A Blog Follower's Question

What do you do if you are married to a collector who wants to keep EVERYTHING?? How do you convince those that you organize to throw away or get rid of things?? I need help in convincing my husband he doesn't need to keep stuff. Hope you can help me - and others who are married to the same problem --- Heather, Seattle, WA

This is a difficult task to accomplish....first you need to ask yourself, what am I storing and why? We often look at other's "stuff" and think ours is more important!

After being married for a year, living in small college apartments, and moving all of my husband's stuff from apartment to apartment, I challenged my husband to a "Get Rid of Our Stuff Night". Convenience was the key...there was a dumpster right below our apartment balcony. We took each of our boxes full of "stuff" and had the other look through it. We would hold up an item from each other’s box and asked for a good justification to keep it.

This is how the evening went...

Husband: "What do you need this Michael Jackson "Thriller" album for honey?"
Wife: (Me) “Well, maybe one day it'll be worth something and the songs remind me of college days when I met you. It doesn't take up much space".
(How could he resist? Yeah! I got to keep it.)
Wife: (Holding a rope maker), "Why do you need this rope maker that's made of cut 2” x 4” and 4 nails?"
Husband: "Well, when I have a son, I hope to show him how to make rope, like I did as a Boy Scout."
Wife: "Honey, let's just hope you have a decent job so when and if we have a son, you will be able to afford to buy a 2” x 4” and 4 nails.” (Side note: After three girls we finally had a son, and yes he can afford to buy all the materials to make that rope maker!)
Over the balcony and into the dumpster the rope maker went.

My point, don't throw anything away without the owner’s consent. It's important to build trust when trying to downsize "collections".

It’s also helpful to ask the right questions......

1. What memory does this bring to you? Is important enough to keep?

2. How long has it been since you've used this item?

3. Do you still fit into it? Will you ever? (HA!)
I mark the month and year purchased on the back of the tag on my husband's clothing...I win the arguement everytime.

4. Can we creatively display this if it's that important to you?

Photo below: My husband lived in Spain for two years and took 100's of slides. We had many shoe boxes of slides. After 15 years of marriage, I felt it was time to look through these slides. Hours later and many fun memories shared, we ended up with 15 slides that he remembered the people or the places photographed. Most of the slides we saved were of him with beautiful scenery in the background. For a birthday present that current year, I had three photos made from his favorite slides and a map of Spain, matted and framed. It now hangs on our wall for everyone to enjoy.

I have also framed items that can't be put in a scrapbook, for instance, my daughter went to China for a humanitarian trip. She purchased a traditional "rice paddy" hat for $2 USD and carried it everywhere she went for 2 weeks. I took a stitchery she recieved from a villager and framed it with her hat above it. Be creative!

5. What’s the worst thing that could happen if we got rid of this?

6. These items take a lot of storage, what else could we put in this place that we will use more often?

7. Let’s put these items in a box and mark it with the date. If we haven’t opened this in a year, than let’s donate it or throw it away.

8. Can this information be accessed on the internet? Is it current information?

9. Can we take a photo of it?

10. Do you really need 100 of this one item? Group the like items so they can visually see how many they reallly have of one thing.

Remember patience is the key!

FYI…….I still have my “Thriller” album, it’s worth nothing but the memories. However, its fun to show my kids the size of an album compared to an iPod file. I’ll save it for my grandkids, along with my high school letterman’s jacket, which by the way, has been used many a Halloween for costumes!
A great article to read in Real Simple magazine by Erin Rooney