Advice for Dealing With a Partner Who's a Pack Rat
Three Reasons Collectors Collect and Become Packrats
Dear April Masini,
My husband is the biggest pack rat ever! He collects everything under the sun and it drives me nuts. I guess it wouldn't bother me so much if I could understand why he did it, and if he kept his collections a little neater. He saves every receipt from every purchase he makes. He brings home antiques that do not match with the rest of our house. And he keeps his CDs scattered everywhere around the house. Why does he do this? Please help me understand before I lose my mind."
Sincerely, Married To A Pack Rat
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Married To A Pack Rat,
Clutter bug is a nicer name for pack rat or someone who collects, but doesn’t necessarily organize their collections. The psychology behind people who collect can be complicated. But I think I can help you to understand why your husband seems to be such a collector.
In a nutshell, here are some of the reasons collectors collect:
- Fear of letting go. Many people who collect anything and everything have a fear of letting anything go, and a compunction to control their surroundings. Oddly, one look at their homes will make you say, huh? This person is a control freak? But it’s not as simple as it looks. People hold onto things because they are afraid that one day they won’t have what they need.
- Collectors without housekeepers. This sounds like the name of a 12-step program, but it’s not. Some people like to keep collections, and are great at acquiring, but not so great, however, at organizing. Surprisingly, men are more often collectors than women are. Those who recognize the need for organization either do it themselves, or hire people to organize and maintain their collections — whether it’s a CD collection, a car collection, a wine collection, a coin collection or a stamp collection. Maybe you could help your husband organize his collections ... or hire someone who can!
- Myopia. Many people collect things because they truly see something in everything they bring home, that they love and adore. It may be the turn of the petal on an antique, porcelain rose that they buy at a swap meet, or the way a particular drawer is crafted on a bureau found in the want ads. Regardless, they are only focused on the object or the details that they love. What they fail to see is the forest for the trees. They get home with their coveted purchase only to find there is literally no room in the house, or the purchase is too big to fit in through the front door — and so they begin a collection in the garage or the yard or the driveway. If you're running into money problems due to your spouse's collecting, sit down and talk to them.
Help your spouse get out of the house and DO THINGS, rather than buy things.