DEAR AMY: Like many people my age, I have accumulated a lot of "stuff." I know that (as we say in the electric power business) it's time to "shed load." The process is complicated by the fact that our spare bedroom and garage are so stuffed with stuff that I can barely move. I have considered moving some of the material to a rented storage facility, but my wife just about "has a cow" and tells me, "The stuff will be out of sight and out of mind, and you'll never deal with it" (implying that she and our daughters will have to sort through it after I die). I think it would speed up the process of sorting the "keep and the toss" stuff to have more room to work. Should I just do the best I can under the circumstances, or is there some way I can convince her that having more elbow room would be useful?
Pete the Packrat
DEAR PETE: I'm with your wife on this one. If you transfer this "stuff" into a storage facility, there is a real likelihood that you will be paying storage rental for the rest of your natural life, while those empty rooms will just fill right back up.
The way to create more room is to take this project in stages and resolve to get rid of/donate/sell the physically larger things first. Choose the easiest category (for instance, lawn mowers or gardening equipment). If you have five lawn mowers in various states of repair, keep the one that works — and get rid of the rest.
A professional decluttering expert would be worth their weight in excess clutter. A professional will sometimes organize a sale and take a percentage of the profit. They are objective, neutral and work quickly.
I realize that Marie Kondo's book "the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" is all the rage, but I far prefer the charming, empathetic technique of Margareta Magnusson, whose book, "The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter" (2018, Scribner) is a game-changer. I highly recommend it for anyone wrestling with a lifetime of wonderful -- and not so wonderful -- stuff.
Shedding this load will be liberating for all of you.
DEAR AMY: My 37-year-old partner has a number of juvenile behaviors that are wearing on me after our seven years as a couple. He has poor hygiene, which affects my physical attraction toward him. He has never contributed fairly to our finances. He says he's just "bad with money" or "not conforming to capitalism," despite my efforts to convey how important it is to me. He rarely takes the initiative to do almost anything that would benefit our partnership without prompting. Despite all my frustration with his regressive behaviors, I still love him for his other great qualities. I haven't been willing to let something that I consider to be petty and easily fixed destroy our relationship. I've spoken with him several times about these things. I've been both gentle and angry. Nothing ever seems to improve in a lasting way. I also resent feeling like it's my job to manage him and our household. Is there any way to help a grown man grow up? Or am I naive to keep thinking I can teach this old dog any new tricks?
DEAR ADULTING: This man was 30 when you first got together. Presumably, he was like this when you two first met.
Seven years later, you are still trying to figure out how to inspire (or incentivize) him to do something as simple, basic, and self-affirming — as bathe!
You sound like a high-functioning adult. At some point, you should question your own judgment and motives for staying with someone who you believe needs so much fixing!
Your guy might not be so "easily fixed." I suggest that you wrap your mind around the idea that he will always move through the world very much "as is."
Then, you have a big decision to make.
DEAR AMY: I like it when you personally relate to your readers. You seem to have encountered so many different situations that I often wonder if it's possible. I guess I'm asking for an explanation for your Zelig-like life.
DEAR WONDERING: First of all, I'm ancient. I have a huge family, have worked in many different jobs, raised a child as a single parent, and am now a stepparent and grandparent. I've lived my life, and have been paying attention.