I moved into the same home my boyfriend and his ex lived in for five years. The goal was to live together for a couple of months while we were finding a home to buy.
He’s up for a promotion, decided it was too stressful to move at this moment and asked if we could stay put for another year. I said OK, but I’m sorry I did.
This house is a constant reminder of what was “theirs.” I explained how displaced I feel and he said I could redecorate every room in the house. He doesn’t understand that it’s more than paint and curtains.
This is his place, not mine, not ours. We have to move. What’s good ex-etiquette?
If at all possible, it’s always best to start fresh rather than move into to one or the other’s home. People can be very territorial and the longer you live somewhere the more “mine” it becomes. When someone moves in, both partners can feel displaced — you because you have no place that feels like your own; him, because you are encroaching on his previously established space. Add his former relationship history — a home that THEY found together, where relationships with neighbors were already established, and if you’re not careful and don’t have a plan for survival, things can get out of control very quickly.
Your first agreement was to live together for a few months until you found something you both liked. You made the agreement to stay longer than you expected to help your boyfriend cope with the stress of a promotion. It is true, things happen to upset our plans, but if excuses keep popping up, it’s time to not only take a look at your living situation, but your relationship as well. His inability to move may be indicative of his inability to commit to a life together. Only you know the true motivation there. You may have some choices to make.
Finally, when you disagree and you want to stay together, it’s all about compromise. (Good ex-etiquette rule No. 10). Just as you compromised and stayed until he feels comfortable to move, it’s his job to compromise to help you feel at home while staying. You’re in this together — hopefully. That’s good ex-etiquette.
Dr. Jann Blackstone is the author of “Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation,” and the founder of Bonus Families, www.bonusfamilies.com.