Here's an odd problem...

lindakimyMay 30, 2006

I guess this is a "marriage" thing. It wouldn't be happening if I weren't married to the guy. This is the deal:

My dh has this old friend (brother of a former girlfriend of his from waaaaaaaaaaaay back). They were buddies in Viet Nam even though (let's call him) D was military and dh was civilian. And D comes to visit us EVERY spring (long story). For at least a month and a half. Usually longer.

Normally, I get along with him just fine. As house guests go he could be lots worse. He actually does more housework than dh, by far. He does drink a lot but he buys his own and before that sets in each afternoon he gets a lot of helpful things done "for his buddy," my dh.

So. He has been here since early April and lately he and dh have been spending a lot of time out in the garage together. They work on projects and then kick back out there. That's fine with me for the most part. But somehow they are starting to act like little boys who don't want the "girl" in the clubhouse. (Er...I'm the girl. Even though I'm 56.) Suddenly, D is acting VERY disrespectful toward me, as if I were weakminded somehow and don't really belong here. He "explains" to me in slow, careful, short words what is wrong with just about everything I say. And he never misses an opportunity to "explain" to me that this house/property/dogs/vehicles/everything belongs to dh and that dh has complete control and say so over it. (Remember, he just got through telling me what is wrong with my opinions.)

Well, the fact is that dh wouldn't have this place if he hadn't married me. It was MY money that paid for it for the most part. When I met dh he was living in an apartment from pay check to pay check and I owned a house outright.

I don't know whether this is coming through D from dh or if it's his own testosterone induced idea. But it is getting on my very last nerve.

So, am I nuts for resenting the bejeebers out of being expected to come home from a full time job, listen to this racket, and cook a meal for these "boys"? I ask for input on what they would like - NONE. And then I buy something only to find out D has bought something different that I'm expected to cook. Etc. Etc. Etc.

What is going ON? Dh and I have our own problems I'll grant ya - and I don't know how much of that he has shared with his old buddy. Or how he may have slanted it. But as far as I'm concerned, this is MY house too and the only life I have at the moment and, frankly, I'd like to have it back.

So what do I do? Tell dh how I feel? I'm not at all sure he would care. That could definitely backfire. Tell D how I feel? That would almost certainly backfire. What?

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Well, I don't know you folks and I'm not there but....

If I had a couple of drunks camping out in my garage every afternoon excluding me and ragging on me besides -- in my own home! -- I'd straighten it out.

Month-and-a-half visits? Disrespect? Outright proclamations about who owns what? I'm thinking your risking "backfires" is the least of your troubles. You may be further down a dark highway than you know.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 12:18AM
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I kind of agree on the 'backfires' being the least of your troubles. You are being treated like you are not the number one person in your husband's life. And that is not how marriage is supposed to work. Many others have had a similar problem with the mother of the husband moving in and the wife being pushed aside. In this case, it is a friend that is doing it. It's great that this guy helps out around the house, but his presence is creating a wedge between you and your husband.

I'd say you need to lay it all out, but how you do it is most important. Do not wait until you are angry or he is angry. Don't do it when he is out in the garage with his bud and then call him in to talk. Finding a good time to do it sounds difficult, but it just can't be at a time when you are in the middle of a confrontation.

And maybe you should put it in writing so you can address all of the points you mention above. This should allow you to keep on track. The more calm and collected you are, the better things will go.

Another thought - any chance of approaching the friend when your DH is not around and getting him on your side?

One last thought - hopefully this is not the case, but could these two be developing a romantic relationship?

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 8:09AM
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It's time for D to go home so you and dh can sort things out. I wouldn't let this guy visit anymore, he's trouble with a big T.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 8:48AM
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You might want to consult a lawyer, just in case. KEEP A PAPER TRAIL, just in case. Document everything, no matter how trivial. Do it now, don't wait until your memory gets foggy. If you don't need it down the line, no big loss, but if you do, you will be ahead of the problem and prepared. A divorce lawyer's dream client.

Carol, legal secretary for 35 years.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 7:24PM
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You're not nuts at all. This is unbelievable! (But I believe you.) I don't think I could have stood it as long as you have. Even a week-long visit by respectful people whom I am fond of seems an eternity to me now.

Good advice from Carol. There is something weird going on here. D has no idea of a guest's responsibility--in fact, no common decency--and it is shocking that your dh hasn't put a stop to his shennanigans. Maybe both D's actions and dh's lack of support for you are both due to alcohol, but it does seem possible to me that dh has something to do with the change in D. His silence when D is patronizing and rude might be taken as condoning it, unless he is very drunk.

Since saving your marriage comes first, and it doesn't look as if you can expect dh's help with the situation right now, you need to get through it somehow this time, and later when you feel you can speak about it calmly (granted, a difficult thing to do), have a heart-to-heart with dh. I would want to know why D had changed and what dh thought of it and, especially, what he planned to do if the next visit were to start out like this one. Like April, I wouldn't want to let this guy come again, but I realize that it may not be possible for you to stop him, if dh wants him, so maybe the question is, what do you do if D comes again and hasn't changed and dh won't do anything about it?

I once read an interesting book, the gist of which was that we can't force others to do what we want them to and we can't
stop them from doing what they want to. What we *can* do is calmly decide how we are going to react to what they do and respectfully take action that is helpful to us, but never threaten people to "do this, or else."

For example, the book described a man in an office who never picked up the phone, even though many of the calls were for him. Persuasion and angry demands that he change had no effect. Finally the others calmly informed him that they were not going to call him to the phone anymore if someone asked for him, because he wasn't doing his fair share. He was furious, but they didn't give him a fight; they simply began telling his callers that he couldn't come to the phone just then. A short time of missing calls soon decided him to change.

If dh really insists on having D there again and refuses to have a talk with him about his behavior, I would not be argumentative or demanding, but just explain in a respectful way--maybe even apologetically--that D's behavior is so upsetting that I can't take any more of it (true, right?), but that, of course, I don't want to spoil their friendship or upset D (also true, right?), so I have made up my mind that at the first sign of his disrespecting and belittling me on his next visit, the best thing for me to do is to withdraw from the conversation and, if necessary, the room, in a nice way, and not come back unless to take care of some necessary thing. I would reassure dh that if I leave the room, I will try not to let on that it is D's fault, or do anything unpleasant for either of them, but I 'just can't hang around to be made miserable and take the chance that I might blow up at our guest.'

Dh is quite free, either to make the choice to go on as he did this time, or to make some changes. If your acting this way would cause embarrassment to him, it is up to him to stop D from being rude. Your part is to be sincerely sorry to cause any trouble, but to keep repeating that you just have to avoid situations that (this time) have made you begin to feel you couldn't have D as a guest again. You 'want dh to be able to keep his friend, and you don't want yourself to reach the point where you might blow up,' so you are really making this change for D's and dh's sake. Feel what you say and mean it, and stick to it.

It really sounds to me as if your marriage could be in danger; then again, it may only be the alcohol at work in the two "boys." I hope so, and I hope you will find a way to work around the problem if they don't change.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2006 at 3:31AM
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Biwako, what wise advice! And that is pretty much what I'm doing/planning to do. You are so right that the conversation with dh will be difficult. I expect he will claim not to have noticed any such thing.

It seems that I gave the impression that dh was out there getting drunk with his buddy daily - he is not. He has a couple of beers with him but it is D who is getting really plastered every evening. My greatest concern about dh is that he neither says nor does anything to curb his buddy when he gets rude to me. Arguing with D is pointless when he gets that way, though - I've tried and he just shouts me down so maybe dh has decided it is pointless, too. But if dh said something I think it would make more of an impression because D idolizes him. That's part of the problem, it seems. D appears to think I need to be cut down so that it is clear that dh is on top. (Weird, since I am absolutely not the type who tries to run the show - I truly believe marriage partners should be partners, not master and slave.) But D tends to be very controlling and more than a little chauvinistic or paternalistic and he is totally convinced that his opinion on everything is the right one.

I actually used to manage to get along very well with D. But, then, he wasn't showing this attitude toward me then. And I'm afraid that my withdrawal from his company has been noticed. Dh often left me to sit and talk with D in the evenings or on weekends while he would go visit other friends or nap or whatever (take a break from D, I think) and now I simply will not stay around him lest he start in on me again. I've tried very hard, as you suggested, not to be nasty or obvious about it but it is a change. Too bad. D is, ultimately, dh's old buddy...let HIM entertain him. And if D doesn't like the atmosphere, he can go on home.

D actually scared me to death night before last by talking about possibly moving here! NO! Go back to the other coast, please!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2006 at 8:51AM
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D has overstayed his welcome and it is time to go home. I don't care if D is your husband's long lost twin brother who gave a kidney to safe his life. If he is causing troubles in your marriage, it is time to go. A household isn't usually two grown men and one woman for a reason. A marriage is two people..there's one too many. If your husband really prefers to live with D over you, then let him... somewhere else.

If your DH insists that D stay there and he's not going to talk to him about his behaivor, then I'd pack both their bags. What kind of marriage is that? He and only he decides who lives with you? And, I wouldn't apologetically explain that you can't take it any more. It's not you causing the problem; don't take any of the blame.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2006 at 11:26AM
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I guess I wrongly assumed that dh was keeping up with D in the drinking. But if he wasn't, then he has less of an excuse if he claims not to have noticed the nastiness from D. How could he not notice it, if he was sober? Well, he will know about it when you tell him. (If you tell him.)

I entirely agree with Carla that D has overstayed his welcome, etc., but I think it's kind of sad if the marriage has to be over if dh refuses, as he may at first, to try to set D. straight. My proposal was a sort of middle way that might offer some hope of getting dh to see the error of his ways, and of saving the marriage, and my suggestion for possibly using an apologetic tone is to avoid a confrontational tone that would put dh on the defensive. Of course, this problem is in no way Linda's fault! The apology is not for being wrong. It is--in advance--for 'being unable' to continue putting up with D's remarks, and its purpose is to undermine dh's possibly resorting to anger as a defense.

D may be trying to do dh a service by "cutting you down?" Boy oh boy, if there was ever a case of unwarranted interference in someone else's marriage! It's none of his business who is "on top!" Right? I am disliking him more and more. I am grinding my teeth. If my dh ever let someone like D move in permanently, I would go beserk! However, I was overtaken by a little smile upon reading that even dh enjoys getting away from D for a while, so maybe dh would not want him to be at your house year-round, either! Let's hope so! He will be even less willing when he realizes that all the burden of entertaining his house guest is going to fall on him.

I think it is good if your withdrawal is noticed. Neither D nor dh will see the need for change if your actions are not noticed. Someday, one of them may ask the reason why, and that is when you can say how great it is for old friends to hang out together, and all that, but that D's comments have been getting you down, 'although you understand that he probably means well (HA!--well, he does, to dh at least!), so you have just HAD TO limit your conversation with him.'

Yes, great. If D doesn't like the atmosphere, let him go home. Maybe he will, or maybe he will even make an effort to change. Either way, you will be rid of his company to a large extent.

Best wishes for D's speedy departure, for dh's to get his noticing goggles on and get a backbone and protect his wife, and for you yourself to get some peace. Please let us know how it all turns out.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2006 at 8:19PM
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"I think it's kind of sad if the marriage has to be over if dh refuses, as he may at first, to try to set D. straight. My proposal was a sort of middle way that might offer some hope of getting dh to see the error of his ways, and of saving the marriage, and my suggestion for possibly using an apologetic tone is to avoid a confrontational tone that would put dh on the defensive."

That's exactly my thought. Marriage has to go through the icky times as well as the good. And sometime they may be MY ickies!! So I'd like to extend a bit of charity and slack so that I can hope to get some back someday. Until I truly believe that dh means me harm...I'll try to excuse his stupidity ( a spade a spade). Once I believe it's really mean...well, all bets are off.

In the meantime, it's not that I want to wreck their friendship - or even mine (however dicey now) with D. I just wish he would go on home. And he is making little noises about that since our weather is not to his liking. Maybe he will be out of here in the next week or so.

Between now and next spring I'm going to adjust my behavior a bit - a little less friendly phone time with D. I can be reserved if I have to be! A few conversations with dh. Maybe it will work. Maybe it won't. We'll see.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2006 at 10:07PM
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You sound very mature, and you sure have a lot more patience than I do. I would never have survived D's long visits every year! But then...each marriage has its own dynamics, its own problems and good points, and very fortunately, my patience has not been tested the way yours has! I like that about the weather. Gurgle, snort--don't ever move to San Diego because the weather here would be more likely to make your home turn into D's "forever home," as they say for adoptions! May you have more heat, rain, cold, or whatever it is that moves guests to go home!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 1:24AM
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Well, this has got to be the weirdest solution to a marriage problem ever...

It has been extremely hot and dry here and now our well has gone dry. Not possible to shower or do laundry even. We had a man out yesterday and he's supposed to start digging a new well in a couple of weeks but in the meantime, well, let's just say my hotel has lost it's 4 star rating.

And, guess what? D left. Suddenly, first thing this morning. Just up and left.


    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 8:15AM
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Wonderful! It's almost worth not being able to shower or do laundry for awhile, isn't it? I am happy for you. I hope you and dh can agree on the requirements for any further visits from D, too.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 4:07PM
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Interesting thread --

How about for next year's visit, you arrange to have an old friend of yours (or maybe your mother?) come out for a visit after D's been there, say, three weeks?

I'm wondering if D's problem is that he's jealous of DH's relationship with you? Trying to squeeze in between you to get his 'best friend' back?

    Bookmark   September 17, 2006 at 7:31PM
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I do not understand any guest who thinks it is OK to visit for a month and a half. And hassle and put you boot! If I were to take a guess at what is really going on, my bet would be that D would like to be a permanent resident, and is paving the way by mentioning that the house "really" belongs to your DH, blah, blah, blah. Perhaps things are not going well where he lives the rest of the year...perhaps he has worn out his welcome (if he lives with relatives), or his financial situation has changed and he is having trouble in that way, or if he is married...perhaps their is trouble there. But it sounds as though he may be having thoughts about this, and sees you in the way of his plans. If he is around the same age, maybe he is tired of working and supporting himself, or lonely, and could easily see himself hanging his hat at your DH's place, and having a buddy to hang out with so he isn't lonely. Anyway, that is just a guess on my part.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 2:03PM
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Well, I didn't expect a revival of this old thread but, is sort of a novel problem.

Sweeby, there are a bunch of reasons I can't follow your good advice. First, I have no old friends. And my dear mother and father have passed away. Just about the only relative I have left who could visit me is my brother and D LOVES HIM!! I love him, too. But, honestly, if my brother comes around when D is here there are just three guys in the garage instead of two. (sigh)

Bnicebkind, I think D doesn't really GET that he is putting me down. He is just totally convinced that his view is the right one and that the man of the house should be the absolute ruler. It's a dreadfully old fashioned way to be but he does have the excuse of age and cultural background. That doesn't make it o.k. but it makes it easier to understand.

Luckily, D would never actually move here - no way could he stand our weather. He's lived in the Bay Area almost his whole life and when our SC temperatures hit about 90 he gets light-headed. I'm sure there is no way he would survive our 110s. You are very perceptive, though...he and his wife do have some problems - no surprise, right? And he also has difficulties with several other family members near where he lives. I'm sure his time here is a great vacation away from having to be the problem solver. And, see...if he would just accept that he may not always be right and that he certainly doesn't have to be the boss of everything, he wouldn't have the heavy duty that he has to escape from by visiting us every year!

Oh, well. D does have some good points. It's just that they become difficult to remember when he's been here for a month or two. LOL Then I tend to lose all patience and start posting on the Internet! In spite of all his faults, I do like him (especially when he isn't actually here). And he is only here for a couple of months each year. Dh has another friend who LIVES only a few miles away. (That's the one he goes to visit to get away from D when he is here.) But even when D isn't here, dh still spends almost all of every weekend with his friend and often goes over to visit during the week (3 hours today and it's a Monday!). Not to mention their pool nights on Tuesday. What little time I get to be home I am usually alone. you suppose it's my breath!?

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 7:30PM
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You live there, you have to establish rules. You are not running a bed and breakfast. State that two weeks is your limit. State it again. If that doesn't work--start coming home at lunchtime and make sandwiches for him. crowd him physically. He may get nervous, and leave.
Get a girlfriend who is very aggressive and assertive to start coming to dinner, or watch somebody's twin toddlers.
Or start a painting, refinishing project all over the house., You are making this place too comfortable.
Or let them start doing a closet make-over; if that doesn't work--you do it, using his tools.
I wouldn't have a girlfriend live with us if she was having marital problems. That stuff is contagious.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2006 at 1:58PM
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I think you're in a troublesome situation and you have to do something to reestablish your rights. I also think that tempting though it might be, you shouldn't involve anyone else in it until you have tried to work it out between the three of you.

That said, here's a suggestion for how to work it out.

First, you have to talk it over with DH, and not while D is there because that limits your options. Explain to DH that D's behavior has been way out of bounds, that you were at your wits' end during his last visit, and that unless DH agrees to help manage D's behavior, you will not allow D to visit again. Yes, I mean allow--it's your house too, and it would be insane to invite a house guest for a month unless both spouses agreed.

So you start by letting DH know--well before D comes--that you had a problem last time, and getting him to promise to help you to resolve that problem. If he is the kind of person who forgets, write it down and both of you sign it.

Next time D comes, remind DH that he promised to help you keep D in line. Every time D does something inappropriate, ask D to stop, explain why you think it's inappropriate, and then, as soon as you get the chance, write it down. Every morning, as soon as you get up, go over yesterday's list with DH so that he remembers what happened the previous day.

If things start getting annoying--and long before they get so bad that you get angry--sit down with D and DH and go over the list so far. Explain to D that although you are happy to have him as a guest, so long as he behaves appropriately; but as he is intending to stay there for a month or more, it is important for him to avoid getting on your nerves. Then go over every item on the list and explain why you thought his behavior was objectionable.

If DH tries to take D's side, remind him that he promised to help you. If he still tries to take D's side, tell him--privately--that either he helps you keep D in line, as he promised, or he will have to choose between D and you.

Although I doubt it from your description, it is possible that DH prefers D's company to yours. However, I don't think it's very likely, so if you make sure he sees a full, objective description of what has been going on, I think he will realize the full extent of the problem and help you solve it.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 9:22AM
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Why are women like you always so submissive and accomodating? Stand up for yourself! Have a pms moment and tell them to cook their own %!@**^#$ food! Go out with your girlfriends or family or to the movies or shopping and let them act like morons.
Clearly this guy is a drunk and acts like an !@$%**&! when he is drinking.He is also clearly sexist.
I think you should tell your husband you dont want him there anymore...and if he doesnt like it,he can get lost.Or maybe try to make other arrangements so you dont have to see the pig.
Men like that need to be put in their place,period.They are still living in the 1950's when honey,this is 2006!!!

    Bookmark   December 28, 2006 at 1:38AM
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sorry if that seemed a little brass,but I have been in your situation too and it drove me bananas!!! I swear men act like they are sleeping together at times with their "buddy" behavior. I told my husband if his buddy was important then he could do my wifely duties cuz I wouldnt be! This guy is probably single and has issues with woemn and is jaded and takes it out on you and wishes your husband was single.
Either that or he is attracted to you and cant have you so he is mean to you (dont you hate it when guys do that!!!)

    Bookmark   December 28, 2006 at 1:49AM
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