My boyfriend is great, except we don’t have anywhere to sit.

I have been with my boyfriend for nine years. We have a fantastic relationship, I love him very much, and I don’t want anyone else. There’s only one problem: our living situation. Our house is lovely from the outside but on the inside it’s a mess from all of his things. It’s his house, so I feel bad being upset about it. We have no furniture (except for a bed, t.v. and kitchen appliances) because he wants to pay off all of his debt before he buys anything major. Not having “things” is not a big deal to me since I didn’t grow up with much, but it’s the lack of a “home” that is killing me. I have brought it up to him in the past and he feels the same way, but he has yet to really do anything about it. I’ve tried to make the place nice, but it’s hard when you have boxes, papers, and random stuff lying around and half-painted walls. He works a lot so when he is home he doesn’t want to do anything (I can’t blame him), but we’ll never progress if this continues.

Here’s where it gets complicated: he won’t let me do things because he wants them done right. Another part of this whole thing that has been killing me all these years is not being able to have my family or friends over. I have two nieces who I would love to have over to stay with me, but I can’t because the house is not suited for that type of thing. I can’t have my grandmother, sister, mother, father, etc over for dinner. I’m 29 years old, he’s 41, and I feel like I’ve given up so much of my life because of this.

I’ve recently found a house that I’m interested in renting. I’m a teacher so I have the income to afford it. The thing is, I feel so bad for wanting to move out! I do NOT want to lose him, but I am not happy at all living in that house. I can’t take it anymore and don’t want to lose anymore of my valued family and friend time. I just don’t want to live like this anymore. Am I a total jerk for feeling this way? Am I wrong?

I know this is about you, and we’ll get there in a minute, but first I’d like to take this opportunity to announce my new movement, which is going to revolutionize the American family and lower the divorce rate by like 90%. It’s called Husbands Live Next Door, and the gist of it is that all the husbands move next door. This will ensure that there are no tiny shaving hairs in the sink, no epic eight-hour football game marathons on a Saturday afternoon when certain people should be raking leaves, no ’70s punk music blasting through the entire house before 8:00 am, no beer bottle tops left on the counter literally inches away from the garbage can. All of that stuff will happen next door, and all the women will be able to have pink flowers on their duvet covers and the bathrooms will all smell good because we always smell good no matter what, and if certain people’s mothers decide to call seventeen times at midnight, it won’t bother us, because these mothers will be calling the house next door. Genuis? Oh, yes. So absolutely not, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with living on your own. But…

On to your problem. Or, problems. Because there are a few here. My first instinct is to say that you should just ignore his excuses about debt, and doing things “right,” and the house being his, not technically yours (which, by the way, I think is completely ridiculous because you’ve been together for almost a decade). If you have enough money to pay a security deposit, pay all your own utilities, move all your stuff across town, and support yourself on your own, then you have enough money to save up, buy some furniture and curtains and knick-knacks and do some decorating on your own. If he doesn’t like the couch, he doesn’t have to sit on it. He can sit on his piles of newspaper, instead. Go to Goodwill and get yourself a kitchen table, put his boxes in the garage or the basement or on the floor next to his side of the bed, and invite your family over for dinner. Get some paint and a paintbrush, go after those half-painted walls, and after a weekend your house will seem like a whole new place.

Two things are really bothering me about your situation, though. First, I know you love him, but he’s a man-child. He’s not a 20-year-old trying to find his way, he’s full-on middle-aged. And he might not care about material things, like, say, chairs, but part of being an adult in a relationship is acknowledging the other person’s needs and recognizing that they’re valid. Needs like, say, not sitting on the floor. I imagine the two of you like old-timey hobos, wearing half-finger gloves, huddling around a bonfire and burning whatever garbage you find in the vicinity for warmth and light.

The second thing that bothers me is that you’re an adult, you have a job, you can clearly take care of yourself, yet you are allowing this man to dictate to you the kind of life you lead–the kind of life that you specifically don’t want. The kind of life where you can’t have your grandmother over because there’s nowhere for her to sit, or you can’t have your niece over because she might get lost for all eternity in a pile of your boyfriend’s crap and your sister will get mad. And this is why I hesitate to tell you to just redecorate and ignore his excuses; redecorating isn’t going to solve the problem.

So maybe kindly tell him you’re moving out. Set up a nice place for yourself that you love coming home to; it might surprise you how much your perspective changes about a lot of other stuff. And please, paint your room pink.

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