The other part of the problem is that Rick has three kids and I have three kids, and though they get along great, Rick’s house is tiny, especially for eight people, and my kids don’t have their own beds. We have three bedrooms — they are not very big — one bathroom, and a partially finished basement. On top of that, Rick is a bit of a hoarder. He loves clearance shopping and a good deal. He has TONS of boxes in the basement that haven’t been touched in the year and a half he’s lived there. I would like to integrate my kids into the home, give them actual beds. Currently, his two girls share a room and his son has his own room. I have two boys and one girl, so it’s three girls and three boys. Though the rooms aren’t big, they could accommodate three and three with bunks beds and with moving all the kids “stuff” to the area of the basement we set up for them. I’ve showed Rick ideas on Pinterest, and have brought it up gently over and over about how it would mean a lot to have my kids feel like they have a bedroom or a bed or a space that is also theirs.
Rick has been telling me for probably nine months that he would clean out more dresser space for me, but I still have one dresser drawer, a nightstand with two small drawers, and maybe a quarter or less of his small closet while he has TWO tall six-drawer dressers, the top shelf of the closet, and the majority of the closet. The man has like 200 t-shirts and doesn’t want to get rid of them because there is “nothing wrong with them.” I’ve talked about donating them, etc… but that’s his frame of mind that he doesn’t want to get rid of stuff because he might need it, it was a good deal, it’s perfectly good, no reason to get rid of it. The garage is full, the basement is full. There are four garbage bags full of little girl clothes in the basement ranging from 24-months to 4/5T that he’s been wanting to give to someone he knows that could use it, but there is no one and his youngest daughter is 8! I Just finally last week got him to donate one box of his clothes and one box of kids’ clothes.
I’m not a patient person and it’s been nine to ten months of being patient… What can I do? I’m living with only what I needed from my mom’s, with none of my furniture, and I tend to feel “homesick” now and then because this doesn’t feel like my home. It doesn’t feel like we live “together;” I just live with him. My boys sleep on a fold-out mat in his son’s room, and my daughter sleeps on a futon in the partially finished basement. We figure we’ll be living in this house for about three to five years before we buy something else. How do I help him realize that it’s necessary to get rid of stuff we don’t use or need? And without being pushy or insensitive? — Spaced-Out
It sounds like you gradually moved into Rick’s home, first staying there on weekends, then bringing your kids when you had them, then slowly bringing over clothes and a few kitchen and decor items. You just recently officially changed your address to his after months of this gradual and casual moving-in. I have to wonder: Did Rick invite you to move in? Did he even want to share his space with you and your three kids? Did you talk before you moved in about how you would integrate four extra people into his small house? Did you discuss any of the essential topics a couple should discuss before moving in together? If not, then you have only yourself to blame for this predicament you find yourself (and your poor kids!) in. If you were invited to move in and you and Rick did discuss and agree on how best to integrate your family into his home, you can blame him for not sticking to the agreement.
I’m betting, based on the content of your letter, that no such agreement was ever in place, and that even a discussion about where your kids would sleep was probably not had before you slowly and gradually moved in. It sounds like everything just sort of happened organically, which sounds pleasant in theory, but even a vegetable garden needs thoughtful planning to thrive. And the truth is, it may simply be too late to have these discussions with Rick now. He seems stuck in his ways and not at all interested in making room for you, let alone for you and your kids. You’ve already been asking Rick for nine months to clear some more dresser space for you and he can’t even do that. What other recourse do you have here except to move out? And, frankly, that may be exactly what Rick wants. I get the feeling he may not have even wanted you there in the first place.
If I’m wrong, and Rick did — and does — want you in his home, you need to be firm that he HAS to make space for you and your kids. That means getting rid of shit, setting up a play area in the basement, and getting bunk beds. It means incorporating some of your decor and working with you to make a home that is both functional and comfortable for all of you. These are basic steps, and if he can’t comply, you need to pack up your one dresser drawer and tiny bit of closet space and get the fuck out of there because, when you aren’t wanted, the last thing you should do is force yourself — and your three kids — onto someone.
If your response to all of this is: “But I don’t have anywhere better to go,” or “I can’t afford my own place,” or “I’ll have to move back in with my parents,” my reply is: “Ok.” Because none of those reasons is reason enough to live with a boyfriend who is unwilling to make space for you or didn’t want you to move in in the first place. If, after thinking it all over, you decide that living with Rick, even with no space for your stuff, is still the best option, then that’s the choice you’re making, and Rick has the upper hand. He has the upper hand and he knows it. He knows you have limited options and won’t move out, despite how unhappy you may say you are with the lack of space, because you’ve got nowhere better to live. And then, that would be the kind of man you’re dating and living with: a man who doesn’t really care that much about your feelings. And then you have to decide: Is that what you want for yourself and your kids? A man who lets them sleep on fold-out mats on the floor so his 200 t-shirts have room to breathe? Your kids deserve better than that.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.