charges $30 an hour it is small she says and it won't take 6 months to do. My husband and I agree that we want to sell our house and downsize. We don't need a 5 bedroom house with a legal suite as a recording studio anymore. My youngest still uses it though.

So this is the goal for the small hoarding. Getting someone who helps people with ADHD who hoard is a first step. Money is the 2nd step and for me the Disorganized Mind book is just starting.

My biggest conquest now? Is making sure my marriage stays together. We are both committed but not enough help and money in our fair town way up north next to Alaska. Anyone care to help with some freebies?

I guess it's a cry for help and my username vouches for it. Yours truly, mushtodo :)