Friday, January 27, 2012

Ruined Sofa Tearing at Woman's Conscience

Dear Tazi:

I have an issue of a rather sensitive nature, and I am hoping you can give me some advice. While my mother-in-law is wintering in Florida, my husband and I are unofficially house-sitting. The truth is, we got evicted from our apartment after the landlord got foreclosed on, and are staying at her place until we find a new apartment. She is not aware of this fact, although the neighbors think that she is.

My husband and I both could benefit from anger management counseling, but we do not have the money for it at this point in time. We are both stressed over our living situation, and things came to a head on New Year's Eve. He did not want to go out, so I got dressed up to go out with my girlfriends. We argued, and one thing led to another and push came to shove - literally. I turned my back on my husband to walk away and he shoved me. My shoe caught on an area rug, and I went flying forward towards the hearth. What slowed me down was the heel of my stiletto catching on my mother-in-law's sofa; otherwise, I would have slammed head-first into the hearth. I suffered bumps, bruises, and a badly broken ankle; the sofa - which was hand-upholstered in hand-woven Chinese silk - suffered a six foot tear right across the front.

I got an appraisal on the cost of repairing the damage, and the entire sofa would have to be reupholstered. It would cost approximately $16,000 (for the cost of materials, and the intricate pin-tucking pattern) . On the night of the accident, my husband took me to the hospital, and the police were called because the emergency room doctor did not believe that I had "tripped". I am not sure if we were able to convince the police, but no charges were filed. However, the problem with my mother-in-law's sofa remains.

We have not yet said anything, but I would like to tell my mother-in-law the truth: that her son and I have been living in her mansion; that we were arguing and things got out of control; and that the damage to her sofa is minimal in comparison to the fact that I could have been killed if I hit my head on the hearth. My mother-in-law could then decide how to handle the financial issues at hand. I know my mother-in-law well enough to know that she would be angry, but understanding. My husband feels this paints him as the "bad guy" and as "an abuser". He wants to tell his mother that we stopped in to check on her house before going out for the evening, and that I tripped and fell and damaged the sofa; which is the story that we told the police. This way, her homeowner's insurance will cover not only the damage to the sofa; but my medical bills and pain and suffering, as well. He feels the profit "we" make off of my injuries could go towards moving expenses and a new apartment.

Tazi, I feel like we have done enough damage as it is; and that lying to my mother-in-law will only complicate the situation. What do you suggest?


Dear Home-Wrecker:

I am counting the crimes you and your husband have committed: illegal entry, illegal occupation of your mother-in-law's home, domestic assault, battery, property damage, interfering with a police investigation...did I miss anything? Although I wholeheartedly agree that property damage is infinitely better than manslaughter (the charge your husband would be facing if you had died) I also think it is time for the lies to stop.

I have tried to recreate the scenario you describe, and consulted a Physics professor to figure just how fast you would have had to be traveling to hit the hearth with enough force to split your skull. Without information such as point to point distance and force exerted by the hearth, it is impossible to accurately figure; but the fact that your foot dragged for six feet along the sofa tells me you were moving at a pretty good clip. Just how hard did your husband shove you? If both the ER doctor and the police had a hard time swallowing your story, you can bet that a homeowner's insurance adjuster is going to give you an even harder time - and may actually insist on mathematically figuring the velocity at which you were travelling to cause such damage. Further lies will cause your story to unravel.

You ask my advice, so here it is: Get anger management counseling, before your tempers cost you more than the replacement cost of an expensive sofa. And tell your mother-in-law the unvarnished truth. Her homeowner's insurance might not cover the damage if they know that you two were living there without her permission, so she might want to grant that to you post-factum; unless she wishes to cover the expense of fixing the sofa out-of-pocket or if this constitutes insurance fraud. I dislike the idea of lying - even to an insurance company to which your mother-in-law pays premiums - but if she does not than the insurance company might be able come after you and your husband for the money, which may put you in greater physical danger from his continued temper. I consider the fib the lesser of two evils.

In the meantime, perhaps it is best if you and your husband seek separate residences.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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