How to Get Rid of Your Spouse's Stuff and Still Keep Your Marriage
This is from a woman's perspective. Men, hop along, please!
I must start by saying that my husband is not a "pack-rat". We have known each other since college, lived through Graduate School, Professional Exams, and the birth of our children. He and I have always managed to purge on a regular basis and get everything to fit in whatever little space we have. There was the 300 SF studio that we had when we 1st got married (It was mine, then he moved in), then the 600 SF apartment in Graduate School, the 1 bedroom in his parents' house, and now our current humble 2-bedroom house. The only tiny issue that we have is, whatever he wants to keep, tends to take up more space than me, and they tend to grow in size. He always says he'll get rid of them, but never does....This is what any supportive wife will do - give him a little incentive and help him along the way.
Strategy #1 - Craig's List
Craigslist is fantastic for large items such as cars. Most men are car nuts. They LOVE cars, and anything that has to do with cars. I have no problem with the number of cars that my husband wants as long as 1) we have a place to park them, and 2) we can afford them.
- Stuff #1 - The Miata. Technically the Miata was our communal car. A pre-kid commuter car that we used to carpool together. It was a fun car. But after a horrific winter, years of seeing nothing but people's knee caps and derriere, and the break down of the clutch, it was time to say "good bye". We got a replacement car, an upgraded convertible. He couldn't manage to put a "For Sale" sign on it. I was sick and tired of shuffling cars around. One Saturday while he was at work, I took a few pictures, posted on Craig's List, sold the car in 3 days. It was raining cats and dogs and we sold a convertible on a raining day.
- Stuff #2 - The 1964 1/2 Mustang. This is a little heartless, I know. It was his first car that he bought when he was 14. It was badly damaged, and he restored it. He drove it for a year, and had been parked in his parents' house ever since. For the 16 years that I have known him, I have never seen the car in its entirety. My mother-in-law wanted us to get rid of it. It didn't drive; all the seals had dried up. He made a pathetic little flyer for it, which had at least 3 typos in it, and posted at ONE local shop trying to sell it. I asked him for a digital copy of the flyer, fixed the typos, embellished the story, and posted on Craig's List. Sold the car in 6 hours.
Key Factor - Use his cell phone number when selling his items. That way, you're only aiding, and not becoming the evil wife that sells his stuff behind his back. He has to be the one to finalize the transaction. You're just the little helper.
Strategy #2 - Bottom of the Pile
Magazine subscriptions grow faster than kids. I'm part of the problem. I'm the one who gives him car magazines subscriptions as presents. Since I help to create the problem, I should help to resolve it.
- Have the magazines stack up in neat piles, in chronological order. Every so often, take the bottom of the pile out, put them in recycling bin when he's not looking. Not to take too much so that the height change of the pile is not too noticeable. Yes, sneaky, but it works.
- Inevitably there are going to be some articles that he'd want to keep. Take a stack of magazines to Office Depot or similar office supply store. For a small fee, have them cut the binding off and 3-hole punch the magazines. Bring home a few 3 ring binders. Have him sort through the loose pages, and pull out the ones he wants and keep them in the 3 ring binder. He'll either go along or be so annoyed by the loose leafs that he'll throw the whole pile in recycle bin. Win-win!
Strategy #3 - Send the Kid
Or the pet. Someone once said, "there is family heirloom, and there is family junk." We tend to be the lucky recipients of lots of family junk that are supposed to be "keepsake." Most of them are breakable. Strategy #3 is great for breakable items that you want to discard but he won't let you. Kids are clumsy and dogs have powerful tails. A frighten cat can tear the house apart too. Let your young children play with the breakable items with supervision. Once they drop them, you don't want them to hurt themselves. Tell him that you were keeping an eye on them, but they were just TOO FAST...Can't blame the little ones for breaking the "stuff".
Strategy #4 - Give a Little
A big part of maintaining a marriage is about compromise. Give up something that you have been holding on yet haven't used in 2 years. If all you want to do is to clear his stuff and he wants to clear yours, nothing will ever get done. If you haven't used something for 2 years, chances that you're not going to need it. Offer it up as a compromise. If you get rid of this, I'll get rid of that.
At the end of the day, stuff is only stuff. They are not worth fighting over for. Marriage is. Don't let the trivial things in life ruin a life time of happiness. A little humor goes a long way.