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Nobody's Little Mrs.

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Ask Wifey: Part-Time Housemates or Full-Time Relationship?

Dear Wifey,

My boyfriend never finished the home projects he starts. We “part-time” live together and when I first saw his home I thought many of the home repair/rehab projects had just been started. Boy, was I wrong.

It is his marital home, where his now-grown kids were raised. My opinion about what’s to be done is not welcome. I’d like him to sell the house so we could possibly get an “our house” down the road. When I bring any of this up he gets angry.

What do I do?

Frustrated in Philly

 

Dear Frustrated,

One of the ways in which relationships can be challenging when we are older (from you telling me your boyfriend has grown children, I’m guessing at least he is at least 40), is that most of us are less eager to change and/or compromise. I’m not saying this as a criticism, rather as a fact. By middle age, most people have already made compromises, learned lessons, and have decided what they like and how they want to live.

You mention that you are “part-time” living together in his house and I would imagine he would want you to contribute your opinion and make the place yours as well, rather than make you feel like an unwelcome guest. I gather that you have your own place too, and I wonder if he feels the same about your place.

My understanding of the situation leads me to believe that one of two things is going on here: Either he is feeling the same way about you and your place–like you don’t want to include him in your place–or he is just very set in his ways and unwilling to fully share his home with you–or anyone else for that matter.

Before you do anything, I would figure out which situation is happening, and the best way to do that is simply by asking him directly.

If it’s the first scenario, maybe you need to spend more time together at your place too and hopefully, you will both feel more comfortable in each other’s homes and will learn to find your own place in each other’s space. Personally, I think buying a place together is the best idea so you can have a fresh start at creating a common home and life and a full-time relationship.

The second scenario is more troublesome, unfortunately. It’s entirely possible that he simply is very comfortable with his solo living arrangement and–other than having you as a part-time housemate–doesn’t really want to change his life or his routines in any way. If this is the case, I would seriously consider how much more effort you want to invest in this relationship.

No one should get angry with someone who loves them–and whom they love–and who wants to share a home and a life with them. On the contrary, it’s often the path many people hope their relationship takes. I think you owe it to yourself to find out if he is one of them. Once you do, you can decide what path you want to take and whether you’re he’s the right person to walk it with you.

 

 

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Dear Wifey: Needling Neighbor No Longer Amusing

Dear Wifey,

I find myself in something of an awkward situation. 

A neighbor of ours, who also does business with my husband from time to time, repeatedly feels the need to tell me what a “saint” I am for “putting up with” my husband of twenty years.

At first it was comical. In conversation when my husband would come up she would say “I just don’t know how you put up with him,” or “You really are a saint to stay married to him,” and I would just laugh it off. What else was I supposed to do?

I figured it was better to just laugh off the comments as  aren’t-men-just-incomprehensible quips and let it go.  (Honestly, I don’t even feel that way, I just wanted to move past the comment and change the subject.)

But it’s been  months now and she keeps making comments like these, which, I have to admit, I am beginning to find not only intrusive, but also very hurtful.

Last week, while working with my husband, she actually said it to him in the form of “I really don’t know how your wife manages to put up with you.” Now I feel like she’s giving my husband the impression that I complain about him (which I don’t) to her (which I would never, even if I were so inclined as to discuss my marriage with anyone). I certainly don’t want her implying to him that I have.

I’ve never so much as uttered a bad word about my husband to this person, and while I was willing to laugh off her comments at first, I’m not any longer. Frankly, I’m tired of someone who is really not a close personal friend of either mine or my husband’s taking the liberty to comment and judge our marriage.

 On more than one occasion I’ve been tempted to just tell her to mind her won business, but we do have to see her and I don’t want to damage her working relationship with my husband. How would you suggest I address this situation?

Thank you any advice you can share,

No Longer Laughing

 

Dear No Longer Laughing,

It’s understandable why you feel awkward about this. Your neighbor/husband’s business associate has taken to joking to you about your husband, and consequently about your marriage.  I, too, would have reacted as you did at first, trying to laugh it off and change the subject. Now she has crossed a line, making the joke not only to you, but also to your husband.

This is no small matter. While it may seem to her that she’s just being funny, she’s really sowing small seeds of potential discord in your relationship. 

Even if everything is fine in your marriage, even if you both feel like your marriage is strong, we are all human and at any time can be susceptible to suggestion. And the repeated “joke” of what a saint you are for “putting up with your husband” can eventually make you start to become overly critical of your spouse. Similarly, if she keeps telling him how she doesn’t know how you put up with him, he might eventually begin to believe that you have been airing your marital laundry to her.

I’m not sure why people think it’s OK to offer an unsolicited opinion on someone else’s relationship–especially when it’s negative and when they are not a close friend or family member–but it’s not an uncommon practice, unfortunately.Whatever her motivation, it’s entirely inappropriate and should be addressed.

First and foremost, I think you should discuss it with your husband. Since your husband does business with this person, you should be on the same page about confronting her.   

Personally, I would wait until she mentions it again and then ask her simply why she makes those jokes. I would tell her that you don’t find them funny and in fact they are insulting to your husband and hurtful to you. 

Let her know that you don’t want to endanger your relationship as neighbors nor her working relationship with your husband, but that you’d like her to stop  making her jokes. Explain to her that it’s just not funny.

There is a risk that she will get offended by your request, but you’ll minimize it by being tactful and not accusatory. But if she does get offended remember that her reaction is beyond your control. If her comments are negatively affecting you and/or your marriage, I think it’s a risk worth taking. 

 

Sig.Melaina

 

 

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