Dear Annie: Ever since we moved to a place that is central to all my husband’s relatives, they have treated us as the Free Holiday Inn. For the past 10 years, we have suffered their unending onslaught of visits. They come to visit their hometown, not to visit us; they just stay with us because it’s free. The hotels in our area are extremely inexpensive, and his relatives are much better off financially than we are, so why do they insist on staying in our tiny house? My husband and I both have sleep apnea and have to wear devices to pump air into our lungs, so we choose to sleep in separate rooms. When his cheap relatives come, we have to sleep in the same bed, which results in neither one of us getting adequate sleep. We have one bathroom to share.
They don’t seem to have any regard for how much they inconvenience us during their visits. I find myself (the only person in the bunch who is still working for a living) trying out of politeness to adjust to the schedule of houseguests who, as far as I’m concerned, are not welcome.
Not once in the past 10 years have any of my relatives even visited the area. Therefore, they have never imposed on us. His freeloading relatives seem to think we are a freeway station. After cooking for them, paying for groceries and doing all the cleanup — and all this after I’ve worked a stressful full-time job all day — I’m more than a bit annoyed. My husband doesn’t see anything wrong with this arrangement.
For the first 10 years, I didn’t mind the vagabond relatives because we lived in a very big house. Now that we are in a tiny house, I mind a great deal. When we go visit any of his relatives, we stay in a hotel, even though we have limited financial means. What is wrong with these people? I can’t tell them to jump off a bridge — no matter how much I’d like to. — Get Out of My House
Dear Get Out: I hope you got the name-calling out of your system with this letter, because you’re going to need to be a little more diplomatic when you talk to your husband about this situation. Because he can’t see what’s wrong, paint him a detailed picture. Describe the way these visits impact your sleep schedule and thus your ability to do your job well. Tell him that you don’t feel up to cooking for guests after a long day of work and that this is really driving you nuts. Then ask him to talk to his family members and let them know that now that you’re in a smaller place, things are a little too cramped for company. You may need to compromise — perhaps agreeing to host family once or twice a year — but the situation will at least be more manageable than it is now.
Have this conversation ASAP. If you don’t speak up, your anger will speak up for you, and you’ll end up saying something you regret.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.