Moving near your in-laws to be
January 9, 2014 1:24 AM   Subscribe

I'm supposed to move across town soon to be near my soon-to-be in-laws. I'm having cold feet. I need some help.

My boyfriend (soon to be fiance) is very close with his family. He spends a lot of time with his parents and has stayed with them when between apartments, etc. as we all live in the same city (but about 20 miles away across town).

They own a second house near theirs and asked my boyfriend to move into it. They had some trouble with their tenants and due to city regulations needed to move in a family member. There was some uncertainty about when the move would occur at all due to the issues with the tenants (whether or not legal action would be required, how long it would take before they would move, etc.) The commitment was for two years in order to activate the family member regulations.

My boyfriend asked me if I would mind moving in to their place about a year ago. I said I was okay with it as I like their part of town (although I like my own as well), and he was frequently at their house anyway. They offered us a good deal on the rent. Also, our relationship was a lot less stable at that point, and I wanted to be agreeable (yes, I know, I know).

Finally, after a protracted legal battle, the house became available a month ago. His parents did a lot of remodeling work to make it very nice. He moved in. I have kept my own place, across town, but was planning to move completely to his place in the near future. I live with a group of friends.

It's only been a few weeks since I started spending time there. I am unhappy with it and not sure what to do.

- I hate being so close to his parents. They have strong opinions about household habits (recycling, etc.), personal habits (time spent on the computer versus other activities), how much time we spend working (they are hippies), etc.
They are lovely people, but I'm feeling smothered.
- The house is huge and quiet and I like living with friends and having a community instead.
- I miss my old neighborhood. Their neighborhood is lovely but my old one was very hip and dense and I miss being in the center of things. It's also less convenient to get to work and commuting times are quite variable.
- I just feel bad here.

My boyfriend has told them that I am the priority and if I don't like the place we'll move. However, I feel bad because we have made a commitment to stay here for two years (as they could get in trouble with the city regulations if they can't prove that a family member lived here for that time). Also, he really likes being physically close to them, and I feel bad depriving him of that.

I want to move into our own place, together, possibly with friends we choose, closer to the neighborhood I currently live in. He has said he is willing to do that now if necessary, and certainly after the two-year period (and after we are married).

Complication: I will be going away for a training program for a couple of weeks per month for the next six months. So I could conceivably just wait it out until I am home full-time, which would be about 8 months into the two year time period.

Financially, we can maintain both places (mine and his) if necessary.

Some questions:

- What is a creative solution to the problem of moving in vs. moving out?
- Should I just suck it up and move in entirely?
- Should I wait until I'm done with the training program?
- Have you moved near your in-laws? Was it a good experience? How could it have been made better?
- How do I manage my feelings? We are starting to fight more because I'm very cranky when I'm here.
- My boyfriend is being wonderful to me. What else can he do to make this easier on me?
posted by 3491again to Human Relations (33 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
He needs to draw boundaries with his parents, to begin with. Computer time and recycling are not their business. And he needs to make that clear. It's to be your shared place, not their loaner. If they want it to be a loaner house where they can have opinions, they give you free rent.

But also....he committed to two years and that would be pretty shitty to his parents to reneg on that. He's in a tough position. It's remarkable that he's prepared to bail out on them for you. I hope you consider that in your weighing up of all this.
posted by taff at 1:36 AM on January 9, 2014 [26 favorites]

A) He needs to set boundaries with his parents and grow up.
B) Keep your own place.
C) Two years isn't that long for him to stay there if you guys are living in the same town.
posted by empath at 1:58 AM on January 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

If you can afford to keep your own place, that is what I would do.
posted by winna at 1:58 AM on January 9, 2014 [14 favorites]

You're doing your in-laws a favor by living in this house.

I'd consider it reasonable in exchange to ask them to keep their opinions on your habits to themselves. This may be easier said than done - but even if you do end up moving, probably a good thing for your future relationship. Since they are his parents, your boyfriend bears the majority of the responsibility in making this happen - so, this is what he can do for you. There's probably other posts on 'how to get the parents to keep to themselves' somewhere...

If this happens, I'd suggest at least waiting it out till the training program is over, and re-evaluating at that point if things haven't improved.
posted by Ashlyth at 2:08 AM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I just sort of skimmed this at first and totally didn't realize on first reading that you were talking about just moving across town. It kind of sounds like you are mixing two problems together. One, you're not thrilled with your new living arrangements, but you guys made an agreement to stay there for a couple years and honestly it won't be the first time that someone tolerated living in a less-than-ideal rental for a couple years. You're changing up living situations a lot and that's kind of a difficult adjustment, which will be easier if you start making a real effort to figure out ways to keep being sociable even when your social life isn't living with you and therefore automatic.

But if you can afford to make it a slower transition, I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Because problem two is that your boyfriend does need to work a bit on boundaries with his parents, and you guys should totally be communicating about that and working on figuring out what's reasonable, what's not, etc, before you actually move in. I think you're mostly feeling cruddy because you're anxious about this being a huge momentous change, and if you stop focusing on that and start solving problems one at a time you'll feel less overwhelmed.
posted by Sequence at 3:18 AM on January 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

Keep your place for two years. He needs to honor his two year commitment and if you can afford it, you should honor your feelings.
posted by gt2 at 3:27 AM on January 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

Are you thinking about having kids together? Because if you are, living nearby is a great opportunity for you to learn how to spend time together as a family and instill some boundaries on "easy" issues before turning up the pressure with new parenthood and hormonal changes.

I say this because 20 miles is a long way to travel for childcare, meals, etc all of which are very helpful in early parenthood. You don't really want your first boundary drawing exercise to be over parenting styles.

I lived with my inlaws for six months and aside from the issue of shared space (I need my own kitchen and dislike their treatment of pets), it went well. Pick your battles. There are some things they repeat their opinions on (have another child!) that I am blind to and just ignore. There are some things they do that in a perfect world I'd rather they not do (Eg take my child to church, teach prayers), but I let it go and hold a bottom line I can live with (I will not provide my child with religious instruction, she goes to public school, she may be baptized if she chooses to as an adult but I don't consent). However when it comes to things like control over my personal finances, legal dealings, or medical treatment - I work hard to get them to butt out.

Fighting important battles can involve pressuring my husband somewhat as the interaction is completely counter to how he was brought up. I am a big talker so I will on occasion bat solo in front of the inlaws. I almost always explicitly make sure my husband and I are 100% on the same page first before taking it up directly with his parents. I've got into it with his dad a few times and things have turned out just fine.

This is a golden opportunity for you to learn to manage the relationship in relatively low stress situations. I cannot overstate the value I place on my daughter's relationship with the inlaws. Not only is it convenient for us as working parents to have back up care, the relationship between my mother in law and my daughter is very strong and enriches my daughter's life. Being in close proximity now (5 km) is ideal for us.

If you are in it for the long haul, you might want to consider making this work. Better to do it now while you can still back out of marriage and kids if they truly prove to be too much.
posted by crazycanuck at 4:06 AM on January 9, 2014 [9 favorites]

How do your housemates feel about your boyfriend hanging out there, staying over etc? Can he 'live' at his parents' second house for legal purposes but actually just spend most nights at your place with you?
posted by corvine at 4:16 AM on January 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

You're not living together now, are you? Is there any reason you have to do so before you get married? If not, have him move in, stay where you are, and spend time together as you like.

Not the most convenient thing, but putting aside every single thing about his parents for a second. . . they're his parents. He needs to do this for them. That doesn't necessarily mean that you do--again, you're not married and not living together as it is--but you do probably need to be able to work with him such that he can meet his obligations to his family.
posted by valkyryn at 4:33 AM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nope. No, no. Please no.

For one thing, this guy isn't even your fiance yet. I've had a boyfriend-soon-to-be-fiance blow up in my face before. With that lesson learned, there is no way I would make this sort of commitment (not just the cohabiting but the drama with the in-laws and two-year commitments) without a ring on my finger and some legal protection in the event that everything goes south. (Let's say you move in tomorrow and sign a lease with the parents; in the next two years you two break up and his parents decide to go after YOU for rent and let him off the hook.)

I just feel bad here.

This is enough. You don't need to quantify, justify, rationalize or convince anyone that you're right. Your feelings and your comfort level are more important than your boyfriend's parents' feelings or the rental regulations they hope to take advantage of.

Keep your place and stay there. Visit your boyfriend (and his parents) a few times a week for dinner, game night, whatever. But listen to your gut and put yourself first (I know this goes against a lot of advice about relationships and marriage but I don't care, it's how I live after my divorce and getting dumped by a soon-to-be-fiance). The secret to happy relationships are two happy people -- right now you're unhappy, which makes you're boyfriend unhappy, which will strain the relationship. Since this doesn't rise to a level of grin-and-bear it, go back to where you're happy, watch your boyfriend get happy and enjoy a happy relationship.
posted by mibo at 5:17 AM on January 9, 2014 [29 favorites]

Unless your boyfriend can guarentee his parents will totally back off, you should simply let BF live in that house while you stay where you are. And if you were to move into the house anyway? Keep your current place, and (just in case things don't work out with either BF or the living arrangements) don't sign a lease tying you to the house. Pay your share of the rent, sure, just don't co-sign a lease for the place with BF.

Llike any other landlord the parents should have zero say in your personal life.... assuming you're not damaging the property, your lifestyle is none of your landlord's business, and that goes whether your landlord is BF's parents or some faceless corporation. All a landlord needs to know is 1) are you treating his property well, and 2) are you paying your rent. That's it, nothing else. Your recycling habits, how much time you spend on your computer, your work schedule, all of this and more is none of your landlord's business.

Also, a landlord (again, family or a corporation: it makes no difference) has no right whatsoever to simply walk into your home whenever they want, unless its for an actual emergency. To be honest, this is something I'd really worry about in a situation like this, with them living close by plus already sticking their noses into your life. No matter how 'lovely' and well-intentioned they may be, your home is your home, and they are not free to wander in uninvited.
posted by easily confused at 5:44 AM on January 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

If you can afford it, have your BF stay put, and you stay in your place. You can hang there on the weekends, or change it up and have him come hang with you.

Especially if you'll be travelling extensively for the next few months. Hell, by then you'll be 8 months into the agreement and the remaining 16 months isn't that long in the grand scheme of things.

You gave it a shot and you don't like it. You are not at a place where you have to suck it up, so don't.

Is it possible for your BF to get some roommates of his own? If the house is big, that might help defray costs in the long run, and that way he won't get lonely.

When you're ready, you can pick a house you both like, in an area you both like.

As for boundaries, you and BF are going to need to learn to establish them. If someone says something about recycling, simply say, "That's very interesting. I'll think about that." Or "You do what you feel is right, and I'll do what I feel is right." If they say something like, "You watch too much TV," you can reply, "Perhaps, but I enjoy it."

The idea is that you are asserting your right, as an adult, to spend your time however you please. You can acknowledge their statement, without agreeing or downright contradict them. Since you will all be family soon, you'll need to be able to do this otherwise, you'll keep it all inside, smiling and fuming and one day, your head will explode. No one wants that.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:50 AM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I can't tell you what to do, but personally I'd absolutely bristle at the thought of moving into his family's de facto annex. Not to say that love is a battlefield, but by moving into his family's space, you are giving him/his family the power.

I like my family, but in some ways they remind me of his (loving both can be smothering), and I'd never dream of having my SO live anywhere near them, let alone on their property.
posted by Spurious at 6:06 AM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

No. Don't do it. Just. Say. NO.

He needs to start cutting the cord. Moving that close to your in-laws, however nice they might be, is not going to help that process. Plus, having in-laws as landlords will, at some point, become a very sticky problem.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:08 AM on January 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

I think you should probably stay where you are for now. But if you actually are going to marry this guy, those boundary issues with his family are not going to go away and you're going to have to deal with them at some point.

Given the complaints you have about his parents it sounds like they:
* come and go from the house as they please (else how do they know how much time people are spending on the computer)
* poke around in the trash (else how do they know about anyone's recycling habits)
* assume (perhaps correctly) that when their son is not home he's working

If I was your boyfriend, I'd ask my parents to stop coming by all the time, keep my trash tucked away where my parents can't see it (and if they actively go sorting through the trash, I'd insist they stop), and stop telling my parents I was working outside of hours my parents think I should be working ("I have a thing I need to do" instead of "I need to work").

It sounds like your boyfriend has a pretty good relationship with his parents, plus he has some major financial leverage over them right now! He's in a position of relative strength. Hopefully he can say, "Hey, mom and dad, this is really important to me and I would appreciate it if you would stop doing x, y, and z."

But none of that will solve the other problems of preferring to live in your old neighborhood with your friends. So don't move in yet.
posted by mskyle at 7:10 AM on January 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

No way. You love your current place and hate that one. He can live there and you can live where you are. Why are you pushing to move in together? What's the rush?

(And why do you think you should just "suck it up" when you're talking about being seriously unhappy for at least two years? It sounds like you still think you need to be agreeable. That's an unhealthy dynamic.)
posted by windykites at 7:15 AM on January 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm going to pull together all thing things I'm hearing & agree with.

"pre-engaged" is NOT engaged. No ring = no commitment, no matter how much you all feels. So treat this as such... you're playing the long game here, but it ISN'T an engagement.

On that vein I hope you're not putting up with junk you don't like for the carrot of an engagement later.

You will be traveling lots, so if you have pets / furniture / cars etc. it would be helpful to have it all in one place as a home base.

Have you guys lived together yet? Living together (and even in not-great circumstances) will escalate your relationship & see if you've got what it takes for the long haul.

Your bf needs to be your advocate here; if/when they get smothery, and you need space you either learn to assert that space yourself or if you're overwhelmed, he needs to take them aside and explain that you're a space-needing person. Maybe you even get on a schedule: visit the parents on Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Sundays and the rest they need to do stuff on your own.

Can you re-paint and do other stuff to make the house feel more like your own?

Keys. Have the bf explain that one of your concerns is boundaries & feeling like the place is your own. Therefore, in-laws are NOT allowed to just show up because they have keys. They need to give advance warning & good reason to stop by just like any other landlord. Have parental visits at THEIR primary residence, not yours.

You sound like a "nice" person whose default is to stuff things inside in order to "play nice." So to manage your feelings I would recommend learning to state your opinions simply & CLEARLY. When they get pushy ("why do you watch so much tv? whyyyyyyy?") say "because I want to." without any justification. Your feelings, wants, needs are NOT up for debate. Put their uncomfortable feelings back on them and let 'em sit with it.

His parents are "hippies"? GREAT! Use that language to communicate. "You know, it's just how I'm moved to spend my time right now" "it's calling to me" "my heart is in this direction, you know?" Boundaries becomes "giving people room to be who they are and express their spirit" If you can put it in those hippy dippy terms then they might just back off.

Are they from "the old country" at all? Cus I find parents like that pretty involved. So to blow off steam I laugh at "old country" stereotypes, bitch with a friend, go for a walk. This is all part of getting along in a larger family. You are NOT alone in managing this kind of stuff. I bet if you talk to your bf, you'll find that as much as he loves them, it's work for him too.

A third option here is for him to live there "in legal" (driver's license, bills, credit cards) but in reality live with you in the area you like.

But I just want to be really really clear - planning to get married is NOT engaged. I hope this isn't a carrot. Any trade offs you make NOW you have to be ok with, given the state of your relationship NOW.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:28 AM on January 9, 2014 [9 favorites]

Nope nope.

First, as thoroughly outlined above, your bf needs to do some serious work on drawing boundaries with his parents. Second, it would be very helpful if you gave some clear thought to your own boundaries. (If you're not comfortable with something, don't do it.)

BUT I'm actually sketched on the "local regulation" that requires your in-laws to have family members stay in what I understand to be a separate house. This seems beyond strange to me. (IAAL, but IANYL.) Have you done some investigation into this supposed rule? It may not exist, in which case you are being manipulated and should RUN.

Or it may be part of a set of tax rules that give your bf's parents a big financial break in some way. In which case, consider whether helping them with this meets your ethical smell test generally. If it does, consider whether, without having been told about the benefits, you and your bf would consider yourselves bound by a two year 'agreement' in which there wasn't full disclosure by the other party.
posted by susiswimmer at 7:54 AM on January 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

To those confused about the "needing relatives to live in the house" thing - in many jurisdictions it's much easier to evict a tenant if you're moving in a family member than if you're just evicting the tenant because you don't like them or want to rent to someone else for more money or what have you. It's not a tax rule, it's about tenants' rights. I'm not a lawyer but I'm guessing if the son moved out after a couple of months the previous tenants could sue, saying that the whole "moving in a family member" thing was done in bad faith.
posted by mskyle at 8:01 AM on January 9, 2014 [6 favorites]

First, and maybe this is unfair, but don't overestimate the level of commitment you and your boyfriend have. Going to have to agree that pre-engaged does not equal engaged, and engaged doesn't equal marriage. I would be hard pressed to move in to a situation like that for my husband (whom I love more than I love breathing air), I certainly wouldn't do it for a boyfriend.

Second, moving there is a bad idea - if you move there and are miserable all the time, what do you think that will do to your relationship? Being as unhappy as you are describing will almost definitely have consequences for your relationship, even if the cause wasn't directly due to your boyfriend. Depending on how unhappy you were there, you may eventually grow to resent your boyfriend for being the reason why you are in that crap situation. You would also probably grow to resent his parents in time as well (if you don't already a bit). I think you are risking a ton by living there.

Live in two places. You stay where you are, he goes to live in his parents house. He made a committment to his parents to live there and he probably shouldn't punk out on that. You can visit back and forth. It is the best option for you personally, and it is the best option for your relationship! During this time you're also going to want to take a really serious look at how involved his parents are in your/his life and whether or not you'd be comfortable with that level should you ever get married. If you had kids with your boyfriend you'd possibly be looking at seeing that level getting amplified. And if they are harping at you for your life choices now on silly stuff like recycling and computer time, how do you think they are going to be in regards to your kids and your parenting choices? (Perhaps I am being unfair and reading too much in to this but man... I'd be seriously concerned...)

My boyfriend is being wonderful to me. What else can he do to make this easier on me?

Regardless of whether you do move, your boyfriend needs to start establishing some boundaries with his parents. He may not mind that they are criticizing your computer time or how much you work, but YOU DO. He needs to address that and make it clear to his parents that voicing their opinions on matters like that aren't okay, ESPECIALLY when they are critical.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:28 AM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here's what I think. You're in this relationship which still to me doesn't sound very stable due to various stressors, and you're about to put another huge stressor on it by going away for several weeks of every month for 6 months. Even if you were super happy with your boyfriend right now, this could throw a wrench into the situation. You need to not be moving in to a setup which could be extremely difficult to get out of if things go south (because all your stuff is there, you have no other place to go, you're in an intensive training program elsewhere).

If I were you and your current lease is flexible, I would keep your current apartment just until the training program starts in a few weeks, and instead of moving your stuff into his parents' house, move most of it into storage except for what you need while you're home for a few days per month. Use the 6 month program as a trial period for your relationship. If your boyfriend can step up and make this new place a good home for you by enforcing boundaries with his parents, you can work on finding ways to improve the commute (better routes, rideshares, public transit or whatever), and learning to love the new neighborhood - as a person who's lived many different places, I find that a lot of places seem boring when you first get there, before you know where the fun stuff/good food/beautiful places to walk are and make friends nearby. As for living with friends, well, I agree it can be fun, but most people don't stay living with friends for life - you might be the exception to the rule but your friends are going to eventually likely all get married and move on, so I wouldn't lose someone you love over the fact that you can't keep living with friends. If you like living with friends more than living with him, you may want to re-evaluate whether he is really the right person to get engaged to.

If you use the strategy above, if at any time you decide the situation is untenable or it's just not going to work out, you can break up with your boyfriend without having to sweat the housing situation so much - your stuff will be easy to move into whatever new place you find to live at that point.

This would be my choice because it would just burn me to maintain 2 places if I was really going to be sleeping at the boyfriend's house all the time, because that sort of thing is not in my frugal nature, and I'd be very unhappy in a committed long term relationship with someone I had to live separately from even though they were nearby. Your relationship mileage may vary. If it won't bother you unduly to pay the money or to live separately, keeping your own place would be even easier.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:36 AM on January 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

Make sure to explain to your boyfriend that you DO like his parents and you very much want to continue to have a healthy, positive relationship with them. This isn't about your wanting to cut his parents out of your life, it is about your wanting to have a healthy relationship with them. Establishing these boundaries and expectations NOW will do a tremendous amount to ensure that happens.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:38 AM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Wait a minute, this has very little to do with the in-laws' house, your boyfriend, your old hood, etc.

The problem is you allow decisions to be continuously made involving your life - and you don't speak up when it matters. Timing counts. They can't read your mind; that's why they continue forward with their plans.

This is occuring again - you need to find a way to build in the ability to speak your concerns before 2-year agreements are signed. The best place to start this is in the privacy of your boyfriend, who sounds like he is totally willing to listen - as long as he can hear you. Good luck.
posted by Kruger5 at 8:40 AM on January 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

To those confused about the "needing relatives to live in the house" thing ...

Gotcha. That does change the answer. (And I need to go work on my critical reading skills!)

I would imagine in this case that 3491 cannot be on the lease and therefore has no tenants rights of her own. Therefore I would definitely vote that she should absolutely keep her own place. As a fall back plan at the very least.

And while I agree that bf needs to work on his boundaries, 3491 cannot entirely rely on him to do so: that's just hiding behind him. So maybe there is something to be said for essentially living at bf's when she is in town and working on setting boundaries directly. Because if setting boundaries with bf's parents directly is going to be a deal breaker in the relationship, maybe it's better to figure that out now rather than after getting married.
posted by susiswimmer at 8:53 AM on January 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Did you voice any of these concerns about moving in after your agreed to it? It does sort of sound like you agreed made a commitment to something you didn't really want to do.

You and your boyfriend need to have a serious conversation about this. Don't live somewhere you don't want to live. It's not going to be good for you and it's not going to be good for your relationship. But no matter where you live, you and your boyfriend really need to develop some boundaries with his parents--that's going to be an issue whether or not you live within close proximity to them. Your work, recycling, and computer habits are none of their business. Establishing boundaries is not about disliking them, but about establishing a healthy relationship with them.

Is it possible for your boyfriend to get some roommates of his own? Since you are not family, I am assuming you couldn't be on the lease anyway, so is there any reason he can't get some roommates, and for you to keep your apartment until the two year period is up? And if you're worried about offending his parents, you can always blame your commute.
posted by inertia at 9:07 AM on January 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm of two minds here.

On the one hand, jeez, it's the same damn town. What difference could there possibly be?

On the other hand, this stuff?
I hate being so close to his parents. They have strong opinions about household habits (recycling, etc.), personal habits (time spent on the computer versus other activities), how much time we spend working (they are hippies), etc.
Oy vey! You've got to start out by setting some boundaries. Are they over there all the time and all up in your business? I get that they own the house, but I bet they weren't doing that with their former tenants, and seriously you guys are adults and it's really not their place. Your fiance needs to have a sit-down with them and explain how it's going to be, that this is your house, not theirs, and just because they hold the title and have a set of keys doesn't mean they're welcome to go through your trash*.

Though I will say that my mom and my father's mother never saw eye to eye about domestic stuff, and it was a huge source of stress for my mom during her entire marriage to my dad. This despite the fact that my grandparents did not own our house, lived across town, and didn't really come over all that often. If you feel like your fiance's parents are judging you, that doesn't have a lot to do with where you live, really, and is probably going to be a dynamic of your relationship, in general, when you're married to their son, unless you do something about it.

I think the stuff about "oh the house is bigger than I want" or "I miss my old neighborhood" is sort of piddly, and I mean, whatever. It's not like you moved to Mars. It's not like it's a shack with no running water.

*That said, they are also your landlord, and if there are laws in your area about proper trash disposal it absolutely does behoove them to convey that to you, because they likely face fines for not recycling or whatever the local ordinances specify.
posted by Sara C. at 10:18 AM on January 9, 2014

How do your housemates feel about your boyfriend hanging out there, staying over etc? Can he 'live' at his parents' second house for legal purposes but actually just spend most nights at your place with you?

As someone who lived with roommates and in shared living situations for a long time, I've got to chime in to say this is pretty much the worst possible solution.

Most roommates dislike having an extra person living there, and that person being a boyfriend or fiance can ratchet tensions up even further. Especially so if you intend to pay the rent and utilities of one occupant, rather than two, because your boyfriend will be paying rent on the house. Super especially so once you are married.

The fact that you guys have access to an entire house across town that you simply prefer not to spend time in (for reasons that will seem trifling to your housemates) will send resentment over this arrangement skyrocketing.

At best this is not a workable plan. At worst you're asking for a domestic arrangement that's going to make your future in-laws' meddling seem like paradise.
posted by Sara C. at 10:27 AM on January 9, 2014

Am I reading this right - you haven't actually moved in yet? So essentially this is your boyfriend's place, and he lives there because his parents own it. Does he pay rent? Will you pay rent? To me, that's an essential part of the equation, and my answer depends on that.

That may also play into how his parents see this situation. While you may see this as living with your almost-fiance, they may see this as their son's girlfriend spending time at his apartment. In my family, when you get married, you're part of the family, but before that, you're not. By that I mean, your feelings on our doings are pretty irrelevant.

Either way, I would come up with a few phrases to deflect what bothers you, and repeat those. Phrases like "huh, I never though of it that way." Or "you could be right!" big smile, walk away.

Some of your question has to do with living with a bunch of people vs. living with just one - that does take some getting used to. If I were you, I would wait till training was done to make a decision one way or the other, although again the question of rent would influence that.
posted by lyssabee at 10:57 AM on January 9, 2014

Your boyfriend made a commitment to stay in the house for 2 years. The consequences of him backing out now could be very bad for his parents legally and financially. Faking living at a house in a situation like this (him not staying there and staying at your apartment instead) can be equally bad from a legal standpoint. He really should stay and keep his promise and you should be very careful about asking him to move out to be with you as you will be bringing a lot of misfortune to his family if you do.

You need to decide to do what you think is best, but if you're planning a life with him, be aware that his feelings about his parents and his involvement with them are unlikely to change. In fact, as they age, his sense of responsibility to them may increase. If you two get married and have a family, you'll also likely see them more. If you're not comfortable with their level of enmeshment, maybe this isn't the best partnership for you.

In terms of his parents and the current boundaries, are they dropping in unannounced? Are they making nit-picky rules about how you two live in your own home? Are they trying to enforce their rules in your household? Or, are they simply volunteering opinions about things like recycling, computer time, and career decisions. Those are two different situations. One requires changing locks and setting clear boundaries and the other requires getting a thicker skin and learning how to deflect opinions you don't agree with.

It's also not fair for you to be super cranky to your boyfriend about this. Moving always means changes. You can either decide to embrace new adventures and exploring your new surroundings together, or you can pout and fight with your boyfriend. It's revealing that you ask what else he can do to make it easier on you immediately after you state that he's being wonderful. It's also revealing that you don't ask what you can do to make all of this easier on him. If I were your boyfriend, I'd read a lot of this as you demonstrating that you're not particularly committed to the relationship.
posted by quince at 12:15 PM on January 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

He needs to draw boundaries with his parents, to begin with.

This seems to be a consistent opinion among folks who inhabit the green. But, what's the evidence he doesn't like it that way? 3491 has offered her own views on his parents' habits, but said nothing about boyfriend's views. What she does say, in fact, is that he is very close with his family and really likes being physically close to them.

Juxtapose that with 3491's own statement that I hate being so close to his parents, and I think there's plenty of room to question whether soon to be fiance amounts to wishful thinking.

As for 3491's question about whether there is a creative solution to the problem of moving in vs. moving out, it appears the best solution may be to not move in and see how this relationships plays out over the next year or so. It it's as solid as she thinks it is, it will last. If it isn't, there will be many fewer knots to untangle.
posted by John Borrowman at 1:42 PM on January 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

My now-fiance, then-boyfriend used to own a house in the boonies. Like an hour and a half bus ride from my downtown work. He bought it when he was in his previous marriage, and most of his family lives down in the general suburb area around there.

It was not my ideal neighbourhood. it was a distant, boring, cookie-cutter, wal-marty, dog barky, child screamy, snowblowery, no parking, unwalkable bland suburb neighborhood. I hated it.

But here's the thing: my boyfriend was there. So I went there. The vast majority of days, because he had a dog and needed to be there. I did the 2 hour bus into the city on -30 degree cold days, I took the hour and a half bus home after long stressful office days, and I got to sleep in the same bed as the man I loved.

I kept my own apartment in my cool hippie part of town with fun shops and good restaurants and friendly people and walking to work, but I spent all of my time in the suburbs. I didn't move mostly just because it was super inconvenient to move, since I had an apartment full of stuff and we were planning on selling that suburb house and buy something more my-style when we could manage it.

It's just worth it, though, you know? For me, no amount of meddling parents, neighborhoods I disliked, inconvenient commutes, or lifestyle that isn't my ideal was keeping me away from spending all my available time I could make work with that man, until we could get into a situation that worked for both of us.

A year or so after doing that all the time, he sold his house and we bought an awesome one together and moved to the inner city, and it's absolutely everything I wanted. Absolutely, totally, 1000% worth a couple years of a boring commute and boring 'hood.

Your situation has a time limit. That's great! Either just move there and make plans with your friends to see them and your community and suck it up for a couple years, or don't, and make sure you keep your boyfriend in the loop and let him know you still want to live with him and spend time with him and he's a priority, but that you just don't want to live with him in that house right now, and when he's fulfilled his promise to his parents then you guys can get your own place in a couple years. I wouldn't ask him to break that agreement.

Just an observation though.. he's their son. You don't live there yet. They're stating their meddling opinions on HIS recycling habits, HIS computer usage, HIS working too much.. and well, he's their son. My mama bird is always telling me stuff I should be doing, or could be doing, and I totally don't mind. Just the way my mom is, you know? They probably will ease up a bit when you actually move in. If my boyfriend was all "you need to set boundaries with your mother!" I'd be a little miffed. It depends on everyone's familial relationships, but I personally really like my parents and our relationship and would be irritated by my partner not accepting that about me.

You don't need to take their advice. My mom just told my fiance he needed to get new glasses because his make him look like a nerd. Meddling? You bet! Did he just say "oh yeah, sure, I totally will" with no intention of doing so? Of course.
posted by euphoria066 at 4:38 PM on January 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

>- What is a creative solution to the problem of moving in vs. moving out? [...] Financially, we can maintain both places (mine and his) if necessary.

What... is the problem with just doing this? If you guys can afford it? I'm not sure why you need a creative solution when you have a really simple solution to this issue. You hate living there, you shouldn't move to a suburb you hate, and financially you don't have to do this, so I'm not sure where the pressure is coming from. Do you feel like you have to move in to this house because you have to have a live-in relationship with your boyfriend to solidify the relationship?
posted by moonlight on vermont at 4:47 AM on January 10, 2014

This is kind of an odd question, because in the ideal world of rainbows and unicorns, you'd probably just move in with a guy you were going to marry, or whatever makes the most practical and financial sense.

On one end of the spectrum is euphoria066's advice above, which is kind of in this vein. On the other end of the spectrum is mibo's advice, which tells you to protect yourself more.

The distinction is around trust. Nobody is completely trustworthy in general, and there are still, whether you like it or not, specific red flags around this guy. There is a whole history in which he wasn't good to you and he acted in a way that's self serving. He will hopefully be a great partner, but he might be a partner who harms you. So might anyone, of course, but there is a history with this person. Here he is demonstrating a slight bit of shadiness around not sticking up for you to his parents, etc.

The increased commuting time for you is a big deal, in my eyes. I dated a great guy when I was 22. He was the best person I ever dated. Looking back, we ended up choosing an apartment that was a 15 minute commute for me and a 1 hour commute for him. He cared about me so much that he just couldn't/wouldn't choose something that was better for himself than for me, and stepped up to protect my interests even more than I protect my own. This guy of yours, he gives me a bad gut feeling. From your descriptions to date about him. Of course I hope it works out for you anyway, just putting that out there.

Financially, we can maintain both places (mine and his) if necessary.
The best solution I can think of is where he lives in his parents' place, you pay zero rent there (obviously!), you live in your place, and he spends significant time at your place - 50% if not more of the time you spend together, if you prefer your part of town. He gets a roommate if he needs that to make rent. After a couple of years, you move in together after getting engaged.

The loss would be that you don't get to save money by moving in together right away, but the gain is more safety, a shorter commute, and more comfortable living for you.
posted by htid at 12:00 PM on January 24, 2014

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