The house positives are: It is close to Chris’ family’s home, is almost completely paid for, and has a beautiful back yard and lots of land.
I am going to be finishing my degree soon and transferring to another school to continue my education. This school is just under two hours away from the grandmother’s house. It is also over an hour away from our closest friends.
He really wants to move there and I am unsure how to start a conversation with him. I don’t want to hurt his feelings. But this is my home too! — Not Into That House
It’s a little troubling that you are house-hunting with your partner and don’t know how to communicate that you don’t like a particular house. It makes me wonder if there any other important things you haven’t yet done or discussed or agreed on before deciding to move in together/get a house together. Beyond your not liking the house or its location, have you discussed the legal and financial aspects of buying/moving into this house? You say it was left “to the family.” How many family members was it left to? What is Chris’ legal ownership of it? Is he proposing you buy out the rest of the family who also have ownership of it? Is he proposing paying them rent? Would the rest of he family be ok with this? What about the stuff inside the house that you say is a painful reminder of Chris’ grandmother? Is he suggesting that everything just stay put and you move in as-is? What does the rest of the family think about you and Chris keeping everything in your possession? What if something breaks while in your possession? Has everything been appraised so you know what you would owe to the estate if you break or damage or destroy an item that belongs to the estate?
It seems that if these issues haven’t even been acknowledged, let alone resolved, you can easily incorporate them in your argument for why this house isn’t a good fit for you (beyond your simply not like it and not wanting to live there, which, of course, is argument enough!).
So, if I were in your shoes, I’d wait until you and Chris can be alone together and say something like this:
“I know you are very interested in moving into your grandmother’s house, and, even though the timing coincides with our house-hunting, I’m feeling very anxious about this idea. First and foremost, I know how important your grandmother was to you and your family. I loved her like my own grandmother, too, and I would never want you to think that my feelings about her house reflect my feelings about her. I was crazy about her. But I am not crazy about her house. I don’t like the style or the location. I think that, rather than providing a happy memory of your grandmother, it would feel painful living in her home and among her things. I am worried about being so far from my school next year and far from our friends. And while I love the back yard and the idea of being closer to your family, I would prefer finding a house that better meets our mutual checklist and that we can have ownership of without needing to negotiate with family members, which could potentially create tension if everyone isn’t in agreement. But the most important thing to me in all of this is that we are in agreement — this is a huge step forward for us and I want it to feel right, and moving into your grandmother’s house doesn’t. It doesn’t feel right for me, and I want us to keep looking until we find something that feels right for us both.”
If he has a problem with that and can’t appreciate why you wouldn’t be excited about moving into a house that the rest of his family owns, that is full of his dead grandmother’s stuff, and that is two hours from where you’ll be going to school, then maybe this isn’t the right time to be house-hunting together. And if Chris is still grieving too much to think about this rationally and fairly, I suggest tabling the house-hunt until there’s more emotional distance from the loss of his grandmother.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.