Thanks for all the responses. I didn’t have a lot of time before, so I couldn’t include all the details, but I will flesh some things out for you all.
The arrangement is thus: my husband’s brother and father bought this house that is in a vacation/retirement area. Some people live in this area full-time and some only vacation part of the year. They needed help paying for the house. Since we needed a place to live and thought that investing our money in the family’s vacation house would be better than just throwing it away by renting from a landlord, we agreed to give an initial investment of $30,000 and to pay half the mortgage per month and the primary resident (us at the moment) pays 80% of the electric, heating oil, internet (which they use to watch Netflix), and Direct TV (which we do not use, but BIL insists on having to watch football, even though the games he wants to watch are rarely on.) My husband is now listed on the title to the house along with his brother and father.
When we moved in, we brought a houseful of things with us. Frankly, our furniture is a lot better quality than what was already here when we arrived because of the simple fact that this house is a catch-all for the whole family’s hand-me-down furniture that they no longer need for their primary residences. They helped move some of the furniture to the basement to accommodate our larger pieces. We also purchased furniture for the Master Suite, which we use, since we are the full-time occupants of the house. I reorganized the kitchen to combine my dishes and small appliances with the ones that were already here, and was told that it was “Spot on”. I have not thrown away anything that is theirs (not even so much as a spoon or fork) without their permission. It is hard to keep the kitchen organized, since SIL frequently puts things away in the wrong places. I put post-its up that listed the contents of each cabinet, but SIL insisted they be taken down.
They still have access to the home for vacations. The living room and kitchen are “shared” in the sense that the boys turn cartoons on and then sit and play with their Kindles even if I am already in the room listening to music. There have been several times when I thought SIL was done in the kitchen, and as soon as we start cooking, she starts cooking something as well. SIL has her own cabinet in the kitchen that she puts non-perishables in, which I don’t mess with (can’t speak for my husband). There is one “common” bathroom that we have been asked not to use while they are here. Not really a problem with that, except for the fact that I can’t soak my sore muscles in Epsom salts while they are visiting. I place a basket of toiletries on the counter when our overnight guests are here. SIL has accused us of using her toiletries, which is ridiculous (she uses coconut scented products, and coconut does not go well with my body chemistry). That bathroom contains the only linen closet in the house, and when we moved in it was the only functioning bathroom, so that is where all our towels and cleaning stuff got put. SIL frequently complains that there are no towels in the closet and that they are HERS and should be put in there. One of hubby’s responsibilities is to carry up the folded laundry and put it away (due to the fact that I have joint problems and CANNOT negotiate the stairs while carrying something) He frequently forgets, so all the mismatched towels that go in the linen closet are usually in the laundry room (in the basement) where I have folded and stacked them waiting for hubby to put them away. The Master Bathroom was finished only after we arrived to contribute 50% of the supplies/labor. When that bathroom was finished, we bought matching towels for it, rather than try to remember which mismatched towels in the linen closet were ours and which were theirs. Bedroom #1 is permanently reserved for them and no one else uses it … EVER. (this was a little off-putting to me, however, one of the boys has allergies, so I understand why they want to control who/what is in there). SIL even expects me to stay out of that room, which wouldn’t be a problem, except for the fact that she feels that it is appropriate to go into our room without asking permission. SIL acted absolutely astonished that we borrowed the box fan from Bedroom #1 when hubby flooded the house and needed to dry the carpet as quickly as possible. As I said before, we have the Master Suite. Bedroom #2 SIL initially told we could share (so that is where our guests have stayed) though now she has changed her mind and wants it reserved permanently for them as well. This is kind of a problem for me because it makes it so that I cannot invite my ailing mother or my elderly grandmother to visit, since they expect our guests to sleep on the couch. I rarely have guests and most of them don’t stay overnight, but when I do, I think I should be allowed to use one bedroom to accommodate them (providing, of course, that I use my own linens). When they do visit, SIL normally sleeps in Bedroom #1 with the boys, their luggage is placed in Bedroom #2, and BIL sleeps on the couch. I would like BIL to use Bedroom #2 so that I can be up (either due to insomnia or because I have to work an opening shift) and clank around in the kitchen without feeling like I have to tiptoe around or do yoga in the living room without feeling weird. (Something about BIL waking up to see me trying to contort myself into various strange yoga poses just squicks me out. BIL and I kind of have some animosity because he feels that because he is a contractor that he should be allowed to dictate how the furniture in my bedroom is arranged. He feels that the design of the house calls for the bed to be in a certain place in the room, and that this reasoning should trump the fact that I need the bed to be against a wall so that my husband is shielding me from the fan blowing on me. I have certain tactile issues and cannot sleep with air moving past my skin. I have tried to explain this to BIL, but he just does not get it.)
I asked them to give me at least 24hrs notice before they come. I feel that is only polite. I explained that I asked this because I have some anxiety issues and I like to plan things out. I also explained that I want to avoid having MIL or her daughters and FIL or BIL and family in the house at the same time, as they do not get along. SIL told me that if MIL was here when the other side of the family showed up that MIL should get a hotel. This makes me very uncomfortable inviting anyone to the house, since I cannot guarantee they will have a place to sleep. (I don’t think I can say to my friends/family, “Please come visit me, you can stay with me IF you want to sleep on the couch while a perfectly good bedroom sits empty and IF you have enough cash on hand to get a hotel at a moment’s notice.) SIL invites whomever she pleases to stay overnight. When I asked SIL if they could text me to let me know if they are planning on having an overnight guest (especially if it’s a male I haven’t met), she acted like I was out of line. BIL feels like since they are also partial owners of the house that they should not have to give any notice. I don't know if I can handle the fact that 5 people might just descend on my house at any given time.
My husband is available, but he is very passive-aggressive and non-confrontational. He would rather sweep problems under the rug than deal with them. He handled negotiating the whole arrangement, and he agreed to some things that I would never have agreed to. For example, had I been in charge of the negotiations, I never would have agreed to pay for the Direct TV (we both hate watching TV with commercials and being tied to the network’s schedule and are not sports fans, so we use Netflix and Hulu exclusively) He’s a whole nother issue that belongs in a relationship counseling forum and not an etiquette forum. I am very much on my own here.
I don’t have children, I have puppies who stay in a fenced enclosure or in my bedroom in their crates when there are extra people in the house. SIL seems to think that I can’t possibly be fulfilled without children and that I should have children as soon as possible. I asked her politely over e-mail (so that I didn’t have to discuss my ovaries in front of the boys) to please stop suggesting I should have a baby, and she wrote back that she was offended by me asking that. I would not even want to bring a child into this situation.
Speaking of dogs, SIL doesn't like her dogs to be on the couch. That's fine, I respect her wishes by keeping my dogs off her couch and only letting them on our couch. My dogs are trained not to jump up unless they are given the command. Her dogs are not, and she acts like I should enforce her rules on her dogs. If I see her dog on the couch, I will tell him to get off, but I don't think I should have to put aside my knitting or whatever I am doing to try to drag her giant dog off the couch.
Every time they are here I feel like I am being pushed into my bedroom. I agreed to own half a house, not one bedroom with occasional kitchen use.
They live 3 hrs away, so they drive in. Sometimes, if I am lucky, I will get a call before they leave, and sometimes I will get a call when they are 30 minutes away. The most recent time I got a call when they were at the end of the driveway (they swear up and down that they told hubby, and he swears they did not). I have asked them to communicate directly with me, and not go through hubby, since he is unreliable, yet they insist on speaking to him.
The issue that prompted this post was this: SIL looked in a cabinet that had Tupperware on two shelves and medical supplies on the top shelf and said that the medical supplies were in the wrong place. She continued on to say that medical supplies belong in the bathroom (something I know is wrong, because the moisture ruins them) and reccomended that I use the cabinet under the sink to store the medical supplies (this cabinet smells strongly of perfume, so I don't think it is the best place). I didn’t feel like getting in an argument, so I told SIL I would find another place for the medical supplies. I don’t understand why SIL thinks that I should keep everything in the place she would keep it. I need her to understand that I live here and I should be allowed to have my things in the common area. I put the medical supplies in the common area so that everyone could use them, but now they will be in my room, and she will need to ask to use them.
If I could afford to leave my husband and live on my own, I would do it.