I know you write dating advice for single and I’m married, but I’m hoping you will respond to my question anyway. I’ve been thinking about writing you for over a year and finally got the courage. I don’t want next summer to be like it has the past three, and I need to get advice NOW before things get out of hand.
The problem is this: My husband’s younger brother announced last week that he will be coming to our house again this coming summer, with wife and her kids in tow. We live in a popular vacation spot, and they live across the country. We hear from them usually only prior to a visit, so it’s not like we chit chat or anything in between visits. My husband and his brother are not close, they are technically half-brothers, and were raised by different mothers in different states.
The past three years in a row the half-brother and his family have come to our home for a week, and I have cooked, cleaned, and entertained. They borrow our car, ask for gas and spending money from my husband, expect us to pay every time we go somewhere, and never lift a finger to clean up after themselves. I even take time off work when they are here and move my kids into one bedroom so they can have rooms (I have older teenagers, they have little kids so there is little interaction between them).
I end up feeling like a maid and am drained by the time they leave. I have explained my frustration to my husband, telling him I don’t mind if they come, but they at least need to pay for their sightseeing when they aren’t with us, and be respectful of our home. He shrugs it off and says it’s his half-brother and what can you do?
What ground rules should I lay down now for their visit next year without sounding like a major bitch? Or should I just keep quiet?
Fed Up and Exhausted
Dear Fed Up and Exhausted:
Girlfriend! You are better than me because after a few days of that stuff on their FIRST visit, the half-brother and his wife would have gotten told off. Though it is your husband’s half-brother, it seems all the responsibility for feeding and cleaning up after them when they come to your home rests solely on your shoulders. Nope nope nope, this crap must cease and desist.
Begin by taking charge of your home like a real lioness. You better get ta roaring, and stop letting these people take advantage of you and your family, I don’t care who it is.
Sit the hubster down and tell him he has two choices, because you aren’t playing maid and financier to his brother and his family again. And either he backs you in what you are going to say and do about these leeches, or he can deal with them by himself because you and the kids will disappear for the week they are in town and go on your OWN vacation… without him. Make sure he understands either your way or he is on his own.
Once he knows what is going to happen and the only answer he better give his brother is “Fed Up runs the family, it’s her call brother”, you call or email the blood sucking half-brother and say:
“We have talked about it and the family has decided that you can certainly come here, but you will not be staying in our home this year or any year going forward, so you need to make arrangements for a hotel and your own rental car. You will also pay for all of your own entertainment and sight-seeing ventures.
We will welcome you into our home a time or two while you are here, but that is all. A family dinner at a restaurant, and a barbecue or dinner at the house is the only funding of your vacation that we will absorb. I always feel overburdened and overworked when you come here. My family is used to a tidy home, but you nor your wife do anything to clean up after yourselves when you are here. You are having fun relaxing on your vacation, but your time here becomes a second job for me cleaning up after your family, feeding you, doing your laundry, and everything else.
Your trip also totally inconveniences my family for an entire week. I take off work to spend time with you and entertain you, which means it costs money. This is on top of all the money we spend funding your eating and fun. We are not rich people, but you take our financial support of your trip for granted.
You need to understand that your vacation exhausts me physically, drains us financially, and it also makes it hard on my children to be displaced from their rooms. We’ve been more than gracious and accommodated you for three years running, but that isn’t going to work for a fourth year. I don’t want you all thinking this is how it is going to be every year, so we are going to change how we do things starting right now.
I will be happy to help you select an affordable and safe hotel, and there are many package deals that include rental cars and hotel along with airfare. If you have any questions, feel free to call or write.”
Not sure why your husband is such a wuss and acting so passive about how his brother is behaving. Your husband’s lack of assertiveness and refusal to set boundaries with his brother would disgust and infuriate me, and I’d be giving my husband the serious side eye.
Every man I talked to about your letter was stunned at how your husband is acting; each said they would have either (1) told the brother before he got there what the deal and expectations were, or (2) would have checked their brother as soon as they saw how things were going.
Unless you just didn’t want me to know the details, there seems to be an unknown and very odd dynamic at work here between the two half-brothers. I don’t get it.
Bottom line though – WHO CARES? Not me, and I see that you don’t either anymore. Since your husband isn’t going to man up and stand up to protect you or your children from being taken advantage of by his ratchet half-brother and his ratchet wife, it means you have to do it.
And in the future, never allow ANYONE to come into your home and take it over. That’s YOUR house, YOUR kids, YOUR money, and YOUR car. And YOU make all the decisions about what happens with those things, no one else. Not even your husband.