I’m on vacation through May 13th and will be re-posting some of my more popular columns in the meantime. This one was originally published on The Frisky on January 18, 2011.
I’ve been in a relationship for a year and a half and everything is going great between us. We even plan to move in together this summer. The plan is to move into the apartment that my boyfriend’s parents currently live in — it legally belongs to him but his parents pay for all the expenses. His parents will move out and into their new home, and have already said that they are leaving us their old furniture, because they would like to furnish their house with completely new stuff and this way, we wouldn’t have to buy anything. That I can totally understand and I’m thankful for some of the pieces they are leaving behind. However, there is a lot I would throw out, not only because much of it is old and unusable (knives, cracked dishes, etc.), but their “style” is really old school.
Now, I told them that my family and I are going to buy a new wardrobe and some other new things I want to replace, and apparently my boyfriend’s mom is not pleased by this. She told him that he should definitely keep the old furniture because otherwise, if we break up he would be left with nothing. He and I have talked about handling things during a breakup scenario and have agreed we’d like to buy new furniture and redecorate. But his mom thinks their apartment is nice and there is no reason to change things. Now I am afraid his parents will be offended if they see how much we want to refurnish and buy (with our money). How do I handle the situation without being ungrateful? — Martha Stewart Intruder
First, you need to get clear about who will actually be buying new furniture when you move in with your boyfriend. In one sentence, you say you and your family will be buying a “new wardrobe and some other things you want to replace” and then later your say you and your boyfriend will be refurnishing the apartment “with your money.” Well, which was is it? I wonder if it’s actually your boyfriend who’s worried about being left with no furniture in the event of a breakup and he’s just telling you it’s his mom who’s concerned? Or, maybe he wasn’t worried until his mom brought it up, but now that she has, he sees she’s got a point. It’s definitely worth discussing with your boyfriend and making absolutely sure that he’s not only on board with refurnishing and redecorating the apartment, but you’re in agreement with who will be paying for all these new things (and how they’d be divided if you do break up).
Once you’re sure you and your boyfriend are on the same page, let your boyfriend give his parents a list of items you’ve agreed to keep and a list you’d like for his parents to get rid of before you move in. For your part, you can send them a thank you note a month or so before you move in sincerely thanking them for the items you and your boyfriend have decided to keep. Express your gratitude for the money they’re saving you and the use you know you’ll get from the hand-me-downs. Reiterate that you’re looking forward to creating a home with your boyfriend and expressing your unique design style, but you’re grateful to have a head start with some basic pieces that fit your needs so well. If that’s not enough for your boyfriend’s parents, it really needs to be his job to convince them he’s a big boy and it’s time they minded their own business.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.