The Case Of The Unwanted Houseguests

May 9, 2014

Life Lessons

The Case Of The Unwanted Houseguests


No, this isn’t a horror story, though the title sounds like it. This is a story that many Filipinos may be able to relate to. This is a story that is common to our culture, because we’re simply so welcoming and so family-oriented. More than that, Filipinos are super non-confrontational.

My neighbor and I had gotten close over the months of my stay here in my apartment, which I had named “Refuge.” My neighbor and I are similar in one crucial way: We value our privacy. Very much.

This is why, when I have friends over, they rarely stay for more than a week.

However, my neighbor has one major pain in the teefs (teeth): Her family, being born and raised in a rural area, expect her to be very welcoming to any and every member of their extended family tree.

The other week, one of those cases of family intrusion happened to her.

Her cousin, a former OFW from a Middle Eastern country, and her cousin’s husband, decided to stay over. They chose my neighbor’s home because, ostensibly, all the cousin’s earnings went to her mom, and the mom gambled her Middle East earnings away.

The hospitality arrangement went on fine, until, even after making a downpayment on a boarding house room of their own, the cousin started whinge-ing that they didn’t have an electric fan, a stove, or other conveniences to use there. They were starting to imply that they would really want to stay for a whole 3 months.

If that wasn’t bad enough, earlier this week, they were starting to say that they might take back the deposit on the room rental. To make matters worse, they were also starting to say that they plan to build a home, and were sending out feelers that they will let their carpenters stay in my neighbor’s unit.

Of course my neighbor was appalled. Her seaman-husband is double the private person that she is. More than that, the unwanted houseguests were consuming more food than expected. Their sack of rice didn’t last as long as it should have, and the unwanted houseguests didn’t take initiative in contributing to their common food supply.

The situation came to a head, however, when a Balikbayan Box of the cousin arrived, and there was no place to stuff their stuff in. More than that, my neighbor was more than visibly piqued with the implication that she’ll have to open her home to carpenters and laborers, too. And for reasons that were not really clear to me, the unwanted houseguests finally left the other day.

I asked my BFF-Neighbor this pointed question:

Q. If you were to put up a relative for a time, how much time would you HONESTLY allow them in your home?
A. 24 hours.

With this in mind, and with her situation in mind, I have these suggestions:

As a host, you should:

  • Establish rules on how much time you would really be comfortable with.
  • On the day that your houseguest comes in/starts his or her stay, let them know that they could only stay for that amount of time.
  • When the guest reaches that “deadline,” kindly ask them that you’d only be comfortable for that long. As for extensions, let them know that you would be glad to help them find a hotel or a new boarding house to stay in.
  • If you expect your guests to share with food costs, state that explicitly.
  • If you have other requests, say, the use of soap and other such things, state that on the day they start their stay.
  • While I personally provide toiletries for some of my houseguests, some of my houseguests buy their own. So, depending on how generous you would like to be, if you want to be a gracious host, do provide a few extra courtesies, just to be nice.
  • Never assume that some courtesies, are understood without communicating it. Courtesies like expecting guests, especially extended family, to share with food, chores, or to have their own toiletries, these are not “common knowledge,” AT ALL. Filipinos have a VERY bad habit of assuming that common courtesies are part of “common sense.” No, they are NOT. So, state and communicate this explicitly, to avoid tensions.
  • If other issues arise, find a way to tell your houseguests your concerns in a nice way. Don’t be concerned about them being offended. Seriously, it’s your sanity and peace of mind on the line.

As a houseguest, you should:

  • Treat your host’s home BETTER than yours. Take care of their belongings, be respectful with the way you live and move around their home.
  • Help out in chores, especially if you’re family. Don’t assume that just because the Welcome mat was rolled out for you, that you should live like royalty. Help out. When there are houseguests over, the dishes and the gunk multiply. So unless your host has househelp, you should carry the weight, too.
  • Bring your own toiletries as much as possible. You might have facial wash preferences, soap preferences, and things like those. Don’t expect your host to provide them. They could be nice, like I stated above, but do not ever assume that all hosts bend over backwards to have you over.
  • Respect their things. Don’t feel entitled to using their stuff, unless they say so. If you’re restricted to the living room or the guest room, don’t fiddle with their things, and don’t go into rooms you were not told you’d be free to enter.
  • Respect their bills. Don’t overuse water, and most definitely, don’t think that you’re free to use all the TV, lights, airconditioning, and fans that you can. Ask first how many hours your host would allow you to use TV, airconditioning, or other appliances. Volunteer to help out with the bills, as much as possible. Paying even just a fraction of the bill, say, 1/4 or 1/5 of their electricity and water bills, would go a long way.
  • Be sensitive. When you notice that your host seems stressed or grumpy, they could be showing you signs that you’re already overstaying.

There is actually a Proverb that sets a good rule for houseguests:

“Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house; otherwise, he’ll get sick of you and hate you.” — Proverbs 25:17, HCSB

If that isn’t clear enough, check out the rest of the translations on this link.

There is a reason why we build our own homes, or rent our own apartments. Most of us would prefer our own private space and a place we can call “our own.” My parents really taught me the value of not impinging on anyone’s personal space, and that is why, I try, as much as possible, to stay in hotels instead of relatives’ or friends’ homes. Yes, that burns a hole in the pocket, and yes, sometimes, it takes a mighty prayer and a big wait for provision, but that’s better than causing someone to get super stressed and hate me.

And if you aren’t convinced of this concept all that much yet, here is Psychology Today, with another take on the matter:

Have a happy weekend, LiveWealthier friends! 🙂

About Girl On A Live Wealthier Journey

I spend too much for comfort. That's why I love writing about budgets: because at one point, getting it right will open doors in my Live Wealthier journey!

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