Dear Abby: My mother-in-law owns the building my husband and I live in. I moved in with him about a year ago, before we were married. Because she owns the building, she doesn’t charge her son rent to live there but asks that he help manage the building, which takes about three hours a month. (He has a full-time job outside of managing the building.)
When I moved in, his mom asked that I pay rent. I guess in the back of my mind I thought it would change after we got married. Do you think I’m a brat for thinking I shouldn’t have to pay rent? The amount she’s charging me is about what I would pay if we lived in another building and split the rent between us.
I don’t know how to approach this, or if I’d be stepping out of line to request living somewhere rent-free. Please help.
— Rent-Free in California
Dear Rent-Free: You are being treated like a tenant, not a daughter-in-law. As a member of the family, you should be treated the same as her son. By all means discuss this with him, and while you’re at it, suggest he split your share of the rent 50/50 because you are all family now.
Dear Abby: My 30-year-old daughter has extremely high expectations for her birthday. No one in the family has ever given her a gift that she liked, so now we actually have to get the gift approved by her husband first!
She doesn’t like gift cards, and our budget is small. Although she barely acknowledges anyone else’s birthday, she still expects the “perfect” present for her own. We love her and want to celebrate with her, but the expectations and confrontations make her birthdays miserable for everyone — including her. How do we stop this?
— Birthday Celebration
Dear Birthday: Who created this self-entitled monster? Remind your daughter and her husband that you are all adults now, and because of that, “the family” has decided from now on to mark milestones with greeting cards instead of gifts. Period. If you want to celebrate with her in addition, fine, but her behavior “takes the cake.”