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I CONFESS: Partner won’t stop hoarding old clothes


I CONFESS: Partner won’t stop hoarding old clothes

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I AM A 40-PLUS WOMAN with a relatively good job by Barbadian standards and became involved with a guy, also 40-plus, who has an equally good job. We have a child from our union while I have two other children from a previous marriage who live with us, and my partner has a child from another relationship who does not live with him but is very much a regular at our home. 

So while we have reasonably good jobs, with four children and responsibilities, it would not be easy financially given the demands of offspring, our selves and home, but we manage.

My partner believes in a big house and vehicles to create a second look. But to me the little things which should matter most he puts on the back-burner. In some instances I think he has adopted some weird behaviour which can cause a rift in our relationship and which I also see as unhealthy for him and by, extension, for me.

He has a fetish for “old musty clothing” which has reached a crisis point in my mind. I have tried taking action but have been met with an angry outburst and response from a man who is otherwise very quiet and tolerant. The problem is that this man does not like to get rid of any of his old clothes and proudly tells me that he still has underwear from six years ago which he wears constantly. The truth is that some when they are washed must be delicately hung on the clothesline so as not to cause shame by any observant neighbours and certainly by our children. I never ask the children to pick up these clothes since some are torn and tattered.

To beat the problem I have gone to town and bought him a number of boxers and other briefs, and actually threw away some of those which look disgraceful. But his reaction was  very angry and he demanded that I never humiliate him again by throwing away his clothing. He did promise to remove the old clothing himself in the future.

Well, nothing has changed and I believe the situation has gone from bad to worse. Not only does he maintain a pile of worn underwear, but number of shirts he wears are old and retain the sweat which no amount of perfume can mask. Yet he clings to these shirts, especially the ones which people may have long ago indicated they like to see him wear. I speak of shirts older than ten years, pants more than 12 years and very old socks.

What has now made a bad situation untenable and annoying is that a close and dear relative overseas, without prompting from me, last year sent him a set of personal items, including clothing – from shirts to pants, to underwear to sock to shoes and even deodorants. My partner has sought to put most of them aside, indicating that he will start wearing them from December 2016. I asked why that date and his response was that he simply picked the date out of his head.

I have tried explaining to him that keeping the items in a box or even a drawer is folly since the clothing can pick up a musty odour or can even be infested by worms  as has happened to some of his stored items previously. He has promised to check the boxes and drawers even month to ensure all’s well.

I believe my partner is going through some midlife crisis which neither of us understands, since his drive to be cheap even to himself is now expressing itself in other ways. He has started quarrelling that we are spending too much on clothing for the children, which I have explained is not true, especially since we are dealing with young teenage girls. They are often out at various events and are regular churchgoers, while his joins them at their various activities.

He believes that three pairs of shoes are adequate for each over a year while reflecting on what happened when he was a boy and what obtained then with his sisters and what his mother says happened in her childhood days. I see that as the ways of yesterday and impractical today.

What takes the cake is his belief that we should be more resourceful, as he puts it, by cutting out some unnecessary things. He believes that using dental floss daily is a waste of money and that facial cleansers, body wash, nice lotions and a variety of perfumes are a waste of money. So he has been complaining about the money spent on these items and the need to get manicures and pedicures. These are not things which I will give in to as I believe at my age I must have nice apparel, comfortable shoes which will not distort my feet, and be able to pamper myself.

I do not believe a big house nor a fancy car to attract attention must be priority over the true comforts of life and I will not raise children with the same outlook towards health, hygiene and comfort as my grandmother or even my mother did since I believe we should always strive to be better today than we were yesterday.  

I see many of his habits as unhealthy and holding on to those memories of his poor childhood, which was filled with hardship. I must confess my temptation is to buy a complete new set of clothing for him when we travel to his relatives overseas this year, but just before we go put all of the unwanted clothing in the garbage, not even given to the destitute. It may cause him to be angry, but he must make a choice going forward if we are to stay together.