Posted: Tuesday, November 11, 2008 8:45 pm
Dear Annie: My husband, “Mike,” and I have been married two years. Shortly after we married, his retired parents moved about five hours away. They visit once a month (for doctors appointments, etc.) and stay at least five days. They always stay with us.
My in-laws arrive unannounced, make long-distance calls on our house phone, rearrange our furniture, use our washer and dryer, and eat our food. They smoke, come and go at all hours, and crank up the volume on the TV while we’re trying to sleep.
I have talked to Mike about this, but he says, “They’re my parents. Where else would they go?” They have other relatives in the area, including another son, and I don’t know why they don’t stay there or at a motel, which they certainly can afford. I have tried ignoring them, being rude to them and even leaving the house for days at a time to avoid them. They have overstayed their welcome with me, and it’s irritating to have to deal with overnight guests in our small home so frequently.
I would like to enjoy our own life, which is next to impossible with the freeloading in-laws stuck in our faces every few weeks. I am getting close to snapping, and when I do, there will be a “for sale” sign in the yard. Any suggestions? — Drowning in In-Laws
Dear Drowning: Mike needs to tell his parents to back off. Having the in-laws over every month is extremely intrusive, and their behavior does not make them good guests. Married couples need privacy. He also can point out that your work schedules make it stressful to have company so often, and that his brother might interpret their one-sided visits as favoritism. The important thing is that Mike takes your side and sets reasonable boundaries for his parents — and the sooner, the better.
Dear Annie: I am an older employee at a major corporation. Recently, a younger man was promoted to head my department. We were all called to his office this afternoon for a brief meeting to discuss the departmental holiday dinner.
After we went over the details, he said, “We’re all going to put our names in a hat and draw for a gift exchange.”
Some of the older employees are not in favor of this. However, this young man is the same one who will be handling our employee reviews and bonus recommendations. What should we do? — Confused and Concerned
Dear Confused: There is nothing wrong with an employee gift exchange if the amount spent is kept within reason. However, the new boss should take into consideration the fact that some employees may not wish to participate. Two people should represent that faction and talk to this man, asking if those employees who do not wish to participate may be exempt from doing so.
Dear Annie: “Mom in Missouri” suggested putting a urinal in one of the stalls of the ladies room so little boys could use it safely.
Lately, I have seen many family restrooms at the zoo, the mall and the airport. Some have smaller potties for little children, and some have a curtain that can be pulled for privacy between the toilet and other areas of the bathroom. The “family” goes in one group at a time. It also is beneficial for changing clothing, etc. These bathrooms solve the problem of moms with boys and dads with daughters. — Practical
Dear Practical: Family bathrooms are a godsend for parents of young children of the opposite sex, but they still don’t address the issue of young boys who are fascinated with using a urinal. We hope some enterprising builder will eventually create a family bathroom that includes one.
Annie’s Snippet for Veterans Day (Credit John F. Kennedy): “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column.
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Published in The Messenger 11.11.08