Hoarding may be in wife’s genes

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I and our 13-year-old son live in a nice home we have been remodeling for the last eight years. The problem is, my wife has a hard time getting rid of anything, and she constantly brings home “new projects” that take up space but never get done. At one point, we hired a professional organizer because we had reached the point of having “goat trails” as the only means of navigating our way around the house. We also have a barn that is chockablock full.

I have heard that the root cause may be due to an anomaly on a chromosome. How should I approach my wife about getting some genetic testing done? Her mom is also a professional pack rat. The clutter is taking its toll on our relationship — we are in marriage counseling — and on our family. We have so much stuff I can’t breathe. — SUFFOCATING IN MONTANA

DEAR SUFFOCATING: It is interesting that your wife’s mother also has this problem. Hoarding is related to obsessive-compulsive disorder, which can run in families, and has been known to be associated with depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.

It couldn’t hurt if your wife had genetic testing done, but the suggestion might be better coming from the marriage counselor rather than from you, because if she hears it from you, she might become defensive or resistant.

DEAR ABBY: I have worked at the same small company for 25 years. All but one of the employees have been with this company for more than 20 years. “Grace” has been here only three years. She is pleasant, funny, trustworthy and easy to be around. However, she never brings her own lunch.

If something is in the refrigerator, she feels it is fair game to eat it. If I bring something she wants, she will come up to me, take the bag and ask, “What’s for lunch this week?”

I keep snacks in my desk, and she knows which drawer I keep them in. When I reach for something to hold me over, sometimes the drawer will be empty and the bag will be on her desk or in her trash. It infuriates me.

I have made subtle comments on how this upsets me. I have progressed to no longer bringing my lunch. I know she can afford her own lunch. She earns more than I do and doesn’t have children or a mortgage. How do I tell this woman to keep her hands off my lunch and snacks? — HUNGRY IN HOUSTON

DEAR HUNGRY: How “trustworthy” can Grace be if she steals your food? When her outrageous behavior and petty thievery started, you shouldn’t have hinted — you should have TOLD the woman to keep her hands off your lunch and out of your desk drawers. If she didn’t respect your wishes, you should have reported it to your supervisor or your boss.

It’s still not too late to do that, and I suggest that if there isn’t a policy in your company handbook pertaining to this kind of pilfering that one be included.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.