March 10, 2011 at 3:47 pm , by Jennifer Castoro
Many of us have a tendency to hold on to objects and items we know we should just ditch: receipts for gifts from three Christmases ago, cassette tapes we’ll never play again, the 10-plus-year-old leaky rubber boots that now only function as doorstops. But for someone like Sharon, in this month’s Can This Marriage Be Saved? column, clutter is more than just a hassle – it’s a relationship-wrecking issue that engulfs her living room and her life.
Sharon is a 43-year-old accountant who’s been married to Brian, 40, for 10 years. She’s been a hoarder for their entire relationship, but Brian has only recently gotten fed up with the mess.
Sharon’s side She can’t bear to throw away her things because she associates many of them with particular memories, and she’s enraged that her husband threw some out without asking her first. She has obsessive-compulsive disorder and that, combined with her anxiety about getting rid of her things, has caused her hoarding to get out of control. She wants to learn to let go of all the stuff, most of which she admits is junk, but it gives her such overwhelming fear that she physically can’t do it. Sharon and Brian met online and fell in love fast, bonding over their lonely childhoods and shared hobbies, and Brian has known of her problem since the first time he saw her jam-packed apartment. He didn’t voice his complaints until they bought a home three years ago and had to pack their belongings to move. Now, he avoids his wife completely, preferring video games and work to her company. She feels totally isolated, alone and desperate to change. Read more