Life Advice



Ask Amy: Cohabiting couple struggles to unpack their ‘stuff’

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I'm a middle-aged man. My fiancée recently moved in with me.

My family had hoarding issues for generations. Long before Marie Kondo and hoarding intervention TV came along, I was in therapy and successfully dealing with this.

I've disposed of multiple dumpster loads of my ancestors’ stuff, in order to have room to live in my inherited home.

My possessions bring me joy.

I'm a design professional with a lot of experience working with clients in their homes.

I understand that hoarding is an obsessive compulsive disorder, but I also see compulsive decluttering as a big problem. I’ve been inside homes that were virtually empty due to this.


While visiting a friend who was downsizing I realized how anxious stuff, boxes and clutter made my fiancée. We had to end the visit early because she was so anxious!

When she is stressed, she "purges" objects and sometimes buys others, only to return or donate them. Some things I treasure have “disappeared.”

I make space for her in our home (by removing my stuff) and she leaves the space empty, but then complains there is no room for her things.

We have no photos or artwork on our bedroom walls because the visual incompatibility makes her anxious and upset.


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