Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: My family (me, husband, two kids under 3) are going to be homeless this summer while our new home is built. My sister recently bought a vacation cabin about an hour away that they use on weekends. She and her husband are not willing to let us stay there for even two weeks! We have offered them a nominal rent ($100-$200 per week) and to leave every weekend so they can use it, but we were still met with resistance.
While everything worked out and we found places to stay, I’m having a really hard time letting this go and not resenting it. I feel like my sister is being incredibly selfish. I now have to bounce my family from home to home and go as far as eight hours away to stay with my in-laws.
How can I resolve this so I like my sister again? I have tried talking about it, but she is very difficult to talk to and doesn’t think she has done anything wrong.
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I know I diverge with a lot of people on this, but when you ask a favor of someone, you have to be ready to take “no” for an answer, or you have no business asking the favor.
It would have been nice of your sister – downright sisterly – to say yes, but she was not obligated to, nor is it her fault you “have to” stay eight hours away.
I realize you’re hurt. However, feeling hurt and believing your hurt is justified are two different steps, and I advise strongly against letting yourself take that second step.
Applicable adage du jour: “A failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” Cold of someone to say, but so very useful when said to ourselves.
The $800 per month you were willing to part with for the cabin, plus gas and weekend accommodations, was money available to you for a temporary rental within “about an hour” radius – i.e., cabin distance. Such calculations are a better Plan B than blaming somebody else. Isn’t it “selfish,” too, to call dibs on someone else’s home?
Dear Carolyn: When my boyfriend and I started dating, I was financially independent. Even after we moved in together, I never had to ask for money. We have since gotten engaged. Now my job has changed and I am making about $20,000 less. Is it bad for me to feel guilty because he now has to help support me?
Way to cash in!
This is the beauty of communicating; of caring about people for who they are instead of what they provide; of always doing more than exactly your half in a relationship and choosing a partner who does the same; of taking good care of yourself as a rule; and of having a flexible view of life instead of expecting everything to go as planned: It spares you from such anguished bean-counting when things take a difficult turn.
If you keep putting your full self and heart into this partnership, and if that’s not enough for him just because of $20,000, then that’s cause for concern – not guilt, but concern for this person’s worthiness as the centerpiece of your life.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a. m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.