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Gabby101's avatar

How do you deal with people who are taking advantage?

Asked by Gabby101 (2478 points ) February 3rd, 2013

My husband has a friend who has made some bad choices recently and compared to 3–4 years ago, is down on his luck. My husband feels bad for him, and to some extent, so do I, but at the same time, I know about 90% of it is his own doing. My problem is that he is always planting stupid ideas in my husband’s head for ways that we can help ourselves and help him at the same time. That’s how he sells it to my husband, but if you look with a critical eye, you can see the benefits are really his alone. For example, he wants to convert our garage into an apartment so he can live in it. We pay for materials and he gives us his labor for free – in exchange, we let him live there rent free. Because of where our garage is located, what he is proposing doesn’t add any value to our property (a much bigger investment would be required to do that). When I try to discuss this with my husband he is always very emotional and thinks I am being cold. He reminds me of the nice things this guy has done for us, which is true, but those acts in no way would require anything more than a nice dinner out as repayment. My husband and I don’t have extra money to be investing in schemes that don’t give us any return. How do I talk to my husband about this in a way that doesn’t cause him to get so defensive?

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13 Answers

snowberry's avatar

Marital counseling is the first thing that comes to mind. Good luck.

bkcunningham's avatar

@Gabby101, has he actually done something for this friend without your agreement, or is he just talking at this point?

Gabby101's avatar

Just talking at this point.

SamandMax's avatar

Sounds like you’ll have to keep your nose to the grindstone. I can only imagine that it must be difficult to try and get someone else to take a step back from what is going on either in front of him or around him.
I’m not sure. Take this conversion as an example. You say to your husband “You know how we’re going to get this garage converted so <whatever his name is> can live with us?”,
“Yeah, what about it?”
And then you could try something logical like where is this guy going to go should you need to move to a different property. What sort of benefit would come from letting the guy live there rent free?
I don’t like the sound of the guy myself if I’m perfectly honest. Maybe he just needs a wake up call. Unless you get a car which would scupper the plans for a garage conversion I don’t see how else you could deal with this. Maybe get someone else to see what’s going on and see what they make of it closer to home rather than on a forum, because I think that’s what it might take for you to get a better idea as to how to deal with this issue. I think it could be difficult.
Snowberry may have a point though.
Is he being reasonable to what you think about certain situations? Do you feel like he’s ignoring you by being emotional and probably argumentative to try and fend off any kind of objections you may have? So, unless you do get some good ideas from sources that are closer to you (other friends, relatives, whatever) then I think that marital counselling doesn’t sound like that much of a bad idea.

snowberry's avatar

Basically these are boundary issues. Your boundaries are in place; his are not. That’s why I suggest counseling. There are a lot of books out there about having appropriate boundaries, but if he’s that invested in his friend and pursuing this line of thinking, he’s not going to be interested in creating any boundaries that would block it. Likewise he’s not going to want counseling for it either, but you could tell him that this issue is causing serious marital problems. If he refuses to go, you could tell him you’re going by yourself.

Shippy's avatar

This is a tricky situation. A home would lose tons of value here if it had no garage. But I realize you used this for an example.

Talking or discussing sensative topics is best done when both parties are in a relaxed mood. So try not to react at the time a suggestion is made. But discuss it later. But this all sounds like hard work to me to be honest.

The best way to help his friend is to assist him in finding independence. So maybe bring that up. Friends want friends to have lives, with interests and partners and relationships etc., The environment your husband is providing is not conducive to that. You could word it that way?

marinelife's avatar

A counselor could help. But what about appearing to embrace the idea but then killing it? Like Who is going to get the permits? Where will we get the money to pay for the materials? Just give you husband a long long list of problems to solve. Where is X going to live while he does the remodel?

Gabby101's avatar

We do have cars and we specifically looked for a house with a garage because my husband has a biz that needed a garage (per him!!). The garage requirement severely limited our options, so that adds to my frustration.

He is not originally from the US and so counseling is very foreign to him and he would not consider it.

The issue is too volatile to discuss with him now…will have to wait until he cools down.

Gabby101's avatar

@marinelife – just missed your answer before replying. I sort of think this might have been the way to go. He was excited at the idea, but it wasn’t something he could execute right away, so it may have been better to chip away at it slowly and avoid the big blow-up.

cazzie's avatar

You have GOT to put your foot down and play the bad guy. You need to look out for you and yours. End of story. If hubby thinks that is a deal breaker, dump him before he drags you down the drain.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I feel like @cazzie actually. I would have a sit-down with the husband and tell him my opinion counts and he needs to listen. Marital property in my area is 50/50, so anything decided about the house or anything else needs to be a 50/50 decision.

Or you can do what I have done a few times in the past, which is to make my opinion very clear to my husband in front of the friend. That usually shuts them up and allows your husband to blame you when the ‘schemes’ don’t come to fruition. Yeah, I’m a beeyotch like that if my opinion is disregarded.

wundayatta's avatar

Tell you what. How about I come over and remodel your house. I’ll even provide the materials. Then you let me live there for free. You can stay in the garage.

After you remodel it.

Please give me your contact info. I have a bridge I’d like to sell to your husband. It connects Brooklyn and Manhattan, and I could let him have it real cheap.

burntbonez's avatar

I don’t understand. What do you guys get out of this? The pleasure of the friend’s company? All you get to do is spend money and you lose use of your garage. How is this good for you? Wait. You already said that.

What does your husband think it good about this? Maybe the friend is your husband’s lover, and he’s just looking for a way to keep him close. That’s about as charitable an explanation as I can think of for this. Otherwise, you husband is being a complete fool.

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