The general public has an array of perceptions as well as misperceptions about hoarding. One of the most prevalent perceptions about hoarding is that it more often than not involves a person who lives alone. The reality is that hoarding usually does involve a person who lives alone. However, it would be a misperception to conclude that a hoarder always lives alone. There are situations in which an individual living with someone else may begin to hoard.
One more commonplace type of situation in which hoarding involves an individual who lives with someone else is when a spouse begins to hoard. If you have found yourself living with a spouse who has started to hoard (or appears to be on a pathway to becoming a hoarder), there are some tactics you can utilize to address the situation in a positive, production, and ultimately effective manner.
- Seek professional support and assistance
- Be supportive and understanding of your spouse
- Avoid anger and retaliation
- Do not take matters into your own hands
Seek Professional Support and Assistance
At the outset, it is important to recognize that if your spouse is a hoarder, he or she has a clinically recognized disease. As is the case with any other mental health condition, understanding the ins and outs of the affliction can be complicated and challenging.
Addressing the myriad of issues that can arise if you have a spouse with hoarding disorder can prove to be highly complex. A layperson who lacks specialized training in mental health simply does not have the proverbial toolset to appropriately address a spouse’s hoarding disorder and things related to the condition on his or her own.
The first step you need to take to begin the process of effectively addressing a spouse with hoarding disorder is to engage the professional services of an experienced counselor or therapist who has a background in working with clients diagnosed with hoarding disorder. These professionals will also have a skillset that involves providing supportive services to family members of people with hoarding disorder as well.
Be Supportive and Understanding of Your Spouse
While this can be challenging at least to some degree, if you have a spouse who has started hoarding or who is exhibiting signs of hoarding disorder, you need to try your best to be supportive and understanding. This may prove to be challenging, particularly initially. These objectives are best achieved if you yourself obtain support and assistance, including from the type of mental health professional discussed a moment ago. A professional can assist you in understanding how to be supportive of your spouse with hoarding disorder at the same time you gain a better understanding of what your husband or wife is experiencing.
Avoid Anger and Retaliation
You are a human being. As a result, if you find your spouse starting to hoard in your home, you may feel anger, among a host of other emotions. A response to anger in some instances is retaliation against the person who causes us to feel that emotion. Again, on some level, that is human nature. However, merely because a part of our beings may be wired to feel like retaliating against a person who makes us angry doesn’t mean that is what we have to do.
Understanding that you may feel resentful and angry towards your spouse who is upending your homelife as a result of hoarding (or the start of what appears to be hoarding), you need to try your best to avoid letting even the most understandable anger get the best of you. You need to avoid engaging in what might be considered retaliatory behavior against your spouse.
Unchecked anger and retaliation actually will work to enflame your spouse’s condition. If that occurs, the hoarding behavior is likely to become more significant. In addition, your relationship with your spouse will decay further. The type of therapist or counselor mentioned previously can assist you in controlling your anger and in avoiding responses to a spouse with hoarding disorder like retaliation.
Do Not Take Matters Into Your Own Hands
Finally, if you have a spouse who has started to hoard, do not engage in what might seem to be instinctive behavior. By this it is meant do not take matters into your own hands.
In the context of a spouse with hoarding disorder, you cannot just merely start throwing things away or otherwise removing items from the house – as much as you would like to do so. This type of activity on your part almost certainly will end up making your spouse’s hoarding disorder even worse. Moreover, it will also most likely cause serious damage to your relationship with your spouse at precisely the time that you need for that relationship to be as strong as it can be under the circumstances.