Faith/Spirituality Forum: Respect for Spouse

Respect for Spouse QUESTION from Shirley on May 13, 2002 Peace in Christ.
Please forgive the length of this question but I really need an answer a.s.a.p. This is probably not the correct forum but I am at my wits end and need help.
My husband collects things from garage sales and flea markets - things such as doll houses, trucks, planes, cars, bicycles, tapes, dolls, doll clothes, chalk boards, boxing gloves - you name it, it is in the house - in the basement and the garage is filled with this stuff. I feel terrible about having all these things when there are children out there who have very little. I feel as though I am being choked out of the house (and I'm not kidding)! I have tried to reason with him, talk to him about this but he becomes so angry. I have been tempted so many times to get rid of this stuff by giving it to day care centres, other children, or whomever would appreciate it. I don't know why he is doing this but it is driving me crazy. Do I have the right to get rid of these things? I realize that we are to have respect for the dignity of the human person but this is ridiculous. He's not using this stuff, not doing anything with it but boxing it up and storing it in the basement and garage. Pretty soon I won't even be able to get to the washer and dryer!!!
I would appreciate your reply a.s.a.p. In Christ Shirley
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on May 23, 2002 Dear Shirley:
Sorry for the delay. Your question was transferred to this forum and I am just now catching up on queries.
It sounds like your husband is suffering from a psychological disorder. In laymen's terms I would call this the pack rat syndrome.
I would suggest that you contact a counselor. This problem is specifially psychological, rather than spiritual, in nature.
There are many issues to consider including a diagnosis of your husband's problem. Without some resolution on the why this is happening, throwing out the collection of stuff will only anger him, perhaps threaten your marriage, and only have him replace the stuff with more stuff.
Other issues include co-dependency and enablement of dysfunctional behavior. While giving your husband an ultimatum may be painful and stressful on the marriage, enabling his behavior is not good either.
The balance of these issues, and a plan of action, needs to be discussed with a professional counselor who can get to know the situation intimately.
Even if you husband refuses to undergo counseling, I recommend that you see a counselor to help you to decide what to do and how to cope.
If you have problems with money to pay for counseling, try Catholic Charities or some other agency like Lutheran Social Services or the County Mental Health Clinic that charges on a sliding-scale basis.
We will be praying for you and your husband.
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