My husband and I need help resolving an argument. We just bought a new car, somewhat pricey. We rent an apartment from my parents in a two-family home, and they live in the apartment above us. We normally keep our cars in a single driveway, like the rest of the household. We, however, planned to keep the car in the back of the driveway since we won’t be using it that often. Rule is, all the keys to the cars in the driveway are placed in the front hallway.
My husband, who wants to baby the car, doesn’t want anyone to have the key. He still wants to park the car in the driveway. My father doesn’t want the car in the driveway unless there is a key. So we are at a crossroads and I am put in the middle. My husband claims my father is a tyrant and my father claims my husband is unreasonable. Who is right?
Thanks for your opinion in advance…
Ouch, caught between the partner and the parent? That’s not fun at all. What a stressor this must be on your marriage, as well as your relationship with your dad. Let’s see if I can help.
As with so many conflicts, this isn’t a black-and-white issue. I think you could find people to side with your father, and others who would side with your husband. Me personally? It seems like such a small thing for your husband to hand over a set of keys to placate your father–it’s your dad’s driveway after all, and he wants some keys for an emergency situation in which he needs to move the car. Who cares?
But honestly, who is “right” is beside the point. This boils down to one issue: control. Your husband and your father are engaged in a power struggle. There is no earthly reason why your husband shouldn’t give your parents a “just in case” key to the new car, unless they’re in the habit of drunk joyriding. There is also no earthly reason why your parents should require a key for a car they won’t be driving, and which won’t be blocking any of the other cars in the driveway. Both parties have decided to dig in their heels on this nonsense issue…because…well I don’t know why but I’m guessing it goes deeper than a damn car.
Have there been other tussles? Is your husband tired of his in-laws popping in unannounced? Do your parents wish you paid more in rent or helped out in the yard or wouldn’t play that rock n’ roll music so darn loud? I’d bet all the money in my rainy-day-designer-handbag-fund (Editor’s Note: Let’s see the handbag, perhaps this could be part of Beth’s end-of-year bonus this year for OH WHAT HOW MUCH!?!?! NEVER MIND NO NO NO.) that there is an underlying tension from living in such close proximity to your parents that is really the driving force behind all this conflict.
My advice? If at all possible, move. Some people can live in the same building as their family…and some can’t. It’s hard for parents and children to negotiate an adult relationship, and even harder when you throw someone new (a spouse) into the mix. It doesn’t mean you can’t be (emotionally) close to your parents, but there’s a reason most people move out when they become adults.
If moving isn’t an option, I’d suggest a sit-down between your dad, your mom, your husband and yourself. Put it all on the table, ask everyone to engage in civil, respectful discussion to resolve the issue (and any others that may come up). Keeping it buried, and keeping yourself in the middle, will only make it worse with time.
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