Thinking of hiring an organizer

We have a storage unit that is filled to the brim with junk. Last summer DH told me that he needed to have another storage unit to organize from the bigger storage unit, and that he only needed it for a week (he charmed the storage unit manager into doing this). It is now January and I have been paying for two storage units this entire time. We have had this storage unit for 15 years, and he has made zero progress on organizing it. He has plenty of time (unemployed), but never makes any progress; well, unless you count spending 12 hours a day surfing the the Internet progress. I'm sick of paying all this money to store garbage and I'm sick of nagging him about it. 

What I would like to do is hire an organizing team (a couple of my friends do this for their business) to come in and get rid of everything. Obviously one of us would need to be there, most likely him, since I work. I want to make this as low-stress as possible. I don't want him to feel like I'm sabotaging him, because that's how he'll see it. My personal thoughts are that I'm sick and tired of paying for this, he won't fix it, and this will get it done quickly. How do I present this to him without making him feel bad about himself, or getting mad at me? Any thoughts? I just don't want any conflict.

Can't get there from here

"I just don't want any conflict."

I don't see how you can avoid it. Presumably these are his belongings?  (If you have anything of your own there I think you need to get it out first before broaching the whole thing).  No matter if you think it's junk, it's still his property and he's invested mental effort and feelings into keeping it (probably digging his heels in further when nagged more). I would tell him that in x weeks the 2nd (most recent) unit must be emptied because (insert reason, I would just say I wouldn't pay any longer).  If not emptied you will not be paying for it, so presumably he will lose the contents to the storage place until such time as he pays the bill.  At the same time as telling him this, tell him that in another 2 months the other storage unit must also be emptied, or he pays for it, or he loses the contents.  The risk of course is that he will find a way to get his junk moved to your house.  But since he has been allowed his stuff for 15 years, it isn't going to be easy to make any of this "low stress".  My guess would be that if you hired someone (do NOT use your friends unless you want to put them in the middle of this and make everything even worse) then he won't co-operate with them (since you would not be there and we are talking about his property).  Total up the amount of money spent on storage over the past 15 years, and tell him it cannot continue.  Be straight-forward, and carry through the plan (without nagging, ie if he doesn't make progress just do what you said you'd do).  My view, worth what you paid for it.

Good advice

Yes, I don't see any way to do this without conflict, honestly. 99% of it is his, he collects everything, and never throws anything away. He does not work so threatening to make him pay it is pointless as he doesn't bring in any income. And giving him ultimatums never works, he either completely blows up or goes the other way, acting wounded and says he's going to throw everything away (which would work but he never actually does it). 

 

I don't really know what to do, to be honest. I can't use half of my house because of all his stuff. The entire garage is stuffed full of old computers, servers, and comic books/cards/action figures. The downstairs room - that was supposed to be my office - is stuffed full of boxes of garbage - literally, boxes of actual garbage. And the storage is the biggest one that they have; he spent months devising this elaborate structure to hold everything in there that is two stories tall (no joke). He has junk in there that he's been meaning to fix for years, more collectibles, more just junk. So that's the entire bottom half of our house, plus two storages full, of his junk. 

I can't talk to him about it, he just gets defensive. I'm at a loss. Honestly the only way I see to get out of this is to get him out of town for a week and then I come in and at least get rid of the storage crap. But that's never going to happen. 

Plus he's bugging me to get an even bigger house so he can have MORE stuff. I can't win here. 

"He doesn't work"

Oh, sorry,  I hadn't picked up that he isn't working.  So is all this 'stuff' what he 'does' all day?   These things are his "babies", his "job", what he "thinks" about for much of the time?  Or does he do something else and just forget about the stuff until something threatens it?  If he considers it his "purpose in life" then what would he do all day if it all vanished? Is he hanging on to it because there is nothing else to occupy him? Is some displacement activity needed to make him let the old stuff go? What might that be?

Interesting theory

That's really interesting, your perspective. I think he definitely identifies with this stuff, it's like the more he can surround himself with the better he feels? I don't know. For example, the garage is filled to the brim with old computers, boxes of comic books, action figures, hundreds of thousands of cards. He has set it up so he sits at a desk (he gets a large office space area, while I am relegated to the kitchen table to earn a living, we can't actually use the kitchen table without rearranging my "office", I have been promised an office space for years and I gave up a long time ago) where he plays on different message boards and social networking sites all day long and looks at his stuff. All day. He takes a break to pick up our daughter at school, then goes right back down. Takes a break a couple times a day to do laundry. Eats dinner, then goes back to his "office" until around 2 AM. That is his daily grind. 

Most of this stuff, he hasn't even looked at in years. Decades. He wouldn't notice it if it was gone. 

I've asked him to not add anything to this without getting rid of something else but he just gets mad at me and acts like I'm cramping his style. At this point I just have given up, but I'm really tired of paying so much money every month for this. He has no problem spending my money to add to this, in fact, like I mentioned earlier, he's been bugging me to buy a bigger house for years so he can get more stuff. We have a 2400 square foot house for four people, and I can't use more than half of it because his stuff is everywhere! 

 

Hostage to his stuff?

So, speculating..

It's likely that he does get some mental 'exercise' and pleasant neuronal activity from perusing the piles of stuff but it's much more than his favorite baby blankie, isn't it?  If you'd been surrounded by your "job" and it's warm fuzzy feelings for 15 years, and then it all disappeared, you would be bereft.  What on earth would he do? Retreat further into the internet?  So, there has to be a plan (revealed or secret) for him to find some other way to spend his time?  But more than that, maybe he feels that this is his contribution to the household - that one bright sunny day when the magic fairy appears and gives him 800k for his carefully collected collectibles that he can turn to you and say 'See, all along I have been supporting us just as much as you'. Delusions are powerful, perhaps his male pride is satisfied by the honest belief that what he is doing is equally as valuable as actually paying a bill instead of racking up another one. I'm not excusing or justifying any of this of course, but maybe it's what he has in his head. Getting rid of the piles of stuff might produce a bigger problem?  How to avoid that?

But still, you're paying the bills and you have the power.  So he gets angry and defensive. What happens after that?  You still have the power.  Would you let a teenager hold you hostage like this (I don't know how old your children are but teenagers are quick to spot when someone takes advantage and can be awfully provoking, to say the least).  And what happens if one of your children has friends to visit? They eat at a table covered with his dusty belongings? Isn't he ashamed of that?

"bugging me to buy a bigger house"

Take him at his word, that he's serious. "I've been thinking about moving, though I haven't seen a place I'd like yet.  But perhaps we *should* make a start now. (Insert slight pause here) In order to get this house ready to show next week we need to clear our personal belongings and half the furniture so that every surface is clear, all shelves and closets are at minimum half-empty (it's what buyers expect these days), paint all the walls neutral, and call in some professional cleaners.  We'll be storing the furniture in our storage units. (Pause). I'll be working all week but you don't have anything scheduled, so can you just get this done and be ready to get some realtors here by Friday, that would be lovely".  Smile nicely, ask him if needs you to write all that down for him, and leave the house. 

Yep!

Again, you bring up some really good points. I'd like you to be on call for all my questions, mmmkay? :)

"It's likely that he does get some mental 'exercise' and pleasant neuronal activity from perusing the piles of stuff but it's much more than his favorite baby blankie, isn't it?  If you'd been surrounded by your "job" and it's warm fuzzy feelings for 15 years, and then it all disappeared, you would be bereft.  What on earth would he do? Retreat further into the internet?  So, there has to be a plan (revealed or secret) for him to find some other way to spend his time?  But more than that, maybe he feels that this is his contribution to the household - that one bright sunny day when the magic fairy appears and gives him 800k for his carefully collected collectibles that he can turn to you and say 'See, all along I have been supporting us just as much as you'. Delusions are powerful, perhaps his male pride is satisfied by the honest belief that what he is doing is equally as valuable as actually paying a bill instead of racking up another one. I'm not excusing or justifying any of this of course, but maybe it's what he has in his head. Getting rid of the piles of stuff might produce a bigger problem?  How to avoid that?"

Well, he's never been able to provide income, he's never tried to do life insurance or investments or whatever. He doesn't think that way. He thinks in terms of one day only. One day a few years ago he told me that he was collecting all this stuff so that after he died, I could sell it and make lots of money. He doesn't see the logic in this; first, I would have no clue on who to sell this stuff to, second, it would take me MONTHS of work to do this, which is so completely the opposite of thoughtful that I don't even know where to start, and third, he's told me multiple times that none of it is worth anything when we have big bills that I need to come up with the money for. So which is it - it's worth a lot of money, or it's not worth anything? The only time he's ever gotten life insurance is through me, and even then it's puzzling to him as to why it's necessary. sAvings? Never entered his mind, in fact, I have to have separate accounts that he doesn't know about in order to have savings or investments. He just spends until he can't; his favorite activity is shopping. In fact, he spent four hours yesterday afternoon shopping and goofing off with friends he met around town. Everyone here thinks he's just the best guy, fun loving, he talks to everyone and hangs out all the time, while I work 45-50 hours a week to fund his "lifestyle". 

"But still, you're paying the bills and you have the power.  So he gets angry and defensive. What happens after that?  You still have the power.  Would you let a teenager hold you hostage like this (I don't know how old your children are but teenagers are quick to spot when someone takes advantage and can be awfully provoking, to say the least).  And what happens if one of your children has friends to visit? They eat at a table covered with his dusty belongings? Isn't he ashamed of that?"

I definitely don't have the power here. He throws temper tantrums or does the silent treatment, either way, he still doesn't get rid of anything. Yesterday was a perfect example of this. I cleaned some things out of my 16 year old's room that he hasn't used in ten years - literally. As I was walking out of the house to take these things to Goodwill, he took the boxes out of my hands and said that he wanted to go through them. Why? So he could keep things. Okay, fine. He then proceeded to take every single thing downstairs and store it in the big piles of garbage in his garage, right next to everything else. I can't win for losing here. The only way I'm able to get rid of anything is to sneak it out of the house, but he's always, always here. Our entire storage is full of stuff I'm trying to get rid of, but he won't. 

As far as a bigger house - he couldn't handle being told that he needed to do anything like that; get it ready. He would hyperfocus on one thing, and then an hour before a realtor would come over he would throw a fit and hide everything in his car - which is also being used for storage, and has been sitting in the driveway dormant for years. 

This is the way it's been for so many years that I don't know anything else. I can't talk to him about getting rid of anything, he blows up . I can't talk to him about going to a doctor, I can't talk to him about anything that has to do with"adult" decisions, like investments, life insurance, etc. I can't rely on him for anything. He's a fourth child. 

To be brutally honest I plan on divorcing him once our daughter graduates - only four more years. I can't face the thought of spending the next 30-40 years with someone like this. Four more years seems like an eternity. If he is somehow able to get a job, I will kick him out sooner. Right now I would be paying for him to sleep somewhere and I can't handle that. 

I'm sorry to hear you're

I'm sorry to hear you're having to deal with this.  It sounds as though your husband has the "disease" of hoarding.  I think it's a subset of obsessive-compulsive disorder.  

I'm curious.  Has he ever had a job?

Out of 22 years he's been

Out of 22 years he's been employed maybe 10 years.  This latest stint going for more than two years. He gets fired or quits within six months.

I've been married for almost

I've been married for almost 29 years.  In that time, my husband has been unemployed or underemployed for 11 years.  I count his current "job" as underemployment, because he is paid by his dad to be a caregiver for dad and mom, and it's not clear that he does anything other than sit in his parents' house, make two meals a day, talk to his parents, and go out once or twice a week to buy groceries.  Since getting fired by his last regular employer (five years ago), he has applied for no jobs.  It's very frustrating.  

My husband does not hoard to the extent your husband does, but he rarely throws things away, and his stuff has taken over much of our basement and garage.  Because he spends so much time at his parents (we're currently physically separated but not yet legally separated), he hasn't been adding to the accumulation but neither has he been getting rid of things.  I told everyone in the family (husband and two adult daughters) that this year, I've resolved to have a neater, less-junked-up house, and that I expect that they'll either get rid of some of their things or give me permission to get rid of things.  Given that my husband isn't here much of the time, I think I'll be able to get rid of stuff of his that is truly garbage, once I have the time to start going through it.  I don't think he'll get upset; I doubt he'll notice.  It will be stressful for me, though, because even just looking at the crap makes me anxious.

The power, the power

"I definitely don't have the power here. He throws temper tantrums or does the silent treatment"

So what if he does either?  What happens if you give in to a 2-year old having a tantrum? This is no different, he's trying to bully you, and succeeding. Does he threaten violence?  Is he violent?  If he is then tell him in no  uncertain times never again or you call the police (and mean it).  If he isn't then who cares? Let him make a fool of himself. Or let him not talk to you for a week.  You are letting him bully you. Aren't you?

"As I was walking out of the house to take these things to Goodwill, he took the boxes out of my hands and said that he wanted to go through them."

This, taking things out of someone's hands, is actually an ADHD trait.  Why are you letting him do it? What happens if you say "No, thank you. I've already decided what I'm doing with these" - would he physically fight you for them?  Very firmly tell him NO.  Is he attempting to make you physically afraid of him?  Is he trying to embarrass you so that you always back down?

" I plan on divorcing him once our daughter graduates - only four more years. I can't face the thought of spending the next 30-40 years with someone like this. Four more years seems like an eternity."

Are you suggesing moving out, and that when he receives his divorce papers he will magically co-operate?  After all this time he will happily agree to get his stuff out of the house, move out and put the house up for sale or let you have it? I can see why you would want your daughter out of the way, but the longer he lives on Easy Street the harder the eventual conflicts and the more money down the drain.

Your answers seem somewhat

Your answers seem somewhat confrontational. 

"So what if he does either?  What happens if you give in to a 2-year old having a tantrum? This is no different, he's trying to bully you, and succeeding. Does he threaten violence?  Is he violent?  If he is then tell him in no  uncertain times never again or you call the police (and mean it).  If he isn't then who cares? Let him make a fool of himself. Or let him not talk to you for a week.  You are letting him bully you. Aren't you?"

I don't think you've ever been in this situation. There is no simple black and white here. 

"This, taking things out of someone's hands, is actually an ADHD trait.  Why are you letting him do it? What happens if you say "No, thank you. I've already decided what I'm doing with these" - would he physically fight you for them?  Very firmly tell him NO.  Is he attempting to make you physically afraid of him?  Is he trying to embarrass you so that you always back down?"

Yes, he does take them out of my hands, or he goes through the car and gets them later. Again, not black and white. 

"Are you suggesing moving out, and that when he receives his divorce papers he will magically co-operate?  After all this time he will happily agree to get his stuff out of the house, move out and put the house up for sale or let you have it? I can see why you would want your daughter out of the way, but the longer he lives on Easy Street the harder the eventual conflicts and the more money down the drain."

Never said that I thought he would magically cooperate. 

Again, you seem very confrontational and almost aggressive. If you've been on these boards any length of time you would know that rarely are issues as cut and dried as you are making them out to be. There are no simple answers - it's not a matter of "just tell him to stop and this will happen".