COVID has caused my wife to lose her mind and buy a house next to her parents

My thought is that it was more a reaction to the isolation we all went through during the height of the pandemic. That affected everyone in different ways and I can totally see how it could foster an urge to be closer to family.

That said, I don’t have much advice for the OP other than hindsight. Even if it was “her money,” buying a house is a huge decision that impacts both of you. I would have objected to the purchase up front.

As others have mentioned, maybe start spending more time at your city home? You can tell the Mrs. exactly why you’re doing so, and she can either join you there or make changes that would make you happier in Jersey. Or not.

No, Mean_Mr.Mustard is right, it’s weird. Having separate banking accounts for fun toys or what-have-you is fine. But she bought this house with her money, so it’s her choice, but now they live there? That’s weird. It would be weird if she bought a bunch of dogs with her own money for the same reason.

A person buying a pack of gum or a Lexus with their own money is just a matter of scale.

It seems you and your wife have had some friction for quite some time now – it’s pretty noticeable to me as a reader of the SDMB. A lot of frustration is showing through. I hope you are addressing that in some way. As an armchair observer, you don’t seem really happy.

But, no, it’s not normal – in my experience – to just unilaterally up and buy a house without input from your partner. As someone said above, maybe a few hundred bucks here and there, but even I tell my wife about all my business purchases beforehand – not that she would or has ever vetoed them – but just so we’re all on the same page and know what is going on. I have my own bank account. She has one, as well, but she’ll come to me even for piddly $200-$300 purchases – and she makes much more than me at this point – to which I say “just buy it already! You don’t need to pass this through me.” Though she always does (to my knowledge, at any rate.) Now, she does occasionally get an idea to buy another investment property to rent out, and I always say, if you see something that you think is a good idea, go for it (I trust her financially), but she wouldn’t do it without input, and anything as a non-investment property would require serious discussion. I’d have no issue moving next door to my in-laws (I think she’d have a bigger problem with that), but something involving that kind of family dynamic would even triply require a tete-a-tete.

I exaggerated a bit. It’s not like she just showed up with the deed to a new house one day. We did discuss it and ultimately I suppose I did allow it (or at least not prevent it), but it was very much her enterprise.

And actually, if the in-laws weren’t down the street, it wouldn’t be a bad setup.

But to your point, this has moved beyond normal “let me vent to the SDMB about this annoying thing my wife did the other day” stuff. I haven’t quite figured out how to “address it”.

The advice column answer to this is to set boundaries with your in-laws, and enforce them. If they bring over food you don’t want, bag it up and return it. Even going as far as to just leave it on their doorstep. When they come over unannounced, tell them it’s a bad time, and send them away. Also, because they’re your in-laws, you should make your wife do it. If she doesn’t want to, then you should go to marriage counseling.

Clearly communicating and enforcing boundaries is important, but if it was that easy, I don’t think you would have bothered posting.

My only a little bit joking solution is to use your children as a weapon:

“Oh great you’re here, just watch little Edina and Stucco while I go out for a few minutes.”

“If you’re bored you can always go to your grandparents. Take your sister with you.”

“That seems like a [messy] game you should play next door.”

Of course this does depend on your in-laws being annoying, but trustworthy with your kids.

My not at all joking solution is to schedule things. Do they want to come over from 3-5 everyday to watch the grandkids while you finish up working? That gives you and them a time to expect them. Maybe schedule shared meals for a couple of nights per week. This gives everybody expectations, and can make it much easier to enforce boundaries, “2:30 is quiet time, come back at 3 when the kids are expecting you.”

Ouch. Agree w @pulykamell that I’m seeing a lot of family stress in the OP’s posts. My magic 8-ball is cloudy, but IMO @msmith537 could easily be living in the city house alone permanently soon.

I had the good fortune that my now-deceased first wife wanted little to do with her Mom, my MIL. We eventually moved the old lady across the country to be in the same city as us. But my wife warned at the time: “She will try to move in with us. The days she does is the day I move out.” She totally meant it and I totally believed she meant it. I did successfully keep MIL’s camel’s nose out of our tent. But it took work. For years.

The OP seems to have the opposite problem. I suggest he needs a similar ultimatum: “Either the in-laws never come to the country house when I am there, or else I leave the moment they arrive. Them or me; take your pick. You (wife & kids) are welcome to spend as much time at their house as you choose. For me, that amount will be close to zero. But they will spend zero at my house while I’m there; how you arrange that is up to you.”

Yeah, same here. She buys her car, I buy mine. I do some bills, she does others. For vacations, my Wife takes care of the travel expense and hotels. I take care of any rental cars, food, fun and ‘walking around money’. Doesn’t matter to either of us. It’s our money, just in different buckets.

And more to the OP. I don’t want to live next to anyone. Family or not. For unwanted guests though, I would just say we are busy. Or invited them to wash a wall or something. They will also get busy, doing something else.

The larger one doesn’t come in white?

Jeez, the number of things in this post that hit home to me are striking.

First, I apparently have a proper suburban home. Second, I also have a second house up in the Poconos, though it’s on the Pennsyltucky side of the Water Gap. Third, I grew up in a house that was next door to my grandparents. Fourth, last summer the Mrs. said “Maybe my mom should buy the Poconos house that went for sale right across the street from ours.”

As for advice, I’m not going to be as helpful there. You definitely need some boundaries around when your in laws come over. Growing up, the grandparents were far enough away that they weren’t walking over constantly, but it did generate both tension for my parents and a very positive remembrance of growing up there.

You’re taking one for the team here, making a better life for both your wife and the kids. Granted, it’s your wife’s money, but when you live there, it’s you dealing with the good and the bad of the country location.

When my wife mentioned the house across the street, my answer was “don’t you dare tell her about it” because, honestly, my wife would be more miserable with her mom across the street than I would be with my MIL renting a spare room from us.

Why that makes us practically neighbors!

I’m not really sure about all of the arm chair psychoanalysis of msmith’s state of mind. I am sure that there is some hyperbole for our amusement. At least I’m amused.

So this is actually your third house (rural NJ). Why not just spend more time at the other 2?

I may very well be getting him confused with another poster. I hope the OP is at least somewhat amused, as well.

There is a bit of hyperbole and exaggeration for amusement (which I suppose is the same thing). There are also some real frustrations too. I don’t know that they are at the “leave my wife of 20+ years and our two small kids” level yet.

Like my wife definitely needs to fucking chill. I don’t think having her parents around helps with that. I can deal with having my wife around or my in-laws (in the context that they are playing with my kids) but not both. I don’t know what it is, but the combination creates this resonance frequency where I feel like my brain is going to explode and the only way to release the tension is to smash by head against a rock or other hard surface repeatedly.

Maybe I’m just in a bad mood because the AC is broken and it’s 90 degrees outside (and inside) and my car is in the shop because a fucking bear crashed into it.

We do have an old apartment (#3) we rent out as an income property, but we can’t really spend time there other than to effect repairs for our tenant.

My family (my dad and uncles) also has a beach house out by the Hamptons, but that’s a bit of a hike to get to. Also my uncle lives there. And that’s a whole other weird complex family financial thing that could be the subject of its own thread.

Generally speaking, I want to keep the family all together in the same house. I think the problem is that with remote work and no nanny, we don’t really get a natural reprieve. I can’t go to the office, work 8+ hours, go grab a beer after work and then come home and focus on the family. It all sort of blends together now.

We should share anecdotes. Bears have broken into our cars 3 times. You look around a little when you open the door to step outside.

ummm… It sounds like you are well enough off to perhaps take some time off. Your wife can visit her parents, and you stay home or go to a different property.

Yeah, thoughts and circumstances and conditions rarely transfer from one person or family to another. But it’s just an idea.

I’m lucky in that I love my Wife’s family, yeah, we don’t agree on politics, but that can be safely left aside. My Wife has traveled to see her family a number of times with out me. Works out fine. I need to take care of my mother about twice a month. It’s usually just an all day or at most a weekend thing though. I sure don’t try to drag my wife along on those trips, but she will sometimes go by herself to give me a break.

FTR, I’m home in Montclair, the wife and Kid Cheesesteak are up in PA this week. I get to play bachelor for a few days, then meet them for the weekend. They get to have summer time fun time, and don’t have to deal with me dragging home after a hour fighting traffic looking for dinner. With the Grands next door, your wife should be able to get at least some real honest downtime. It’s not perfect, but there are opportunities to be had.

So much this. But it must be done gently. Talk to your wife first and tell her that the casual racism is unacceptable in your house (along with any other off items that you don’t want your children to hear, learn from, and repeat). Tell her you will break it to the in-laws with her, but that you need her to back you up. Your kids are precious and don’t deserve to learn racist crap, especially not at the hands of family.

Consider instituting visitor hours. Seriously. And make it clear to your extended family that this means them as well as others. Your kids need time for study, homework, and play without extra adults hanging around. Then, make sure that they do still have contact, just not as much. And authorize your kids to enforce this too. “Sorry Grandpa, but you can’t be here until after Mom and Dad are done with work/I’m done with my chores,” is perfectly fine as long as they know to say it politely.

Good luck.

I wanted to move back to Pennsylvania where my wife and I are both from, but she wouldn’t hear of moving to the same state my mother lives in.

There’s an entire documentary series about this situation called “Everybody Loves Raymond