My husband and his stuff

For those of you who’ve been following our story since we first moved back here in 2010, you’ve heard the following complaint. Since this column appeared in newspapers a few days ago, I’ve had plenty of feedback assuring me I’m not alone, which makes me feel better and worse at the same time…

But that doesn’t get me any closer to finding the floor of my garage, although he might be getting there. After three weekends of clearing and cleaning and organizing things like plumbing parts and electrical wire and coolers and tree stand chairs, I think we’re getting there.

But seriously, it’s time we declare it’s gone to new levels. Β That’s all I’m saying.

That’s all I’m saying…

A Wife’s Dilemma: M Husband and His Stuff


My husband and I have this ongoing fight in our house. It goes something like this:

Him: Have you seen the charger to the phone I had back in 2001 during our first year of college?

Me: I think I put it in a bin somewhere in the basement with the rest of the unidentifiable cords from various electronic devices that no one’s used for 15 years.

Him: Don’t touch my stuff.

You think I’m exaggerating. I wish I were. The man’s a saver. He comes from a long line of savers, the kind that cut their paper plates in half and hoard washing machine motors in their backyards. In high school he spent his weekends restoring an old, leaky, 11-foot wooden boat his dad found in some stranger’s backyard, just because they thought that they could.

As a gift his grandma gave him an ice cream bucket full of every kind of nut and bolt she’d collected throughout the last 50 years, and never once has he gone to that bucket and not found what he needed.

These are the things he brags about.

So he comes by it honestly. And if I didn’t spend so much of my time wading through bins packed with old electrical wire, if I was his neighbor in need of a particular fitting for a pipe on my stock tank or a friend who suddenly found himself without AC in his pickup on a 90-degree day, I would call my husband, because he’s the guy who has five bins full of random plumbing supplies and an air-conditioning recharging kit, and I would respect the heck out of him for it.

But I married him. I’ve been married to him for almost 11 years now, and I’m beginning to realize that the whole “’till death do us part” line seems to also apply to the drill battery that’s been hanging out in our garage for a solid five years, even though it’s clearly marked “bad” in black Sharpie across a strip of duct tape.

Why? I ask him, my hands stretched out in defeat as I jam my toe on the wheel of the broken down lawn mower that’s been sitting in my garage for three years. But I know the answer. It’s a trait both learned and deeply rooted in his blood. And it’s not derived out of the need to have and to hold material things, but rather the opposite. It stems from part of his DNA that tells him he doesn’t need to waste money on anything new, because when the wheelbarrow tire goes flat, he has a perfectly good one waiting in the wings.

When there’s no Farm and Fleet in range that makes the sort of barbed wire spool he’s envisioned for the back of his 4-wheeler, he has the stuff to build his own.

And when he suddenly finds himself in need of a 2001 Nokia cell phone charger, he would know just where to find it, if only his wife would just stop touching his stuff.

9 thoughts on “My husband and his stuff

  1. Ive been married to a similar guy for 36 years. You cant change him. You will continue to stub your toes…dont ask how I know. Just face you will never have a clean shop or garage, even though you will help him clean it over and over again. Just know that there is likely some trait you carry that is equally disturbing to him , that he genrally over looks until he cant find his 15 year old Nokia charger.

  2. So its been awhile since Ive commented but I just couldnt pass this one up!! You see Ive been married just shy of 37 years and we just moved…..from a farm. I took the house and barn and husband shop and cold storage.
    We bought the new house and he built a very nice shop out of an over sized three stall. Garage not barn. But I heard alot more than “Dont touch my stuff”. And the astounding part is hes always asking me where things are or whats going on and more astonishing, without hesitation, I try to provide a helpful answer. My current approval rating is in the tank:-)
    We have been moving for a month and thrown more stuff away than you can ever imagine…
    Anyway your distance from the big town and his handiness will always out weigh the stuff. And you will always try to give a meaningful answer just like I do. Your success rate will vary. But thanks for sharing….its nice to know Im not alone πŸ™‚ Oh and congrats on your new addition…..that is just well too exciting….outweighs all of it.
    Oops hes calling wondering where the yellow push broom is ….you know the one with semi stiff bristles… so gotta go…carry on creating another lovable human…over and out….

  3. My husband is a life-long pack rat. I believe it is the result of being raised on a farm. Two years ago we moved to be closer to our grandkids. After living more than 30 years in the same house, we seriously down-sized both in both property and house square footage. We also now have much less upkeep and maintenance (which husband LOVES). We don’t need to keep a hardware store in our garage. We got rid of SO MUCH STUFF because we simply do NOT have room. We have gone from cabinet-rich to cabinet-poor. We sold/donated tons of stuff before we moved and have continued to remove unneeded items from our dwelling. He has important things, like a dirt bike AND a rode bike (that was trailered from CA to Detroit Lakes, MN and rode to Sturgis last year). He built a lovely small shed in which to keep his dirt bike and some other odds and ends (which I am currently tolerating.) When we buy paint, fertilizer or nails or screws, we buy just enough for the job—nothing left over. I also buy fewer groceries at a time (we live closer to a grocery store) and don’t indulge in giant Costco packs of anything, except toothpaste. I feel FREE. So does he–but, he will never admit it!!!

  4. Farming/ranching stimulates hoarding. The war will not end until you move off the ranch, though you will win an occasional battle.

  5. I feel your pain. I think one of the selling points when we bought our house was that the former owner had had a stroke and wasn’t sure he could get everything moved out in time. My hubby’s eyes lit right up at that. “Don’t worry Mr. Flood! We’ll take good care of anything you want to leave behind!” And we have, for 31 years. Need I mention that any time my hubby has used something of Mr. Flood’s to save the day he’s happy as a pig in you-know-what? But it gets better. When you live on a farm your non-farm friends and relatives all think you need their unwanted stuff. Got a new kitchen set and don’t know what to do with the old one? Give it to the folks on the farm … they’ll have a room for it! I live in a 1,200 square foot house, folks. Where am I supposed to put all that stuff? In the barn? Tell that to my horses, who come with quite a bit of their OWN stuff, thank you very much. Many moons ago we decided to divide our basement in half; he gets to do whatever he wants with his half and I get to do as I see fit with mine. It’s worked out very well, though I admit I’ve often thought about pitching that box full of miscellaneous television tubes that winks at me from the corner. Thing is, I’m sure the minute I do he’ll need a tube for something and then there will be hell to pay. No, the key to a successful marriage and sharing of space is learning how to ignore many things.

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