This Is My Dining Room Table

One of the biggest places we fight about is the kitchen counter and the dining room table. The table hasn't been available for most of the last 5 or 6 years, so we stopped having meals together as a family.  

The kitchen counter is also full of junk too.  I eat most of my dinners standing up in the kitchen.  My kids eat their meals in front of the TV.

My daughter also likes to study at the dining room table.  She has ADD, and it's difficult enough to deal with that, without having this kind of chaos.

This is what our dining room table looks like most of the time:

This shot was actually from 2003 - things are worse now, as there are piles of papers surrounding the table too.  

For a while, I thought this was just a problem of organization, and if I helped my wife organize the papers, then she could deal with them.  We tried files, and she wouldn't keep them up, so I thought a box sorter would work.  

So one day, when she was gone, I spent about two hours going through all the papers on the table and sorting them, and here is what things looked like when I was done:

This didn't really solve the problem.  The papers would sit on the table for months or years, and now they sat in the paper sorter for months or years.  Eventually, it got filled up.

The wife says we should just eat around the piles, but I find it difficult to balance a plate on top of the mess.  Also, food gets on the papers, and she gets mad when this happens.

At Thanksgiving dinner a few years ago, we almost got into a physical fight about this.  I wanted one meal at the table that year without the piles of papers, so I carefully mapped the surface of the table, and began moving the piles into files, each corresponding with an area of the table, so they could be put back later.  My wife thought we should just move the piles to the end of the table. 

She says I am neurotic, but I just didn't want to have the piles anywhere in sight during the meal, and once I started trying to put them in the next room, she started fighting, and tried to physically stop me from moving the papers.

I don't understand why these papers are so important.  If these were fragments of the Rosetta stone, I could understand maybe.  But most of this is junk sent to us in the mail bulk rate.  It's made up of old magazines, catalogs, junk mail.  Months go by, and she won't look at one of the magazines.  How important can this stuff be?

The above shots were from 2003, and here's a shot from a few months ago:

I've gotten more assertive about the common spaces.  I will give her a few days to clean it up, then I do it myself, even though I know she is going to be furious, and I am in for a huge fight once I do this.  

I wish she would either let me clean it up without the fighting, or even better, clean the mess up herself.  I work full time, and she does about 40 hours a month, so it's not much of a competition, with her taking the papers out and spreading them all over, and me putting them away.

Even after I clean clean the papers up, about half of the table is filled with "knick knacks".  Both my kids and I have expressed a desire not to eat with these items on the table:

Western44 Western44
46-50, M
2 Responses Jan 29, 2013

Thanks for sharing your story. I am going through the same thing, though I think tend to avoid conflict more than you seem to, so my house and garages are much worse than yours.
All the advice I've read says that the hoarder's loved ones must not move the hoarders' things because of the emotional trauma it causes to the hoarder. I've decided I'm a person too and the trauma of living in this ruin is just as valid.

Wow! I don't feel so alone after reading this. Not only do we have all our "stuff", but stuff from when my father in law died, and mother in law broke up housekeeping...then she passed away. All their stuff in the basement. Once I opened up an old shoe box and found his teeth smiling back at me. Criminy! We just keep moving stuff in but nothing goes out. It is driving me nuts.