My mother-in-law wants me to move in

This column is part of Advice Week, Slate’s celebration of all things advice. Sometimes, all you need is a different perspective. So this week, our columnists have swapped fields of expertise. In this edition, Jessica Stoya, a How to Do It columnist, handles your personal finance questions. Dear Pay Dirt, My boyfriend of one and a half years lives at home with his parents. Sadly, his dad passed away this past week. His mom wants him to pay the mortgage on the house as she cannot afford it. She also wants me to move in with them because she likes having me around. I like being there, too but I currently live alone. I am proud of this and all the stuff I bought to have an apartment. In my mind, I saw us getting our own place and having a life together. He talks about marriage but I don’t want to live in his parent’s house. What do we do? —New Home Dear New Home, Your boyfriend’s dad passed away last week. This is very fresh, and people tend to be reactive when a major loss occurs. Once the dust has settled, the first step is to find out what your boyfriend wants. His mom wants him to pay the mortgage, and she wants you to move in with them. Does he want to pay the mortgage, continue living there, and add you to the household? Get a clear picture of where your boyfriend’s wants and your wants overlap. If he wants to stay in that house and pay the mortgage, ask him what he thinks your future together could look like in the short and long term. Would he continue this arrangement with his mom for a couple of years, while you continue living independently, and then move into a home with you? Are he and his mother able to pay the full mortgage themselves, or do they need a third person to contribute? If the latter is the case, give serious consideration to the possibility of feeling trapped in the future before deciding whether you’re open to a compromise that involves you moving in with them. And, if you decide to go for that compromise, make sure there’s a legal agreement that covers the responsibilities and expectations of everyone involved. They could bring in someone who isn’t you as a roommate. They could begin the process of selling the home. And, as they begin adjusting to the loss they’ve just experienced, these other options may seem more viable than they do now. Keep your own needs in mind, and, if continuing your relationship would require going beyond your boundaries, remember that sometimes great relationships with wonderful people don’t work out due to life circumstances. Pay Dirt is Slate’s money advice column. Have a question? Send it to Lillian, Athena, and Elizabeth here. (It’s anonymous!) Dear Pay Dirt, my wife is passionate about everything she does, and one of the hardest-working people I’ve ever met. The problem is that she constantly overcommits, taking on huge new challenges while working more than a hundred hours a week. That means that she gets up at 4 am and works until midnight at least six days a week and then complains bitterly that she never has time for herself, her friends, or her family. I love her dearly but I’ve lived through several extreme “burnouts,” career resets, and so much loneliness as my partner and lover never has a moment to spare and apparently resents every second “wasted” on me. I’ve asked her to come to therapy, but “no time,” to quit her job and take a year out (“career suicide,” “soon it will all pay off”), but nothing I say seems to have an effect. and I am done. I want to leave but I fear her world will fall apart. I want to stay, but not like this. Is there really nothing I can do? —Rat Race Refugee Dear Rat Race, If you haven’t done this already, it’s very much worth having a talk with your wife where you directly communicate—in concrete terms—where you’re at. Something like “I love, respect, and cherish you. I’m also miserable, have tried to get my needs met within our relationship, and am losing hope about the possibility of doing so. This is at a crisis level. I am seriously considering leaving. Will you work with me to find a compromise that is acceptable for both of us?” Be prepared to hear no. I’m not sure where your fear is that your wife’s world will fall apart if you leave comes from. The relationship you describe—and especially the way that the quotation marks around “wasted” indicates that she has told you spending time with you is a waste—suggests that she is not particularly emotionally invested or even spending enough time with you to have something to miss other than the vague concept of being a married person. If you’re speaking more about administrative concerns around the home—maybe you do the cooking and cleaning—that’s all well and good within a fulfilling domestic partnership, but in the context of your letter is not something you should base decisions about continuing the relationship on. Want morePay Dirt every week? Sign up for Slate Plus now. Dear Pay Dirt, My significant other (a man) is so cheap! Three years of dating and vacations and I am still having to pay for my own meals and airline tickets, etc. He refuses to spend any money on my meals with him unless I order the cheapest thing on the menu. He owns two very beautiful homes, an RV, one car, and two pickup trucks. He has a very large bank account and savings account. When we go shopping together he will spend $100 to $1,000 dollars on himself but maybe (not often) buy me some $5 dollar trinket. He recently started testosterone tablets and is wanting sex every night! He’s 70 and I’m 66 years old. I recently told him I can’t afford to pay my own way anymore because I just get social security and my savings have significantly shrunk since meeting him. He’s nice and seems to like me but his cheapness is making me crazy. How can I get through to him? —Tired of Paying for Everything Dear Tired, When you told your significant other that your only income is social security and your savings are significantly depleted, how did he respond? That sentence seems very clear to me. If he’s unable to process it, you might not be able to get through to him. If he suggested less expensive outings and activities, that’s a sign that he’s trying to work with you. If not, I would assume that your options are to keep pace with his spending habits or drop out of the relationship. I often get the sense that people use advice column submissions as a space to vent, and believe that writing the letter can sometimes be helpful in and of itself. Read through your letter. You seem to resent splitting travel and date costs, you’d like to be treated to dinner without a price cap on your choice of entree, and you’re not receiving gifts of a value that feels appropriate to you. It also sounds like he is far more interested in sex than you are. You’ve dated for three years, yet you include absolutely zero information about how he views finances and why he lives his life this way. And the only positive things you say about him are that he’s nice and “seems to like” you. Why are you still dating him? In the most serious and genuinely inquisitive manner possible, is there any reason for you to continue this relationship other than inertia? You could go solo for a while (almost certainly less expensive than dating this person), and you could search for other partners who handle dating in ways that are more to your taste. If you go that latter route, do communicate with potential new partners about how each of you prefers to split the financial responsibility of dates and vacations before getting significantly involved with them. Money advice from Athena and Elizabeth, delivered weekly. Dear Pay Dirt, My husband and I have wanted to go on a group beach trip with friends for a while, and it seems like this summer we can finally do it. We found a great price on a house with eight bedrooms for a week, and have alerted friends we’d like to invite about the plans. We all get along well and have gone on similar trips before. My question comes with how to decide on room splits. There are four king beds (one a master), one queen, two sets of bunk beds, two twins, and a split bunk (twin top, full bottom). We are 15 people total, so far, with seven couples and one single person. I don’t think it’s fair to ask the person/couple who shares a bunk room to pay the same amount as the couple who will get the master bedroom. Two couples have expressed they don’t care where they sleep, they’re just happy to be included; two couples have made it very clear that they will happily pay more for a king bed. We don’t all make the same amount of money, but no one would go broke from the trip, nor would anyone likely be able to, like, spring for the trip on their own. In the past, when we’ve traveled in smaller groups, everyone has paid the same amount no matter what bedroom they get, which has caused some angry feelings. What would be an equitable way to assign the rooms? I’m thinking that everyone pays the same amount for the deposit (roughly $90/person) and then once the rest of the payment is due, we can find a fair way to divide the payments based on what beds/rooms people want or can afford (something like $250 per person total for a king, $150 total for a shared bunk). What do you think? —Sand Doom Dear Sand Doom, The last time I took a math class, I was 15 and the subject was “consumer math”—which mostly meant balancing a checkbook. So I’m recusing myself from any engagement with multiplication, division, and especially the portion of your letter that reads like an algebra word problem. The Banshees of Inisherin’s Writer-Director Has Made a Career of “Irishness.” It’s All a Load of Blarney. Watching My Husband Work From Home Made Me Lose All Respect For Him The New Kavanaugh Documentary Will Do One Thing. It’s not enough. My Adult Daughter and Her Boyfriend Are Mooching Off My Pension What I do feel qualified to comment on is coordinating groups of people outside of deeply hierarchical structures. It’s a mess. It’s always some kind of mess. Short of authoritarianism, your best hope is mitigation through transparency and consent. And it will still, in one way or another, involve some mess that must be navigated. Leaving the decision of how to divide payment for the house you’re all planning to share until after people have committed and paid a deposit is very risky. Settle that before anyone arranges their travel, send any money to you, or you send money to the people who’ll be renting the house. You’ll also want to come to an agreement upfront about what happens if someone can’t make it after committing. The way your group generally tends to make decisions can inform how the process happens. For some groups of people, a simple vote feels completely fair. For other groups, a big discussion about how to make the decision might be preferable. And for still others, the ideal move might be for you to present a plan which everyone else can simply go with or skip the trip. (In that last case, you’ll need to have a second plan, or more people to call to fill those slots, in case some do decide to skip.) You know your friends, so you’ll be the best judge of which route to go here. You might want to have some kind of visual map of the spaces available, whether that’s printing floor plans from the house rental listing or doing a basic sketch yourself. And you’ll absolutely want to be clear with everyone involved about what the total cost is and how much each room is costing. Good luck, and resist any dictatorial tendencies that might appear. —Stoya More Advice From Slate I’m a gay woman in my 30s with a question about masturbation etiquette. Since coming out in my teens, I’ve gone by the rule that masturbating while fantasizing about good friends is a violation of the trust in a friendship, but that other “characters” in my life—a sexy lecturer, hot boss, cute client , etc. — are fair game. Someone of this ilk from my professional life has, over a couple of years, made the slide into what I’d consider a genuine friend, and in the process my attraction to her has only been intensified.

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