Special housing situation for the Waalre family: ‘My father lives with us in the barn’ | Really

SUMMER SERIESWAALRE – With your (mother-in-law) under one roof? It is not negotiable for everyone. ED speaks to families who live together in a special way.

Karin Van Berkel-Köhlbrugge

Latest update:
27/7/17, 16:17


On the door hangs a sign with the names Joris, Merijn, Luce and Jerom. It is the door that leads to the ‘back entrance’ of the married couple Yvonne Rijckaert (46) and Thijs van Gemert (51).

The door is immediately opened by Luce (14), and after a step you are in the middle of a bedroom. Luce is the daughter of Joris (47) and Yvonne. Together with her younger brother Jerom (13), she takes turns living with her father and mother, who separated in 2012.

Her parents live very close to each other. Since last month even at the same address in Waalre. And it is quite special, if only because Ingrid Berkers (45), the girlfriend of Joris and her son Benyunis Washington (12), has no problem with this.

Once inside, you go through the bedroom and living room into a large garden, and sitting with a cup of coffee, the cheerful company is welcomed.


There were many times when I thought: are they sitting comfortably in my house, and I am sitting here in an attic.

Yvonne Rijckaert

Joris, who is particularly fond of his freedom, but also a family man at heart and soul, is the central point. “It is a pity that Merijn is not here now, because then the picture would be completely correct.” Merijn (17) is the eldest son of Joris and first wife Renske, and is currently on holiday at a well-known resort in Spain.

Leaning back, with a glass of special beer in hand, Joris tells his story. “When Yvonne and I decided to separate, we quickly agreed on the housing situation. We believed that the children should continue to live in their homes. They are stable and we are flexible. We rented a loft room in Eindhoven and Yvonne and I lived there in turns. No, it wasn’t ideal.”

Yvonne also admits this: “There were many times when I thought: are they sitting comfortably in my house, and I am sitting here in an attic. It was hell.”

After six months, Joris decided to look for accommodation elsewhere. “I lived here and there for seven months. A while with my mother, then with Ingrid again. But of course this situation was far from ideal. I saw her child more often than I saw mine.”


We’ve kind of drawn an imaginary dividing line in that yard so we know what’s private.


The solution was eventually found in a Central Housing Project, from which Joris devoted himself to his studies for four years. Meanwhile, Yvonne married Thijs, the man who ‘came, saw and conquered’. “Yvonne and I got to know each other through the dating site Relatieplanet. We clicked immediately.”

“And you know who I told about us first?” Yvonne looks around expectantly. “Me,” laughs Ingrid. “I immediately thought: yes, keep it up! Then my uncertainty was gone.”

Thijs does not feel any rivalry with Joris: “No, I see him as a nice person.”

Luce smiles: “We are a patchwork family. I tell most people that my parents are friends who happen to have children together. But to shock, and I do that sometimes, I also say that my father lives with us in the barn. You know, with us it’s a bit random.”

Joris: “But with respect for and for each other. Also for the children. And fortunately it feels very natural for everyone. At the moment I live in the studio in the garden with Thijs and Yvonne. We’ve kind of drawn an imaginary dividing line in that yard so we know what’s private. We also wrote a few things down on paper.”

And it feels good for everyone involved, even if not everyone is used to it yet. Thijs: “The situation has only just changed, and we don’t have everything in order yet. For example, last week I found out that I still had my tire repair stuff at Joris’ house. It’s no longer possible to just walk in, so I had to write to him if he was home.”

Suddenly everyone looks up, because a surprised-looking man comes walking out of the studio, dressed in cycling clothes. “Gosh,” says Yvonne, “this is Art, my first husband.” And another chair has been added.

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