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by Abigail Van Buren

Key to Wife's Hoarding May Be in Her 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.