Today’s letter kinda sorta lets me jump in on Dan Savage’s DTMFA-a-thon.
Dear Captain Awkward,
I am having a real problem with a house guest staying at my house. She and her husband have been friends with my husband Aaron long before I met him. Both decided to move to New York and sold the house, her husband moved there while she is here settling law suits. She was originally staying with a neighbors but they kicked her out because supposedly the husband was mean to her so she asked if she could move in with us…and since I didn’t want to be rude I said yes.
Right now I am really regretting saying yes…she has paid her rent on time but has no sense of boundaries. She says I am a bad wife because I don’t do enough cooking and cleaning and has even told Aaron that she would always make sure that he had home cooked meals when he got home instead of the skillet dinners I make(I am really bad at cooking) She says she is only trying to help me out “to make me a better wife” She barges in our room and talks to Aaron when we are trying to have a conversation and has even nudged me out of the way a few times. She criticizes my voice and says I sound whiny and need to watch how I talk….I feel like I have no privacy and can’t be myself in my own home with her criticizing how I spend my time. I have ADHD and am really forgetful about things sometimes and she will say stuff like I am having a Debbie moment if she forgets things….Whenever I complain to Aaron he will say it’s just her personality and she means no harm, or she is just joking.
I feel like this needs to end now. She even wormed her way into going to the hair salon with me and was bossing me around telling the stylist how to do my hair and what color I should put in it. Whenever I have tried to lay down ground rules like no coming into our room after 9:00, she says I am being possessive and that she would like to talk to my husband and hang out with him, even though I need to go to bed early to go to work and need rest. She told me that I should sleep on the couch and not be so selfish. She still has a month and a half to stay here, but I am afraid she is going to try to extend the stay, and my nerves are on the wits end! Would it be absolutely awful to give her the rest of her rent money back and tell her she needs to leave…because I honestly feel like I am going to have a nervous breakdown. I feel like this houseguest is trying to take over my home.
This houseguest is trying to take over your home. Here’s what you do:
Step 1: Tell Aaron that the arrangement with his friend is not working out for you and ask him to ask her to leave. If he’s drunk her Kool-Aid he might go on and on about how he can’t just kick her out and try to make you feel bad for her. Let him finish, and then say, “Obviously I wanted to help her out, which is why I agreed to have her stay in the first place. But having her here is not working for me. She needs to find somewhere else to stay, and I need you to back me up right now.” It might turn into a big argument. Hold your ground. You can work on rebuilding your marriage once you’ve got her out of the house. And it will take some work, if he’s been letting his friend treat you this way.
Step 1a: Take a quick look at whatever written agreement you guys have about rent, tenancy, etc. and make sure you’re not getting yourself into legal trouble.
Step 2: Give her her rent money back and ask her to leave by a certain day/time, and then avoid interacting with her until she’s out of the house.
When she asks why? Say “This isn’t working for me.”
When she says “It’s just because you’re too controlling,” say “Yeah. This isn’t working for me.“
When she says “It’s just because you need to be a better wife and you’re jealous that I’m making you look bad!” say “Wow.”
And after a long pause, say “This isn’t working for me.”
If she says “I’ll sue you!” say “That’s really unfortunate. I’m still going to need you to move out.“
When she says “But where will I go?” pinch yourself as a reminder that it’s Not Your Problem. If you get sucked into the logistics of where she’ll stay next, then her leaving becomes contingent on those logistics. You don’t need to worry about where she’ll stay. You just need her out of your house. Aaron might try to make it his problem. That still doesn’t make it your problem. “I’m sorry, I can’t make that my problem, I just really need her to find somewhere else to stay. This just isn’t working out for me.”
She might scream at you. She might say terrible, manipulative things. So what? Do you really need to be liked by this woman? Walk away (you don’t have to listen to that), and if you have to respond, say “Please don’t talk to me that way. I’d like you to be out by the end of the week. This just isn’t working for me.”
Listen, you’ve made a pretty airtight case to me for why this woman sucks. She’s mean. She’s rude. She’s up in your business. She’s up in your marriage. She doesn’t respect you. She’s not your friend (not even a little). She sucks. Those people who kicked her out of the last place were onto something. They got rid of her. You can, too. Still, you don’t need an airtight case for getting her out of your house. “This isn’t working for me” is enough of a reason.