House and Home

9 Jan

Dear LetterBalm: I’m 66 years old and have been a widow for six years now. Two years ago, I met a very nice widower who is a few years older than me. We have lots in common and enjoy each other’s company. Everything is fine, but there is one thing that is bothering me. He is pressuring me to sell my house and move in with him. I really don’t want to do this. I have my own home that I love and my garden that I spend hours tending. I like spending time with my boyfriend – sometimes days because his place is luxurious – but I also feel good returning to my own space. And, he likes it when I cook for him in my own kitchen. How can I get him to stop pestering me?

–Homebody

You have every right to stay in the home that brings you pleasure, security and comfort. If you’re not seeking marriage with this man, you are certainly entitled to your own space, the space and comfort you have created for yourself. (One is reminded of the long relationship between Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, who lived in separate apartments in the same building.) You should share your life with your boyfriend only to the extent that you are comfortable with the arrangement. If he doesn’t get this, he’s not worth having around. Only you know if your man is right for you; if he hasn’t asked you to marry him, Ms. L.B. suggests that he’s exhibiting a not-so-subtle control tendency. Cook him one of your spectacular dinners on your turf and tell him this:

Bruce, we are compatible in every way, and you know how much I enjoy your company. Lately, though, you’re been pressuring me to sell my house and move in with you. Any woman would jump at the chance – you have a lovely home and you certainly have treated me beautifully. But I must tell you something that is non-negotiable: I worked hard to own this home. It’s my refuge, the one place on the face of the earth where I feel completely myself. I will not give it up. I hope you can respect this, and we can continue making each other happy as we have. If this is a deal breaker for you, I understand if you decide to stop seeing me. It would make me very sad, but each of us must do what’s right for ourselves.

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