Living next door to his parents

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-07-2014
Living next door to his parents
Fri, 02-07-2014 - 7:00am

I am looking for some outside advice. Mainly because I am not sure how I feel about a particular situation between me and my BF. We’re arguing at the moment. 

I moved country to be with him (this was following 2 years of him living with me in my country)

We had a long distance relationship before that.

 So here we are 4 years further down the line. I’ve been living in his country now for almost 2 years. Since we arrived we moved into an apartment that his parents had created for us. It’s an extension from their house, only separated so that we are at least separated into 2 places. It was an ideal solution for 2 people relocated with no money and no job.

However when we did move into the apartment it was the intention to make it only temporary - 2 years max we said.

But then BF found it hard to get a job when we first arrived it took 1 year to be exact, so that really set us back from saving for our own place.

 Another year down the line and I am now pregnant (4 months). It was planned because we’re both 30 and I have wanted kids for years already. However now with a baby on the way I have agreed to stay for another year or 2 so that we can continue to save for our own place. His mother has also offered to look after the baby for 1 or 2 days per week if I chose to work part time. 

BF wants to buy a house eventually, and renting to him is not an option but we don’t have the right criteria for buying a house yet which is a permanent work contract. It looks like BF will get that this year though so we’re edging closer to that bit by bit. 

I stand by the decisions we made to live so close to his parents considering it is saving us heaps of money because we don’t pay rent.

But I also really feel that it’s important to move out to have our own freedom and independence and to be ‘adults’  

Now a particular problem has surfaced and it’s become apparent to me that his parents just won’t allow him to grow up. They like to still give him advice but in a way of actually telling him what is right and wrong. They are a very strongly opinionated family which I’ve become quite used to, but the way in which they still want to control him and us as a couple annoys the hell out of me. With them living so close they are able to knock whenever they want or even ask us questions in passing. The do respect our privacy, they don’t let themselves in or anything, but it’s more the way that they need to know everything we are up to, where we are going at the weekends etc. etc.. and even if we aren’t going anywhere they’ll mention it by passing a comment about us ‘sitting on the sofa all day’

We both work full time and we both like to be lazy at the weekends sometimes. I feel that they don’t approve of this, but in my opinion it is none of their business if we want to live like that whether we’re living in their place or not. It’s a contact juggling act between them being helpful and them interfering. If I go away for a weekend to visit my family, I come back to find that his mum has washed our clothes, I find that strange. This list goes on… there are lots of other things that get under my skin with the way they behave. I’m sure they still think that their little boy isn’t capable of being an adult. I’m hoping that him becoming a father himself might change that. He has started to be more assertive with them when it comes to their opinions on how to live and what’s right and wrong etc. So that’s good. I just wonder if whilst we live in their property, they will always be the one in control. 

I really feel that it’s important to move out to have our own freedom and independence and to be ‘adults’  

But I’m also torn by the fact that we have a baby on the way, we don’t have a money tree and are quite comfortably not paying rent.   

Friends tell me I’d be crazy to move out when the cost of living nowadays is so high.

 I’m sorry to ramble on. I might sound like an ungrateful brat and don’t even know it.

But if this comes into your mind please tell me straight because I’m struggling to understand where my boundaries lie and what it is I actually want.. I miss my family a lot and yet I feel like I'm suffocated by his :(

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Fri, 02-07-2014 - 10:23am

I think that if you really want to save to buy a house and you are able to live there rent free, plus have a convenient babysitter, then it might be worthwhile to suck it up a little more and stay there.  I'd at least try it for another year after the baby is born if your only other option is renting (and then would you have to pay for daycare too?)  I do think that you give up a certain right to independence when you aren't totally on your own but it's a tradeoff.

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Fri, 02-07-2014 - 12:22pm

With the way his parents are and your bf's relationship with them, I think that you will always have some degree of over-involvement (or interference) just because that is how they are. So even if you move to another location they will probably want to know what you are doing, where you are going, and have opinions about how you spend your time or your money etc. The fact that they don't charge you rent probably makes them feel like they have more right to say things, but moving or paying them rent won't make that go away. They don't see it as intrusive, just "interested" in your lives and stating their opinions as if you cared. In some cultures their behavior is traditional and the norm, could it be a bit of culture-clash between the ways of your country vs his?

My dh's family is sort of like them. In each others' business as much as each person will allow. The sons and their wives have had to be firm about our privacy and boundaries from the beginning. Whatever they say or think about me I don't care as long as they keep it to themselves. 

You said that your bf has started being more assertive, does that mean that he is also annoyed by their behavior or is he doing it because you tell him that it annoys you? I think that he will need to be the one to take the lead in enforcing boundaries. You can also tell them firmly but tactfully what your boundaries are, but they may not honor them. When the baby comes it may get trickier, if your MIL has childrearing ideas very different than yours.

Personally, I would say to concentrate on the part about them telling him what is right or wrong. And then the part about stating "disapproving" opinions about how you choose to spend your free time or money etc. The questions about where you go, the attempts to help out like doing the laundry, those things will probably not stop because to your inlaws it is their way of expressing their interest in your lives and trying to help. (and after the baby comes you will probably appreciate somebody doing your laundry!) Make a point to include them or volunteer information sometimes so they feel involved without having to force it.

I do sympathize with how you feel, as much as I love my inlaws it would be hard to live next to them. Try to focus on the good parts of this arrangement and remember that it won't be forever. Work with your bf to identify a few areas that he can assert himself and try to let the rest of the issues go. Also consider that your pregnancy hormones may be making you more sensitive and irritable, and that later you might be able to let go of some of the annoyances. Good luck with this.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-07-2014
Mon, 02-10-2014 - 4:17am

Thank you for your comments. Its kind of confirmed what I already thought in my own mind, that I should appreciate what we have for the time being whilst continuing to save and eventually move into our own place.There are just some days that I feel like I'm going crazy and wonder what I am doing and whether I am allowing my life to be taken over. Its definitely a cultural difference, In the village that we live in alot of families live very close together I just think that with his parents being such good parents iot can sometimes feel overwhelming like we are still children and I guess we always will be seen in that way whilst we are living in their property. Apart from being born in a different country, I was raised very differently to my boyfriend - my family was dysfunctional and I had to fend for myself alot of the time growing up. He had a very secure (and in my opinion slightly overprotective upbringing) which I think explains why his parents still want to do things for us now. The dynamics are so different from what I was used to. My mum also died last year so apart from having to leave her to move country I also lost her for good recently and that only added to my feelings of being overwhelmed.

They will always be the way they are, and I don't want to stand in the way of that. I guess we just have to concentrate on finding the right balance, and telling them if it gets too much all the while still continuing to save for our pwn place which we can achieve hopefully within the next year.

Once again thanks for your advice.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-23-2014
Mon, 02-24-2014 - 3:20pm

When you are younger and just starting out - it is easy to see someone's assistance as interference.  But, as you grow older you start to realize that someone doing your laundry is less of an interference and more of a luxury :).

I think you have an opportunity now to learn how to manage your inlaws ability to be controlling.  For one thing - buy a filing cabinet that has a lock on it and keep any and all papers that are private in that cabinet.  If you go out of town - leave specific notes on clothes that cannot go in washer or that you care for separately.

Do not tell your inlaws everything going on in your lives and make sure your DH does not as well.  Explain to him that in the long run it is better that you keep certain information between yourselves.  For instance, you are about to have a baby and that will be a big adjustment.  Talk with your spouse now and set some boundaries.  You already said they don't stop by or invade your privacy so they sound like just overly caring and involved parents with respect to other things.  When you go to begin house hunting - keep that private.  Try not (even though there is temptation to share) try to keep details all private until you've decided on the house and have made the offer etc.  This will prevent unwanted advice given on their part.  Again, talk to your spouse and make sure he respects your need for this.

Lastly, just relax and enjoy that you do have two people willing to help you so much.  I know it can often feel intrusive but if you start with the belief that it is help and limit the intrusive part as much as you can - you may one day look back and say "wow, I'm so lucky to have had the help".  I can only add that I'm jealous.  Not of living so close but of having two people who care enough to want you there and without paying and really with no strings attached.  More often than not - people, even family are all about "what's in it for me?"....

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-14-2014
Sat, 06-14-2014 - 11:43am

Hi, I'm new to this ivillage forum and was in search of some much needed advice. I came across this conversation (although dated in February), so I'm a little late in response! Apologies!  My scenario is very similar to yours, except you have a baby on the way ( or maybe had it by now!) and you live rent free. I think you can find comfort in the knowledge that Indeed it's a temporary helpful solution while you save money with a young child in tow. It will only be as permanent as you permitt it to be. 

I totally relate to what you said in terms of having very overwhelming, caring , simply interested and very invloved inlaws. I met my current partner 2 years ago and finally found what I thought then, the man of my dreams! i live in a small town in Devon and he was like  a breath of fresh air, ambitious , hardworking with his own business. Proper outdoors man compared to 'city' boys I've dated in the past .  The more I fell in love with him, moved in with him the quicker I realised the downside to being with him. Out of the two years I've been with him I've lived with him full time for little over a year.  He bought his dream house ( with early inheritance from his parents) on the understanding that as soon as they sell their bungalow ( which they just have 2 years on) that they convert the barn at the end of our garden to live in. It's a stones throw away and I'm dreading the day planning goes ahead. from day one when I viewed the house with my partner , I never truly understood the implication of his parents living next door so soon into our relationship ( and before children ). We argue all the time because his mum interferes and challenges my ways of doing things. I feel like it's not my life anymore, but trying to live it her way. Do the garden her way. They have always been very invloved with my partners life to the point where in our small town she has a reputation of creating a mummy's boy. I do ask her for help to help her feel involved but then rather than just come up for a day or two to help me in our garden, she will come up everyday for 2 weeks if the weather allows ! I feel every time I give her an inch and make her part of our lives she takes a mile.  I've told her how I feel that I have serious concerns about them living a stones throw away, Ive told her I feel out of control because all this was decided before I was on the scene . I've explained I love my own space and how important it is to create memories starting up home with my boyfriend. She gets upsets and crus and says it's their dream to live in the barn. That they do everything for their son. But it seem my boyfriend wants them to be so involved because he works everyday but Sunday and he doesn't have time to do these jobs at home.  I know they are only helping but I feel like a chold being looked after. Not a woman going on 32 who has just sold her flat and wants to create a home properly with her partner. He wants me to help do up his 4 bedroom house set in 17 acres of land with a river . I know how lucky I am . We have our own orchard which allows me to experiment with jams and chutneys etc. Although I know I could have this amazing life, his mum is always at the house when I'm at work. Creating the garden how she wants it. When I tell her where I want plants she tells me that it wouldn't look nice and does it her way anyway! It got to a point when I firmly told her what I thought about her interfering when she pulled my daffdils out the other month because she said it didn't look nice and I ruined the border!! I spent hours making my stamp on things planting bulbs, and she took them out! I told her not to before she did it and my boyfriend told her to do what she thought best. Again more arguments with my other half because he didn't back me up! He has told them in the past that I find them overwhelming and to back off a bit but they just get upset becsuse they love us and want to help. His dad is lovely and I know he understands but she wears the trousers. I feel for my partner because he is in the midle of me and his mum and I do honestly try not to bring up the situations that irritate me. But then things get brushed under the carpet and I become frustrated . I've thought about leaving him now things are moving. My flat will be sold by end of month and I'm scared of losing my independence . His house/ sheds/ land is tied up with his business and the plan is for me to help pay for and modernise the house. it needs updating and some tlc. His parents have helped tremendously in the first year. But I'm worried as he says he can't put my name on mortgage for another 3 years when his fixed rate ends , but he will get a solicitor to express an interest in the house for me. I'm now not sure as I dont how I will feel with his folks living so close if I feel like this already. I'm happy for his parents to stay in town , I could cope with that.  At the end of the day I feel guilty and selfish and that I'm the one with the problem . His mum is aware how I feel I've been kindly honest when I feel cornered but I'm so polite to her. We have both shed tears over this situation. She says she no longer feels welcome but I think it strange for her to be letting herself in the house when I'm at work and doing jobs that me and partner should do ! I realise I can't have if both ways, a big house and a workaholic boyfriend!But I want help on my terms. I can't get the balance right and always seem to be in Tears for losing my independence. And when I speak about my feeling I'm told im selfish . his mum is 65 and dad us 72 . She is very fit and I fear il be left with her untul I'm 50 odd! She doesn't drive. His dad really is so laid back but old for his age. Please help. I'm in a stay or leave scenario!  Sorry this is very long winded.  From a very confused lady.