Ask the Experts

Q: My Husband’s Clutter is Threatening Our Marriage

Clutter does not bother your spouse. It drives you crazy. Here, learn why communication is the essential first step for any organization system with a hope of being respected and used by both partners.

Reviewed on May 16, 2019

Q:My husband has ADHD, and I can never come up with a solution to help him get organized. He keeps everything. I throw stuff away when he isn’t looking. Every system I put into place, he hates.”


A: The problem is that what you value — a restful, uncluttered environment — is not valued by your husband. Or at least not valued enough to make him confront his anxiety about getting rid of things, or do the work of embracing new systems. Or it may be that he is comfortable with clutter and feels you have an unreasonable agenda.

When he dismisses your thoughtful compromises, and you trick him (secretly tossing his stuff), or become so frustrated that resentment builds, then your marriage may need more than a professional organizer. Marriage counseling may help you communicate better as you cobble together a solution. Some possibilities:

  • You accept that he won’t change, but decide that living with the mess is worth it, which at least allows you to set a goal of staying organized.
  • You decide you love him, but can’t live with the mess, so you stay married, but divide the house in sections or have separate homes.
  • He accepts that the clutter affects your quality of life, and, with the help of a counselor and professional organizer, addresses his relationship to stuff with the goal of purging and organizing
  • He gives you permission to purge and organize as you see fit. This might mean that you take over the household functions that involve “stuff” accumulating (shopping, bill paying), while he handles maintenance tasks (dishwashing, vacuuming).

The goal is to create a communication style and an environment that are good for both of you.

[33 ADHD-Friendly Ways to Get Organized]

Susan C. Pinsky is a professional organizer specializing in ADHD. The mother of a child with ADHD, Susan lectures frequently on organizational issues on TV, on the radio, and in print. She is the author of Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD and The Fast and Furious 5 Step Organizing Solution.

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