Dear Annie

Kicking in-laws out

Annie Lane, syndicated columnist

Dear Annie: My in-laws who live across the country have basically tricked us into agreeing to host them for almost a month. Here is how it happened:

My father-in-law (who almost never travels, unless it’s for his benefit) asked to stay with us so that he and his wife could spend time with family. We were under the impression that this would be for a weekend.

We extended our offer to host them. Now, I love these people. But they are, hmm, “difficult.” Whether it’s complaining about our home, furniture, (pick anything and insert it here) or trying to engage us in discussions about politics (as they have opposing views) and being argumentative (which the husband does routinely) I don’t know how we will survive them.

It wasn’t until AFTER my spouse agreed emphatically to have them was it disclosed for how long this visit would be.

These people are more than able to afford to pay for lodgings. But my father-in-law is married to his money, and probably wouldn’t come if he had to pay for a motel.

We have had a tenuous relationship at times over the years. We have made all the efforts to try to maintain some semblance of a good relationship, as they don’t budge. So my spouse and I are stuck.

If we attempt to ask them to make other arrangements, even for a short time, they will never speak to us again. And that is a definite reality. And they are of advancing age, and this may likely be the last time we ever see them.

I am beside myself. I’m semi-retired; my spouse works and gets to leave every day, and I’m the one stuck with these people. And they don’t really like me, and have never been shy about saying so.

Oh, Annie. We can’t un-invite these people. If we try to modify any of this, it will create Armageddon within the family. Unfortunately they love drama, and have created so much to the divide between us over the years.

I need advice from your readership on how to get through this month with them. My home isn’t very big, though I do have the room for them, but walking on eggshells and trying to deflect or ignore all the drama and negativity is going to be extremely difficult. Add to the fact of just having them in our space for so long, well, neither my spouse nor I are sleeping and are full of anxiety over this.

The visit is in the fall, so we do have time to prepare. But we need some coping advice.

Please, we welcome concrete suggestions from others who’ve had to go through similar situations. — Grinding My Teeth

Dear Grinding My Teeth: Wow, your letter sounds exhausting. When you marry a partner, it is always ideal to have a nice, civil relationship with their family. Your father-in-law’s difficult personality is posing quite a challenge.

Have your spouse set rules from the beginning. For instance, no discussing sensitive issues, such as politics, religion, sex or money. And no complaining. Just try to enjoy each other’s company as much as you can.

Because they love drama, and you want to avoid it, setting the rules ahead of time is a good way to maintain control.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Fish and visitors stink after three days.”

And as you asked our readers if they have suggestions based upon their own experiences, I welcome any and all suggestions.

Editor’s note: “Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.