Dear Prudence

Help! My Boyfriend Opened Our Home to His Dad. It’s Been a Nightmare Ever Since.

Now I have to leave my own house?

Two-story house with a stop sign over it.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Getty Images Plus.

Every week, Dear Prudence answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members. Submit questions here. (It’s anonymous!)

Q. Should Have Bought an Ugly House: Some backstory for reference: I’m a major introvert (My boyfriend and I opened an arcade that requires being very social—so after my day job, I work another six hours being super social). My father-in-law LOVES showing off our house. Whenever he comes to visit with someone new, he always wants to show them our house. Most of the time it doesn’t bother me, but this time is different.

I’m not in the mood because my boyfriend isn’t even going to be here. I also work almost 100 hours a week and the time he wants to come to the house is during my 30-minute lunch break. His dad texted him yesterday to ask if it was OK, and he said yes without even asking me. This morning I mentioned to him that next time, I’d at least appreciate him running it by me first and he bit my head off. The conversation took a major turn and I just don’t know what to do anymore. This is how our texts went:

Him: My dad wants to show off the house, he is proud and old and won’t be around much longer and I barely get to see him, so EITHER way I was NOT saying no to him today. Why don’t you try to understand a little bit here? There will soon be a day that he can’t do that ‘cause he’ll be gone, so this is NOT a big issue, do you get it??

Me: Different if you were actually gonna be here which you aren’t. I don’t get much time to relax and when I can I like to relax during my lunch. I am very much an introvert and socializing is very draining for me. The arcade is draining for me. I like it, don’t get me wrong but it’s hard for me to be that social. It takes everything out of me and I need time to recharge. And you just go and do the 180 of the fact that he’s gonna die soon? Ridiculous. My parents will, too. So will I, and so will you.

Him: Have you lost a parent? YOU know what that feels like, do you know? I’m done talking. Stay home tonight, I don’t need you at the arcade. Losing a grandparent at 90 years old DOES NOT COMPARE TO LOSING YOUR PARENT.

Me: Oh, sorry I forgot that any loss in my life doesn’t count. No, I haven’t lost a parent but I have dealt with loss. This is NOT about loss, it has nothing to do with that. You don’t get to use that as a reason. All I was saying is if you like saying yes to your dad, make sure you’ll be here instead so I don’t feel like I need to be all social and shit when I just can’t be. I love your dad and Debbie but you saw I was hesitant even having my mom come here ‘cause it drains me. I’m just trying to help you understand me but if you don’t want to, then fine.

Him: No, I don’t. He is here for five minutes. You don’t have to be. Lock yourself in a room—I DON’T CARE. I never asked you to socialize with them.

Me: So, now I have to leave my own house. OK, thanks.

That’s where it ended and now I’m sitting in my office with my door closed. I don’t want to talk to him because I feel misunderstood and frustrated. Am I being unreasonable?

A: I’m stuck on “My father-in-law LOVES showing off our house.” It’s not his house! What’s there to show off? Also, I feel for these poor friends of his who just want to get together for a cup of coffee and end up being dragged through your home as they’re forced to tell him how nice it is. I mean, what the hell.

So, no, you’re not being unreasonable. I say that as someone who has a real soft spot for “he won’t be around much longer” arguments. There are things you can do to let him enjoy the time he’s around—including showing off your house, if that is his thing—that don’t involve unexpected instructions on your time and space. Tell him he can have a few people over once every month or two, at an agreed-upon time.

But you’ve dragged me into the weeds of this question when the real issue is that you and your husband have enormous contempt—bordering on hate—for each other and have thrown respect and generosity out the window. You HAVE TO get to couple’s therapy ASAP or there will not be a house to show off because you’ll sell it and split the proceeds in a breakup.

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