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?
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.