I have a rough situation that I would appreciate you and your Ehellion’s input. A bit of background: A few years ago, at the request of my mother, my husband and I moved in to my Great Aunt Sandy’s house to help take care of her and the property. My GA is getting on in her years and desperately needed some assistance. At the time, I had recently accepted a new job that required us to move near my GA and the timing seemed perfect. The house is quite large (five bedrooms across three floors) and it was too much for one person to handle on their own. Our goal was to stay only for a few months to help her get settled and to allow us time to find a proper home. A few months turned into a year and anytime my husband and I discussed moving out, my mother and Great Aunt Sandy would ask, “But why?!”
About a year ago, the health of my Great Uncle Roger began to deteriorate. My GU Roger lives with his son, Fred. Roger’s youngest daughter, Carol, lives a few hours away by plane. Carol heard the news and decided she would like to spend more time with her ailing father. Carol is unemployed and her husband, Bob, is a consultant and makes a quite comfortable living while telecommuting. It was assumed that Carol and Bob would stay in a hotel or with her brother, Fred. Surprisingly, she asked if Bob (and only Bob) could stay with us since we lived a few minutes away. GA Sandy agreed, although we were quite confused as to the reason why since Fred’s house had plenty of space and we barely knew Bob (we had only met him a few times over the 30 years they’d been married). But she loved Carol like family and agreed to her request, so we hosted Bob for those four weeks. It then turned into a year (on-and-off). Carol would care for her ailing father, and Bob would stay with us, often without warning.
Bob is not an easy man to live with. He commandeered our common living room and turned it into his personal office space. The house has plenty of rooms, but he felt most comfortable working where the family relaxed, interrupting our conversations or quiet time to talk about his clients. My husband and I are our own “maid service” and spend the whole of Saturday cleaning the house top-to-bottom. Bob would conveniently be visiting Carol and her family when Saturday rolled around. He constantly left dirty dishes and pans in the sink, never took out the trash, and left lights on in every room of the house. At one point during his stay, it began to snow quite heavily outside. Bob stomped around the house, yelling about how much he hates snow. As the snow continued to fall, he decided to he would clear the driveway and snow around our cars. I peeped out the window to find Bob with the snow shovel trying to use it to shovel snow off my car! I ran downstairs and kindly suggested he wait until tomorrow to finish. But it was too late. My car had scratches from the snow shovel and a broken mirror, to boot. Bob never apologized or even acknowledged the damage to the car. When I walked in and told my husband and GA Sandy about the broken mirror, he expressed mild surprise and quickly left the room.
My GA Sandy decided to become a Snow Bird and flew to Florida for the Winter. She asked if my husband and I could stay with the house until she returned, upon which we would move into our home that is currently being built. We were looking forward to having the house to ourselves until I was surprised with an e-mailed flight confirmation from Aunt Carol. Guess who’s back! My husband and I have no idea what to do. While the house is not ours, it is one that my GA said we could use as we wish until her return. And we are simply not able to prepare the house for uninvited guests since I will be traveling soon for work. We would appreciate any suggestions to help steel our polite spine. Since, as GA Sandy would say, “He’s family and family comes first!” 11-24-15
The situation is simple and obvious. Both you and your husband and cousin-in-law Bob are houseguests of Great Aunt Sandy. Both houseguests intended to stay only a short time, a few weeks to a few months, but both ended up extending their stay to over a year with Great Aunt Sandy being very gracious with her hospitality. I’ll assume that since Great Aunt Sandy has the financial means to be a Snowbird during winter that she has and continues to pay for the mortgage thus releasing you and your husband from a financial burden to pay rent or a mortgage in exchange for caring for her and the property. So, you have a nifty arrangement where, for one day’s work a week, you get to live in a lovely house rent free.
Great Aunt Sandy can invite whomever she wishes to stay in her large house and as a guest yourself, there isn’t much you can do about this. You made an arrangement to swap care for free boarding but other guests are not obligated to negotiate that kind of deal or any deal for that matter. Bob came into the picture as a guest only with no strings attached to his staying at GA Sandy’s. Great Aunt Sandy did not appear to be disrupted by Bob’s makeshift office in the living room unless becoming a snowbird was her passive aggressive way of avoiding Bob.
So, your lack of a polite spine was in not standing up for having a house of your own and moving out to be the masters of your own domain. I’m dubious about the need for a live-in family to “care of her” since Great Aunt Sandy has no issues whatsoever with packing up, getting on an airplane and living alone for months during winter. So, move out. It’s as simple as that unless you have indentured yourself to Great Aunt Sandy as a means to save money for the house being built. Until the house has been finished and is habitable, you and the husband suck it up, do what you agreed to do and count the days until you can leave. What happens to Bob and how he trashes the house then becomes an issue between him and GA Sandy.