Tell Me About It: ‘He waves and then proceeds to lie in a very explicit fashion. I simply do not know what to do’
Although this has not been the greatest summer for weather in Ireland, we have had some nice sunny days, which have been great for people who want to enjoy their garden. We live in a nice semi-detached house in a suburb and have been there for almost 20 years. I work for myself and with the high cost of renting private office space, I recently started working from home full-time.
My job is administratively very heavy, so I invested quite a lot of money converting the back bedroom overlooking our beautiful garden to the rear into an office. My husband has to travel quite a distance to work every day and he is away from home all day. During the summer he takes the kids to a childminder, so I am at home alone. It is working out very well and I am now attracting more business than I have ever done before.
The only issue is our neighbour. We have always got on very well, without any difficulties. He is retired and his wife works in the city and is gone all day long. On the particularly nice days he has sunbathed naked in his garden which is right within my line of sight. On these occasions, he has seen me, waved and then proceeded to lie in a very explicit fashion. I do know that it is his own back garden and that he has every right to wear whatever he wants or not, but I feel uncomfortable and am always glad when it is raining outside. I have considered moving into another room but this would mean incurring more cost, changing the layout of the bedrooms and ending up with a smaller office space with less natural light.
I have not told my husband as I know that he would confront our neighbour and I do not want any animosity. I have mentioned it to my friends who have suggested that I have a discreet word with his wife. I am not sure what her reaction would be, but I can imagine she would be either very annoyed with me or him. I do realise that there are not many days in Ireland when this will be an issue, but I hate the thoughts of the sight that might greet me, when I sit down to work.
You are considering all kinds of responses to your neighbour’s nude sunbathing, including growing trees, but so far it seems you have not actually spoken to him about it. There is a danger, of course, that he becomes defensive or that you speak to him with an accusatory tone but surely a word with him is the starting point.
However, before that, you will need to check your own attitude as this will have a big influence on the outcome. Can you approach this with lightness and with some optimism that some suitable solution can be agreed? This will require you to stop thinking that he is doing this to deliberately upset you. However, if in the course of your inquiry, you discover that this is exactly what he is doing, then a different action needs to happen.
Start with a direct request, as every person deserves the chance to be spoken to directly
Assuming there are no bad intentions, perhaps you could chat to him over the garden fence and ask if he would be okay to speak about something delicate? Say you are a little worried that you might become flustered and if he is reassuring, then you can continue. Be as honest and straightforward as it is possible to be so that he is not under any illusion what you are experiencing and ask if you both could come to some arrangement for those glorious summer days (not many at the moment). Perhaps you could suggest that he take the lunchtime hours to sunbathe and maybe again at 4.30 to 5 as you should then be finished your work. If he has a sense of humour, you might agree to hang something out your window if you are away from your desk, so he knows he is free to disrobe.
As you are both around a lot during the working days, you might occasionally have a coffee to strengthen the neighbourliness of your relationship. However, if you get a feeling of deliberateness from his actions, then another strategy is required.
Again, start with a direct request as every person deserves the chance to be spoken to directly and if this is not met with some acknowledgment, you may need to consider speaking to his wife and eventually take some of the actions you have considered above. This would entail a breach of neighbourhood friendliness and if this happens, the breach is caused by him and not you. In this situation, you will need to accept that the situation is beyond your control, and you should take whatever actions make your life more pleasant.
This may have some financial cost for you, and while it sounds as though you would be upset at this, you may need to consider this a contribution to your overall wellbeing in the context of a very good life. If your neighbour takes the nudity beyond his own garden, then more official action needs to be taken but for the moment take the positive approach that both of you can enjoy your gardens with a little negotiation.