Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Trump-Supporting SIL Wants to Crash in our DC Apartment for the Inauguration”

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I’ve been a long-time lurker, and I appreciate so much what you have been saying and posting with respect to the impending Trump presidency. Thank you for posting your “weekly steps of activism” and for not “staying in your lane” (whatever that was supposed to mean). It has inspired me to be hopeful and do more to be active in our political discourse, and it is largely because of this, and the very thoughtful advice you give others, that I am writing to you for advice now.

My husband has a brother who is two years younger than he whom he’s always been close to. His brother has been with his wife since high school, and my husband, and many others in his family, have had a difficult relationship with her. My husband feels that his SIL has always purposely tried to isolate his brother from him to prevent them from being close, and he describes her as being negative, unhappy, and critical of everyone. For many years, though, my husband tried to maintain a friendly relationship with her so that he could maintain a relationship with his brother and niece (now 8 years old).

Two years ago, my husband left his then-wife after years of unhappiness, and he and I started dating fairly seriously shortly afterward. Clearly, the timing looked bad to some people, and his SIL took it as an excuse to cut my husband out of her life for good. She was the only person in my husband’s family that had an issue with our relationship, and she is not close with my husband’s ex-wife. In the months following, she has refused to attend a family Thanksgiving at our apartment with my husband’s mother (his brother and niece did come), as well as our wedding this summer (brother attended, niece was not allowed). In addition, my BIL’s treatment toward me the couple times I did meet him was fairly cold and aloof. Then, my husband and he got into an argument the day after our wedding because the extent of my BIL’s interaction with me was a handshake and that’s all. My husband was very upset and hurt about his brother and SIL’s treatment of both of us.

A couple of weeks ago my BIL came to our apartment (in DC) for dinner when he was in town for work, and he was fairly pleasant. For the first time ever, he engaged me in conversation, made jokes and was in general good humor. Both my husband and I were optimistic that this was a good start in building a better relationship with him and his wife. However, we still have never heard from the wife in any capacity, and I have never met her.

Last night my husband received a text from his brother asking if we would be in DC on January 20th and 21st and if they could crash on our couch. At first I thought it odd that they would want to crash in our small one-bedroom apartment when they have enough money to get a hotel. Then I realized, that is inauguration day and there likely is very little hotel availability that is affordable for the average person. My BIL’s wife works for the RNC in North Carolina. I am so morally opposed to everything that Trump stands for, and my feelings about the RNC, especially in North Carolina with the HB2 law, are not better. Their anti-women, anti-gay, anti-equality, anti-transgender, anti-everything-I-was-raised-to-believe positions about how EVERYONE deserves to be treated with respect and dignity, just make me physically ill. And now my husband’s brother and SIL, who have treated us so poorly from the beginning, want to come and stay with us so that the SIL (whom I have never met because of her refusal to meet me) can participate in RNC activities in DC during Trump’s inauguration.

On the one hand, my strong Canadian upbringing tells me to be unfailingly polite, to invite them into our home, and to be a gracious host so that we can do our part to mend our relationship with his brother and SIL. On the other hand, while I know that on a good day I could probably do this, the emotionally charged atmosphere of this particular day means that it seems like the likelier outcome is that there would be arguments that do irreparable damage to an already tenuous relationship between my husband and his brother. I want to mourn and wallow in the great loss that America is suffering that day, not host a gleeful RNC staffer. I truly think their staying with us that weekend is the worst decision. My husband is in large agreement with me, although I know that he is torn in wanting to see his niece and, likely, the fear that telling them they can’t stay with us will make his relationship with his brother worse when it was just starting to get better.

My instinct is to just tell them we won’t be in town for inauguration and leave it at that. I’d really appreciate it if you could provide any other suggestions/advice. — Not Up For Hosting the Trump Fan

I agree with you that hosting your BIL and his wife during the inauguration weekend is the worst thing you could do. This woman has refused to meet you and been such a jerk to both you and your husband. Even your BIL has been cold toward you. And now they want you to extend some hospitality to them so they can celebrate when Trump is sworn in (barf, barf, barf)? Fuck that noise. As you said, on a good day you might be able to be gracious and hospitable to them for the sake of mending the relationship between your husband and his brother. But this won’t be a good day. This will be a horrible day, made a hell of a lot worse if you had to actually host a gloating Trump supporter.

You cannot let them stay with you. But, whatever you do, don’t tell them you’ll be out of town! Then they’ll just ask to stay in your vacant apartment where they can enjoy free accommodations without the baggage of complicated family dynamics. Do not give them the satisfaction and comfort! Tell them instead that, while you would like to see them while they’re in town, you already have people staying at your place who plan to march in the Women’s March on Washington and you won’t have room for additional guests.

I’d suggest even trying to find someone to crash at your place who IS going to the women’s march (and you and your husband should go too!). There are SO many people going and trying to find places to stay. Lots of people are taking chartered buses from their respective cities and just crashing in said buses for a couple of nights. Maybe you and your husband know someone like this whom you could invite to stay with you. It would be a way of creating a truthful excuse for not having room for your BIL and his wife, while also being active in the resistance against Trump. Two birds, one stone.

In the meantime, I would encourage your husband to seek opportunities to spend time alone with his brother — like a guys’ weekend — where they can work on repairing their relationship without distraction.

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

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

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

92 comments… add one
  • avatar

    RedRoverRedRover December 5, 2016, 9:25 am

    Perfect suggestion from Wendy. SIL will probably still be pissed, but she hates you anyway, so who cares? BIL will understand that it’s a valid excuse, and the relationship between the brothers shouldn’t be affected.

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  • avatar

    artsygirl December 5, 2016, 9:45 am

    What a delightful relative (and I am not going to even touch the politics). She refuses to acknowledge your existence until it is convenient for her and then expects you to severely inconvenience yourself for her sake. I hope your husband’s brother was ashamed when he asked for the favor.

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    • avatar

      SpaceySteph December 5, 2016, 11:08 am

      Yeah this is what I was thinking. You don’t like your SIL. She doesn’t like you. Your BIL is mostly cold to you, such that him being mildly pleasant while you are feeding him dinner is newsworthy.
      It doesn’t really matter why they want to come to DC, you are not obligated to be their hotel. You’re busy, your place is too small for overnight guests, whatever, the answer is no.

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  • avatar

    Kate December 5, 2016, 9:45 am

    Love it! Can my aunt and cousin from Seattle crash with you? They signed up for the march.

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  • avatar

    ktfran December 5, 2016, 9:47 am

    Awesome, perfect advice Wendy!

    And I’m sorry your husband’s SIL sucks LW.

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  • avatar

    TheRascal December 5, 2016, 9:50 am

    I don’t think you need to provide an excuse at all. A simple, “Sorry, that doesn’t work for us” would suffice.

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    • Pheebers

      Phoebe December 6, 2016, 10:31 am

      Oh, a reason is never necessary, it was just a fun commentary to a not-nice person. Normally I’d just stick with “I’m sorry, that won’t work” or something but given this woman’s personality it’s fun to mention the march.

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  • avatar

    em December 5, 2016, 10:02 am

    great answer Wendy. An for the OP, and others, I wanted to share a quote I recently stumbled upon by philosopher Karl Popper:

    “Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them… We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.”

    I live/was raised in the upper south so I know and grew up with A LOT of women like the SIL in the letter. Someone who doesn’t feel those who are different (by race, religion, gender etc.) deserve equal protection and respect under the law does not deserve an ounce of your hospitality. Heaven knows SIL would not extend the same graciousness or even basic common courtesy to you (or anyone) if it didn’t suit her own agenda.

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  • avatar

    Ron December 5, 2016, 10:05 am

    I’ll take the opposite view and suggest that you suck it up and let them stay. I think Wendy is wrong in suggesting a brothers get-together as a way for your husband and his brother to stay close. The relationship between your husband and his brother is tenuous and they have just gotten back together for that one dinner at your apartment. SIL seems to strongly influence BIL, so if you say no to this request, I’m afraid that barring divorce, this will be the end of your husband’s relationship with his brother and the two of you will never see their child again.

    I agree with you on Trump, but it is so easy to rupture family over politics. I think better to treat this as a chance for some minor reconciliation with SIL. The two of you will never get along, but perhaps a cease-fire is possible.

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    • avatar

      snoopy128 December 5, 2016, 10:12 am

      I think it’s rather over dramatic to say that this may be the ONLY way LW and her husband can repair the relationship. In fact, I would say even if the two women were on the same side of the large political event that the SIL is coming down from, the SIL is still in the wrong for asking to stay over. I mean this woman doesn’t even acknowledge or speak to the LW….the first step is not staying in the same apartment. I’m pretty sure SIL is only asking because she needs somewhere to stay, not because she’s out to repair the relationship. I wouldn’t be surprised that if they do stay in the apartment, the SIL ignores the LW, is barely around, or goes back to her old ways after the visit.

      A cease fire is possible. But not under these circumstances.

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      • avatar

        Ron December 5, 2016, 11:05 am

        I agree that these are not great circumstances, but you have to deal with what’s available. I doubt these two women will ever get along, but that is almost beside the point. The more important point is for the brothers to be able to maintain at least some sort of relationship and SIL controls that possibility. If SIL says no, her husband cannot meet separately with his brother at any time, I strongly suspect that meeting won’t happen. SIL rules that family and appears to easily identify and go nuclear over sleights.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros December 5, 2016, 12:28 pm

      If the LW said no and explained the true reason, then I think what you suggested is likely to happen. But if they tell them that they cannot host them for practical reasons (like Wendy’s suggestion of saying there’s already visitor), then it shouldn’t ruin the relationship. If the brother throws a tantrum because someone has already claimed the guest room, then I doubt he was actually going to be open to reconciliation.

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      • avatar

        AlwaysALurker December 6, 2016, 8:03 am

        But why is it more important to maintain what seems to be a non-existent relationship between the brothers? I’m a bit surprised at some of these responses, especially you Ron. Wendy is not even saying she should tell them why they don’t want them there. They would be using a very valid reason and I would say probably even protecting the fragile realtionship as it is.

        The brothers don’t have a relationship to speak of. I would actually say that you really can’t have a family relationship if that family member is not acknowledging your spouse or at best showing the minimum semblance of respect. Given the brother’s and his wife’s behavior, the most likely outcome of this trip is that either there is a big blowout at a demonstration of complete lack of respect by the guests (e.g. they choose to ignore the LW) or they stay and then go back to the status quo afterwards.

        When somebody shows you who they are then believe them. In this case they have shown themselves to be judgmental, rude and unpleasant people at best. That’s not going to change because they let them stay over for a couple of nights. I would actually say that showing the brother and SIL that this behavior is acceptable is actually more detrimental to a healthy relationship.

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      • avatar

        Ron December 6, 2016, 8:39 am

        I think the relationship between brothers is very important. Too important for their wives to end it by feuding. If there is going to be a schism, and I think this rebuff, however phrased, leads in that direction, then I think it is the husband’s choice, not the LW’s. I also don’t take as cynical a view as some posters who insist that the brother stopped by for dinner while he was in town only to grease the skids for this request for inaugural housing. I think he stopped by then because he could do so without his wife’s interference and possibly without her knowledge.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy December 6, 2016, 8:46 am

        He was at both the wedding and Thanksgiving without his wife, too. It wasn’t until the dinner preceding the request to crash at their place, that the BIL was finally warm to the LW. I’m not saying he was greasing the skids for the request, but the timing is suspicious. Regardless, I do agree with you: the brothers relationship is too important to end over their wives feuding, which is exactly why it’s such a bad idea for the wives to be in close quarters upon their very first meeting, for a whole weekend — a very emotionally-charged one, at that — in which one will be expected to host the other. Meeting for the first time in a more neutral environment or for a shorter span of time (a couple of hours as opposed to a whole weekend) would be a much wiser choice.

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  • avatar

    Sue Jones December 5, 2016, 10:08 am

    Brilliant idea. It is a busy weekend and you already have guests. Done.

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  • avatar

    snoopy128 December 5, 2016, 10:09 am

    @Ron- I totally disagree with you. I think letting your SIL stay at your place during this emotionally charged time when both women will be in the complete opposite mindset (one celebrating, the other mourning) is a recipe for disaster. Putting two people, with opposite political views, who have barely even SPOKEN, in the same small apartment for a large political event is a bad, bad idea.

    Sure, reconciliation may be possible, but you need the best of circumstances for it to happen….and these are anything BUT the best of circumstances.

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover December 5, 2016, 10:19 am

      NEVER spoken. They’ve never spoken. The LW has never even met the SIL, since the SIL refused to come to their wedding (!). Forget about the inauguration for a minute. Would anyone ever recommend that the first time for these two women to meet should be for a 2-night stay at one of their homes together? With this kind of background of animosity on the SIL’s part? I definitely would not. It’s already going to be a difficult meeting, but add to that the fact that if it goes extremely badly, they’re going to be stuck staying in the same place together. The first time they meet should be for a short time, where they just have to deal with any fallout for an hour or two before they can separate.

      Now add the inauguration back in, and all the emotions that come with it. It’s just adding fuel to the fire. It’s a horrible idea.

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      • avatar

        bondgirl December 5, 2016, 10:43 am

        Nailed it. The time for these two to meet for the first time is NOT for a shared overnight visit. I wouldn’t recommend it even if there was a GOOD relationship.

        I also agree “sorry but we already have guests staying with us at that time” is a very diplomatic response/approach to take.

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    BlueThing December 5, 2016, 10:33 am

    Long time reader, first time commenter.

    I don’t think this is good advice. Wendy, I think that your dislike of Trump (which I don’t disagree with as I think he will be a terrible president) is clouding your judgement here.

    Siblings, somewhat estranged, have had a rapprochement. The brother will be in town and asks to stay for a night at his brother’s house. Without politics, your advice would be to suck it up and have the brother stay.

    In this case, the question should be whether the two couples can get along despite the politicical differences. If so, they should welcome the brother and SIL to their home. If not, they should find a graceful excuse and not pick a political fight.

    The advice you gave is likey to deepen an existing family rift, as it is picking a fight without a need. In any other circumstance, you would advise avoiding a needless confrontation and deepening an estrangement between siblings.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy December 5, 2016, 12:02 pm

      But… you can’t really take politics out of this, can you? The whole reason for the trip to DC is to celebrate the inauguration of Trump. It will be a VERY emotionally-charged weekend, whether you’re celebrating or mourning, and to ask someone to be a gracious hostess to someone who is on the complete other end of the spectrum in terms of feelings about this inauguration is too much. If it were any other weekend or any other reasons BESIDES politics for the BIL and SIL visiting DC and asking to crash at the LW’s apartment, then, yes, my advice might be to suck it up and be a gracious hostess. But this weekend will not be like any other. If the LW were capable of being gracious in the face of a celebrating, gloating Trump fan, then sure, she could suck it up and take one for the team. But she’s said that she can’t see herself being a good hostess given the circumstances. And if she’s going to be a bad hostess, i really do believe — my own politics aside — that having her BIL and SIL, whom she has never met! — stay with them will cause the bigger rift than simply saying, “Sorry — would love to meet up while you’re here, but we already have houseguests that weekend. “

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      • avatar

        snoopy128 December 5, 2016, 12:12 pm

        I don’t know….I don’t think Wendy would necessarily say that having a SIL who an LW has never spoken to (and has been snubbed by) many times before stay over for a weekend is the best way to mend fences and start a relationship. Especially when it seems like the SIL is looking for a place to stay, rather than to mend fences. Even without the politics aspect (which you can’t just ignore, especially on inauguration weekend in DC), this ask would seem to big and honestly have too much risk of blowing up. Smaller, safer, baby steps to starting a relationship is a better bet.

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        snoopy128 December 5, 2016, 12:13 pm

        Sorry Wendy, I don’t mean to put words in your mouth.

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      • avatar

        Anonymousse December 5, 2016, 1:31 pm

        I honestly probably wouldn’t want them to stay if it was for some other reason entirely. They’ve gone out of their way to snub her. Why should they show the SIL any courtesy? I’m all about being the bigger person, but in this case it would behoove them all for the BIL and SIL to stay elsewhere and invite the LW out to dinner or something to mend fences. Staying in the same place as them is too close for comfort, IMO.

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      • avatar

        artsygirl December 5, 2016, 1:40 pm

        Agreed Anonymousse – the SIL has been unforgivably rude. She refused to attend various family functions including a wedding simply because she does not approve of the relationship. She has in fact gone out of her way to insure that the LW and her husband would KNOW that she does not approve of them. Now she needs a favor and suddenly she is willing to grace them with her presence. The fact that she actually didn’t even request the invite, rather she had her husband do so, and if there were other options would likely not want to stay with them anyways (cost or availability likely being prohibitive).

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      • avatar

        BlueThing December 5, 2016, 2:15 pm

        Read this paragraph by me again:

        “In this case, the question should be whether the two couples can get along despite the politicical differences. If so, they should welcome the brother and SIL to their home. If not, they should find a graceful excuse and not pick a political fight.”

        Now, look at what you wrote:

        “Tell them instead that, while you would like to see them while they’re in town, you already have people staying at your place who plan to march in the Women’s March on Washington and you won’t have room for additional guests.”

        Why pick a political fight? Why exacerbate an already bad relationship unnecessarily rather than politely letting them know that it won’t work?

        I truly feel that in any other context, your advice would be to be the bigger person rather than to add unnecessary conflict to what is already a strained relationship.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy December 5, 2016, 2:27 pm

        Why pick a political fight? Well, I explain that pretty well here:

        http://dearwendy.com/my-father-voted-for-trump-and-i-dont-know-how-to-reconcile-this/

        And you’re right — in a different context, maybe my advice would be to be the “bigger person,” but what kind of decent advice columnist disregards context when giving advice? Context is kind of an important thing. Furthermore, look where being “the bigger person” got liberals. We have a lunatic sociopath about to be sworn-in as our president in a few weeks. I’m tired of being the bigger person with people who are hateful pricks, whether they’re relatives or not. I say resist the urge to be polite. Instead of being polite, get real. Let assholes — even the ones you’re related to — know when you disagree with their political viewpoints. Resist their steps of furthering their agenda when said agenda is in direct opposition to your values, ESPECIALLY when those steps would be taken in your own home. “Political fights” are what have won us the rights and privileges we enjoy as Americans. And, yes, sometimes those fights have to be between family members.

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      • avatar

        BlueThing December 5, 2016, 3:45 pm

        Then I wish you well in your new career of political advocacy. It is clear that is more important to you at this point than giving advice that will help people mend broken relationships.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy December 5, 2016, 3:57 pm

        Thank you for the well wishes!

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    • avatar

      saneinca December 5, 2016, 12:22 pm

      Wendy’s advice is perfect. No need for the LW to bend over backwards to accommodate snooty relatives. And for a reason she does not approve.

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      • avatar

        Ron December 5, 2016, 4:07 pm

        It’s not bending over backwards to accommodate snooty relatives. It’s bending over backwards to help her husband maintain at least a minimal relationship with his brother. It’s clear to me that these two women basically can’t stand each other. From the letter, I understand why LW can’t stand SIL, there probably is a reason, however strange it may seam, why SIL can’t stand LW. Both women are pushing their husbands apart. The brother did get together with LW and her husband when he was in town without his wife.

        Putting BIL/SIL up for a few days could be a monumental failure, but I think it is worth a try. Does LW really want to pass by a possibility for her husband to reconcile with his brother or does she want to finally shatter their relationship. Is it worth taking her battle with SIL and their difference on politics to that extent?

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        RedRoverRedRover December 5, 2016, 6:26 pm

        These two women don’t even know each other. They’ve literally never met. The SIL refused to attend their wedding or the family Thanksgiving dinner because she didn’t want to meet the LW. That’s where their current relationship stands.

        Now comes a request to stay the whole weekend. If the request had come along with an olive branch, or any kind of indication that the SIL wanted to mend fences, then I would say to consider it. But it didn’t. It appears to be 100% about them needing a place to crash.

        Also, it seems to me that the risk of damaging the relationship is much higher if they’re forced to spend a whole weekend together while emotions are high. Much riskier than the fallout from not letting them stay, IMO.

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      dinoceros December 5, 2016, 1:44 pm

      I feel like you’re making assumptions about Wendy’s advice because politics are involved, too. Regardless of the reason for the trip, the BIL and SIL would still be expecting to be hosted by people they’ve treated like crap. Not only that, but being trapped in an apartment together (and DC apartments are not big) for a weekend? That’s not an appropriate way to start mending fences with a person who is prone to immature, petty behavior. What if the SIL starts acting like a jerk and they get into an argument or she treats them like crap? I doubt that will heal their rift.

      I think one of the keys here is that while the LW and her husband can be kind and open to a relationship, they don’t have to allow themselves to be steamrolled by an awful person. If saying, “Sorry, but we have other plans that weekend!” creates a deep rift, then that says something about the BIL and SIL. (I mean, what if they really did have other visitors? Are you suggesting that they disinvite the other visitors so that BIL and SIL could stay? Because that would be the exact same situation.)

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  • avatar

    jilliebean December 5, 2016, 10:45 am

    Brilliant idea, Wendy!! And good idea to offer to see the family when they are in town – if the SIL is serious about wanting to build a relationship, she will agree – if she doesn’t agree, then the LW will know that it was all about a free place to stay.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark December 5, 2016, 10:46 am

    Somehow, I disagree with Ron AND Wendy. 😉
    .
    I think you SHOULD offer them Your apartment. And YOU should FLEE town. Or go to the march and crash at friends. I , too, wouldn’t fracture the family over this… Be the bigger person — but do in absentia.

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    • avatar

      Ron December 5, 2016, 11:06 am

      That’s an interesting solution.

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      SpaceySteph December 5, 2016, 11:17 am

      I kinda think fleeing town would be a good idea regardless. First because anytime your town is overrun with tourists is pretty much sucks, regardless of the reason. And in this case extra sucks because those people are going to be horrible people.
      If you’re not going to be there, maybe you can offer your place up to them and it leaves you being accommodating and looking like the best SIL, without having to actually deal with them.

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      • avatar

        Essie December 5, 2016, 11:21 am

        I hate to say it, but if I lived in DC I’d be leaving town for this one. Emotions are going to be running high, and I’m very afraid that there will be violence.

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      • avatar

        Ladybug December 5, 2016, 12:18 pm

        As a DC area resident, I’ll second this one wholeheartedly. With all the crowds and traffic, inaugurations are a nightmare even if you like the incoming POTUS, and political zealots on a victory high tend to be more obnoxious than the usual tourists. If you can’t hunker down in your own place without playing host in this case, get out of town and offer to let BIL and SIL crash.

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      • Portia

        Portia December 5, 2016, 1:58 pm

        After enthusiastically attending the last two inaugurations, I kind of wish I could leave town for this one…

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      snoopy128 December 5, 2016, 11:51 am

      Ugh. I’m not sure I want someone I have never spoken to, who treats me like dirt, to be alone in my house without me there.

      BIL clearly doesn’t set boundaries with his wife that allow him to maintain familial relationships…so I don’t trust him to stop her from snooping if she chooses.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover December 5, 2016, 12:45 pm

        This exactly. I wouldn’t let someone who clearly has a huge beef with me stay in my home when I’m not there.

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      • avatar

        artsygirl December 5, 2016, 1:42 pm

        Maybe they could rent out the place and tell BIL and SIL it was already a done deal. That way snooty horrible relatives wont be in the space and they could make some extra income while avoiding the shit-show.

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    • avatar

      Stilgar666 December 5, 2016, 12:33 pm

      I am with BGM, if LW wants to take a small vacation around that time, get out of Dodge!

      Don’t Washingtonians usually leave town anyway for inaugurations?

      SIL is a confirmed ass-hat, and BIL is gutless. Nothing to be done about that. The brothers’ relationship will benefit, at the least. And yes they are scummy for reaching out only when they want something.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros December 5, 2016, 1:48 pm

      But will it really fracture the family if they say they can’t host *for a practical reason*? I mean, if they legitimately couldn’t host for whatever reason (actual guests, renovations, etc.), would we be saying to host anyway, no matter what it took?

      It reminds me of when people don’t want to attend a wedding for personal reasons. If you say you can’t attend the wedding because you already have plans, then it’s not the same as saying, “I can’t go because I hate you.”

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  • avatar

    Essie December 5, 2016, 11:17 am

    How about this: be there to greet them the day they arrive, take them out to dinner, and then head out of town for the next two nights while they stay in your place. Lots of DCers leave town during the inauguration mayhem to escape the crowds and traffic.

    Sometimes, the best you can do is create the appearance of politeness. This way, you don’t break the tenuous peace between your husband and his brother, you look like you’re offering an olive branch to the nasty SIL, and you don’t give her any reason to bad-mouth you. What could she say? You took her out to dinner and generously gave them free lodging.

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    • bittergaymark

      Bittergaymark December 5, 2016, 11:33 am

      This is VERY good, too. As far as ideas go…

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      • avatar

        Essie December 5, 2016, 11:41 am

        Thanks, BGM….I was trying for a three way bank-shot between your advice, Ron’s advice and Wendy’s advice. 🙂

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    • avatar

      LisforLeslie December 5, 2016, 11:56 am

      It’s a lovely idea… in theory. However, I wouldn’t want someone I don’t know in my space touching my stuff. Especially if she’s as judgmental as she sounds.

      Then again … set it up well with a big ol’ sack of silicon surprises under the pillow and it could be fun for years.

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      • avatar

        Miss MJ December 5, 2016, 2:49 pm

        This is me. I get the “leave town and let them stay in your place” idea in theory, but I would not at all be comfortable with letting these people stay in my home when I’m not there.

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    for_cutie December 5, 2016, 11:18 am

    Is there some way to respond in the middle? Be honest and say “I am not comfortable welcoming someone to stay with us in our 1 bedroom apartment who has never met my wife.” That’s the truth of the matter, right? Forget the political (for now, because it is still important), this is about a woman refusing to acknowledge your existence until she needs something from you. A response like this will address the true problem. You could even say – “I am so glad that SIL wants to meet my wife, we would love that. Let’s arrange something a little less intimate than a sleepover for the first encounter.” I fear if you make it about the election whatsoever you will just permanently alienate SIL and likely damage any relationship with the brother and niece. But, ultimately, WWS do not let them stay over that weekend, or any weekend until you have at least met.

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      Anon from LA December 5, 2016, 11:42 am

      Yes, it’s probably wise not to mention the election at all. Better to say, “we’re already hosting some house guests that week,” or “that’s not a good week for us,” or “Darn! that’s just not a good week for us. Maybe next time?”

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    Anonymousse December 5, 2016, 11:19 am

    Nope. She can’t bother to come to your wedding? Or meet you? No, that person has blown it. Let her spend some extra money on a hotel.

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    Anon from LA December 5, 2016, 11:40 am

    Aw hell no. I agree with you about Trump and the RNC, but politics aside, Brother and SIL strike me as users. They want nothing to do with you most of the time but all of sudden, when they need something, they’re ready to make nice? Eff that noise. If they want a relationship with you and your husband, they can make the effort when they don’t stand to benefit from it.

    Tell them, “Sorry, that won’t work for us. But maybe we could take you out for dinner while you’re in town?” Then you treat them to dinner, and your time with them will be limited to an hour or two. Plus it will be easier to engage in civil, polite conversation at a neutral location; if things go south, you can just leave. You won’t have that luxury if you host them in your home.

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    golfer.gal December 5, 2016, 11:47 am

    Am I the only one who thinks the brother only acted the way he did a few weeks ago to set the stage to ask for this enormous favor? I hate to say it, because I truly do hope he’s trying to mend fences, but it seems awfully convenient that after years of treating you poorly and barely acknowledging you exist, the brother does a complete 180 and then just “happens” to ask you to stay in your home during the inauguration (a huuuge favor and money savings for them) a few weeks later. I’d be very wary that even if you do let them stay, they’ll revert right back to treating you like dirt after they leave. Or, hell, even while they’re still there.

    I agree with the poster above who said a simple “I’m so sorry, those days won’t work for us ” will suffice. I would add on to that “I’m actually really glad you asked though because we’ve been wanting to get together with you all since we had such a nice time a few weeks ago. Would the dates of X through Y work for you instead?”. Or “I’m so glad you asked though because hubby was thinking it would be so nice for you both to have a guys weekend when it gets a little warmer. Would the dates of X through Y work for you?”. Their response will tell you a lot about if they were truly trying to reach out to you or just use you and then dump you again after.

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      snoopy128 December 5, 2016, 11:57 am

      I like your first response option.

      And I agree, the request seems very much like they only want to use you for your place to stay. Test the water by suggesting other ways to meet up and actually form a relationship that do not involve the invasion of your space.

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        golfer.gal December 5, 2016, 12:09 pm

        Exactly. If they really are trying to mend fences then telling them kindly that you arent able to have them stay but you’d love to meet up while they’re in town (suggest specific dates and times) should be met well. If they get upset or refuse to see you while they’re in town, then you know it was a ruse to get a free place to stay

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      Anon from LA December 5, 2016, 12:05 pm

      I agree entirely–the friendly dinner was a calculated move on Brother’s part to butter up the LW and her husband.

      Which is why I think it’s pointless to host Brother and SIL. It won’t help mend fences because they don’t WANT to mend fences. All they want is place to crash.

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  • avatar

    yeah...but December 5, 2016, 12:04 pm

    I think you have to figure our what the end goal is?
    Are you trying to share your point of view and try and get her to understand your point of view? That can only happen with engaging in thoughtful dialogue. There is a time and place for that, inauguration will not be that time or place. So maybe having her stay there won’t be a good idea.
    Are you trying to draw a line in the sand with her? Because that is what you are doing when you can’t stay but someone who shares our political beliefs can.
    Finally, are you trying to repair a damaged relationship? If so, then I think the best response it to simply say, “I’m really sorry those dates don’t work but we would love to have your family come for a visit at one of the following times”. Offer to show them around town for the weekend, and propose a couple of dates that you are free. Then take the politics out of the relationship and just do your best to build a relationship, for the sake of your husband, for the sake of his brother and more importantly for the sake of your niece. It would be great for her to see you and your husband as normal kind people, who one day will be great role models for her outside the construct of her immediate family.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros December 5, 2016, 12:30 pm

    Wendy’s idea is great and something I’d have never thought of. As I read, I was thinking this was so tricky because on one hand, letting them stay could help the relationship, but on the other hand, such close quarters could result in arguments, which would not help the relationship. This is the best of both worlds because it isn’t telling them they can’t stay because she’s awful, but gets you out of the situation.

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  • Portia

    Portia December 5, 2016, 1:54 pm

    Even if one of the two difficulties here were not true (estranged but same sides of the political spectrum, or on good terms but don’t agree politically), I would say it wouldn’t be a good call to have them stay. Give the excuse that you’ve already got a full house that weekend, and if you do want to leave the door open to reconciling (or meeting), you can say you’d love to get together another time they’re in town or you’re in their area. If you keep politics out of it and respond with kindness, then you’ll find out what their intentions are, good or bad.

    And if you not bending over backwards to host them this one time is the nail in the coffin for them on having a relationship, I bet you anything that hosting would have gone terribly.

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  • avatar

    greenapples December 5, 2016, 1:57 pm

    What a dramaful life your followers live! Wow….the most important thing about a brother or SIL is that they’re a TRUMP supporter. Yeah…get out of DC. In fact, get out of real life…go to a deserted island or something where you can spend all day whittling and talking to coconuts. Obviously, you can’t handle ‘real life’. 😛

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy December 5, 2016, 2:01 pm

      Actually, I’d say a more significant thing than these relatives being Trump supporters is that they’ve acted so hateful to the LW. The SIL has refused to meet her, skipped her wedding, forbade the niece from attending the wedding, skipped Thanksgiving, and now wants to crash at her place during the inauguration weekend? Low class. Even for a trump supporter.

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      artsygirl December 5, 2016, 2:29 pm

      Well bless your heart, greenapples

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      SpaceySteph December 5, 2016, 2:31 pm

      For someone who was just trying us out and was ready to remove us from their life, you sure are still hanging around here a lot.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros December 5, 2016, 6:20 pm

      You should read the letter first before responding. It sounds like you read the title and then posted without looking at the letter at all.

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    Miss MJ December 5, 2016, 2:11 pm

    Yeah, just say no to this one. First, do you actually even have room for two other people to stay in your one-BR DC apartment for an entire weekend? That alone sounds terrible, without even getting into the relationship dynamics and political stuff. Second, whoever upthread suggested that the only reason these people were slightly less than terrible the last time you were with them is to “butter you up” for crashing at your place is probably onto something. Third, it is going to be a shitty weekend for you, given your aversion to Trump. You deserve to be able to escape or take refuge in your own home without having to host people that you KNOW are going to make a bad situation worse.

    So, decline. Tell them you don’t have room, someone else is staying there, you have something else going on that weekend and it isn’t a good one to have guests, whatever you think will dissuade them. All of those are reasonable reasons to not have someone stay in your place and anyone who gets bent out of shape about it, much less tank a familial relationship over it, isn’t someone you want to spend two days with anyway.

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    • Portia

      Portia December 5, 2016, 4:01 pm

      Yeah, I really do not understand having estranged relatives staying in a DC one-bedroom apartment. I’d barely understand it in a bedroom plus office, which is what most “DC two-bedroom” apartments are. We have very strict rules around how many people can stay at a time and even had to turn down some very good friends once because it would have meant 5 people getting ready for a wedding with a single bathroom and no matter how much we all liked each other, there’s no way that’s ending well…

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        ktfran December 5, 2016, 4:22 pm

        THIS! I have a hard time with close family – WHO I LOVE AND GET ALONG WITH – staying with me in my small 1.5 bedroom / 1 bathroom apartment. I can’t imagine sending an invite to someone who detests me!

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        SpaceySteph December 5, 2016, 6:07 pm

        Yes yes yes. Overnight guests even with the best relationship is at least a small imposition… and even more so if it is a very small space. And its not going to be a picnic from their end either, sleeping on an air mattress or pull out couch or something in the living room.
        Not exactly conducive to building bridges, regardless of anything else going on.

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    Brise December 5, 2016, 2:29 pm

    I am with Essie. Don’t imitate the SIL’s isolation tactics. Just receive the brother and wife and niece, you don’t have to share their political views. They are family, when they come in town, you host them, especially for one night. But avoid political discussions, and leave the flat. You don’t agree anyway.
    About their reaction to your wedding: you married soon after your husband’s divorce. Give other people some time to adjust. Again, nobody asks you to be best pal with these people. Just let your husband be close to his brother and avoid a break up over political disagreement.

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  • avatar

    Brise December 5, 2016, 2:37 pm

    One more thing: don’t serve a lie to your brother in law, this is a bad idea.

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  • CurlyQue

    CurlyQue December 5, 2016, 3:03 pm

    Does the LW and her husband really know the reasons the SIL didn’t come to their Thanksgiving dinner or the wedding? I ask because the LW makes it very clear that her husband does not like the SIL and in fact believes that she has been trying to ruin their relationship, and this may color how he views the above scenarios. It’s possible she skipped Thanksgiving dinner to spend it instead with her family for whatever reason. It’s also possible she and the niece skipped on the wedding for a reason having nothing to do with the LW. The fact that the LW’s husband was SO incensed at his brother only shaking her hand at the reception led to a blow up fight the DAY AFTER his wedding is kind of weird. It shows that the LW and her husband are spending too much time dissecting his brother and his family.
    *
    I’m not saying to invite them to your home, but do consider that you and your husband are unfairly judging your SIL and that not everything they do has to do with you and your husband.

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    jmarie December 5, 2016, 3:32 pm

    I agree with Ron and Blue Thing and respectfully disagree with the advice given. I did not vote for T, more than half the country did not, yet I am also not going to shun the almost one half of our population who did vote for him. The bulk of this letter is about family relations and her hurt feelings at being shunned. How other people treat me does not determine my responses; the kind of person I want to be determines that. I vote (!) for doing what I can to repair family relationships, to see if I can do my part to heal, not divide. An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. If I stay stuck in outrage or self righteousness, then I miss very real opportunities for concrete action–because I am blinded. (I also will not mourn on Inauguration Day nor will I march; I will continue to act in concrete ways and to keep my eyes open for real opportunities for good action–these opportunities arise everyday). These opportunities exist on every level, and they are real and transformative, eg, Water Protectors talked to law enforcement and prayed for law enforcement, recognizing that these people were human beings too; spiritual equals. The result was that many law enforcement personnel refused orders to act against the Water Protectors. There is an opportunity here for healing, for LW at least acting with love toward her husband. If the apartment is truly too small, then I would invite them for another weekend when hotels are available. But acting as I can to restore family unity, even if that fails, is an act of love. If that can’t start at the family level, then all the marches against hate in the world are useless.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy December 5, 2016, 4:33 pm

      Oof, it was not “almost one half of our population” who voted for Trump. Nearly half of eligible voters didn’t vote at all. Of the ones who did vote, less than half voted for Trump. So, it’s actually less than a 1/4 of eligible voters who voted for him. I disagree with some of your other points, but my disagreement is objective (and respectful!); I have to point out that this subjective point is wrong though, if only to provide some small comfort to those of who want to believe that at least a majority of Americans reject racism and sexism and xenophobia and homophobia.

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        AlwaysALurker December 6, 2016, 8:09 am

        Here here! Also, to add to that, jmarie you say “how other people treat me does not determine my responses; the kind of person I want to be determines that.” That’s almost always not true though. You can always maintain respect and dignity in your treatment of others (i.e. the kind of person you are) but your responses will change based on the how others treat you. Nobody should treat an outright racist, bigoted and hateful person the same as a kind, respectful and friendly person. You don’t have to stoop down tho their level but you should treat different behavior differently. That’s how society, social cues and social conditioning works. Damaging behavior should not be rewarded. What Wendy is advocating for here is a polite and respectful response.

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  • kare

    kare December 5, 2016, 4:19 pm

    Put your place on Air BNB and leave town for the weekend. You have an excuse not to accommodate someone who is incredibly rude and some extra money. Win-win.

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    Morecoffeeplease December 5, 2016, 6:21 pm

    We have so many friends coming from different states for the Women’s March and 6 friends are crashing at our house! Tell them your house is full because of this reason and you are already hosting friends who are coming for the Women’s March. 1. It gets you off the hook and 2. It gives them a message that you definitely do not support Trump.

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    Rod December 5, 2016, 8:52 pm

    Well put Wendy. The damn nerve.

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    Howdywiley December 5, 2016, 11:23 pm

    If it were me, I would take that time to visit family back in Canada. I would let my husband host his brother and SIL.

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      Ron December 6, 2016, 1:19 pm

      This is the best answer of all so far. It puts the ball fully in husband’s court to decide how far he is willing to bend to promote relationship with his brother and assigns all of the potential grief to him. It also eliminates the risk of open warfare between the wives. It also gives the husband alone, if it is true, to explain to his brother and SIL that no, new wife was not responsible for breakup of his marriage and that they weren’t chasing each other before he left wife (I say ‘if true’, because I suspect this isn’t true).

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    jmarie December 6, 2016, 2:14 pm

    Hi again, How other people treat me does not determine my responses. “ociety, social cues and social conditioning” are status quo and (historically) potentially punitive reactions that do not necessarily work for the good of my soul or “society”; however, for me, “[l]ove your enemies” is a revolutionary transformative spiritual solution. I believe God loves all beings with equal and unconditional Love and is not punitive. And I’m ready to be kicked off this site as for offering a spiritual solution rather than a human one. We’ve tried our ways. Love transforms. Our self righteousness and self willed solutions do not. All the best changes in our society have come about through the power of Love, Rev Martin Luther King’s “soul force.” How other people act or think or feel or believe or choose does not determine my responses; my faith in a God of Love does. When my heart is full of Love, I can be ever vigilant to help and serve others; alert for injustices; ready to act. This is not easy. Standing Rock is again a best example: Water Protectors prayed for people who threatened and did attack them physically; they prayed because prayer changes hearts, our own hearts and others’ hearts and outcomes and because prayer leads to the practice of Love. This works in my life in all matters. I wish you all the best. All blessings, all Love.
    Q: How are we to treat others?
    A: There are no others.
    For me, it’s a matter of focus; eg, the people who saved people in Nazi Germany were focused on those they were saving and how to do that, not on their hatred of the Nazis. That being said, I’m very glad for all the current protest marches; if only there had been more of this protest against Hitler’s rise….. But again, because someone else carries hate in his/her heart, I do not have to carry hate in mine. And what comes out of someone else’s mouth does not determine what comes out of mine; I do.

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      AlwaysALurker December 6, 2016, 2:28 pm

      jmarie, it’s interesting that you’re preaching love and acceptance but your language indicates agressiveness (e.g. I’m ready to be kicked off this sight). I never said you should hate or see people as beneath you. Quite the opposite actually, all people should be treated with respect and dignity. If they do not return that then whether you “love” them or not you have to find a way to live with them and your behavior should set an example for them. I never disagreed with you on that.

      Rev. King was a social revolutionary and he would not have succeeded if people who followed him had not stood up for what they believed in through action and word. Same for your other two examples. One of those actions is to speak up when you see or hear a racial injustice. Feeling love alone without showing love does not work. I believe we need to show love to those who are downtrodden by speaking up for them. Society does not mean the “status quo”, for me it means people working together and connecting. Just because my message is not “spiritual” does not mean it is less than yours.

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      Anonymousse December 7, 2016, 9:14 pm

      How do you know what the Allied forces were thinking? A LOT of people in the world were thinking both things-how much they hated Nazis while how they could go about saving them.

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  • Dear Wendy

    Dear Wendy December 7, 2016, 12:14 pm

    From the LW:

    “I wanted to give you a quick update on how we resolved the issue. My husband called my BIL to talk to him about their request to stay at our place. He expressed that he was still upset about the way that we had been treated, to which my BIL said that he had been speaking to my SIL about the situation and that she “was starting to come around”. This confirmed my (and your) suspicion that she wasn’t really interested in mending a relationship with us, but wanted a place to crash to partake in the inauguration activities. In addition, my husband straight up said that her and I are clearly on different ends of the political spectrum and that the inauguration was probably not a good time for us to get together for the first time. My BIL was in general agreement and so they are not coming to DC at all as far as I can tell, and there do not appear to be any hard feelings between my husband and his brother.

    Unfortunately, our first choice would be to leave town for inauguration, but it’s just not possible due to my husband’s work schedule. However, I did see that Kate posted a comment that her aunt and cousin would be coming from Seattle. If they are looking for a place to crash and don’t mind a sofa bed, or a mattress on the floor of our living room, we’d be happy to host them. Please feel free to share my email with her so she can get in contact with me.

    Thanks again for the great advice. Although we didn’t employ it exactly, I really appreciated feeling like I wasn’t being completely selfish for not wanting to host my SIL.”

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      Kate December 7, 2016, 12:29 pm

      Wow, thanks LW! I was kidding, but that’s very generous. I emailed them to let them know there’s an offer if they don’t already have a place to stay. They are very pleasant and personable ladies who I’ve known my whole life 😉

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        Kate December 7, 2016, 12:50 pm

        Oh gosh, my parents just said if K & L already have a place to stay then THEY are interested in crashing with you.

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      dinoceros December 7, 2016, 12:50 pm

      I’m glad things worked out. I’m also glad to see that the total destruction that a lot of posters seemed to think would happen if you didn’t let them stay didn’t happen. How nice of you to offer a space for Kate’s friends to stay in!

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      Kate December 7, 2016, 8:48 pm

      Thanks again, LW! My aunt and cousin are staying with a friend who has a couch and air mattress, and my parents are doing the thing in Boston. They said thank you and they hope you will find other activists to crash with you!

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    • avatar

      Taylor December 9, 2016, 11:55 am

      Nice outcome, and I love that you offered your couch to marchers =)
      Hey Wendy (and others), do you know any good fiscal ways for supporting marchers? Is there something set up to help finance travel/housing/food/safe spaces? I’m not going, but would like to support someone who has the time but not the resources.

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