09 Jun
My Bossy Sister-in-Law Is Getting On My Last Nerve

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.

Good luck!

Karen, TMH

4 Responses to “My Bossy Sister-in-Law Is Getting On My Last Nerve”


Comment by Desperate Dietwife.

Karen said exactly what I thought when reading your letter: why did you ever let that woman behave in that way around you and your house?
Keeping the peace is one thing, letting rude people to rule you in your own house is quite another.

You said you hate cooking: next time she insists in a home-made dinner tell her so straight away, insist on going out and if she insists back tell her she can cook if she likes, but you won’t.

And if she ever permits herself to take out stuff she doesn’t think you need, put it back in front of her saying that maybe SHE doesn’t need it but you do, and how lucky that stuff isn’t in her own house. This should be enough to tip her off.

If she’s affronted it’s her problem and not yours: after all, aren’t you affronted at her rudeness? Let her take her fair share!

Saying NO is not as difficult as it seems: once you begin, you’ll find it’s really easy and sets your mind at peace.

Good luck! 🙂


Comment by tammigirl.

I think I would buy a case of silly string and spray her every time she did something obnoxious. But then, I don’t drink.


Comment by Plano Mom.

There are many ways to tell a bully to back off. For me, a simple, “Why in the world would you think THAT? That’s CRAZY!” usually suffices.

Plano Mom Reply:

Oh and next time they come to visit, you can suggest the nearest hotel for them to stay. Preferably one with a nice restaurant you can go to for dinner.

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