Dear Mouthy Housewives,
I have always loved my sister-in-law, even though she’s always been outspoken and bossy and I’m not. But as we’ve gotten older, when she comes to visit she makes comments about my house and the way we serve dinner etc. She says we have too much “stuff” in our house.
My house isn’t bad at all, but not the showplace that hers is — she has no life other than keeping house and babysitting her grandkids — I’m working, performing, doing community work etc. I hate to cook and hubby and I always invite her & her boyfriend out to eat when they come to visit, but she insists on eating in and having me cook, and the table has to be set a certain way etc. So after I rearrange things and get out all the proper dishes etc., as soon as we eat dinner, she then goes to bed as she’s an early to bed/early to rise type, while I’m a night owl and would love to stay up and talk.
I find myself getting really angry at her in my head even when she’s not around, wondering whether I should tell her to stop ‘bossing’ me around in my own home next time she visits. She has even gone through some of my kitchen drawers and tossed things out that she felt I didn’t need anymore. I’m a person who likes to keep the peace no matter what, but she’s getting to me. Fortunately they don’t visit that often as they live a couple of hours away. Would love to see your opinion on this one.
Tired of Keeping the Peace
Dear Tired Peace-Keeper,
She goes through your kitchen drawers and throws out things she feels you don’t need anymore? What the WHAAAAT??!!!
Girl, you are way too nice. There is keeping the peace, and then there’s being a doormat. Your sister-in-law sounds incredibly rude and demanding, but it also sounds like you — and your husband — have let her get away with this behavior for years.
The problem is, if you called her up right now and said, “I hate how bossy you are when you come to my house!” she would have no clue what you’re talking about because you have never once called her on any of her bad behavior. And now, you’ve let your frustration with her build so much that as soon as she walks in the door on her next visit and says, “Hello,” you’ll scream, “Stop bossing me around!”
Look, I get it. I hate confrontation. Hate it, hate it, hate it. But having imaginary fights saps your energy, and doesn’t solve the problem. So, you have a few choices:
1. The next time you invite them for a visit, insist on going out for the meal. If the sister-in-law pushes back, do NOT back down. Don’t bring up the past, just tell her you really don’t feel like having people over, and if she won’t go out, maybe they should plan a visit for another time when they are willing to go out.
2. I’ve actually given this advice before. If you cave, and have them over to your house, every time your SIL does one of her bossy/inappropriate/rude things, turn to your husband and shout “Drink!” When she asks what that’s about, laugh it off and tell her it cracks you guys up how bossy she is all the time.
3. Go to her house! Give her a taste of her own medicine. Maybe move something from the downstairs bathroom to the upstairs bathroom and tell her you think it looks better that way. Two wrongs may not make a right, but sometimes they sure to feel good.
You sound like a good person. You deserve to have people treat you nicely in return.
Dear Mouthy Housewives,
I have four sisters-in-law that I just can’t deal with anymore. Any time there is a disagreement, they all gang up on me (as the only in-law) and even my mother-in-law gets in on it as well.
Talking to them about my point of view, or telling them they hurt my feelings is completely useless, as they use this as an opportunity to convince me why their point of view is the right and only way, and then they usually make hurtful and degrading comments. Is it best to keep these toxic relationships out of my life? Or is there really a way to fix this?
Odd Sister Out
Dear Odd Sister Out,
Upon reading your question, of course I immediately pictured the sisters from “The Fighter”:
Wicked pissah, right?
Now, if your sisters-in-law look like any of the beauties above, my advice to you is this: STFU or else you’re gonna get your weave pulled out.
But if your female relatives actually don’t pee standing up, I have other advice. And it’s exactly what you yourself suggested—keep these toxic relationships out of your life. In other words, “Don’t Engage With Crazy.”
If at all possible, avoid getting yourself in situations where you have to interact with these ladies. Skip family parties and get-togethers to the best of your ability for a while. When you do have to be in the same room with them, stick to neutral topics like the weather. And if they try to pick a fight, say something bland like, “That’s an interesting thought,” then WALK AWAY. You may feel like you’re losing the battle because you’re not standing up for yourself, but you’re actually winning the war—-on your mental health. (BOOM. Suck it, Oprah.)
But because you’re related to these women, you’re basically in this situation for the long haul. That’s why I want you to imagine that you’re a duck and everything they throw at you is simply water rolling off your back. None of it soaks in. I know that’s easier said than done, but that kind of visualization has worked for me when I’ve been in toxic situations before. I also used to write the acronym “DLTAKYD” on my hand—which stands for “Don’t Let the Assholes Keep You Down.”
My gut feeling is that these women aren’t going to change how they treat you. So that’s why you have to change how you let them affect you. And with a little work, I think you can do just that. And once you do, it’ll be totally #wickedpissah.
Dear Mouthy Housewives,
I am attending college and still living with my parents. After my sister and her husband had a child, they decided to move back home while saving for a house. It’s totally ridiculous because there is no room here. Anyways, my father and I finished the basement so they could move in, and now pretty much the entire house is theirs.
Their child, my nephew who I love, cute as a button, if not cuter, makes absurd amounts of noise and throws his toys on the hard wood all the time, and this behavior is encouraged. They also play movies like they are at the theater, so i can hear every word through the floors. Ive asked my mother to regulate this as I cannot study, however that seems to have fallen on deaf ears..
My BIL has yet to wash a single dish in this house and my sister finds it very difficult to clean up after herself, throwing passive aggressive tantrums, or flat out tantrums. (My BIL is 37–yes 3-7–and my sister is 22.)
My mother wont say anything to either one of them because they are both so “sensitive” and she fears my sister will be a vindictive bitch once she leaves and wont let my mother see her grandchild.
What do I do, as to not hurt their poor little feelings, and actually get some piece and quiet?
This House is Not a Home
Okay, let’s start with some positives here:
1. Good for you for going to college and not getting pregnant by a twice-your-age man and moving back home with your parents!
2. Double good-for-you for helping your dad refinish the basement! I couldn’t bring myself to paint my own nails in college!
You sound like a super sweet girl, and I love that you’re trying to figure out a way to “fix” this problem without hurting anyone. But, that said, here comes the negative:
1. What’s happening in your parents’ house sounds pretty dysfunctional, and you alone cannot undo that mess.
2. It’s your parents’ home–not yours–so you don’t have the authority or right to affect any change, especially since your mother cannot bring herself to stand up to your sister and her son-in-law.
Buzzkill, I know. But wait, it gets worse, because when you add this mess together, I see only one or two bleak solutions.
1. Spend more time at the library.
2. Move out.
I realize moving out may not be practical or possible while you’re in school, but I’d encourage you to get out of that stressful environment as soon as you possibly can. And while you can’t control what your mother or sister will do to fix things, you can control yourself. Fighting this fight will be a waste of your time and energy. Maybe you and your dad can do a little reno work on the side and just get your own damn place.
Best of luck!
Dear Mouthy Housewives,
I have been with my husband for 20 years and started dating him when I was 16 years old. He tells me how lucky I am that he is honest with me but lately his honesty has been really upsetting me. He wants to have sex with my friends, asks me to set some type of threesome up and talks about what types of clothes other women wear that turns him on. He tells me he likes the way 20 somethings look in jeans, but I’m 35. He also is constantly on me about my weight. I’m 5’5, 135 pounds.
He told me once he had to watch porn before having sex with me because he couldn’t get into the mood with me anymore. He also told me he doesn’t have time for foreplay until he’s retired. Do I have a reason to be this upset? He says he has never cheated and I believe him, but everything he has said and the way he looks at other women right in front of me is driving me crazy!
I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is that you have very good reasons to be upset. The bad news is that you seem to be married to a lunatic. Tough break.
Love, Marinka, TMH
What? I’m not done? I’m expected to give a more through answer? This is certainly inconvenient news because I’m pretty busy right now. Can you wait until I’m retired? Because that’s when I’ll have more time on my hands to do a lot of stuff that I’ve been meaning to. Like the dishes, and saying “please” and “thank you” to people and maybe even taking the dog out for those walks he keeps hinting he wants.
Look, Confused, I’m not sure what’s going on with your husband, but he’s being abusive under the guise of honesty. Make no mistake– there is absolutely nothing honest in telling you that he wants to have sex with your friends, set up threesomes and talking about your weight. I hope it goes without saying that you should not, under any circumstances, participate in a threesome or any other orgy-type scenario. Because you can’t unring that bell. What you need to do, assuming that you want to continue to be married to him, is let him know that your marriage is in serious trouble and seek counseling together. Preferably with a counselor that he does not want to have sex with.
You have every right to expect fidelity from your spouse, not just the not-having-sex with other women kind, but the not-making-you-feel-terrible kind. After all, how would he feel if you were to return the honesty favor and tell him that you were hoping he’d grow a thicker penis by now?
Dear Mouthy Housewives,
I have a twin sister who lives two hours away from my parents. I live five hours away from my parents. My sister goes and visits them a lot… for holidays, special occasions and the occasional Saturday. I am not able to attend most of these functions as I live further away.
However, every time my sister plans to go visit, I get an email from my father demanding my attendance. Usually I just say I have plans, but I feel guilty every time for not making the drive to go see my family.
I want to try to think of a nice way to say that I am only able to come up occasionally without it seeming like I don’t care or don’t want to participate in family events. I want them to understand it’s just a distance thing.
How do I do this? Or should I just tell my sister to stop going over there so much and get a life?
The Evil Twin
Dear Evil Twin,
Can I just call you Jessica Wakefield? Oh wait, you’ve never read the Sweet Valley High books?! That actually might be your bigger problem but whatever, we’ll focus on your issue with your parents.
Do you know how long five hours is?! It’s not all that far. It’s less than two Gilligan tours and you don’t get stuck on some island with that know-it-all professor. Five hours is about how long it would take you to run a marathon and you get to just sit in the car and listen to the radio or a book on tape (Sweet Valley Confidential perhaps?). It’s certainly not a bad trip for a holiday or special occasion.
But I’m getting the feeling that this might not always be about the distance. Perhaps you just don’t want to see your family as much as your twin. And that’s okay. But just because she likes to go home frequently doesn’t mean she needs to “get a life.” If you don’t want to be judged for not going home, then maybe you shouldn’t judge her for going home.
So where are we, Jessica? Oh right. How to deal with your parents. You need to let them know that it doesn’t feel great to you when they demand you visit. They need to stop expecting you to show up every time she does. Reiterate your love for them, your desire to see them and your commitment to finding a quality nursing home with cable for them when the time comes.
They will in all likelihood continue to lay on the guilt. Because they gave birth to you and dedicated their lives to you, that sort of thing. But just remind them they are lucky you’re not one of the Menendez brothers and you’ll see them over the 4th of July.
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