Please help me negotiate with this family that I am now a part of
August 6, 2012 5:06 PM   Subscribe

So, my inlaws are visiting, I'm not sure how to iron the details out with my SO. We have very different ideas about how this should transpire. I am also having trouble dealing with the culture of their family I'm trying to be as short as possible. Thanks.

My in-laws are coming to visit us. The catch is that my mother in law asked if she can visit us and stay with us for two weeks and my SO agreed without consulting me. We live in a studio apt. I'm angry that they would impose by asking this and more angry that my husband agreed to it without asking me. My main aversion to them is that they are thrifty. When we stayed with them in one of their 3 empty bedrooms my SO paid rent. I don't understand this, they have a significant retirement income. When we lived in the same state we bought them dinner frequently and they never even offered to reciprocate.

I have failed at talking about either of these issues. I asked SO if they were getting hotel and a rental car and by the end he insisted that I was 'trying to drive a wedge between him and his family.' This doesn't make me feel good and I don't want to do this I just want to change the frame a bit, I feel like he is getting taken advantage of.

Please help me get a handle on the culture of this family. Should I just grin and bare it for 2 weeks?
Is this common with families that their children should pay for them?
How can I communicate my discomfort to my SO without offending him?
Since SO is the breadwinner does that take away my say?

We have been married 3 years, and this is an ongoing issue; so I feel like this is something we should be able to iron out or at least discuss.
posted by ibakecake to Human Relations (41 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Grin and bear it. You have no chances of winning this battle regarding his parents. The sooner you accept that the better or things will only get worse. They are his parents, think of all the childhood issues/growing up/experiences he has had. You have been around only for 3 years (_ or + a few). But he grew up with them.

Just try to avoid pitfalls, duck when needed, grin when required, overlook and refuse to engage. That's it. Keep your sense of humor. Frankly as you will see years later, it is nothing personal. They are who they are and you are their daughter in law. Same old story since ages. The less you say about them the better as words only create ammo for him and sooner or later they will come back to bite you. Be super sweet. And forget about reciprocaty. These are not your office mates. They are your in laws and for better or worse, they have expectations and a sense of entitlement. Your opinions although interesting, are irrelevant here (quoting someone)

Look on the plus side also. You have a family. If you take some +ve steps you might be able to surround yourself with people who care about you. That is more than what many can say of their lives. Enjoy!
posted by pakora1 at 5:13 PM on August 6, 2012 [5 favorites]

The short answer is that he should prioritise his partner over his wife and it sounds like he is not. Him being the breadwinner has nothing to do with you acting as a partnership. If he isn't listening now nothing you say will get through him - a third party such as a relative he trusts or a counsellor needs to sit down with him and explain how healthy relationships are based on communication and consideration for each other. This needs to be resolved before he can claim "this is the way we have always done this" and put you even more firmly in the role of the "bad guy".
posted by saucysault at 5:14 PM on August 6, 2012 [8 favorites]

I think the biggest problem here is this: my SO agreed without consulting me.

I would suggest to grin and bear it this time, then take steps to make sure things don't play out this way again, framing the discussion to emphasize THIS, rather than any details about his family.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 5:19 PM on August 6, 2012 [19 favorites]

Two weeks in a studio departmental is a little excessive. I wouldn't think any of you would be comfortable in that arrangement. You should be priority 1 over the parents. If he wanted to keep them #1 in his life he should have stayed in their basement (metaphorically speaking). So I think you are completely justified in pointing out that 4 people in a studio for 2 weeks is unreasonable, and that if he insists on giving the apartment to his parents, he needs to make other living arrangements for you two.
posted by COD at 5:19 PM on August 6, 2012 [22 favorites]

my SO agreed without consulting me. We live in a studio apt.

I am dying on the inside for you. I can't imagine how unpleasant this will be, but since she's coming soon, you do kind of have to make it work for the time being.

However, for the future, is the issue that...
Your husband didn't talk to you about it? Then ask him to give you advance notice in the future.
Or that it's a studio apartment? Get him to agree that you will never have overnight guests in such a small apartment in the future. (Mutually, not just the in-laws)
Or that you don't like your in-laws? This is a bigger issue that may require couples counseling, but you need to be able to talk to your husband about his family without him being defensive.
posted by Flamingo at 5:23 PM on August 6, 2012 [5 favorites]

when you say in-laws do you mean more than one person, you only mention MIL staying with you.

and when you say studio, do you mean one room or just a small apartment with separate rooms?

if it's just one room and you'll all be sharing it for two weeks, that could be unbearable, no matter how many extra people.

if you have a separate bedroom where you can shut the door and get alone time, that should help.

are you in a country other than the USA? i can see some of this maybe coming from a different cultural view of familial relations, but i don't know, and that doesn't make it right that he just made a pretty big decision without you. but it might help you in discussing it with him if in his culture this is completely normal whereas in yours it's not.

are there any family YOU can go visit? or friends in another city and stay for a few days?
posted by sio42 at 5:24 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Two weeks in a studio apartment? The money issue aside, that's unpleasant. (The money thing isn't necessarily an issue; it could be his way of helping his parents out without just handing them cash. He should be discussing it with you, but giving money to elderly retired parents who are possibly short of money (they may have less retirement income or greater debt than you think) is not.)

You want to talk to him about two separate issues, in two separate conversations:

1. You don't want to have overnight visitors in your studio apartment without both of you discussing it and agreeing on it beforehand. You of course are not planning on telling his mother to not come, as he already agreed, but next time you must be consulted before he agrees.

2. You don't understand why he is giving them so much money -- he pays for meals, he pays them rent, but they do not do the same. Do they need money? Is it a cultural thing? How will this impact your budgeting?
posted by jeather at 5:26 PM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

Is there a cross-cultural issue here that isn't being discussed? It seems to me that inviting family for a two week stay in a studio apartment would certainly fall into the "consult first" category.
posted by ambrosia at 5:29 PM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Are you my sister-in-law? Because my mother-in-law used to pull that type of nonsense.

The problem here is your husband. He has taken a position that you are against him and his family. That issue cannot be resolved unless he is willing to change his attitude. He thinks it's fine to make decisions without consulting you and to pit you against his family. That is not going to work if you plan to stay married.

These are core behavior issues that need to be resolved. Would he consider couples counseling?

(For this visit, I'd suck it up with the agreement that he's going to couples counseling.)
posted by 26.2 at 5:39 PM on August 6, 2012 [8 favorites]

I would demand my husband rectify the situation and find them a hotel... even if it comes to splitting the cost. No way in hell would I have in-laws stay for two weeks in a one room apartment. I don't even understand why they would even WANT to stay there.
I would also have a very serious talk with your husband.
posted by KogeLiz at 5:44 PM on August 6, 2012 [30 favorites]

Oh hell no. If my SO did that to me, I'd be finding other accommodations for the duration of MIL's stay.

But I'm an introvert with a full time job who needs to be in control of my environment in order to relax.

In any case, it sounds like if you try to grin and bear it, THAT is going to drive a wedge between you and your MIL.

Your husband deciding this without you was disrespectful. He's the breadwinner, but you share a home, and you contribute and support the household in your own ways. There aren't may clues about your day to day life, or how MIL being there will impact that, so it's hard to help you cope with her presence.

I'm making wild guesses here, but it seems like your husband isn't good at considering how his actions affect you, or what you need to stay happy and sane on a regular basis, which is a sign of deeper communication issues than just this instance.

Overall, I advise you to not make this about the money. It should support and enable your life, not govern it. (Though i say this as an unusually generous person). Money is a sensitive thing to talk about, especially if you're telling someone else how to spend theirs.

Make it about your comfort and sanity, and self-respect. If he's not willing to see your side of it, definitely consider couples counseling.
posted by itesser at 5:45 PM on August 6, 2012 [10 favorites]

2 weeks in a studio with in-laws? Oh dear. And when you go stay with them, they make you pay for your accommodation in a spare bedroom? Double oh dear.

You are right to be upset, this is most certainly a consult-first issue when in-laws are staying with you. Especially since your husband is working outside the home and you're not, so the main hosting duties fall to you.

Whether or not he's the breadwinner doesn't matter when it comes to how you make decisions about your life together. He doesn't get to override your "vote" simply because you both have decided that you will stay at home while he works. Additionally, the household monies are not his alone to make decisions about. If you both will be hosting his parents and paying for all expenses while they stay with you, that's a joint financial decision that both of you should be making and agreeing upon together.

Since he's already defensive when you try to discuss this with him, you may want to consider couples counseling to iron this out. This sort of unilateral and inconsiderate decision making could easily become a relationship killer.
posted by quince at 5:49 PM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

What difference would consulting you first have made? Consulting is discussing schedules or timeframes or details ... you say this is an ongoing issue so your partner probably didn't talk to you about it first because you'd have said no altogether. You'd habe had the same argument you're having now, only this way he gets to see his parents.

This is the way things are. 2 weeks in a studio with just a partner would about kill me, so I sympathize. But these are his parents, and if the worst thing about them is that they're cheap, then I'd suck it up, take a lot of walks, and cash in some serious pampering by my partner after they go, because the dude owes you.
posted by headnsouth at 5:51 PM on August 6, 2012

I totally say suck-it-up. Your in-laws will hopefully always be your in-laws. This is a terrific chance to be gracious and giving. They are your family now. It's 2 lousy weeks out of your life and I think it's important to embrace them as family.
posted by beccaj at 5:52 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think you wrote "thrifty", which is a good thing, instead of "miserly" or, to be kinder, "inappropriately parsimonious."

Four people in a studio for two weeks should be...unusual. I would be sure to hog the bathroom and snore as loudly as possible!
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:53 PM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't live in a studio. I adored my father and my mother-in-law and still adore my father-in-law, and when everyone came to visit, they stayed in a hotel. Inviting yourself to stay in one room with your adult child and their spouse for two weeks when it's not at all financially necessary is inconsiderate, and suggesting that the OP should overlook this extreme imposition because "it's family" strikes me as way off.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:57 PM on August 6, 2012 [17 favorites]

As a practical matter, four people in a studio for two weeks is almost certainly a violation of your lease/rental agreement, if not local housing laws. Your landlord has no obligation to play nice with your in-laws and SO.
posted by sageleaf at 6:05 PM on August 6, 2012 [14 favorites]

After reading this again, I'm not sure if your issue is the discomfort of losing your personal space, or feeling like your husband is being taken advantage of and wanting to protect him from that.

If it's the physical discomfort, then yes, I hear you and this would be a deal-breaker for me actually - the massive intrusion without consultation, and then accusations on top of that when you try to bring it up? Those are all huge no-no's, for me, personally. It seems like there's a big communication knot at the center of this that has to get worked out one way or the other. Counseling is an environment where you can learn how to talk about this stuff on a neutral playing field.

On the other hand, if your biggest issue is feeling like he's being taken advantage of, well, each human culture (including the tiny little cultures that each family forms as a unit) have their own pride points that seems strange from the outside. But it works for them, and if it works for them then it should work for you. So I would let that go (IF that is indeed your biggest problem here). Maybe try getting into the spirit of showing them that the son they raised is doing well in the world, and cares about them.
posted by bleep at 6:05 PM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oh man, thinking of sharing a studio apartment with another adult or two is making the hair stand up on my neck. I know though that my mother doesn't think it is a good visit unless everyone is sleeping under the same roof.

In the spirit of family, however, would a compromise be possible? Tell your mother-in-law that in order for her son to be rested and ready for work, the two of you will be staying at a hotel during the week, but will come back and stay in the apartment on the weekend nights. 4-5 nights of sharing the apartment would be oh so much better than 12-14.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 6:07 PM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm glad someone "oh hell noed" this before I did.

You know your capacity for socializing. I wouldn't be able to even digest properly with this many people all up in my space

I've wrestled quite a bit with in-laws I might call "overeager," with bad boundaries and all. I don't regret the times that I've clearly stated and enforced my own need for privacy and space--stating those requirements clearly allow me to recharge, to maintain a pleasant face and disposition. Frankly, a certain degree of space allows me to still like these people. (The same goes for my own family, but then, they don't demand quite as much!)

It's the times when I allowed myself to be guilted or manipulated into going outside my comfort zone that have inevitably ended in tears. Usually mine. Because I just. Can't. Deal.

I asked SO if they were getting hotel and a rental car and by the end he insisted that I was 'trying to drive a wedge between him and his family.'

This is very unfair. I would respond like this: "Honey, you know I love your parents. But you also know me--I don't want to be a grumpypants around them, but when I haven't had time to recharge that's inevitable for me. I think the visit will go much better if they don't stay in our apartment. Of course, I'd love to visit them in a hotel and plan a bunch of special day trips and dinners with them."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:07 PM on August 6, 2012 [17 favorites]

Choose your battles: First, make peace with the money issue. It's petty and, if you persist, it has the potential to do real damage to your relationship. And over what? Arguing who picks up the the check at dinner? Not worth it.

But stand your ground on the decision making. It was totally uncool of your spouse to invite mom-in-law to stay at your place without discussing it with you.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 6:12 PM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

Which part is the ongoing issue -- that you think your husband is being taken advantage of, that your husband doesn't consult with you about these kinds of issues, or that there is some conflict between you and your inlaws? There's a lot going on in your question and you haven't stated what the "culture" is (of your husband/his family, or you) but would this situation work for me? Oh hell to the no. I could care less about the money habits of my SO's family or how that works between all of them but having my space imposed upon without getting any say in it would grind my gears mercilessly. You're right, you SHOULD be able to talk about this with your husband. The problem with your question is that I'm not exactly sure what it is you want to discuss with him.
posted by sm1tten at 6:15 PM on August 6, 2012

Thank you all so much, looks like counseling is in my future.

Well, we are all born and raised Americans here. My main issue is that I wasn't consulted about the 2 extra people that will be in our small space. I'm not sure why my MIL would ask for this, and I'm even more confused as to why he would agree.

The monetary just irks me, I'll get over it.
posted by ibakecake at 6:47 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would have to say that as someone who is the current "breadwinner" in a marriage, I absolutely, positively would never, ever offer our home's accommodation for even one evening without consulting my partner first. Even my mother, who is decidedly wonderful in all ways as far as I'm concerned, would warrant a discussion and clearance with my wife.

Also, "thrifty" isn't the word for this. "Cheap" is the word for this.
posted by ndfine at 6:55 PM on August 6, 2012 [6 favorites]

I love having people stay, and have a family history of people staying, and so does my partner, and we live currently in a two bedroom apartment. However. Once, one set of my parents came down to stay, with the intention of staying with us, and for a variety of reasons, it emerged a couple of days before arrival that it was not going to be possible for them to stay with us.

My partner's needs are/were indistinguishable from my needs in this respect. We are a couple. Our respective needs always come first. I booked a hotel, gave them my credit card details, called up my mum and explained it wouldn't be possible. Was she hurt? I dunno, she had the grace to hide it. In the end, I ended up paying for the room despite my mum's weak protests that she somehow forgot when the bill was due. And it was worth every cent. I would have paid triple without thinking about it. I had that conversation with Mum because - as her son - it was easier for me. I adjusted and set expectations. I neither resented it, nor shirked it.

I guess what I'm saying is that your expectations are not unreasonable, and it is your husband's duty to communicate your needs/requirements with his family, and that's just how it goes in relationships. You don't need a reason to have people staying in your residence, and his loss of face rescinding the invite is the price he pays for foolishly over-committing.

Clear communication is necessary, explain to your husband why it won't be possible (you need the space, don't get into discussions about the validity of that), what you need to happen (they stay somewhere else, you don't care where or who's paying for it), what the consequences are if that doesn't happen (you stay with friends or somewhere else for two weeks. Do it. Mean it), and how you will address his concerns (You will spend oodles of time with parents blah blah blah).

Good luck. Stick to your guns.
posted by smoke at 7:28 PM on August 6, 2012 [5 favorites]

Just to provide one contrary data point here, I've lived by choice with my parents and sister in a 400 sq ft studio. There really are people for whom this sort of density is not unpleasant. I tell people now that "it's a little cramped," but honestly this is a white lie I put out just to go along with expectations. I didn't realize there was anything unusual until I started telling people and noticing their reactions.
posted by d. z. wang at 8:53 PM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

You have choices. You could try this:

"Honey, I love your parents and more importantly I love you. But you were way out of line telling your mom she could stay here. She cannot. You have to make other arrangements. She can not stay here."

He will say he already told her, that it is not a big deal, that you are a big meanie, what is he supposed to do?!, etc. You will listen politely. You will not address any of his points, except to say, "Honey, I understand. But she cannot stay here."

Or, find and rent a motel room for her and tell him you did it.

Or, have a sit down, tell him how hurt and upset you are, and tell him that you will permit this only if he promises never, ever, to do it again. Downside: He will probably do it again.

You could call your MIL directly. "Hi mom, look your son and I had a miscommunication. We just don't have room for you here. Sorry! I don't know, most people who visit us get a hotel. Yeah, I am sorry, but we don't have room and you can't stay here."

Or: Bedbug scare.

As everyone else has said, the real problem is that your husband is a wimp.
posted by LarryC at 9:22 PM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Where would they even sleep? Is your husband's culture one that respects elders, to the point that they're in your bed and you on the couch?

One possibility is that he might have said yes without thinking at all, and now he feels backed into a corner because he doesn't want to go through the awkwardness of rescinding his invite. If that's the case it indicates weak boundaries on his part: he needs to be able to feel comfortable saying no, even when someone he likes really wants him to say yes.

And, of course, as many have pointed out, he needs to work on putting you first.
posted by homodachi at 9:40 PM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

This situation sounds awkward and stressful.

While insisting that they get a hotel may be prickly (because of their thriftiness) perhaps you could effusively thank them for house-sitting, and then go away for a few days with your SO? Your SO owes you -- negotiating this kind of arrangement without consulting you was not OK. But maybe the whole thing could be salvaged if you two got away to an isolated B & B or spa mid-visit for a little R & R.
posted by Ostara at 10:04 PM on August 6, 2012

I've been torn up all day about your situation - writing and re-writing answers in my head. I want to be kind, I want to be direct, and above all, I am hoping I can convey everything I believe you need to understand as you get a grip on this.

Number one, you are married to someone with very fucked up parents. More on them in a minute, but in short, you are super wise to be worrying about them and the influence they wield in your marriage. It's ironic your husband complained you were trying to get in between him and his folks, since they are actually in between you and him!

- Your husband has likely internalized some pretty screwed up life lessons from his folks. Naturally, he's totally unaware of this. It does not bode well for your marriage.

If your guy attends counseling with you and does an immediate 180 degree flip, then things will work out in the longer term between you. If he clings to his very bad life lessons - start thinking about your exit.

The people who noted that you can't fight against your in laws and win are correct, but you should NOT turn the other cheek to this or accept being a sub-partner in your marriage! That way lies heartache, a decimated sense of confidence and self-esteem, and likely deep depression.

Your needs and desires are valuable and important, especially in regards to your home and marriage. Right now, your needs and preferences are not valued. That is a not sustainable or healthy. I think you know this.


Now. About those parents.


Their money issues are a red flag with flares. Mostly because I actually know people like this, I caution you here.

These people have deep issues regarding their sense of security, and they will pull all kinds of shenanigans, down to what amounts to fraud and stealing, as they make their way in the world. They have convoluted justifications, and they have NO IDEA what they are doing is morally and ethically wrong, furthermore that generosity of spirit and in material things brings exponential happiness.

To them, "winning" over the Other Guy, taking advantage, and "getting away with it," is the secret to happiness, security, and success.

These are the type of people, who down the road, will sit on their copious retirement funds, implore your husband to pay for their retirement lifestyle (assisted living facility, what have you) and then leave any inheritance upon their passing to a neighbor or the family pet.

You are correct to be worrying about how your joint finances will be deployed towards your in laws in the future. Your husband does not seem to have a grip on this. I shudder to think what will happen if you have a family with this man, at what he might sacrifice for himself, you, and any future children to help out his aging folks.


You seem very reasonable, and in my estimation, are way way too "nice" of an individual.

- Work on developing boundaries that protect your well-being when you go to therapy.

You are being taken advantage of right now. You. Not your husband. YOU.


Sister, 3 years of marriage in the one you are experiencing isn't all that. Don't be afraid to bounce if you can't get your needs met with reasonable attempts at better communication.

You deserve better. You can get it elsewhere if this partner you have right now won't actively and happily consider you and your well-being.

Don't share a roof with someone who isn't on your team one second longer than necessary.

You can and will do better, with this man, or with someone else.

Best to you. Truly.
posted by jbenben at 12:39 AM on August 7, 2012 [6 favorites]

Having recently shared a one bedroom apt with my in-laws (with a gap of shared holidaying in between)... whatever frustrations you already feel will only be magnified at the end of this period.
You say that you feel like he is getting taken advantage of-- how about you?! Surely this is your apartment as much as his, regardless of who the breadwinner is. I would really work on creating an alternative to this scenario if possible. And if not, start organising for time out of the house ahead of time.

In my view, they (and your husband, unfortunately) are being rude by imposing this on you. Mostly your husband if we are generous and assume that they would not realise that you would not like this to occur because he knows this because you told him so!. This means that you are justified in being 'rude' in setting your boundaries when they are there. You might get dragged into having them there but surely you are still free to decide how your time is spent. I hope that you can come to alternative arrangements but if not, plan to get your own time and space away from the time at home (trips to the gym, work, prior organised social events that can't include them-- tough but weddings or engagement parties work-- anything catered). Or just fake it and go have a coffee.

I hope that the two of you are able to work this out. FWIW I concur with others that is approach to this is skewed and unfair.
posted by jojobobo at 3:25 AM on August 7, 2012

I've been the husband in a situation very similar to this. 2 bedrooms instead of a studio, but painfully small!

The simple fact is that 2 weeks is a long time to share a small space with another couple, especially parents/in-laws. The at-home dynamic for you and your husband has not factored this kind of set-up into it before. You will want and need time to debrief at the end of days spent with the folks, which you simply won't have if you are in the same room all night, too. It will be exhausting and hellish...

Your husband needs to accept the discomfort of telling the parents that there is no room at the inn for the sake of your comfort. He can't really expect you to just wear this without discussing it with you. If there are particular issues that mean they absolutely must stay with you, then you may be the one that needs to suck it up, but he would still need to discuss this with you, not make a unilateral decision (FWIW, I think he is the one that needs to wear the discomfort in this instance, based on the details you've given).

It will be uncomfortable for the husband, but being an adult means having to be a bit frank with your parents. I did not do this as well as I would have liked, but I think I'm getting better at it. The bottom line, though, is that just because it is hard for him to counter years of history and family dynamics to step up and protect your interests in this issue, that doesn't mean he gets to ignore the discomfort this will cause you. He needs to man up and put you first. (Which also means he doesn't get to blame you for the parents having to find somewhere else - he has to wear this as his decision, too)
posted by man down under at 3:45 AM on August 7, 2012 [5 favorites]

I'm so angry on your behalf.

In a marriage where one partner is the breadwinner, the other partner should NOT feel diminished in any way. That's the arrangement you made, he can't then hold that money over your head. A marriage is a partnership, the money is shared, decisions are made jointly and no overnight guests in a studio apartment. That's just common sense.

Were I you, I'd find some other place to be for two weeks. Couch surfing, visiting MY parents, etc. I LOVE my in-laws and I wouldn't stand for them to be in a studio with Husbunny and I for more than 1 evening.

You seem focused on the fact that your husband is the "breadwinner" in your relationship. I don't know if it means that he's the sole monetary support of the household, or if he brings in a larger portion of the income. If you don't currently have an outside income, I'd hop to it and get one. I can't stand being dependent on someone, so I'm projecting it onto you. Don't be financially dependent on someone who has already demonstrated that you're taking a back-seat to his family. Just don't.

So glad you're going to counseling, not because there's anything wrong with you, but because your husband needs to hear from a disinterested third party that he's being an ass. You have every right to be upset that he agreed to this stupid arrangement, and that he's uber-defensive and accusing you of driving a wedge between him and his family...well yes! It's called marriage. You leave your family and cleave unto your spouse and form your own family.

Here's how that conversation should have gone:

Husband: You're driving a wedge between me and my family

Wife: Yes I am! They are inappropriate for asking to stay in a one room apartment with us for two weeks. They are too close, you married me, and I get a say in what happens here, and I say that they need to get a hotel. If you want to go and visit THEM for two weeks, knock yourself out. Oh, and by the way, remember how you paid them rent for the visit we had with them last year? How much rent are they paying US?

It's a done deal now. As I said at the beginning, I'd find a way to be gone from the situation for the two weeks they are there. Not out of anger, but out of a sense of self-preservation.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:50 AM on August 7, 2012 [9 favorites]

What? No. "Don't invite guests over for more than a day without asking me" is a reasonable expectation for a roommate. The idea that your so would invite people to share your studio apartment for two weeks without asking is beyond insane.

I think you should have a conversation with him that's about your living space, and about who needs to be consulted before decisions concerning that space are made. Don't bring up the money thing, and, really, don't make it about his parents at all. This is about your apartment, and what has to happen for someone to stay there.
posted by Ragged Richard at 6:51 AM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

How can I communicate my discomfort to my SO without offending him?

You can't; he needs to be offended and hurt and feel awful about this, because he's been stupid, thoughtless and selfish towards you and he needs to know that you are serious about this. If he was selfish enough to arrange this without consulting you, or accepting that you could veto this, he won't change without some heat being exchanged.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, as a bit of strife every now and again about important things can actually strengthen a relationship.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:05 AM on August 7, 2012 [6 favorites]

Okay, now that I know that there aren't any major cross-cultural issues going on here: the objection that you are somehow driving a wedge between your husband and your parents should be answered with "that is what marriage is!"

I am not particularly religious myself, and I am not wishing to impose religion on you, but this idea is well-established enough that it is stated quite forthrightly in the book of Genesis. Genesis 2:24 states "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." (Pardon the heteronormative language here, I use that example to show that this is a very long-standing concept.)

This is what marriage is. You make a new unit with your spouse. If he isn't willing to do that, that is a serious, serious problem. That is the first red flag.

The money thing is another red flag. I'm unfortunately familiar with the dynamic wherein a parent will seek a financial advantage over anyone and everyone, including their own children. This is not a behavior you can do anything about other than refuse to participate. The next time you go visit, stay in a hotel. If they ever come to you with a joint investment proposition, run.

Since SO is the breadwinner does that take away my say?

Oh honey no. You are partners. Who is earning money, or who is making more money, should not be a factor in most decisions you make as a couple. You absolutely have a say. Most especially about your home.

Your husband has been profoundly disrespectful to you and you are being far too nice about it.
posted by ambrosia at 9:22 AM on August 7, 2012 [7 favorites]

Haven't read the whole thread and this is tangential, but if he works and you don't, find something to do for those two weeks. Otherwise, you'll be spending 24 hours per day with your in-laws, which is only going to make a bad situation worse.

You'll probably have to grin and bear it this time, but this should not happen again.
posted by cnc at 10:38 AM on August 7, 2012

Clarifying - I don't think you should leave your place completely. I think you should find something to do during the day while he is at work. Also, plan several nights out with your friends over those two weeks.
posted by cnc at 10:42 AM on August 7, 2012

This may sound strange, but would you be averse to booking a hotel room for yourself for some/all of the two weeks or, alternatively, staying with a friend?
posted by eustacescrubb at 2:07 PM on August 7, 2012

Book a hotel room for you and SO nearby the studio.
posted by arnicae at 6:55 PM on August 7, 2012

I am an extrovert who adores my generous in-laws and we live in a three bedroom house.

After two weeks I would be in a psychotic state and ready to commit murder-suicide. I am not kidding. You probably already know the line about fish and company stinking after three days.

Your husband is taking the piss. Don't let him turn this into you being unreasonable - this is not a reasonable thing for him to ask for, let alone decide on and inform you afterwards!

I would be putting my foot right down (if I considered this relationship worth hanging on to, that is), because he is showing a total lack of respect for your comfort, your rights over your own living space. Just say "No. That is not going to happen. "

He may need you to set him an example of what is and isn't normal and acceptable, and to understand that in your own house, you can both set boundaries for your in laws.
posted by Catch at 7:07 PM on August 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

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