Brother in law is moving in and I feel like moving out
June 9, 2015 11:57 AM   Subscribe

My soon to be brother in law will be moving in with my partner and me for 3 months, and for a number of reasons, I am feeling very anxious about this. Looking to hear from others that might have had to deal with living with (difficult) family members, and anything proactive that we could do beforehand to make this living situation bearable.

My partner and I are planning to get married in a few weeks, and we just received the news that my partner's brother is going through a 3 month trial separation from his wife, and needs a place to stay. My partner and I talked this over, and because his brother really doesn't have anyone else, and does not have enough money to live on his own, I agreed to let him live with us. However, I’m having a lot of anxiety about this development for a few reasons.

First, we live in a tiny old house, with very limited storage space, so he will be living in our attic, which is currently where I store all my clothes and belongings. Second, and what is more concerning to me, is that the brother is a very difficult person – he can be moody, and has a reputation for being a bully. For example, when I first met him, he yelled at me for pronouncing his name incorrectly. I’ve dealt with the brother in the past by avoiding him, but now he is moving in, which is kind of my worst nightmare.

My partner and I are planning to get married in a few weeks, and I am torn between wanting to be a supportive partner, but also not really wanting to get married until the brother is out of our house. Another part of me also has the irrational thought that I might just need to run away from the whole situation if it gets really bad. I am trying not to convey too much of my anxiety to my partner, because he is also stressed out from this situation, and because he just started a new and more stressful job.

Has anyone else had to deal with a similar situation? Any suggestions of what we can communicate to the brother before he moves in? We’re meeting with the brother to hash out some ground rules, but I am not even sure how to navigate the conversation. He will not be paying rent, due to the lack of money, but he did agree to chip in for utilities. Thanks so much in advance!
posted by annie_oakley to Human Relations (53 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I really think you should not let him move in. If he has no money this could turn into an indefinite situation and it could ruin your marriage. It's not worth it - put on your own oxygen mask first. Tell him you've realized it won't work out and offer to help him find resources.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 12:06 PM on June 9, 2015 [58 favorites]

Before you meet with the brother, meet with your partner.
Behind closed doors, or at an offsite place where the two of you can speak openly, freely, bluntly and honestly.
The two of you MUST be on the same page when it comes to your visitor.

What will you allow?
What will you not allow?
Will someone need to be good cop? Bad cop?
What happens if brother goes off the deep end and gets abusive or violent?

Don't make it about your anxiety, make it about having guidelines that all three of you can live with while you're under one roof. I think that your anxiety will be abated or lessened by having these things in writing, and having a clear plan should something happen.

If the two of you cannot come to an agreement, then I would not let the brother move in. Period. Full stop.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 12:07 PM on June 9, 2015 [36 favorites]

He should be contributing to utilities, food, household chores, gardening etc. he does not get to bring most of his stuff. There are rules hoe you treat each other in the house and they are a, b, c. You don't navigate the conversation, your partner does. And you agree a firm date for moving out. It does not matter if he moves back to spouse or on to a new single life but he moves out of your house.
posted by koahiatamadl at 12:08 PM on June 9, 2015 [4 favorites]

Having someone moving in with you thru the first couple of months of your new marriage doesn't sound like a pleasant situation even setting aside the other aspects. (If it's a trial separation, he will likely be bearing extra emotional burdens, and it has the potential to extend into a longer arrangement if the separation leads to divorce.)

Would it be at all possible for you to help him find a cheap studio apartment and help him with the rent?

If he does move in with you, I agree with Major Matt Mason Dixon that working out boundaries in advance is essential, and has nothing to do with your anxiety or his personality.
posted by Gelatin at 12:09 PM on June 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

First thing you do: give him a date certain when he's moving out. Not "Hey, Jeff, we'd like you to move out by such and such," not "Well, as long as he's looking for a new place he can stay" -- a actual date certain, as in "Your lease is up by month, day, year, and on that day, it's aloha on the steel guitar; you and all your stuff are out, full stop." You can say this in a slightly nicer way, but it's something that should not be negotiable.

Second, as noted above, you and your partner should agree to present a united front to him in case he does act badly, and if you can't agree to that, then nope, he should not move in. You really, really, really do not want to get into a situation where he's somehow playing his sister off against you, nor do you want to get into a situation where he manages to turn you into the bad cop.
posted by holborne at 12:15 PM on June 9, 2015 [5 favorites]

I'm with the Major, and would add "How long before we kick him out?" to the list of things decided beforehand, with sub-questions of "What do we tell him is the deadline?" and "What's the deadline when we start warning him?" and "What's the deadline when we really kick him out?" (with a further agreement between the two of you that the date can be extended if and only if you both agree to it)
posted by Etrigan at 12:17 PM on June 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

I would hate this. Fuck no. That's what I would tell my partner. Fuck no. Not ever, but especially not when we are just fucking getting married. The brother-in-law is a fucking asshole.

But I'm not you and I can't understand the dynamics of this situation. Assuming there is no way out of this now, when you agree to the ground rules, a couple of them have to be (1) that you (not your partner) are the absolute final word in this situation and (2) that the brother-in-law leaves the day and hour you say he leaves, even if that means without any warning, so he had better not piss you off or he'll be on the street that night. Police will be called if he tries any shit.
posted by pracowity at 12:17 PM on June 9, 2015 [14 favorites]

Talk to your partner about making it less than 3 months. That's really a very long time and could easily snowball into a semi-permanent situation, especially if the trial separation doesn't go well for him. If brother can't support himself now, why is 3 months going to be magic? One month seems like a reasonable amount of time and then he can find something more independent for the other 2 months.

Make strict house rules about behavior, responsibilities, and expectations. Make sure that your partner is ready to stick to them. Make brother aware that if he breaks the house rules, he will be asked to leave immediately. Period. If he can't pay rent, he can do more chores. And, there should be hours where he's expected to be out (working at a new job or two, I hope!) and also not in common areas so that you and partner have some time alone. The less ritzy his experience, the more motivated he may be to not stay forever. He should not be able to come into your home, act as though he doesn't have to contribute and can loaf around all day.

I'd also want to delay the marriage, frankly. Getting married is wonderful and you want to really enjoy your super newlywed time. If brother is there, you may end up being anxious and stressed instead. If you can delay without creating tons of problems with the events you've planned, I'd be really tempted to do that.

It's OK to say no to this. Really, it is. Brother's failed marriage, his lack of social connections and safety net, and his inability to support himself are all the result of decisions he's made. You do not need to sacrifice your happiness and peace to prevent him from dealing with the consequences of his choices.
posted by quince at 12:20 PM on June 9, 2015 [13 favorites]

I would say no.

To the point where this is something I would solve with money, if at all possible.

Depending on your financial situation, I would rather help (partially) pay for 3 months of rent than to have him move in. If he moves in, it would be difficult to move him out, not to mention the emotionally burden. Maybe find him a longterm stay motel or something instead.

We had a friend stay with us for about a month once. It was not a tiny house, and we actually like this person. But because our life is not setup to incorporate another person, and definitely not another person who has a different way of living than we do, it was actually quite difficult on us. And when she did extend her stay by a week, we were definitely on frayed nerves. And it wasn't even because of her, just because we didn't like living with someone else. I can't imagine living with someone I would actively avoid.

This is your home. You should feel comfortable in it, before you let anyone else stay in it. If future BIL wants to get divorced, the living situation is something he'll have to figure out anyway. Don't be a doormat to your fiance. This is as good at time as any to start communication/negotiation skills within your relationship.
posted by ethidda at 12:20 PM on June 9, 2015 [19 favorites]

Here are my thoughts:
1. This sounds terrible.
2. You can handle a terrible thing for three months.

As long as you have a firm exit date and a partner who will have your back over his brother's in all situations, you can get through it. But you and your partner need to be a team here, with shared expectations about every aspect of what the rules are.
posted by something something at 12:20 PM on June 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Even if I was on good terms with my significant other's brother (which, it doesn't sound like you are…at all), I'm not sure I'd be okay letting him live with us right after we got married.

None of us know your plans for the wedding, but for most people that's a pretty stressful time even if its a boatload of fun. And even if you're already living together, and have for some time the post-wedding months can be a bit stressful and hectic.

Family can be really important to your partner, but this is one of those areas where your needs should supersede his family of origin.
posted by furnace.heart at 12:23 PM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Nthing all those who said "prevent this situation from happening by any means possible." But if you can't, as with any renter, have him sign a contract. Lots of places have sample tenancy contracts that you can print out. Tell him it's just a formality, but have him sign it before he moves in.

Even if he's not paying rent, have him sign a contract that says he will pay ⅓ of utilities; ⅓ of groceries; he will be liable for any damage he causes including repair/replacement of anything he breaks or ruins, and he will be moving out by [x date]. Maybe specify that certain things, like theft or abusive behaviour, will be grounds for immediate eviction. Depending on tenant law where you live, maybe the contract could specify that he's a guest, not a tenant (so he can't then take you to court as his landlords).

Basically, you don't want this guy costing you and your partner money, and you need a legal recourse in case he makes difficulties over moving out.
posted by Pallas Athena at 12:26 PM on June 9, 2015 [6 favorites]

If you rent, rather than own, check your lease. You may have a limitation on the amount of time a guest may stay. And it may be less time than you think.
posted by janey47 at 12:28 PM on June 9, 2015 [14 favorites]

IANYL but in many places residing somewhere for ~30 days establishes tenant rights. Is your husband really going to formally evict his brother if he won't/can't leave?

What is the brother going to do in 3 months if the separation is permanent? If he doesn't have anyone else to live with now, what makes you think he will 3 months from now?

I think this is a bad idea, doubly so because you say he is a bully. Does your husband stand up to him or is he also intimidated? He is absolutely not going to leave a free place to stay if he thinks he can intimidate you.
posted by nakedmolerats at 12:30 PM on June 9, 2015 [27 favorites]

I would talk to your soon-to-be husband and basically say everything you have written here about your concerns, how you want to do right by him and his brother, but how this has the makings of a pretty bad situation. This could potentially be damaging not only to you, but your relationship with your husband and you relationship with your brother in law. I think a very valid argument could be made that this "solution" offers more risks and potential damage than is reasonable, not to mention the fact that you will be newlyweds.

IF you and your husband decide that this must happen, there are very specific ground rules that must be established:
- exactly HOW LONG he is able to stay with you. I would say a couple of weeks/month would be about my max and should allow him the time to find a better, more appropriate solution (namely finding a job and supporting himself.) On no planet would I be okay with having someone like that live with me for three months. Plus, what if the trial separation turns into permanent divorce? Does he just stay? No, you NEED a clear move-out date, well before the three month trial is up, and which point you will no longer be able to house him.
- exactly HOW MUCH he is required to pitch in. Just saying "He'll pitch in" is a disaster in the making. Discuss and decide exactly how much he will be required to pay you two for food, utilities, and for the general huge favour you're doing him by allowing him to live there. Require this money be paid, in full, on time.
- exactly what chores/help around the house he will be required to do
- exactly what behaviours you won't allow/accept (bullying, yelling, not cleaning up behind himself)
- your husband MUST agree that that if things get to be too toxic and negative for you, despite your doing your best to make it work, you get the ability to pull the plug on this whole arrangement. Your brother in law's trial separation does not get to supersede the health of your mental health, your finances, or your marriage, and let me be clear -- this has the ability to tank ALL of those, and so much more.

I think you need very clear expectations, boundaries, and rules in place with your brother in law, along with a very clear timeline for when he must be out of the house. He needs to be fully informed and clear on all of these. I would also have an expectation that he be actively looking for work so that he can find his own apartment ASAP. Help him get what he needs to be able to support himself. If it is a total free ride and easy peasy for him what motivation will he have for finding a way to support himself?

[Not trying to be uncharitable towards the brother in law, but man.... this sounds like a terrible situation at the best of times, and having it overlap with your wedding.... It just feels hugely unfair, or something, and an unreasonable favour for him to ask of you, to be forced to spend your first weeks as a a married couple with a man who is "difficult" in living in your home.]
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 12:31 PM on June 9, 2015 [8 favorites]

I agree with above suggestions that you offer to help cover the costs of an apartment for BiL with the further suggestion that you & your husband DO NOT cosign a lease with him. I assume since you haven't mentioned them that the parents are not willing/able/available to give him other options?
posted by poffin boffin at 12:34 PM on June 9, 2015 [6 favorites]

Moving in + not paying rent + being difficult in general + you getting married = this should not happen, no, no, no. Once he's in, there's a very good chance you won't be able to crowbar him out.

I might just need to run away from the whole situation if it gets really bad
I would convey exactly that to my partner. NOW is the time to speak up.
posted by sageleaf at 12:43 PM on June 9, 2015 [25 favorites]

I love my sister-in-law, and I would still hesitate to do this under these circumstances. I got married recently and I feel like the "newlywed" period is a time when my husband and I really bonded in a different way and learned how we functioned as a married couple. Like you guys, we had been living together before getting married, but there was still a lot of emotional stuff that I didn't necessarily anticipate around now being a married couple. And, there will be practical stuff to hammer out in the pre- and post-wedding period like combined finances (to at least some degree), changes to insurance/health policies, possible name change, etc. There's just a lot on both the logistical and the emotional side, and I think it's important to protect the space for you guys to grow together into your own little baby family. Having any one else, but especially a family member who isn't great in the best of times and is likely to be particularly down on marriage during this specific period just seems like it would be poisoning a period that should be really special and intimate and just about you guys.

Now, I'm not sure how feasible postponing the wedding is in terms of deposits/invitations/etc. I think step 1 would be to talk to your partner and lay this all out, and try to come up with some other plan that does not involve the brother moving in (whether that is just telling him no, or helping him out with rent or a lump sum gift, or whatever). If your partner is 100% opposed to that and won't work with you, then think about postponing the wedding.
posted by rainbowbrite at 12:47 PM on June 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

This is super generous of you. A lot of the suggestions here are good, but I'd also like to reframe how you talk about this with your BIL. In particular, frame it as "we're considering letting you move in with us temporarily, but we want to hash out what the rules would be together to make sure everyone's on the same page to see if it can work out". Then you can ask what he is thinking, and put in your non-negotiables (you can ask him to leave the house evenings or weekends, he pays X amount to you, he does/does not eat with you, he does these chores, he lets you use the bathroom these times, he parks here, he will be out in X time, he can/can't store stuff when he leaves, whatever things matter to you guys) but also see what he thinks before you agree. In particular, if he doesn't see that you are doing him a huge favour that you absolutely are not obliged to do, you want to be wary.
posted by jeather at 12:49 PM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, now that I think more on it: can you call off or postpone this wedding? Because I'd want my partner to know that this wedding isn't happening if the brother-in-law situation turns to shit.

And can the brother-in-law sign something that makes him a legally temporary guest who absolutely has no right to stay beyond a certain date? Some sort of hotel agreement?
posted by pracowity at 12:54 PM on June 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

because his brother really doesn't have anyone else, and does not have enough money to live on his own

If his brother doesn't have enough money to live on his own now, he's not going to have it in a few months. How does only have enough money to "chip in" for utilities equal "and then I will be able to support myself completely!" in a few months? Once he moves in it is going to be impossible to get him out. Also, where I live at least, you can be 100% legally separated according to the court even if you live in the same house. Does he need to move out to do a trial separation? Is he being asked to leave by his wife because he's an abusive dick who will yell at someone he's just met for mispronouncing his name? I'm a certified hardass but bro, if you can't afford to be legally separated maybe you .... can't afford to be legally separated.

You describe this as your worst nightmare. Listen to yourself. Put your foot down. If your partner still forces the issue of having his brother move you need to think seriously about what that says about his commitment to you.
posted by kate blank at 12:59 PM on June 9, 2015 [33 favorites]

This sounds terrible. Don't do it. If it's possible, buy your way out as ethidda suggests or find another way to help.

You say you're trying not to add stress to your fiance's life, but I think this is a situation where a little stress and some uncomfortableness upfront is going to save ALL of you a LOT of stress (and bad blood) down the line. And it might save your marriage, I mean you've had the thought "I might just need to run away from the whole situation if it gets really bad" (totally understandable I think). This situation imploding isn't going to help anyone involved. Figure out another way to help the BIL but not one that seems so likely to backfire in spectacular ways.
posted by pennypiper at 1:02 PM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is an absolute no go, in my opinion.

And the timing is very suspicious; a brother who yells at his brother's girlfriend for mispronouncing his name is a brother who's trying to drive that girlfriend away, and a demand to move in with that brother and his now fiancee a few weeks before the wedding is unmistakably a last ditch effort to get rid of her for good -- and honestly, what person with even a shred of concern for his brother's happiness in his marriage would even think of doing such a thing?

Tell your fiancee he needs to wake up and see who his brother is and what he's up to or the wedding's off.

If he really can't see how wrong this whole situation is, I think you should find another place to live and end the relationship.
posted by jamjam at 1:25 PM on June 9, 2015 [12 favorites]

On the upside, lots of jerky guys kind of understand the "tough love" concept. "We know you're a strong guy and you'll work it out, somehow." For real, if you refuse to take him in, he just may be forced to clean up his act so that his partner will take him back.

You can also point out that a recently-separated guy in a house of newlyweds is going to be bad for him (it'll be hell for you, but he might not care/respond to that).

It's okay to change your mind after agreeing to let it happen -- it's your house, your lives. He won't be happy, but you guys shouldn't suffer for his choices.
posted by sageleaf at 1:25 PM on June 9, 2015

My partner and I talked this over, and because his brother really doesn't have anyone else, and does not have enough money to live on his own, I agreed to let him live with us.

So, it doesn't sound like you like your BiL, and I wonder how much of the conversation was your partner asking you if it would be ok, and you just agreeing. Given your concerns, I would have another conversation between you and your partner, where you say, actually, I'm not ok with BiL staying with us for 3 months. Maybe I would consider letting him stay for a week while he finds a place to rent (Extended Stay America, or a similar sort of thing?), but 3 months for free, when you don't really like him? No way. (And you need to get your partner on board with this---no fair him saying to his bother "oh, no, you can't stay because my fiancee won't let you".)

Not having enough money to live on his own? How is that going to change---and why should you have to eat his rent for three months? Maybe he can find some other roommate, or a room to rent in someone else's house.
posted by leahwrenn at 1:26 PM on June 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

If someone submitted an askme that read "what's the worst possible way I could start my married life", your askme would be the best answer.

If my fiancee wasn't open to figuring out some other solution to your brother's problem, I'd be seriously considering not getting married.

I would rather give up whatever money I had saved for a honeymoon to rent the guy his own place than go through with this arrangement / disaster.
posted by the bricabrac man at 1:27 PM on June 9, 2015 [19 favorites]

The one ironclad rule I'd have is: the minute he raises his voice to me, or does anything hostile (and I, only I get to decide what hostile means! My partner is not allowed to argue or plead for his brother!) he gets thrown out. Not the next day, not in a few hours- immediately.
Should significantly shorten his stay. Either that or it should improve his behaviour.
But on balance, do not let him stay in the first place.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:43 PM on June 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Three months, rent free? So he can do a trial separation? Why is that your problem?

This is exploitation wearing the cheap disguise of "familial obligation" and "supporting your partner." I would suggest that for your future happiness and sanity, you should go ahead and be That Awful Person Who Backed Out Of A Promise right now and say sorry, I changed my mind, this will not be possible.
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:44 PM on June 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Tell your fiance you are leaving, and may consider returning when his brother is gone. This shouldn't be your problem.
posted by Nevin at 1:51 PM on June 9, 2015 [13 favorites]

You should not allow this arrangement. If you do end up allowing it, at the absolute minimum you should put the wedding off until a few months after your brother in law has gone.
posted by ghostbikes at 1:57 PM on June 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

You poor thing. I know you're not keen for your relationship to fail right before the wedding- who would be? But this brother in law sounds like he would have no problem ruining your life and you might as well face that fact, put your foot down, and die on that hill if need be. If you sit back and hope for the best you might end up the one homeless. And if your fiancé won't back you up, well- better know now then after the wedding- divorce is a pricy pain in the ass. Good luck!
posted by catspajammies at 1:57 PM on June 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

We brought my partner's mid-20s nephew into our (tiny) house about two years ago. He was across the country from his family after moving west to try to break into the entertainment industry. He and his girlfriend broke up, and he made a suicidal gesture (around the people he'd been living with) that landed him on a 72 hour psychiatric evaluation. So, we offered to house him while he got on his feet.

Turned out, nephew is quite manipulative, a bit of a man-child, startlingly conceited, and thin on life skills like cooking and cleaning after himself. It was not easy. I work largely from home, and his presence was grating. He had no difficulty ignoring our house rules, and the tension definitely wound its way into my relationship with my partner. At the three month mark, we gave him one month to get himself a new place. He tried hard to call our bluff, but we held fast and booted him at month four. At that point, we put him back in the care of his parents, who arranged his next free housing-with-friends situation.

Lessons learned: it's your house, you set the rules. Grating personality or not, your guest is bound by the rules you put in place before the guest moves in. I wish we had written up a contract, even a casual one, that would have made the process clearer to all parties involved (including his parents), a contract that was signed by the guest for reference at the tensest points. I also wish we had set an early checkpoint, like an assessment after two weeks as to whether or not the arrangement was working for so many people in such a small space. He's family, and giving him four months of free rent and food was a good thing that he needed and we were happy to help with--I don't doubt this for a second. I also don't doubt that hospitality can and must have its limits when it impacts your own well-being.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 2:07 PM on June 9, 2015 [7 favorites]

Oh man, I can totally sense the cloud of dread hanging over this entire question. I agree with everyone else that Plan A should be just don't do it.

But if you do, first I'd have a conversation with your fiance about how to approach the initial sit-down with his brother. This conversation is going to be a test of how the brother acts when there's no tension yet and he should be on his best behavior. If he gets in the least aggressive, entitled or disrespectful, this plan is totally doomed and your fiance should tell him right then that the deal is off.

Preferably the length of his stay with you should not be linked to the length of his trial separation, because what happens if at the end of the three months they decide he shouldn't move back in? Rather, it should be linked to his ability to pay for his own place. You can mention that the reason you are not charging him for rent is so that he can save up for first, last and deposit elsewhere. And I'd offer to let him stay with you for one or two months, rather than the whole three, so that he still has to find other lodging for part of the separation time and doesn't get too complacent.

This suggestion is kind of out there and may not be possible because of your fiance's new job, but: how much do you trust this guy? Because if you're reasonably confident that he's a pain in the neck but not a thieving pain in the neck, maybe you could let him stay at your house without you in it. Especially if you agree to only one month, could you take a long, inexpensive trip (road trip to see friends in other parts of the country, maybe?) by way of a honeymoon? As well as keeping you from having to deal with him this would provide a natural endpoint to his stay: you move back into the house, he moves out of it.
posted by ostro at 2:09 PM on June 9, 2015

Offer him a loan so he can stay in extended stay / whatever local long term affordable stay options are. The reasoning to your wife needs to be, if he can't afford to move out from his wife's house now, how will he move out in 3 months? He will come up with more excuses not to go. I have seen this happen to so many people (and I have been in at least one case, the offending couchsurfing relative who overstayed my welcome).

I would offer:
a) a small loan (less than $1000) that must be repaid by years' end.
b) a set amount of assistance for 3 months ($200/month)
c) He can stay for 2 months, but MUST pay a small, symbolic amount of rent AND has a set of chores he must do, with a formal end date of the contract. If he skips on any of these, he's out.
d) he can stay scott free, you will feed him and pay for his gas to work, but his paychecks go to you until he leaves.

If he truly has NO alternative, he will go with one of the later 2. If he has other options that he likes LESS than "free rent at sister's house indefinitely, which means I can spend my money how I like", the threat of rules and having to pay for the privilege of staying with you guys will sour the deal. Obviously, for ANY of these options there needs to be a serious behavior and boundaries convo, ie: "If we're going to help you, you need to be respectful to us at all times, If you cross a line or make either of us uncomfortable or feel unsafe in your presence, you are OUT."
posted by SassHat at 2:13 PM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

If it were me, I would just renege and say no, it's not going to be possible. He's already yelled at you once -- he will yell again. I feel for you, I think it will be horrible! If my soon-to-be husband insisted, I'd probably go and stay with a friend for bit and reconsider the relationship.
posted by Lescha at 2:15 PM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

because his brother really doesn't have anyone else, and does not have enough money to live on his own


I don't believe that he has no other options. What i do believe, is that for some reason he doesn't want to explore them. He wouldn't get to do XYZ(drink and play videogames all day, whatever) at those places.

I've helped out friends in situations like this before. It's one thing to ask and see if it's an option, but when it was presented as having no other options there not only usually was several, but if it really seemed like there wasn't it was because they were a fucking asshole.

Even the shittiest lying drug addicts i know could pretty quickly find several places to crash, and probably crash around for 3 months fairly easily bouncing between couches and stuff.

Is this guy under or unemployed? I don't know a city in america other than san francisco including NYC and the boroughs where you can't rent a shitty room off craigslist for $500 a month or so.

IANYL but in many places residing somewhere for ~30 days establishes tenant rights. Is your husband really going to formally evict his brother if he won't/can't leave?

pay attention to this. I've realized i was painted in to a corner on this one before, where essentially the only option is waiting for them to leave or counting on them to not take legal action if you dump all their shit on the sidewalk while they're at the store.

Also, where do you live with your partner? Is it an apartment? Rental house? I can't think of a single place i've lived, since i've never owned my own place, where this would be allowed. They ALL have limits shorter than that legal tenancy to essentially prevent unauthorized roommates from gaining official status.

You could all get kicked out for this, is what i'm saying. Keep that in mind.

I've done this before and short of like, my dad or something i don't think i'd ever do it again even for a very very close friend. I can only think of a couple exceptions.

In every single one of them roommates/etc who had originally pledged to Stand Strong on the ground rules welched and wimped out when it came to actually enforcing them and kicking the person out for grossly abusing them(IE they were supposed to save up and be out by the beginning of this month, day 2 of the month rolls by and they show up at the house with an $1500 gaming laptop, install themselves on the couch, and now what? "You can't just kick them out, you'd be kicking them out on the street with no money" OH YEA AND WHOSE FAULT IS THAT). In my experience every single person who tries for an arrangement like this is legendarily good at tugging at heart strings and mid level manipulation of "but what would i doooooo are you really going to kick me out on the streeeeet?".

I get the feeling, since you even asked this question, that you aren't sure your partner wouldn't just side with his brother at the expense of your relationship and a total death march of this lasting like 8 months... right? Because i get that feeling too.
posted by emptythought at 2:17 PM on June 9, 2015 [14 favorites]

Maybe your partner doesn't actually want to get married and this is his way of sabotaging the wedding? Because it sure would sabotage mine. Reconsider whether the future husband is as into getting married as you are (or were, until this crap came up).
posted by pracowity at 2:24 PM on June 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Talk to your partner about making it less than 3 months. That's really a very long time and could easily snowball into a semi-permanent situation, especially if the trial separation doesn't go well for him.

Yes, among many other red flags about this situation, what is the plan for when/if the trial separation becomes permanent? If he has nowhere else to go now, and no money, three months of hanging around your place is not going to solve that problem.

You have my sympathies, I'm guessing putting your foot down and saying absolutely not will cause huge problems between you and your fiance. If that is the case, and your fiance insists on going ahead with letting his brother (who yelled at you upon the first time meeting you!) move in, you have to re-evaluate where you stand and whether this relationship is right for you. If he puts his brother's needs above yours in this situation, weeks before your wedding, don't imagine that dynamic will ever change.
posted by JenMarie at 2:42 PM on June 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Rereading your question and these two things jumped out:

I am trying not to convey too much of my anxiety to my partner, because he is also stressed out from this situation, and because he just started a new and more stressful job.

It's OK to be honest with your partner about how you're feeling. Right now, he needs your honesty more than your protection. He needs to have all the information so you can make plans together for how best to move forward.

(Also, you could bring up the stressful job as a good reason not to go through with this.)

Another part of me also has the irrational thought that I might just need to run away from the whole situation if it gets really bad.

This is not an irrational thought. This is a good, self-preserving thought. As it stands right now, the brother gets what he wants (a place to stay) and your partner gets what he wants (your permission for the brother to stay). What you want (not to live with, or be around, the brother) is also important. Please have a plan in place with a parent, relative or friend so that you have a place to go if you need one.
posted by Pallas Athena at 3:53 PM on June 9, 2015 [10 favorites]

I'm on Team Fuck No: this is *not* how you want to start off your marriage. It sounds like once BIL moves in, you'll have no leverage over him at all if he begins to act up, or needs to stay "one more week".

It's okay to change your mind on this and say no.

I am by no means a fan of DTMFA, but this is the rare situation where I think it is called for: if your partner won't back you on not allowing the BIL to stay, that says a whole lot of negative things about the relationship. You don't want to merely postpone the marriage; you need to get out of it completely.

I hope it doesn't come to that, and your partner sees reason.
posted by doctor tough love at 4:17 PM on June 9, 2015

You are considering bolting from the situation. You need to put your foot down and say no to this. Tell your future spouse, "I've given it a lot of thought, and I've decided I can't deal with Brother moving in when we're just getting married. He has been bullying to me in the past and makes me uncomfortable. We need to find a different solution."

Here's the other thing: A TRIAL SEPARATION DOES NOT MEAN HE HAS TO MOVE OUT. There are other ways to handle that, including agreeing to a mutual schedule of avoidance from spouse and sleeping separately. He can defer his phyiscal separation until he can move on his own. If he must move out because of domestic violence or something, he should not be joining you anyway. In other words, DOES NOT NEED TO BE YOUR PROBLEM.
posted by zennie at 4:21 PM on June 9, 2015 [9 favorites]

Ugh, I would say no to this. But if you really feel you have no choice but to let him stay with you, get everything in writing -- the date he needs to move out, what he's expected to help out with financially and around the house, no-go behaviors. ALL of it, in writing, and you all sign it. Hell, get it notarized.
posted by sarcasticah at 4:30 PM on June 9, 2015

And to add to what nakedmolerats and empty thought mentioned, the reason I gave the initial answer I did is because I saw another similar situation to this go very wrong. A family member gave someone a place to stay, and it started going horribly wrong (the guest was smoking pot at the house all the time, leaving dirty dishes and clothes everywhere, generally just trashing the place and being extremely argumentative and jerk-ish with everyone), and by that point, the person had tenant's rights, even though they had not signed any sort of lease, and the only way that they could be removed was through an eviction process that took several months, multiple meetings with lawyers, and cost a great deal of money and stress on everyone's part. The complicating factor in the whole mess was that the unwanted 'tenant' kept saying they had no place to go and would be out on the streets if they left, although of course when it came down to it and they were legally forced to leave via eviction, they utilized the social services that could have been available to them at any point and got a place to stay. Anyway. Hope that serves as a cautionary tale. The price of being rude and rescinding your offer (as long as you back it up with some sort of other assistance that ISN'T giving him a place to stay) is well worth the benefit of avoiding a situation like that.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 4:43 PM on June 9, 2015 [12 favorites]

I would avoid using "he was a jerk the first time we met" as a reason why this is not a good idea. Ultimately, it's irrelevant -- I wouldn't want my best friend, or a complete stranger, or the freaking dalai lama living with me in a small place for 3 months after I just got married.
posted by the bricabrac man at 5:28 PM on June 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

You and your partner absolutely need to be on the same page before this guy moves in. A firm move-out date must be established and stuck to. If I were you, I would establish some place comfortable on your property that can be yours to retreat to that is yours alone. Even if it is a closet converted to the world's tiniest office with a closing door, make it happen. It might save your sanity. Frankly, I would say no. People live with roommates from the want ads or move into rooming houses, why can't he? I guess you are a much nicer person than me.
posted by Foam Pants at 6:24 PM on June 9, 2015

I think sometimes either relationships aren't viewed like how I view my relationship, or people miss a big point of what a committed relationship means. For me, my marriage means that - barring anything crazy or an emergency - my partner's feelings and needs come above those of people outside the relationship. Family versus relationship is a big problem with many people, however my husband and I are luckily on the same page.

Right now, your partner is putting the needs of their brother above your needs as a person AND as a couple, and right before you're supposed to be starting your marriage!

Nope, nope, nope.

Now, if their brother was having an emergency, or was in a domestic violence or other abusive situation and he needed a safe-haven, that's one thing. This is NOT that situation. He's not working things out in his marriage, and he doesn't even have his own finances together to be able to separate on his own. He's got to either A) figure out his finances so he CAN separate on his own or work with his spouse to do so or B) Work on his marriage so they stay together or figure out if they want to divorce and start legal proceedings.

Neither of these are your problems to deal with. Look, I'm also an introvert and the thought of someone staying with me like this outside of an emergency makes my skin crawl. Plus, the fact is that you're going to want your own space to be newlyweds. I lived with my husband before we got married, but there's something to be said about having your own space when you get married to just be around each other. I mean, you want to try to have hot newlywed sex with your brother-in-law up in the attic? No freakin' way.

You need to have an honest sit-down with your partner. Tell them that this situation isn't acceptable and that you're not responsible for your brother in this situation, that this is not an emergency, and you do not want to be responsible for him. I agree that you also do need to be aware of tenants rights and other things. If you're partner is willing to make you uncomfortable and not heed your feelings after an honest conversation, then I would reconsider the marriage thing - at least for the moment.
posted by Crystalinne at 6:49 PM on June 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Ugh, I would say no to this. But if you really feel you have no choice but to let him stay with you, get everything in writing -- the date he needs to move out, what he's expected to help out with financially and around the house, no-go behaviors. ALL of it, in writing, and you all sign it. Hell, get it notarized.

The issue with this, as someone who's not only approached this as an independent adult, but whose parents also did something like this when i was a kid, is that none of this matters. There's nothing holding them to that agreement. They can just throw it out, or say you're being mean and beg to not be made homeless.

I was just browsing facebook and thinking of this thread, and saw another friend post about a friend who did this to me AND them for months with an agreement and clear endgame joking about how he was an asshole about it and my friend blowing up and going "i can't believe this guy is still acting like that's something to snark about what a piece of human waste".

It made me realize i know SO MANY people who did this with good friends or yes, family, and got burned. It's something me and friends literally joke about and call eachother by shittyfriends name randomly in reference to his behavior during that("don't be a nicky, jeeze" sort of stuff)

So yea, reading that(massive, like as big as this thread) thread of comments with people discussing that person and other situations like this made me realize... it almost never goes right. I've even brought up that point with friends and everyone either hadn't done it or had a disaster story.

I've even been the crashing person and it ended in heartbreak and anger and having to take a break from that friendship(which eventually mostly worked out, but still).

This is something that never works even when there aren't compounding factors. Most people lose this game even on easy mode, and you're being asked to play it on hard mode here.

I know i'm basically saying the same things twice over here, but seeing friends talk about it made me realize that this is like a shared shitty experience throughout my large friend group/network.
posted by emptythought at 7:20 PM on June 9, 2015 [7 favorites]

This is the thing I mentioned in this comment. So, when our very easy-going, no firm end date thing ended up being... more difficult than predicted earlier than expected, I had to decide between making my best friend of all time since forever, essentially my brother, unhappy or my wife unhappy. I did the absolute worst thing - both, by minimizing concerns and waiting too long to act.

I do not recommend even risking that situation, and the risk sounds high.
posted by ctmf at 7:51 PM on June 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Honestly, this sounds like engagement/wedding/marriage-ending level stress here. Like, this could very well break up your relationship. I guess if it's going to end over an intractable bully brother, it's easier to end it now than before divorce lawyers need to be called, but... as everyone else has said, once he's in it'll be like trying to get rid of cockroaches, and he sounds awful to live with and will never be taking care of himself in order to leave.

Talk to your fiance and say HELL NO, I CAN'T DO THIS and see if he's on your side or the brother's. Depending on what side he's on, you'll know whether or not this relationship is likely to go to hell or not.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:35 PM on June 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

The reason your BIL blew his marriage is because he's an asshole. The reason he has no one else to turn to is because he's an asshole. The reason you don't want to live with him is because he an asshole. Sometimes, the thing that will make people change their ways is if there are consequences and in his case, the fact that his nasty attitude means no one will take him in may be that tipping point that he needs. Don't reward bad behaviour and for god's sake don't let him add another destroyed marriage (yours) to his list. No no no. Just no.
posted by Jubey at 9:55 PM on June 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

You deserve to start your marriage in happiness. Bridge-burner asshat BIL deserves to figure out why nobody can stand him on his own time and his own dime. DO NOT LET HIM MOVE IN.
posted by moneyjane at 10:42 PM on June 9, 2015

Your BIL is an adult. If he wants a separation he needs to sit down with his wife and sort out the marital finances so that it can happen, like a fucking adult would.

If they can't afford the current home and a second place, they either stay in the same house or they downsize to two smaller roomshares. There is no reason whatsoever for you guys to be inserted into his marriage.

Yes, this will probably impact on his standard of living - divorces do that! That's why people don't like to get divorced!

He needs a sustainable solution, because if the separation becomes permanent you do not want him to continue living in your house rent-free forever.
posted by tinkletown at 2:11 AM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Wow, thank you, hive mind!! This is a very stressful situation, but reading everyone's answers and experiences helps so, so much. My fiance and I had a fraught discussion about the situation last night. My fiance is torn between not wanting to lose me but also not wanting to lose his brother, and they really only have each other as family. We decided to offer the brother 1 month in our house. I think that I can endure that shorter amount of time. Interestingly, his brother quickly accepted that and said that he will use the 1 month to look for a sublet, which leads me to believe that he has the resources to figure things out on his own.

My fiance and I will be meeting tonight to figure out exactly what terms we need to provide the brother, including definite move out date, house rules, deal breakers, and his transition out of his house. I'm also not going to go ahead with getting married until the brother is out. Luckily, we were just planning an informal ceremony, so that's not too complicated to postpone.

Thanks so much again, everyone!!
posted by annie_oakley at 7:37 AM on June 10, 2015 [12 favorites]

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