*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Living with extended family is often difficult for a couple just starting their life together, but sometimes helping the rest of your relatives makes sense for a while.
What happens when you find yourself in a living arrangement that's not about to change anytime soon, and you pay the full rent for several people who don't work and always want to stay with you? Is it ok to tell them to leave or to pack up and go away yourself?
My friend Samuel has been married to his wife Andrea for three years. They dated in high school and had a long engagement while they were in college. Once they graduated, they decided it was time to tie the knot and finally start their life together and raise a family.
What they didn't expect was having to share their home with several other relatives. Andrea has two sisters and a brother. While one of her sisters and her brother live in different states, Alice, the sister who lives close by, is having a lot of issues with her marriage.
"She keeps arguing with her husband, and she's not sure if she wants to go back to him. They have two sons. And at times, they left the house and slept in a park. I couldn't be ok leaving them like that. So, I told them they could stay with us when they needed to," Andrea said.
While he wasn't opposed to the idea because he knew Alice was determined to do what was best for her kids, Samuel wasn't that comfortable having them live in the same space.
"Her sons get really loud in the mornings, and they don't do much around the house. Alice does some cooking and cleaning, but she keeps asking uncomfortable questions, and our neighbors stopped coming by because of her," he said.
Even though Alice initially said she just needed a place to stay for two weeks, that time got longer, and it's been over five months since they moved in.
She and her kids have no intention of leaving for now, even though Alice's husband does come by some evenings to try and convince her they should do more to have a happy relationship.
"I keep telling her to talk to him and find a solution because he's a really good dad. It's not fair to lose her family just because she won't try," Andrea said.
Unfortunately, Alice already feels comfortable where she is and isn't intent on having her own home anytime soon.
"Why should I go? They told me I was welcome here for as long as I needed to stay. I don't want to leave, and I help with everything. They're better off with me around," Alice said.
As time went by, Samuel got more annoyed with this situation, particularly because he was the only one working.
Andrea is staying home to look after the house, and Alice isn't working either. And he doesn't want to keep paying the full rent for their four-bedroom home unless it's only for him, his wife, and the kids they will have.
"I'm not paying rent for my nephews and sister-in-law anymore; I'm moving out if nothing changes. And let them figure out what to do when I'm no longer there to cover the bills and other costs," he said.
Both Andrea and Alice were surprised by his reaction and didn't understand why he no longer wanted his relatives in the house.
"It's my sister, not some stranger. And they're his nephews too. We're all a family. I thought he would be more supportive of us all," Andrea said.
Samuel will not listen to more arguments, and he's told his sister-in-law and her kids they need to go in two weeks or else he will be the one moving out. And he will leave his wife too if she won't come with him.
"I'm sorry it's come to this, but I can't handle it anymore. I won't have my sister-in-law and her kids become permanent houseguests. Enough is enough. They can find another place, or I will find another family," Samuel said.
What do you think about this situation? Is Samuel's reaction fair, or should he keep paying the rent on the house and have his relatives around until they feel like moving away? Is his marriage going to end if he doesn't agree to support his nephews and sister-in-law?
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