• Images
  • Text
  • Find a Couple + Registry
GO
Wedding Woes

Set. Boundaries. And. Expectations. Now.

Dear Prudence,

My son and his new wife are finishing up college and relocating to our coast. We have a spare suite of rooms for them, and they will share the house while they look for work. Our son has always been difficult to be around (childhood bipolar). He is doing much better now, but we worry he or we will revert to old habits while they are here. What are reasonable rules for sharing the kitchen and respecting one another’s privacy during what will probably be an anxious and indeterminate time while they look for work? My spouse is especially anxious because he is bad at dealing with change.

—Living Peacefully With Adult Children

Re: Set. Boundaries. And. Expectations. Now.

  • OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom South Jersey member
    Eighth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I think LW needs to talk to the son privately first.  Acknowledge how hard the childhood bipolar was on you and H, but that you are also happy that he has gained control (maybe grown out of it?  Just basing that on the childhood part of what LW said).  From there, I think LW needs to say that a discussion of kitchen sharing and any other rules will be helpful for LW in being able to respect the son and his wife while they live there.  But those respectful rules will go both ways and help everyone live together peacefully. 

    Perhaps after the initial phone call a discussion of the rules could take place over email, so both parties can negotiate what is most reasonable.  Then the final rules will be spelled out for both parties.

    I think being open and honest with the son will help both LW and her H feel more at ease with the upcoming move.
    mrsconn23charlotte989875ei34
  • I would love a clinical psychologist to weigh in here because my understanding is that you don't outgrow a bipolar disorder.   If you are bipolar then you are either managing and treating it correctly or it can be a major issue but it isn't like a childhood lactose allergy that is gone.     Am I off here? 

    I think the LW will need to talk to her son privately and then to both the son and his wife together.   If this is going to be a situation where they are all living together then all parties need to agree to the terms and it needs to be a very clear and open communication before they are across the country.   This should not be a game of telephone and there should be no ambiguities left before the car doors close and luggage is removed. 
    mrsconn23charlotte989875
  • banana468 said:
    I would love a clinical psychologist to weigh in here because my understanding is that you don't outgrow a bipolar disorder.   If you are bipolar then you are either managing and treating it correctly or it can be a major issue but it isn't like a childhood lactose allergy that is gone.     Am I off here? 

    I think the LW will need to talk to her son privately and then to both the son and his wife together.   If this is going to be a situation where they are all living together then all parties need to agree to the terms and it needs to be a very clear and open communication before they are across the country.   This should not be a game of telephone and there should be no ambiguities left before the car doors close and luggage is removed. 
    That's my understanding. 

    Furthermore, my therapist says that you can't even properly diagnose bipolar in most people until their late 20's or early 30's.  So I really wonder if they got an inaccurate diagnosis.  

    Either way, the best thing LW and their spouse can do is to tell son and DIL what they want/expect while living together.  And also, set a timeframe (6 months, a year, whatever).  Don't just let it linger on with no end in sight.   My anxiety about things is the worst is when I feel like things are out of my control.  Your house is under your control and it's OK to exercise that, whether it's a friend or your adult child. 
    charlotte989875downtondivaei34short+sassy
  • ei34ei34 member
    Seventh Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    My parents generously opened their home (my childhood home) to my siblings and me post-college if we needed it. They have the space and live within an easy enough commute to the city with all the jobs. I took them up on the offer for about a year in my mid-20s, when my grad school program required so many hours of practicum/internship that I had to scale way back at work...so much that I couldn't comfortably afford my rent.  The three of us sat down and hashed out everything, from "smaller" things who's making dinner what night, who's expected to unload the dishwasher, clean which bathroom each week, to bigger things like finances and when I expected to move out.  But it was all discussed.  And that was with no mental illness involved.  I definitely agree with PP advice to have a conversation with son, bringing up specifics, especially the move out day. 

    charlotte989875short+sassy
  • I strongly concur with the other PPs and am even taking it one step further.  Not only should they have discussions ahead of time as to what is expected in terms of household chores/behavior/concerns and timelines.  But they should also put it in writing.  Including an "all household" meeting at the monthly/3-month or 6-month mark (or whatever feels right to them) to evaluate the "what's happening/when you are moving out" question.

    I realize the tendency in our society is to poo-poo putting things in writing with family/friends because that is "too formal/untrusting".  Bulls**t.  When it's people you care about, that's EXACTLY when it is even more important that everyone is on the same page and has the same understanding.

    One thing I can tell you from my years of landlording is people will hear what they want to hear, even on occasions when I've told them pretty much the opposite.  Or at least try and pretend I said something I didn't.  And these are people I have a business relationship with.  So if they want to be delusional, they can.  But still need to do XYZ or risk getting evicted.  However, not nearly as emotionally easy as that if you are talking about a loved one being delusional.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
Sign In or Register to comment.
Choose Another Board
Search Boards