Ask Amy: In-laws seem to be closing in on family

DEAR AMY: My in-laws currently live six hours away. I like it that way.

They keep talking about moving to our town, but this would be at the cost of our relationship.

Columnist Amy Dickinson (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)

They’re lovely people in small doses, but we lived near them for a year when I had my first child, and Amy — it was awful. They often don’t respect boundaries, and make everything about themselves.

My father-in-law can be especially obnoxious. He fights with me when he’s drinking (which is every night).

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My husband agrees with me about his folks, but it usually falls on my shoulders to stand up to them. We’re happy where we are — that’s why we moved!

They feel like their oldest daughter and son-in-law (who live near them now) don’t have time for them anymore. The thing is — neither do I.

I would prefer to see them on our planned short trips two or three times a year.

I want to tell them to stay where they are, but I don’t know how to do that.

Happy at a Distance

DEAR HAPPY: Your in-laws seem to be fishing for encouragement, but in situations like this, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to bite every hook that dangles.

If they explicitly ask you what you think of the idea of them moving to your town, ask them a series of questions before you respond: Why do you want to move? What are you hoping for? What factors are influencing your thinking?

Just feel them out.

After listening to them, you should respond by being completely honest: “We all enjoy our visits with you, but I in particular struggled when we lived close by because I felt you didn’t respect our boundaries, and I often felt crowded out. Living at a distance has been better for our relationship, certainly from my perspective. I don’t know if moving here will achieve your goals.”

If your father-in-law is a belligerent alcoholic, your mother-in-law might need more help or attention than you realize. Your husband and his sister should take a fresh look at their domestic situation to honestly discern if they are OK. The impact of his drinking will change over time, and you should all assume that the situation at their home might be deteriorating, which is why they are looking for a change. An elder housing community might be a …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle


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