Consult your partner before inviting slacker-in-law roomie
Q: My husband of three months invited his 26-year-old brother to live with us, in a small apartment, for nine months. I did not consent to this arrangement. He is coming in a few weeks, and I can't get out of it.
My husband presented this scenario to me — after the invitation was already extended — as a way for us to get extra money for our new house, but he is barely charging his brother rent.
This brother has taken advantage of family in the past (for example, dropping out of school but keeping the tuition money his parents gave him) and is babied by his parents, and now, it seems, my husband. My husband doesn't want to "stress him out" by expecting him to pay his way.
I think he should see what it really means to be an adult. The brother has no ambition, motivation or goals, but just wants a change from his current city. He has made no effort to line up work here, despite favors called in by friends to get him contacts in his field. He leads a "party" lifestyle and prides himself on bedding an obscene number of women. Supposedly he doesn't do drugs anymore.
Since I feel stuck in what will likely be a stressful first year of marriage, do you have any tips on how to adjust my attitude or outlook?
A: "Stressed wife," you mean — that's more accurate.
Your brother-in-law does sound like the monster indulgence built, but your husband's behavior is way more egregious. Acting unilaterally in a marriage is the heart of all betrayal.
Your comfort, standard of living, quality of life, finances, safety and goals, among other things, are all linked now. Your husband imposed his standards on you — and compromised yours for you — in every one of these categories when he acted without asking you.
The healthy, productive, forward-looking response to that isn't to suck it up and find a way to like it. It's to explain to your husband that he negated your voice in your own home, to let him know this is not acceptable, and to say the conversation about his brother's next nine months isn't over until you've both had your say.
Since he has been a husband for all of three months, it's possible he just hasn't fully processed what it means to share a life. For a single person, thinking something through marks the end of the reasoning process; it becomes habit. But that gets the married (or life-partnered) person only halfway through at best.
So, point out to your husband that he skipped the part where you and he reconcile your two carefully drawn conclusions and come to a decision you both can embrace. I'd say, "Like Congress with a bill," but I don't want to scare you into retaining counsel.
Even if you agree hosting the prodigal slug is the best course for you as a couple, you and your husband still need to agree that his days of unilateral decision-making, and yours, came to a two-word close with "I do." Should he dig in … actually, even if he doesn't, a marriage counselor or seminar is the next step, and consider Nar-Anon (nar-anon.org) or Families Anonymous (families anonymous.org), too, to help disable his family's — well, his — group-enabling, monster-making machine.