Crowded Out

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

My life hasn’t turned out how I thought it would. I’m 58 and five years
divorced. I got taken to the cleaners financially by a husband who’d
not only cheated on me but rang up ten years of debts financing his
new life. He ended up with a world full of toys and money he’d
stashed; I got the bills. I found a small home to rent but still needed a
roommate. After a terrifying parade of inappropriate applicants, who
were scary and/or loathsome in varied dimensions, I connected
accidentally with a woman I’d known years ago who was also divorced
and enrolled in a nursing program. It seemed like a match made in
heaven. But in the four days since she’s moved in she has re-
organized or moved around all of my things. She’s bossy and
borderline abusive like my ex. I didn’t go through all this just to end
up in a similar place. And yes her name is on the lease now too.

Crowded Out

Dear Crowded Out:

Unless you have a relationship with the landlord that allows you to
have some kind of “first” status on the lease, you’re probably stuck
with Ms. Control for some period of time. Without actual bodily harm I
don’t think there’s room for an external intervention. You could talk to
the landlord to assess your options, and you could consider either
moving or asking the roomie to move. But those are extreme

As a precursor to the dramatic, and as good warning steps for the next
round of roommate search, start with some serious conversations
about House Rules. These can be everything from who gets what share
of the frig, bathroom and kitchen etiquette, arrangement of furniture,
hours for TV/radio sounds on/off other than headphones, when chore
like vacuuming, laundry, and lawn-mowing are performed, and who
cleans which rooms how often, as well as boundaries around overnight
visitors. Even if you didn’t do this first, do it now, and try to agree that
if the arrangement doesn’t work, one of you will relocate. Sadly this
might end up being you. But you deserve a peaceful home. So don’t
be pushed around without standing up for what you need.