DEAR CAROLYN: I live with my boyfriend in his mom's paid-for vacation home. She comes to visit a few times a year for a few days; we're expected to provide meals and entertain her.
I'm OK with it. When she's not here we care for the home as if it were ours: paying bills and for repairs, doing maintenance, etc. Again, totally OK with it. I'm thankful.
But once or twice a year, one of my boyfriend's siblings wants to use the house as a vacation home for his family and friends. Fine, but I'd rather leave so they can use it freely. Boyfriend wants to stay to enjoy their visit, so we stay. While they are nice to me, I feel awkward.
Also, boyfriend wants to make everything perfect for them, so we spend lots of time prepping and then cleaning after they leave. Visiting sibling makes far more money than us, but we foot the utility and food bills as well again, at boyfriend's insistence.
Boyfriend thinks I'm being unreasonable (OK, resentful) about these visits.
Part of me considers him right, but the other feels put upon. I have my own home nearby, but boyfriend insists we live here. What do you think?
DEAR CONFLICTED: Whether you need it is irrelevant; accepting free stuff means accepting the attached strings.
Are some strings unnecessary? Perhaps. Maintenance and mom are the price you pay, whereas hosting sibling is what your boyfriend wants to pay. "Have to" means standards for decency demand it; "wants to" means boyfriend's conscience demands it.
I suppose that means it's more negotiable, but what's to be gained? Presumably such generous hosting helps your boyfriend avoid feeling like a homeless freeloader. You're loath to appear as one even anonymously to us, so surely you can sympathize with his need to prove his value and gratitude.
Let's take it further: Isn't this a quality to celebrate in him, not resent?
Yes, his efforts come at a cost to your comfort and convenience, and there is something primal about feeling as if your own home isn't truly yours. But it, um, isn't.
And, you've apparently decided that boyfriend's reasons for insisting on this home take priority over your reasons for wanting to live in yours. You've also made your resentment clear to boyfriend; he hasn't budged. Together, these mean you either need to accept this full-frontal hosting as part of that package, or reject the package as not worth the cost.
Besides after putting in a friendly appearance, you can leave, can't you?