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Beach house standoff |
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Beach house standoff

| Thursday, February 14, 2019 1:30 a.m

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

My wife and I have a beach house. When we bought it 12 years ago, we established one firm rule — no one could use it when we’re not there. And we’re very cautious about inviting relatives or friends to stay with us; no one gets invited for more than two days. My wife suggested these rules because she saw how people took advantage of her parents’ vacation home when she was growing up, and the rules have served us well.

My younger sister is getting married soon and she and her fiance have a very limited budget. They’ve asked to honeymoon at our beach house for a week and I’d like to make an exception for them. My wife is dead-set against it, saying that if we make this one exception, the dam will break and we’ll be pestered by everyone.

I have a very large family who have asked over the years why we’re so “stingy” with our second home, but I think we can make this one exception and still hold firm with everyone else. My wife disagrees. We’re sick of arguing about it so we’ve both agreed to ask you and stand by your advice.

— Beach House Owner

Normally I’d side with your argument here, because I think gifts are lovely and flexibility is even lovelier; rigid rules and ideologies that allow no room for discretion are my Voldemort.

However: Your “very large family” has spent “years” showing zero respect for your boundaries and calling you two “stingy”! Inexcusable. Your wife sounds rightly concerned that one attempt to be kind would invite a fresh new, years-long cycle of abuse. And it also seems possible, if not probable, that she’s already worn to a nub by the 12-year effort to “hold firm” under rude pressure from your family.

So, I’m on Team No.

Unfortunately, your rejecting their request will likely touch off more criticism and pressure anyway. Because, rude.

I bet there’s a creative solution available here, though. Would it be worth it, for example, for you and your wife to write a nice check for their honeymoon fund? Do you know anyone else wellll outside the family who owns a vacation home they can use, which you can obtain for them through barter of your home with this other person’s? I’m just throwing these out as examples — and doing so with full knowledge that it’s not your responsibility to give this couple a honeymoon. I suggest it only because sometimes it’s worthwhile to buy your way out, principle be damned, of an otherwise no-win situation.

Re: House:

I’d rent them another beach house before opening these floodgates. The wife is right about the consequences.

— Anonymous 1

Re: House:

Man, that is super stingy.

— Anonymous 2

You would think, right? Unless you were in the position of being asked relentlessly and seeing your property treated carelessly. It’s a real problem for people with second homes, who often don’t say it out loud because they get called stingy and first-world whiny.

So think of it this way: Do you ask other people for their money so you can spend it on yourself? No? OK then. That’s the same thing as asking to use someone’s vacation house.

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