Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Sister-in-Law is a Pain in the Ass”

From the forums:

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Over ten years age, when my wife and I were two years into our marriage, my sister-in-law — my wife’s sister — asked to move in with us for six months to attend a nearby university. I figured six months couldn’t be too bad so we said “okay.” Well, six months turned into three years. To be fair, we enabled the 2.5-year extension, but it was a big mistake.

Shortly after my SIL moved in, we put our 1-year-old daughter in daycare. As is often the case, she kept coming home with colds. After about six months she developed serious pneumonia and was hospitalized for five days. After this, my wife and I decided our daughter would need to stay home for at least another year, so my wife transitioned to part-time employment and my SIL filled in all the childcare gaps. It wasn’t smooth, but after a year we put our daughter back in daycare and she was fine.

After another 6 to 9 months (I can’t remember exactly how long), my SIL was still living with us and it was creating problems in my marriage. My wife asked her to start looking for an apartment. After three months, she announced that she found an apartment and would move out. She chose to move out on my birthday when my mother and sister were visiting from out of town, but whatever. But then my beloved SIL insisted that she had to get back some shelves that she paid for, but I installed our office, and she had to have them on that day. She made a big deal of it, I got supper pissed, ripped them out, and left them on the porch for her. I didn’t see or talk to her for eight years.

My wife couldn’t not talk to her sister, so about two years after the shelf incident she called her up, apologized, accepted all the blame, and they continued their relationship. After eight years have passed, I agreed to my family for dinner with my SIL. My wife told me I can’t bring up the shelf incident because my SIL will just refuse to discuss it. Either that or she’ll just drop off the face of the earth again, which is okay with me, but would be crushing to my wife. So I played along and everyone pretended the last eight years didn’t happen which is fucking crazy.

About a year ago, she asked my wife if she could stay with us for a couple of days (she now lives across the country in NYC with all the other nutjobs), which turned into a week. Then, a few months ago she was speaking to our 7-year-old son and he invited her to stay with us, which she does for 2-3 days. Yesterday, she called my wife and asked if she could stay a day because she has an emergency meeting in our city and I think she is trying to save money on hotels. My wife is caught between the two of us. I want to tell my SIL to fuck off, but I can’t because of what it would do to my wife. Do I just keep bending over? — Over my SIL

If this is what you call “bending over,” then yes, keep doing it… and then some. I mean, one dinner after eight years of zero contact, and then two (short) visits in the span of year? In my book, that’s not really “bending over” at all; that’s called being a family member.

Look, I appreciate that your SIL pissed you off nine years ago when she overstayed her welcome in your home, created problems in your marriage, and then demanded you give back some shelves she purchased — and that you installed! — after crashing in your home for three years, I do. But I also see how you could take some responsibility for some of the bad blood between you. If you didn’t want your SIL staying in your home for three years, you shouldn’t have let her. And if you didn’t want to return the shelves to her or you didn’t want to return them THAT DAY, you should have said, “No,” rather them ripping them out of your walls and dumping them on her porch and not speaking to her for eight years. She’s your wife’s sister and your children’s aunt. It’s time for you to grow up and get over it.

Your SIL isn’t asking to stay at your house indefinitely again. She’s asking to crash for one night while she’s in town for a meeting. Is she trying to save on a hotel bill? Probably! Hotels are pricey and why would someone want to pay $150 or whatever for a room for a night when she could stay at her sister’s house and get to spend time with family she hardly sees?

You still have unresolved issues with your SIL and I get that. At this point, they probably aren’t ever going to be resolved. She doesn’t want to apologize and neither do you. Your wife has asked you not to bring up the shelf incident, so don’t. But what you can do is MOA. Nine years have passed now. If you want to ensure your SIL never crosses your boundaries again, do what you should have done over ten years ago when you allowed her to move in with you, and set some damn boundaries. Implement a houseguest rule — no more than three visits a year for no more than four nights each visit, for example (or whatever you and your wife agree on) and then tell your wife to share that with her sister. Then, when she asks to crash at your house because she’s going to be in town, you and your wife and your SIL have a clear understanding of what the limits are.

I know you would love to never see this woman again, but she’s your wife’s sister and your wife wants – and deserves to have — a relationship with her, which means you can’t avoid her. Things will be much, much more pleasant if you can just accept that now and make efforts to not be a jerk. You can’t control your SIL’s behavior, but you can control you own and you can control the way you react to her and you can control the boundaries you set.

And if you truly cannot stand the idea of sharing space with your SIL more than once every eight years, you might want to consider booking a guys’ weekend away or a trip to visit an out-of-town friend or family member when your SIL comes to town.

***************

You can follow me on Facebook here and sign up for my weekly newsletter here.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].

111 comments… add one
  • avatar

    cdobbs October 16, 2013, 9:07 am

    wow! LW the only “nut job” here is you! you sound like a total asshole!

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    • avatar

      Taylor October 16, 2013, 9:46 am

      Right? Dude, it’s a little hostile to call NYers nutjobs, particular when your advice columnist is one…

      Listen to Wendy. If my husband were still this pissed about something that happened nearly a decade ago, it would stress me out. I doubt your wife is unaffected by the anger you still have about this.

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      • theattack

        theattack October 16, 2013, 11:43 am

        I assumed the comment about New Yorkers was about other crazy family members, not about all New Yorkers.

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      • avatar

        Taylor October 16, 2013, 1:23 pm

        Ooooh, that does make more sense.

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      • bittergaymark

        Bittergaymark October 16, 2013, 3:09 pm

        Um, no it doesn ‘t. That was CLEARLY a dig at NYC. For starters, if the rest of the family lived there it wouldn’t be “clear across the country.”

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson October 16, 2013, 3:54 pm

        So are we just never allowed to make fun of new yorkers? What about texans? Those guys are really ridiculous. Iowans? And don’t even get me started on Oregon hipsters. Be honest, you love stereotypes. They’re hilarious (and true).

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray October 16, 2013, 5:10 pm

        Yes I support the right to make fun of states! My favorite states are Wisconsin, Minnesota, Oregon, and Chicago (I mean, Illinois, but come on it is basically Chicago and some extra space with grass). My least favorite states are Texas just because and I also am not a fan of Florida because it’s so hot and sticky. Also Kansas blows chunks and Missouri rules all. Go Tigers.

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      • avatar

        sarita_f October 16, 2013, 5:14 pm

        Hey now.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest October 16, 2013, 4:48 pm

        He had a winky face next to that on the forum. I’m a NYer, and someone who takes offense at far too much (haha) and I didn’t think it was a huge, insulting dig.

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      • avatar

        Taylor October 16, 2013, 8:27 pm

        I think the winky face made a big difference! No problem with jokey digs at whatever.

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  • avatar

    Lily in NYC October 16, 2013, 9:07 am

    I feel for you, LW, but Wendy is right. My sister’s in-laws aren’t toxic, but they are major pains in the butt. She makes herself scarce when they visit (all of a sudden works gets really busy) and when they visit the in-laws in their city, my sister always leaves after a couple of days and her husband and daughter stay as long as they want. It saves everyone’s sanity. But I do sympathize – the shelf thing would have pissed me off to no end.

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle October 16, 2013, 9:10 am

    Ruh-roh snarkymarc, haha. I had a weird feeling Wendy would pick this up to respond to

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    • katie

      katie October 16, 2013, 9:47 am

      i love you so hard for saying “ruh-roh”. reminds me of high school! ahhhhhh

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  • avatar

    SasLinna October 16, 2013, 9:14 am

    Oh, I just posted in the forums on this. I agree with Wendy’s advice, but I think it might take some weight off his shoulders to realize he really doesn’t have to like his SIL. You two just don’t get along, and you might never get along – it’s OK. It’s easier to make an effort if you lower your expectations to “trying to be civil”, rather than hoping for a real apology, reconciliation, and friendship.

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    • honeybeenicki

      honeybeenicki October 16, 2013, 9:41 am

      If I was required to actually like my in-laws, I’d be screwed.

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      • avatar

        MMcG October 16, 2013, 11:56 am

        You, me and a good portion of the human race 😉

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    • Lady_Red

      Red_Lady October 16, 2013, 7:51 pm

      Thank you for saying this. I have a new relative that I was struggling w/ because I just don’t like him. And I felt bad about that, b/c he’s family. I wish I liked him, but he’s SO annoying. So thank you for saying it’s OK. I feel a lot better about it all now.

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  • avatar

    bethany October 16, 2013, 9:14 am

    WWS.

    I think you’re being a huge baby about this. I mean, I get it, her past behavior bothered you, but it’s been 8 years. Your SIL was in college when she lived with you- she’s grown up and matured since then. She probably doesn’t even remember doing half the stuff she did that bothered you so much!

    Just drop it.

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  • GatorGirl

    GatorGirl October 16, 2013, 9:21 am

    I seriously don’t understand how family doesn’t speak to each other for 8 years because of some fucking shelves. How petty.

    (sorry snarkymarc- you’re a really nice commenter, this is just a bazar and/or stupid pattern of behavior)

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  • avatar

    artsygirl October 16, 2013, 9:23 am

    After reading this site for a lot of years there have been plenty of horror family stories. This one is not one of them. Basically you and your SIL clash and are not likely to ever be close. The good news is she lives on the opposite coast from you and only visits rarely for short periods of time. If she only spends 5 days with you on an annual basis that leaves you 360 SIL free days so is her staying with you for one night really going to impact your life so horribly?

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  • avatar

    kerrycontrary October 16, 2013, 9:34 am

    WWS. The whole situation is ridiculous. You didn’t speak to her for 8 YEARS. You, your wife, and your SIL all wasted 8 years not having a relationship. Life is short, like that was pretty much 10% of your life where you didn’t have positive in-law relationships. Some people aren’t so lucky to have their family around. Appreciate what you have, suck it up, and find a way to get along with her. I mean I cannot imagine not speaking to my siblings, or in-laws, for more than a week. You were mad at her over some shelves and moving on your birthday (grow up). Life is way too short for that crap.

    And yes, sorry for being harsh but everyones behavior in this situation is just absurd.

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  • bagge72

    Bagge72 October 16, 2013, 9:35 am

    I thought something horrific had happened, apparently your birthday is so sacred that it causes you to not talk to your sister in-law for 8 years. You sound kind of nuts to me, and your wife sounds like a saint to put up with you. I get people have problems with in-laws, but this is full on baby mode. I don’t even feel bad for you for those three years since you wanted her to stay longer so you could use her has a baby sitter. Time to let it go, there is absolutely no need to talk with her about the shelves, because you know you are only going to argue about it, not really just talk about it.

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    • bagge72

      Bagge72 October 16, 2013, 9:47 am

      It also really sucks that your wife feels like she can’t even talk to you anymore about her sister, because you hate her so much. That’s why you hear pain in her voice. She probably agrees with the things you are saying about her sister just to get you to stop talking about her. You need to be careful, because you could be driving a big wedge between you and your wife that she probably doesn’t want to talk to you about.

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      • avatar

        Doodles October 16, 2013, 5:12 pm

        Hey Bagge, I completely agree with both of your comments. If Wendy was still doing the best comments of the week, yours would def be it. Especially the second one. LW Bagge and Wendy are right. Your pushing your wife away by this petty behavior. And take it from someone who had a total meltdown on here about her in-laws because of the complete hell I’ve been through with them, and they live with us. You need to butt out. Don’t make your wife choose between you and her sister, its not right and she will eventually become resentful toward you in the end. Is that what you want? In-laws are usually not that easy to get along with I understand that, but they are your wife’s family and she has a right to want to see them and not have you bitching at her the whole time. Grow up, and.deal with it. Its not ok to keep your wife from her sister, and your kids from their aunt. They have a right to see her. Do something else if you can’t stand her that much, but knock off the crap. And this is over some argument over some shelves, and maybe some other things that may have happened, but it happened 10 yrs ago.

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  • something random

    something random October 16, 2013, 9:37 am

    WWS!

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  • avatar

    ktfran October 16, 2013, 9:37 am

    How old are you people? Just wondering, because it sounds like you’re in junior high.

    I loved Wendy’s advice and I just read the forum in it’s entirety. I agree with what everyone else was saying. Suck it up. Put on your big boy pants. And be there for your wife.

    Most people have “horror” in-law stories of some sort.

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  • Miss MJ

    Miss MJ October 16, 2013, 9:41 am

    Dude. You gotta get over it. You just do. I mean, this is just part of dealing with family. They piss you off, you piss them off, and then, because you’re stuck wih each other, you let it go and pretend like the last eight years didn’t happen because to continue to fight about it is kind of fucking crazy. 😉

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray October 16, 2013, 9:48 am

    In-laws are tricky because they’re not family but they are family but they’re not but you have to deal with them forever like they’re family because they are family even though they don’t feel like they are family because they’re not really family except that they are, you know what I mean? I am going to just assume this SIL really is a terrible human being who uses and abuses people and all of that but you can’t make your wife cut off her relationship with her sister. So I’d say so long as she’s not harming your family, let her come and make yourself busy those days if you can’t stand to see her.

    p.s. I love the pic on this piece, and I loved Aunt Jackie!

    p.p.s. I’m waiting to see if “in NYC with all the other nutjobs” really pisses some people off!

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    • mrmidtwenties

      mrmidtwenties October 16, 2013, 10:00 am

      Haha I really hope it pisses some people off too, though I strongly suspect it was just @snarkymarc being snarky.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest October 16, 2013, 10:03 am

        I think there was a winky face after that in the forum post.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle October 16, 2013, 11:13 am

        I wonder if people use emoticons in the letters they write directly to Wendy? That would be so weird ( “He dumped me :'( :'( !!!”) (Sorry, I’m bored today.)

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    • avatar

      rachel October 16, 2013, 10:04 am

      Roseanne is one of my all-time favorites.

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    • avatar

      MMcG October 16, 2013, 11:59 am

      I LOVE your first sentence…

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray October 16, 2013, 3:36 pm

        It’s pretty profound, eh?

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      • Lady_Red

        Red_Lady October 16, 2013, 7:57 pm

        It really spoke to me! 🙂

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  • katie

    katie October 16, 2013, 9:51 am

    this reminds of a letter a looong time ago about wanting to cut out family because of someone accidentally throwing out a box of collected shot glasses… anyone remember that one?

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest October 16, 2013, 9:58 am

      Fuck that asshole. Who throws away my shot glasses! I’ll never forgive that bastard. Nevaaaaaa

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    • avatar

      jlyfsh October 16, 2013, 9:59 am

      that one was really bizarre! did we get an update from her ever?

      http://dearwendy.com/i-want-nothing-to-do-with-my-mother-in-law/

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    • avatar

      jlyfsh October 16, 2013, 10:00 am

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    • avatar

      jlyfsh October 16, 2013, 10:02 am

      oh crap i can’t post the link but i found it! pretty bizarre letter!

      sorry wendy for trying to post it like 4 times before my brain started working 😉 it was from june 2011 and titled i want nothing to do with my MIL if you decide to look for it 😉

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      • katie

        katie October 16, 2013, 10:10 am

        ahh yes that was the one!

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      • peppers87

        peppers87 October 16, 2013, 2:15 pm

        I still don’t get why the LW didn’t immediately drive to the donation center and explain what happened and offer to buy the whole box of shot glasses (or they might just give the box back to her)? I doubt they would have processed donations within the timeframe of a day or two. They prob would have still been sitting in her box in the back of the store (I’m thinking this is like a Goodwill)… anyway I just couldn’t get past that in the letter. I do want an update though!

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      • mrmidtwenties

        mrmidtwenties October 16, 2013, 2:44 pm

        Oh wow, look at all the comments from people that rarely or never comment anymore.

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  • avatar

    Nadine October 16, 2013, 9:53 am

    I’m with the ‘move on’ crowd, but I understand how you feel. I’m a bit of a grudge holder as well, but my tactic is to repeat ‘They dont mean it the way I feel it’ to myself. I mean that just because it feels like a huge personal slight, doesn’t mean they person meant to make me feel this way, They are more likely just lazy/thoughtless/a bit selfish.
    You dont have to be best friends with your SIL, but it sounds like your kids and wife might want to have a relationship with her. I think you should let them. Plan to be away the weekends she is visiting, or offer to do the cooking or whatever, so you have less time sitting around and talking/fuming.
    Family is hard to navigate! Do what works for you, but don’t cut her off because of this.

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    • avatar

      shanshantastic October 16, 2013, 10:07 am

      I love “They don’t mean it the way I feel it.” That phrase comes up whenever we have a disagreement and it helps so much – it accepts the feelings but allows you to set them aside so you can address the actual cause of the disagreement. I’m trying to incorporate it into the rest of my life so I can stop wasting energy on being pissed about things that were certainly not meant to come out the way they do.

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  • avatar

    shanshantastic October 16, 2013, 9:58 am

    WWS. Especially pay attention to: “You can’t control your SIL’s behavior, but you can control you own and you can control the way you react to her and you can control the boundaries you set.”

    This. So much this. Our family’s issues are on my side (since my horrible in-laws have written EVERYONE off), and this is what we come back to. You will never change another person, but you can control your responses so you know that no matter what happens, you acted right. Please believe that you will take such a load off of your wife’s shoulders by adjusting your perspective – you could save more than one relationship here.

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  • mandalee

    mandalee October 16, 2013, 10:15 am

    I get that you don’t like your sister-in-law, but to carry around this kind of grudge for so many years must be exhausting both to you and your wife who is stuck in the middle of this. She overstayed her welcome, caused problems, and I’m sure the shelf thing, while silly to focus on now, was the pinpoint of your disdain for her, so you’re clinging to it like a grudge barge, but you really need to let it go.

    I come from a family of grudge holders, and I learned it’s best to fake it and keep the peace than it is to cling to your hate all for the sake of being “right”. My own mother-in-law did some pretty awful things to me during and after i got engaged to her son. Things far worse than overstaying her welcome and causing a scene with shelves, and I’ve learned over time to just smile in her presence, pretend she’s some semi-stranger that I’m vaguely interested in, drink alcohol if needed and minimize my interactions with her, and we’re all happier for it. Because as much as this woman drives me to want to move to a deserted island just to get away from her, she’s still my husband’s mom and I don’t want to take that from him.

    So, I say keep your distance from your sister-in-law, stop unloading on your wife, and focus your energy on more positive things than an almost decades-long grudge.

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  • avatar

    Sue Jones October 16, 2013, 10:36 am

    Get over it, and make nice, please! She is family and with family often you have to put on the happy face. Family doesn’t go away. Listen, my own PARENTS were very difficult at times. But after my period of healthy rebellion which really freaked them out (as it does) I was nice, kept my visits to 3 days 2-3x per year and kept the peace. And there was a lot of reason for bad blood but we moved on. It was best for all involved. Sometimes you have to suck it up. Now if your SIL was a drug addict who stole from you for example, or a brother who was in and out of jail, or someone who brought really questionable dangerous people into your home, or a bad influence on your children I would understand a more extreme reaction of no contact, etc, but if it is just that your personalities do not jibe, or you have past disagreements, I would say that you need to let it go. Please just let it go.

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  • avatar

    Napoleon1066 October 16, 2013, 10:43 am

    If you were so unhappy with your SIL staying with you, why on earth did you install her shelves in your house in the first place?

    Accept some responsibility for your part in this. You obviously haven’t.

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B. October 16, 2013, 10:44 am

    I read this in the forums and I honestly didn’t know how to respond. I am capable of holding grudges (coincidentally, my record is 8 years) and I am not a fan of having someone in your life that you can’t stand. So I can sympathize with the LW. But, she is family and yes, I think you could have handled the situation differently and gotten a different outcome. But, it is what it is now, so if I were you, I’d take the plan-an-out-of-town-trip or visit-friends route at this point. Defintely set some boundaries so everyone understands exaclty how long the stay will be (and so you know how long to plan your trip for). I’ve done this and it works.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest October 16, 2013, 11:03 am

      Haha, I’m good at holding grudges too. I still hate that bitch who hooked up with my boyfriend in high school. He and I are still friends though…misplaced grudge? Probably. Who cares about logic when you’re mad though!

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph October 16, 2013, 4:36 pm

        Haa! I am still mad at the bitch who stole my boyfriend 5 years ago, even though it was the best damn thing that happened to me because I was spineless and first-love-y and would never have dumped his ass on my own but he was horribly wrong for me.
        So I should really be thanking her. No logic at all.

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  • avatar

    mf October 16, 2013, 10:46 am

    The setting boundaries thing is key. If you and your wife can agree on boundaries for overnight houseguests, then you’ll be able to feel like you have some control over how much she visits. You won’t be “bending over” when she stays with you–you’ll be ALLOWING her to visit because it falls within the guidelines of your agreement with your wife.

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    • avatar

      mf October 16, 2013, 10:49 am

      snarkymarc: I’m sorry everybody is unloading on you. While I agree with Wendy’s advice, I get that nobody can drive you more crazy than family. I can hardly stand my own sister, so I have a lot of sympathy for you. But still, be the bigger person! If you do, you’ll know that from here on out, any tension or conflict between you and SIL won’t be your fault or yours to resolve.

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      • avatar

        TECH October 16, 2013, 11:48 am

        Yeah, I feel kind of bad that everyone is unloading on snarkymarc too. I mean, I agree he needs to let the grudge go with the sister in law. But sometimes people write things in the forums when they’re venting or being irrational or are just pissed off.I know I’ve written some irrational things in the forums haha
        Oh well, I think I can speak for everyone that we all still like you snarkmarc! Your comments are usually right on!

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      • Miss MJ

        Miss MJ October 16, 2013, 3:00 pm

        Agreed!

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      • avatar

        snarkymarc October 16, 2013, 3:09 pm

        @mf & TECH: Thanks. Yeah, I tend to go off the deep end when one of my SIL’s visits is coming. It never really occurred to me that I was the one being the asshole, so it was good to hear it yesterday in the forum. And yes, the NYC comment was a joke with emodicon and all, but I’ve never know true New Yorkers to be so easily offended.

        Update: When I arrived home from work yesterday my SIL is in the kitchen all by herself. My wife and son had to pick our daughter from cross country practice so it is just me and her. She gives me a hug hello (no chest to breast touching) and we chat amicably for a couple of minutes. I then go to change into to more casual clothes. As I’m undressing the perfect idea strikes me – I should strip down completely, walk buck naked through the kitchen, say “I just need to get some boxers out of the dryer”, walk into the garage, get the boxers, and walk back through the kitchen and say “got them”, and return to the bedroom like nothing. She would be totally baffled and wonder “was he hitting on me?” or “have they turned into nudist?” or “are they now the hippie free love type”. If she told my wife I’d say I was just messin with her mind. I think that would have permanently put an end to her occaissonal visits. But no, I just chugged three beers, watched some TV, chatted just a bit to seem somewhat friendly, and went to bed.

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  • findingtheearth

    findingtheearth October 16, 2013, 10:46 am

    WWS. If you want to really be an adult, then move on. Get over your anger. Is there some deep down issue between your SIL and you that was never discussed? Shelves are shelves. They rot, They get thrown away. Relationships are invaluable, and putting your wife in the middle of something so childish shows zero respect for her and the relationship with her sister.

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    • avatar

      oldie October 16, 2013, 11:08 am

      Shelves are shelves, but he had installed them and then had to remove them, undoubtedly a significant job and mess on a day he just wanted to kick back with his family to celebrate his birthday. It seems SIL took advantage of his compromised situation with family in attendance to press the issue. SIL was being an ass. Who stays with relations for a year and then demands that shelves that you paid for be instantly ripped out of the wall? If she had left them as a ‘gift’ it would have been an incredibly infinitesimal rent for her time there. One wonders why LW’s wife allowed her sister to get away with pulling this stunt and why she apologized — apologized for what, exactly? SIL seems incredibly selfish and spiteful. She precipitated a stupid fight with a brother-in-law who gave her a place to stay for over a year and then shuns her sister, because her BIL had issues with her behavior? WTF! It seems that LW’s big problem is that his wife did not have his back through all of this and is such an appeaser of her sister that she apologized for something which absolutely didn’t deserve an apology and which can only logically be interpreted as “sorry, my husband was wrong”. Now LW is forbidden to mention this subject, because SIL will refuse to discuss it and leave in a huff and further silence? There really is no profit in discussing this with SIL, she is an unredeemable ass, but LW really needs to work this out with his wife — why did she tolerate her sisters behavior, why did she apologize on behalf of a husband that had done nothing wrong? What is eating at LW seems to be that his wife through him under the bus to keep the peace with her sister.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest October 16, 2013, 11:10 am

        She was an ass for needing them on her birthday, but its not exactly rocket science to install a few shelves. Takes a few minutes. Removing them by ripping them off the wall takes even less time.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle October 16, 2013, 11:21 am

        I do have to say that if it was my boyfriend’s birthday (party, especially), I wouldn’t let any of my family members ask him to do manual labor (especially if it seemed to be out of spite). So it does seem like the wife has a habit of cowing, but that’s not up to snarkymarc to fix. Or, rather, he can fix it by being supportive, building the wife up, etc. Still no reason to turn the SIL into the enemy.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson October 16, 2013, 12:01 pm

        Eh I mean I LOVE birthdays, Colin got a birthday week this year, but I mean it takes 2 minutes to uninstall shelves, he’s not a pretty pretty birthday princess.

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      • avatar

        TECH October 16, 2013, 12:09 pm

        Does any one else remember that board game “Pretty Pretty Princess”? That used to be all the rage when I was little.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest October 16, 2013, 12:15 pm

        YES! Still have it. Still amazing.

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        lets_be_honest October 16, 2013, 4:52 pm

        I’m offended on Colin’s behalf. If its your birthday, you ARE a pretty pretty birthday princess who shouldn’t have to lift a finger.

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      • katie

        katie October 16, 2013, 11:23 am

        i dont necessarily disagree with you. but the bottom line is they were both assholes, made mistakes, and did things that they shouldnt have.

        when you have a situation like that, especially over something as ridiculous as shelves, and especially with in-laws that your partner still wants a relationship with, you let it go.

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      • avatar

        bethany October 16, 2013, 11:23 am

        He didn’t have to take them down the minute she insisted. He could have simply said, I’ll get them for you tomorrow, and left it at that.

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      • something random

        something random October 16, 2013, 12:09 pm

        He did not have to install them or remove them if he didn’t want to. Just because someone tries to take advantage of you doesn’t mean you are stuck between letting them or blowing up all over the place.

        As for the wife apologizing, Its not a husbands job to be pissed off at his wife for the choices she makes in her relationships. Yes it can hurt seeing your loved one being taken advantage of. But if that happened, it was the wife who wanted it that way. She’s allowed to be in charge of her own interactions with people. She can apologize if she damn well feels like it. If she only apologized on behalf of herself and left husband out of it then the letter writer is choosing to take that on as a personal slight. He can do that but the attitude is probably going to shut down communication and make his wife respond defensively.

        I agree that there is no profit in discussing it with the SIL and he and his wife should discuss how he feels. But if discussing means she has to agree and adopt his opinion or he talks in circles about it for another decade he is probably going to end up shooting himself in the foot.

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  • iwannatalktosampson

    iwannatalktosampson October 16, 2013, 10:51 am

    I already commented on this in the forum like 12 times, but I would just like to add that it’s completely fine to be super busy every time she’s in town. I mean I’m guessing you have hobbies, and errands to run, and football games you HAVE to watch in your man cave. I do stuff like that when I don’t like people. My Dad mysteriously disappears every time there’s too many people at their house (not because he hates them, but sometimes he just needs some space, even during parties). If she’s only in town for one night just have dinner (and drinks, because duh!) with friends that night.

    I haven’t experienced this with Colin yet because I still want to suck his face everyday, but with Ethan I used to secretly love it when he hung out with friends I didn’t have a lot in common with because it was a great excuse for me to watch shitty reality shows judgment free in my room.

    Did I just make this about me? Well good, then I’ll continue. This weekend I decided I was going to quit drinking during the week because I’ve become my Dad in that I get home from work everyday and have a beer without even thinking about it. Like I get home, take off my pants, and head to the fridge. I don’t think it’s an unhealthy amount of booze, I just don’t like that I do it subconsciously and without intention. If I’m going to be drinking a beer I want to be doing it on purpose if that makes sense. ANYWAY, I failed on Monday but last night I was home all night and didn’t have a beer! It was glorious. It’s probably in my head but I think my skin looks less dehydrated today.

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    • Fabelle

      Fabelle October 16, 2013, 10:57 am

      I’m on that same “no drinking during the week” plan, or at least, I am in spirit because I have failed this week (it took me TWO HOURS to drive home from work yesterday, mmkay, I needed some wine). And also I have plans with people this week that involve getting a drink (at the very least).

      I still consider this a win though, because at least this kind of drinking is deliberate, & not just a “Welp, I’m a tired old man now who needs some booze at the end of a work day” thing (which yeah, is also a habit I’m trying to break).

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    • GatorGirl

      GatorGirl October 16, 2013, 11:15 am

      There is definitely a game on that is WAY more important than seeing SIL. (Hello Eagles-Cowboys this weekend, BFD!) I agree it’s totally fine to exchange a short hello pleasantry and then go on with your day.

      We’re trying to get off of week day drinking too, but it’s hard.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest October 16, 2013, 11:17 am

        I am jealous of all of you who get to day drink! I’m trying to get ON it, not off 🙂
        Waahhhhh.

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl October 16, 2013, 11:23 am

        Hahaha, that was a totally misplaced space. We’re trying to stop Monday to Thursday drinking….day drinking on the weekends is totally a go

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      • avatar

        MMcG October 16, 2013, 12:06 pm

        what about drinking during the weekday when the weekday is a holiday? How else am I supposed to honor Columbus for completely failing to find India!?!

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      • avatar

        MMcG October 16, 2013, 12:04 pm

        Fly Eagles Fly GG… into first place in the crappiest division in the NFL, but I really REALLY had the Boys and get such glee from Romo’s failures 🙂

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl October 16, 2013, 12:19 pm

        Yeah, our division sucks…but we’d still be winning the division!

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    • avatar

      SpaceySteph October 16, 2013, 5:02 pm

      I also quit drinking during the week (sort of) but because I thought it was wasted calories. But I think its backfired because now I drink extra on the weekends because I know I won’t get to all week.
      My diet made me a binge drinker. Go me!

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson October 16, 2013, 5:08 pm

        Yeah it’s weird. Sometimes I don’t even know why I care that I have a beer everyday. I mean every time I drink beer I eat a lot less food. Apparently I’m weird in that I don’t get drunk munchies at all. The second I have a drink of alcohol I lose my appetite. Soooo is this your way of telling me I should continue drinking every night?

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph October 16, 2013, 6:07 pm

        Yup, that’s definitely what I’m saying. I’m a bad influence.

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  • avatar

    sophronisba October 16, 2013, 11:02 am

    I can see that you feel taken advantage of, LW. Three years is a long time to have someone in your home, however, you must give credit where credit is due. She didn’t only take up space while she was there. Your SIL didn’t have to fill in the child-care gap for you while your daughter’s immune system got stronger, but she did. Her help made it possible for your child to stay home an extra year so she could go to school and be healthy, not dangerously sick. How much is that important contribution worth to you? Is it worth two scheduled visits a year, during which you promise not to flounce around the house and make your wife miserable because her sister is there?
    If there are planned family visits where your SIL comes to stay specifically to enjoy her sister and nephews and nieces (and you can plan to be busy elsewhere), then saying No to having her other times seems perfectly reasonable, given that this is such a tinderbox for you. She’s a big girl and can pay for a hotel like everyone else who travels for business or pleasure. If she’s in your area, maybe you can offer to watch the kids overnight so your wife and her sister can enjoy a grown-up getaway at said hotel..
    Your SIL isn’t going anywhere, so it behooves you to work objectively (and lovingly with your wife) to find a system that gives everyone some of what they want.

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  • TaraMonster

    TaraMonster October 16, 2013, 11:43 am

    Ok, I’ll bite. I’m a native New Yorker. So IDGAF about your problems since you insulted an entire demographic to which I belong. Sounds like your SIL is possibly just reacting to your stellar personality.

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    • honeybeenicki

      honeybeenicki October 16, 2013, 12:25 pm

      I agree with you, but I do believe he actually put a smiley face at the end of that sentence in the forum post indicating a joke. A joke in poor taste, though.

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  • avatar

    Neatist October 16, 2013, 12:13 pm

    Gauging from the timespans you described, you must be over the age of 30. I suggest you simply:

    Get.
    Over.
    It.

    You are describing complete non-issues, perhaps reflect on other *actual* familial hardships others endure… put it it all in perspective.

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  • landygirl

    landygirl October 16, 2013, 12:17 pm

    If the SIL has an emergency meeting for work, her employer should put her up in a hotel so I don’t understand why she needs to stay with the LW.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest October 16, 2013, 12:21 pm

      Maybe she just wants to see her family…

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      • avatar

        starpattern October 16, 2013, 12:58 pm

        (I don’t have any siblings or in-laws so maybe I don’t totally understand the dynamic but) Can’t she still see her family even if she sleeps at a hotel? Saying, “I’ll be in town on X dates, and I would love to see y’all,” opens it up for LW and his wife to offer to host her to whatever extent it is convenient for them (dinner, stay, whatever) without putting them in an awkward spot. It’s not a grave offense or anything, but given the tension between LW and his SIL, if it were me I would err on the side of being overly considerate.

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        lets_be_honest October 16, 2013, 1:05 pm

        Sure, she could also see them by standing on another side of the street too and waving, haha. Just to me, as someone who has siblings, I’d prefer to stay with family rather than a hotel, even if it was free, just so I could spend time with them.
        You’re right though that given the circumstances, probably would’ve been best to wait for an offer to stay over, however, I’m not all that convinced the SIL realizes her BIL still hates her over the shelves almost a decade later.

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        starpattern October 16, 2013, 1:18 pm

        Yeah, probably as far as she knows everything is hunky dory! I was just thinking that whenever I have people stay, I have to prepare a room, make sure I have food/coffee they like, juggle my schedule according to theirs, make sure they are entertained, etc. If it’s someone like my parents or my best friend, I don’t really take that approach, but they have keys and are welcome anytime (just call so I can put on pants!) And maybe that’s how these siblings are. But if LW and his wife take a more formal approach to hosting SIL, it probably feels like an imposition to the LW for her to invite herself, especially since he’s not crazy about her to begin with.

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        lets_be_honest October 16, 2013, 1:24 pm

        I’m sure all families aren’t like this, but with my siblings, its no different than how you said staying at your friend’s or parents’ house is.

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl October 16, 2013, 1:52 pm

        I actually like staying at a hotel when we visit family. I get overwhelmed with the together time and greatly appreciate having a little personal time and space a hotel affords. We’ve stayed in hotels for big Christmas gatherings (rather than sleeping in someone’s living room) and it was awesome.

        But I also come from a family where people abuse the “open door” policy. No one knocks in my dad’s family, they come over with no notice, at any time of the day, with any number of people with them. I would LOVE for someone to call and ask if they could come over.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson October 16, 2013, 1:57 pm

        Oh god this would be so offensive in my family. It doesn’t matter if there are grown adults sleeping in sleeping bags on the floor, you’re in it together, as a family, and you’re going to have fun damnit! Luckily I love adult indoor camping, so it’s fine. And yeah to call before you come over? That’s just silly.

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        lets_be_honest October 16, 2013, 1:59 pm

        haha, same. Love calling it adult indoor camping!

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest October 16, 2013, 1:59 pm

        This will sound silly, but I honestly think I’d be a little like ‘huh? you’d rather stay at a hotel?’/slight offense if my sister stayed at a hotel 5 minutes from my house. Then again, if I knew she were the type to be overwhelmed by big groups, I’d understand. My aunt stays in a hotel when we go to FL for Xmas (while everyone else stays in one of the two houses next door to each other). Everyone talks shit about it. Haha.
        Family time in my family is all open door. It’d be weird if I got a call from someone asking if they could come over I think.

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl October 16, 2013, 2:26 pm

        I should clarify about the open door thing- my parents and my dad’s 4 siblings and their mother all live on one 64 acre plot. “Family time” is any time one of them decides to barge in (by literally walking across a field). For example we had GGuy’s parents over for dinner before the wedding and my uncle just walked in in his sweatpants with a can of beer and sat down in the living room, while we where having a nicer dinner. It was so rude, IMO.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest October 16, 2013, 2:33 pm

        Ohh, that’s different.

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl October 16, 2013, 2:37 pm

        Yeah, on like Christmas when it’s understood we’re having guests- totally fine. On a Saturday morning when you’re trying to sleep in and my uncle’s kids burst in the front door screaming at 8…not cool. They have zero concept of appropriate times/ways to interact.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson October 16, 2013, 2:26 pm

        Haha yeah I mean it’s the best to wake up in the same house and look like shit together with no make up on, hungover, grouchy. The. Best.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest October 16, 2013, 2:31 pm

        The only time I was annoyed at that was when Peter’s family stayed in the vacation house we have. And to no fault of their own. I just like to have coffee and a cig before anyone talks to me. My family knows that. I guess they didn’t.

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      • avatar

        bethany October 16, 2013, 2:40 pm

        I started staying in a hotel when I visit my grandmother, and it’s been great. She has a teeny house with an even teenier bathroom, and every room/bed in chock full ‘o crap, because she’s 96 and blind and won’t throw things away. Plus my husband is terrible with just sitting around doing nothing, so it’s nice for him to have a place to escape to.

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  • avatar

    Lucy October 16, 2013, 2:27 pm

    Yeah, I’m sure those problems in your marriage were ALL caused by your SIL. I’m sure they had nothing whatsoever to do with your grudge-holding, scorekeeping, and anger management issues. Nothing. At. All.

    I feel sorry for your wife.

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    • something random

      something random October 16, 2013, 2:32 pm

      ouch

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark October 16, 2013, 2:37 pm

    Okay, clearly there is much, MUCH more to this story. Filling in the blanks? The LW? Is FUCKING BATSHIT CRAZY NUTS…

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    • avatar

      Kate October 17, 2013, 8:29 pm

      Ding ding ding!!!

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  • Portia

    Portia October 16, 2013, 5:15 pm

    WWS.

    My dad has some lifelong feud with my aunt, who’s very close to my mom, and thank goodness she’s never had to stay with us long-term. Granted my aunt can overstep her boundaries with guilting, so I’m glad my dad does speak up when it gets ridiculous (he could be nicer about it). But I just wanted to say that as their kid I’m grateful they made an effort to keep this animosity from me and my sister growing up, so I could have my own relationship with her and form my own opinion of her. So, something to think about around the kiddos…

    There’s some other strained relationships with my boyfriend and our parents, but that works just fine because we agreed on some boundaries and don’t smack talk anyone. Unless your SIL is clearly taking advantage of your wife and you feel you need to stand up for her, follow Wendy’s advice.

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  • lynn

    Lynn October 16, 2013, 5:48 pm

    Normally I would say play nice and move on… Which you should do… But I will say, your SIL sounds like a brat (8 years ago) and even though “bad blood” is behind y’all and you are on speaking terms… Why would she want to stay there? Seriously? That makes no sense to me. Money aside, that makes no sense. Why would I want to spend a week or several days with family members who at one point didn’t speak to me for 8 years because of something that happened the last time I stayed. I also think that’s ridic that she overstayed a visit after the 8 year deal happened. I don’t hold grudges but she sounds annoying, and if I were you, I would play nice and just be out of the house while she is there.

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  • Lindsay

    Lindsay October 16, 2013, 10:48 pm

    For future reference, if you’re going to write in for advice about someone you think is super inconsiderate, don’t insult the city that the advice columnist lives in. If you are always trying to find ways to make digs at people like that, then I can kind of see why you and your SIL didn’t get along.

    I’m not really sure why you felt the need to talk about an incident that had happened eight years prior and had since been resolved without you. Especially one involving shelves.

    I think you also need to consider why your options are telling someone to fuck off and “bending over.” Sometimes being a mature adult means that you can’t just run around insulting everyone you feel like. It doesn’t make you weak or submissive. It just means that you grew out of the phase where you throw tantrums when you don’t like someone.

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    • avatar

      Lucy October 17, 2013, 12:34 pm

      Exactly. Also, if you’re over 21, get over your birthday.

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  • avatar

    kk October 17, 2013, 1:34 am

    what does LW stand for?

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    • call-me-hobo

      call-me-hobo October 17, 2013, 7:52 am

      LW is letter writer. MOA stands for move on already. DW stands for Dear Wendy, and OP stands for original poster. These are all common abbreviations that you might see on this site

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray October 17, 2013, 8:13 am

        Oh I didn’t know the OP one. Thanks, Hobo!

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  • avatar

    fred February 14, 2017, 2:14 pm

    I have the same problem from what I can see the comments are from women that stick together l am like you and would love to see her go mine even is sleeping in my bed and we have the guest room

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