We asked readers to channel their inner Carolyn Hax and answer this question. Some of the best responses are below.
Hi, Carolyn: I’m having family troubles over a house I inherited. When I was 20, my great-uncle died, and my dad suggested I move in with his aunt, “Emily,” so she wouldn’t be alone and I’d be closer to my university. It worked out great. I cleaned, did laundry, ran errands and drove her places so she didn’t charge me room and board. When I graduated, I was going to move out. However, Emily’s children offered me a deal: live with her until she died and I would get her house. I agreed, and last fall she died, and I inherited it. At her funeral, her kids and grandkids all thanked me for taking such good care of her, but trouble started when they found out my fiancé was moving in with me. Emily’s two oldest kids, “Andrew” and “Agnes,” were upset and said their mom wouldn’t have approved. Well, Emily is gone, I’m 30 years old, and it’s my house, so he moved in. Then they got even more upset that we went to work fixing up *our* house. We ripped up carpets, refinished floors and painted after taking down so much wallpaper. Now we’re redoing the kitchen.
Andrew and Agnes hate everything we’ve done. This spring, I tore out some lilac bushes and planted a vegetable garden and put herbs and leaf lettuce in the planters out front, and Agnes broke down sobbing about it. They drop by almost every Sunday after church just to criticize our work. At every family gathering, we have to hear how Emily would’ve hated it and how we should have waited before “tearing her house apart.” We’re sick of it. I never promised to maintain the house like a shrine. Even my dad said we should’ve waited, even though he knows we have to get it all done before our October wedding because my fiance’s family is coming to stay with us.