Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

My husband’s sister and her kids stayed with us for the holidays. It

was great for them, as he catered to them 24/7, indulged their every

whim, paying for everything that they wanted, and generally made

them feel like moving here would be a great way to cope with the

recent divorce of their husband/dad. I’m far less enthused about this

possibility, not only because I don’t like his sister very much (she’s a

whiney leech), but because it undermines my respect for my husband.

That the kids are spoiled and lack all sense of personal responsibility is

an added annoyance. I cannot control what they decide but I do want

my husband to know I have limits. Is there a tactful way to explain

this to him clearly and firmly?



Dear Fuming:

Your husband would need to be deaf, dumb, and blind to ignore your

anger. You’re entitled to an opinion but you’ll need to dial down the

volume on your vitriol to get him to hear content. Find someone to

prep with other than your personal friends. Here’s why: Your friends

will take your side. They’ll listen to your stories and tell you how right

you are to be aggrieved by your sister-in- law’s egregious entitlement.

That’ll feel good. But what you need instead is someone to listen to

you vent and then ask the tough questions about your marriage that

you might need to deal with before you address this big can of worms.


Once you’re ready to talk to your husband, ask him how he feels about

the changes proximity will bring. Ascertain if he perceives your

grievances as real or as possessive jealousy. Then engage him in a

discussion of what limits he’s willing to set on things like time together

or budget allocated to helping them out. An hour a day, week, or

month? Treating to a movie and pizza or helping with a downpayment

and remodel? It’s reasonable to set boundaries, but you need him to

buy into them so you’re not the parent, the police, and the crossing

guard and where he’s always looking over his shoulder expecting you

to slap him down for being a nice guy to his single-mom sister.