Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Their House, Their Rules

So, what do you make of this? The dilemma comes from an online discussion led by the Washington Post’s Carolyn Hax

Simply put, the issue is: their house, their rules. A couple lives together. The woman is 36, and her beau is approximately the same age.

When the happy couple visit the boyfriend's parents, said parents insist on separate bedrooms. The parents are Evangelical Christians and apparently do not want them committing sins in their house. We have no other information about who else is in the house-- minor grandchildren, perhaps.

The girlfriend finds this grossly offensive. Apparently, she leans to the political left. Rob's parents lean right. His parents have always treated her very well. To their credit.

But, the separate bedroom issue has been eating at her woke consciousness. So, she told her beau to confront his parents over this gross injustice. This means-- she is trying to force him to do something that might damage his relationship with his parents.

Otherwise she is not going to visit them on their vacation trip. Thus, she is taking a stand, thus alienating her prospective in-laws and creating a dicey situation for her boyfriend.

Here is the letter:

I am 36 and have been in a relationship for four years with my partner, "Rob." We live together, and while marriage is on the table, it's not really a priority for either of us so we aren't in a rush to tie the knot.

Rob's family is evangelical Christian. While we have very different religious and political beliefs, I enjoy their company, and they've been very welcoming to me.

The issue is that even though I am pushing 40, Rob and I aren't allowed to share a bedroom when we visit or vacation with them, because we aren't married. To make things worse, Rob refuses to engage with his parents on this issue because he claims they are "set in their ways" and it would be pointless to ask.

I'm sort of sympathetic to this issue when we stay with them — their house, their rules — but the big annual family vacation involves the entire family staying in the same house on a beach together, and we are asked to stay in separate rooms. I feel like since we're contributing to the cost of the house and we are almost 40, we should be allowed to stay in the same room!

I'm at the point where I am refusing to attend the vacation if Rob continues to refuse to talk to his parents about this. Can I also mention again, we already live together! I'd love a third-party opinion on this.

— Pushing 40

Beginning with Hax, the respondents address the situation literally. It is within their rights. As might be expected, Hax has the worst response:

As long as your eyes are open to your refusal as the first in a line of dominoes, then, refuse — kindly and in peace.

Refusing will damage her relationship with his parents and will damage his relationship with his parents. One does not understand what Hax thinks the woman is going to accomplish by leaning in-- except creating problems. And making herself look like someone who has no manners and no respect.

Given that this was an online discussion, other people offered their suggestions. Among them, why not rent a condo nearby? Not a bad idea-- one that will allow them to enjoy the weekend without following house rules.

And yet, you do not need to be especially astute to see other issues looming here. Surely, they could solve the issue by getting married. What do they have against marriage? Why would a woman who is approaching 40 think that she has all the time in the world to get married? If she thinks this way, then the grandchildren question pops quickly into view. If they are not rushing to get married, are they planning to have children? Do they know anything about the biological clock?

The other possibility here is that Rob’s parents do not like his inamorata. They do not approve of the relationship. They might be trying to provoke an outburst that will show Rob what kind of woman he is shacking up with. If that is the case, then the letter writer does well to follow Hax’s lame advice.

If not, she might reconsider her own view of marriage and childbearing. That they are in no hurry to marry does not tell us anything about their views about having children. You can be totally confident that Rob's parents have been thinking about nothing else.


urbane legend said...

Rob should have already told her forcefully, " I won't do that, and you are wrong to ask. " But he isn't man enough. There have to be other areas where he doesn't stand up to her.

They are too old to have children. Children require a great deal of energy that 40 year-olds are beginning to lose. A child with special needs, such as ADHD, even more. They aren't serious about children, anyway, if in four years they can't settle the marriage question. How long would it take to decide on children?

Kansas Scout said...

This says a lot about the boyfriend. He's still letting Mommy and Daddy mess with his relationships. The demand for separate bedrooms is a passive aggressive move against this "immoral woman" who is soiling their son. Smiling faces and courtesy can conceal something entirely different behind the masks. I think this is just another way of saying what you wrote here.

Anonymous said...

The parents are certainly within their rights but they are actually tryin g to use their "power" to force someone to do something. IMHO if I were the young lady I simply would not go to family gatherings. I think this is what the parents are trying to force so let them have it.

Sam L. said...

u.l.,forty is NOT too late to marry and have children. I got married at 37 (wife 25).? A friend of my mother's had 6 children, every 4 years.

Still, the question I have is why they have not gotten married? How long have they been together? Do they WANT to have children? Or, is it a lack of commitment?

urbane legend said...

Ahhh, but Sam L., a wife of 25 is a different thing from a wife of 40.

As for childhood problems with an older male parent,
Uk study

Anonymous said...

My mother is religious/old fashioned and forbade my sister and her bf from sleeping together when visiting. Everyone thought my mother was stupid but she didn't care. It is useless to argue with a religious person. They don't care how old you are. The only alternatives are to find a different place to stay or get married.