I want to downsize

Dear Meredith,

My husband and I have gone through many challenging events and changes, and our marriage has survived, a little nicked but mostly intact. But we are going through a life change that doesn't seem to have a positive resolution. We're in our late 50s with our kids out of the house and live in the typical three-bedroom home with a very large yard, a long driveway (sooo tired of shoveling every winter), and some major things that will need an update/replacement soon. I'm done. I don't want to do this anymore. I want to downsize and simplify.

The huge problem (you knew I was leading up to it) is my husband's books. It borders on hoarding. They are in our kids' rooms, my husband's office (which you have to move sideways in), and fill the entire upstairs and downstairs of our garage, where I can no longer park my car. I feel as if the entire massive weight of these books is pressing down on me. I've repeatedly broached downsizing and he continues to rebuff me with reasons why not to. I am so frustrated and am starting to feel as if I don't matter in relation to the books. I don't want to feel this way, I love my husband and would like to keep living with him but not all these books. I really don't know what to do. Are my feelings unreasonable? Any insight, suggestions would be so appreciated.

– Books and more books

The compromise seems to be a new, smaller condo that has a very large, spare room for those books. Something like Dumbledore’s office with plenty of room for shelves.

But clearly the issue is more complicated than that. It sounds like your husband doesn't want change, in general.

For now, I'd stop talking about the books and focus on whether he'll ever want to move. If he could take his library with him, would he be open to a change of scenery? If not, why? Now that the kids are gone, it's time to discuss a five-year plan. The conversation should touch on housing, vacations, and chores. Focus on what you desire for the future, as opposed to what bothers you about each other.

As for those books, if you really think there's a hoarding problem, it's worth suggesting couples therapy. But if it's just an annoying collection that's always been in your way, try to think of compromises that don't involve getting rid of anything. Sometimes it helps to know that your partner respects your weird stuff.

Readers? Are the books too much? How can she get him to downsize?

– Meredith