Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

First let me begin by saying that I love my wife, I but can no longer live with her – at least under the current conditions. The environment in our home is no longer a healthy place in which to raise children or even invite family and friends to visit.  It is not so much an issue of cleanliness, as there is barely any room for even dirt to settle, but rather one of so much clutter that I find myself eating dinner standing up, as there is nowhere to sit down.  My children don’t have friends over because they are too ashamed. I hate coming home because it has become a depressing place. There are papers, boxes and bags filled with things my wife got on “sale,” and never a day goes by when she doesn’t happen to find a sale – most of the items will be forgotten about and remain in bags, price tags still attached.  This has been going on for six years and I’ve had it.


It’s not like I haven’t spoken to her and begged her to stop. Our credit cards are always maxed out, the bank account always overdrawn and I work overtime many nights so I can cover expenses.  I’ve even tried hiring cleaning help, but the poor woman left after three hours, unable to find room to put all the stuff my wife has accumulated.

Whenever I bring up her buying habits the answers are always the same, “It was a terrific price so I bought six, we saved a bundle!” or “You always yell at me for trying to save our money by getting things at an amazing price!”  When I lose my temper and actually do yell, because I’m so disgusted, she breaks down and cries that I don’t love her and don’t want to understand her.  I even suggested that we go to counseling and that made things even worse.  She bedavka went out and spent a fortune on lawn furniture… except we have no lawn, so it sits in the living room and partially blocks the hallway, making it almost impossible to enter or exit the apartment!

I have talked to my rav, and he said I should be patient with her, ask one of her friends to speak with her and maybe she would come around.  But she has no friends I know of, as no one has come to the house in ages!  Interestingly enough, if a repairman comes to the house, she says that we are in the process of renovations and apologizes for the mess.

Our four children are also suffering and try to be away from home as much as possible.  It is easier for my older three boys because they stay in yeshiva until late, choosing voluntary mishmar rather than navigating through the mess at home to try to find a bit of space on which to put a sefer and learn.  My daughter, on the other hand, has the worst of it.  She was mortified when two classmates surprised her and came to the house to wish her a “Happy Birthday” and couldn’t hide their shock.  Needless to say, word spread in the class that my daughter lives at the city dump, and the girls had a field day making fun of her.

Please give me some idea of what to do because you’re the last stop before I take drastic measures.  I have reached the end of my rope!


Dear Friend,

Without having the opportunity to speak with your wife and hear her side of things, from your letter it sounds as if she is a compulsive shopper, a condition with close kinship to other addictions.  However, there are underlying causes for why women are driven to shop compulsively, just like there are usually underlying reasons for any addiction.


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