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Putting limits on a curb picker

By Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior (that's BONN-yer!) is a licensed clinical psychologist, professor, and writer. She completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology focusing on individual and group psychotherapy for young adults and specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders and depression.

Q: My husband is always bringing home stuff he picked up from people’s curbs that would otherwise be destined for the trash. We don’t have room for this stuff, and he usually has grand plans of fixing it up and using it or selling it, but that never seems to happen. Help!

There’s a big spectrum of behavior here, from the weekend tinkerers who are overambitious but have no trouble getting rid of stuff once they realize projects are DOA to the compulsive hoarders who can’t help but choose stuff over virtually everything else in life (including relationships). Does he buy a ton of stuff as well? Accumulate so much that your movement in the house is impeded? Have an inordinate amount of trouble parting with objects? If your husband’s curb habit does not seem connected to more serious psychological underpinnings, then you can both develop some ground rules. Maybe when one thing comes in, one thing must come out, or if something isn’t completed in four weeks’ time, it goes back out. If the accumulation seems a more intractable problem, he could benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Q: I was recently a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding. In the process, I found her to be selfish in a way I never saw before, and by the time the actual wedding came, we were barely cordial to each other. She has now announced her pregnancy, and I feel like the whole cycle is starting anew. At one point, she blamed our conflicts on my jealousy. (I’m not dating anyone right now.) I’m considering cutting ties, but we always imagined having a role in the other’s children’s lives. It’s like I want to be an aunt to the kid without being friends with her.

I can’t tell how much you’ve really talked about this. Not just a rushed conversation about the awfulness of Bouquetgate, but a patient discussion that longtime friendships between two adult women deserve. Sometimes wedding planning (and pregnancy) are stressful enough to cause someone to act out of line with who they really are. Other times, big, stressful events merely bring out who people really are. My vote is to give her the benefit of the doubt and keep trying to work it out. Choose a relaxed and private time on neutral turf to get started.

Andrea Bonior is a psychologist and author of “The Friendship Fix.” www.drandreabonior.com.
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