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Old 08-03-2006, 02:57 AM   #1
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Hi all!
One of my husband's sisters moved to a town about 55 minutes away from us. She moved there last year. From that time onwards, she would drive to see us at LEAST 3 times a week. My husband gave her a key to our house, and the code for our garage door, so she NEVER RANG OR KNOCKED before she came in. All I would hear is - CLICK (door opening) "Hi I'm HEEEERE". Totally irritating. During this time, I made countless dinners for her and our niece, usually on short notice - i.e. husband - "Hey it's dinner time and you're still here. Wanna stay?" But, I figured that although we saw her at least 3 times a week for coffee and breakfast, and another 2 times a week for an unscheduled dinner, that this wouldn't be permanent. Guess again. She moved to our town, and lives just 3 blocks away. NOW I get to see her EVERY MORNING for coffee, often during the day when she drops by, and then my husband wants to go over there 4 evenings a week to socialize. I don't think this would bother me so much if I felt appreciated or that I was considered as "family" - last year, while talking on her cell phone, I heard her say that "Jane (my niece/her daughter) was in Kingston visiting her uncle and HIS WIFE". I don't even rate "autie" status in her eyes. Did I mention that my husband and I have been together for 15 years and are very happy together?
Anyways, today was the "last straw". She came over for breakfast (again), and after breakfast asked if I wanted to go shopping with her for garden plants, since I know the local stores and she doesn't. We agreed to go to three stores, and we took her car. At the first store, her cell phone rings. She answers it, and after a brief conversation, gets off the phone and tells me that it was a friend of hers and she wanted to leave right away to go meet with her friend for coffee ("I have to go to meet Joan because she's coming over to my house. I'll drop you off at your place.") SO, I was unceremoniously dumped off at my house and off she went to visit her friend. I waited until my hubby came home, then took the car and went to finish off the shopping that I (we?) had planned for that day (ladies, sales on garden plants wait for no-one!!!).
Personally, I thought her behaviour was quite rude. I have spoken to my husband about this, but he is really, really close to his sister and this is the first time he has been living close enough to her to maintain a relationship. When I talk to him about, say, having her ring the doorbell FIRST or, say, giving me advance warning before inviting her for dinner, he listens and then says something like "You're right. I'll try to become more distant from her", which infuriates me because that isn't the POINT. I just want to be able to come downstairs in my jammies without having to look out the window to see if her car is there or not. I want to come home without finding notes on my kitchen table from her. Talking to her is out of the question - it would start family gossip that would come right back at me and bite me in the butt (he has gossipy 5 sisters, and 3 brothers...need I say more?). I have told him that if he wants to socialize with her over breakfast, that I may or may not be there depending on how I feel that day. And, if he wants to go over in the evening, don't expect me to come every single time. Result??? I'm hiding in my bedroom in the mornings and am at home alone while he's at his sister's house for the entire evening. HELP!!!!
Suggestions? Please!!!!!
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Old 08-03-2006, 08:37 AM   #2
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Well, God bless you for living in the same city limits as this woman. It doesn't really sound like a "you" problem, where her issues are because she doesn't like you. It sounds like a "her" problem. She just is who she is.

I think you are right about talking to her. Even in the most tactful fashion, it seems like it may get completely blown out of proportion with you becoming the bad guy. I think it may take some time, but your husband really needs to understand that it's not about her or him distancing himself from her, but about respect for your home and the boundries that must exist when family lives near by. I had an issue like this arise and it took some time for my SO to finally see that her behavior made me feel like a prisoner in my own home. I couldn't talk to her (because at that point it's me vs. a family), but had to have the same converstaion with him a few times before it actually clicked. And he was much more tactful and nice than I ever would have been. Even if this isn't helpful, I'm so sorry that you are in this situation and hope you find a resolution sooner than later.

She sounds delightful.
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Old 08-03-2006, 09:30 AM   #3
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Eeeks! Can you put a bolt on the doors to the outside and the garage? Then even with a key, she can't just walk in. Just a bandaid, I know!

That's a tough one...you have more kindness and grace than I would have. Your DH may have to hear what you are saying several times before he actually listens.
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Old 08-03-2006, 09:48 AM   #4
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Hmm. I am very irritated at the mere thought of anyone just having a key and garage code and popping into my home.

I know it is his sister, and I think if she wants to visit and be a part of your family for dinners, coffee, etc..., that is hard to decline simply because she is family. (even though it makes my blood boil and it's you not me... lol...) but, I would have to draw the line at free entry to my castle. You should not have to worry about being freaked out when you walk from the bathroom in a towel to your bedroom by finding someone there who wasn't there and wasn't expected to be there. Hubby should have asked you if it was okay. For me, the key giving is not okay unless she lives in your house. How would she like it if you just pop in unexpectedly at her home and say "I'm hhhheeeeeeere.!!!!!!" If I were you I might try it and see what she thinks. Didn't work the first time? Keep doing it 3 or more times a week. She'll get the point.
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Old 08-03-2006, 10:53 AM   #5
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Unless you are going away on holiday and she is watching your house for you there is no need for her to have a key and access code.

I have been in this type of situation where my DH's friend lived 2 blocks from our house and dropped by practically everyday - usually around dinner time (how convenient). It is really annoying as you feel like your house and your life are not your own. It's hard to relax when you feel you have to constantly entertain people. I just grew more and more resentful of the person and dreaded hearing a knock on my door.

Maybe you should try doing the housework naked so she gets a shock when she just walks in!

I think you and your husband need to sit down and have a serious talk about this. Let him know that you don't want him to distance himself from his sister and that you want him to have a good relationship with her but that there has to be some boundaries. The two of you need some alone time and you need your privacy and that having people just walk into your house whenever they feel like it makes you feel uncomfortable and like your privacy is being invaded. Stress to him that it is not his sister, that you would feel the same if it was one of your friends or neighbours. It is not her it is about having time to yourselves.

You need time to do your own thing and constantly having to make meals and entertain other people is draining especially when they drop by unnanounced.

Maybe you can come to an arrangement where you set a date for her to come by - say every Tuesday night she can come for dinner or maybe do a Sunday "Family Dinner" with her and her daughter and rotate houses. That way he gets to see her at least once a week and you are both prepared to have company. He can go over there once a week during the evening without you or if you are in the mood to go then you can. You can also limit morning coffee with her to once or twice a week.

If you set up a schedule then you will feel like you have more freedom, you'll still be able to interact with your DH's sister and he will be able to maintain his relationship with.

Tell him that it is okay if she comes over but that she needs to call ahead first to see if the two of you are not busy or if you are in the mood for company. Can you imagine if you had other friends over for supper and she just walked in or if you were snuggling on the couch together.

If you don't do something you will just get more and more irritated until you blow up and it will just make things worse.
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Old 08-03-2006, 11:48 AM   #6
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Oh, I feel your pain. Unwanted, uninvited, unannounced relative/guests are NOT welcome. I have a landlord who is also an invasive, controlling relative. She lets herself in whenever she wants. The home is a sanctuary, and nobody needs to be in there if you don't want them there.

It sounds like passive-aggressiveness is a family rule on your husband's side ... when you ask for healthy boundaries, your husband interprets it as "distance". Big difference there.

I agree with everyone - you have to sit down with Hubby and have a heart-to-heart.
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Old 08-03-2006, 12:09 PM   #7
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I would love to have a family that likes to socialize that much. I really would. It does sound like she hasn't fully accepted you as a best friend but probably thinks she has because after all, she wants to do stuff with you all the time. I don't think there is anything wrong with people wanting to visit all the time. I do think there should be boundaries as in a locked door (with no access). This is NOT a distance thing, but a way to create respect and boundaries for the home as your own. It also isn't unreasonable to want some time alone (free from entertaining). Start inviting friends to visit for lunch and without being mean, let her know you have other company for today. Or set up a date night with you hubby at home (every Friday night) and let that be known that you look forward to those times with your hubby and you are trying to create more romance. I would personally love to share breakfast every morning with another chatty female. BUT if you are boring and want to read the paper, eventually it doesn't have as much appeal. Being that you have gossipy women in the family, don't do it too strongly though.

On a side note (and a little unrelated), I used to let people show up and pop in because I am deaf and often missed the doorbell. I got caught streaking (going to the laundry room to get a towel or clothes) too many times and completely stopped that.
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Old 08-03-2006, 12:14 PM   #8
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Thanks for the advice. I am slowly working towards more "freedom" in my house, and that MAY include naked vacuuming!!! It's just hard when, every day, my hubby says that he is just SO HAPPY that his sister lives so close by, and that he feels SO PROUD that we have "made it" to the point where we can afford to have her over all the time. I guess what is really bothering me, when you come right down to it, is that I feel like my husband chooses his sister's company over mine. This morning we had planned to go out for breakfast, but that was NIXED after she dropped by and my hubby offered her breakfast instead. I'll just have to work on it with my hubby slowly. Maybe things will slow down once the novelty of being close wears off (but I doubt it). What she REALLY needs is a job - and I'll keep circling the want ads and will continue to show them to her every time she comes over (seriously, I've been doing this for the past two weeks!). I'll keep everyone posted...
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Old 08-03-2006, 12:19 PM   #9
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Okay...first and foremost...YOU LIVE IN KINGSTON???? I live in Cape Vincent!! We're practically neighbors!!

Back to the problem at hand: I can feel your pain. And I'm also jealous at the same time. I have an old boyfriend that was still attached by the umbilical cord to his mother at the age of 28. We never, ever spent time alone together and we shared an apartment. Every Sunday we went to his mother's house for a big dinner (which, I have to admit...I LOVED that!), but every time we had time to spend together, he ALWAYS had a family member or his best friend in tow. I remember I wanted to go to an air show with him in Geneseo. This is how I pictured it: Me and Sam, on a blanket, with a hot dog in one hand, holding hands with the other, sipping diluted coke and watching the WWII renactment in the air and having a fabulous time, just us two. This is how it REALLY was: We had THREE CARS in a caravan with his mother, sister, three neices, brother and best friend. And others I can't remember. I was so mad. Oh, and on the way, we all had to stop by the side of the road so Sam could sign a petition to get Ross Perot to run for President (it was a while ago). The whole day was mass confusion. He always had relatives stopping in unannounced. It drove me NUTS.

On the ohter hand...now I live with my husband and his entire family lives in California. My entire family lives in Rochester, except my mom and dad that live about 7 miles up the river. My sister and brother come up constantly to visit my parents and they all go out to dinner and NEVER INVITE ME AND MY FAMILY!! Always! Never once to they come over to see me and my house and the renovations I've done. My sister was just up last weekend and my niece called me...I thought for one fleeting moment someone was going to visit me! But, she was just calling to see if I could bring over a Nancy Drew PC game my daughter borrowed from her. When I delivered it to my moms house, BOTH of my nieces were busy reading in other rooms and never even came out to say hello!! I was crushed.

Anyhow...on the one hand, I'm thinkign you should be happy that you have family that comes by and feels comfortable enough to drop in and be family...but on the other hand, I KNOW how irritating it can be to be suffocated by it every single day.

My advice would be to talk to you husband aobut it, since it's his sister, and have him talk to her about it. Of course, I talked to Sam about this when I had this problem and he told me to stop being a hermit. He's also part of my archives...so maybe that's not such a great solution. I guess you have to do what you think it right...the answer is there, just look inside yourself and you'll find it.

Good luck!! From across the St. Lawrence!!
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Old 08-03-2006, 12:30 PM   #10
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Wow, TechWife, you could show up unannounced at freiamaya's for breakfast and meet the sister-in-law! ( Kidding, freiamaya )
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Old 08-03-2006, 12:33 PM   #11
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Hi there! Cape VINCENT! Super!!!! I have to laugh when I hear those from the Southern US say that the Northern US states are "so remote"!!! For those of us in Canada, Kingston is SO COMPLETELY SOUTH!!! Ha ha ha!!!! Talk about perspective!
ANYWAYS, my family all lives out West (i.e. Alberta, north of Montana), so I do feel a bit isolated. And, I am happy that my hubby has a good relationship with his sister. AND, she really, really is a nice person. I just need some personal space. And you are right - I don't think it is my place to speak to his sister. He needs to do this. I just have to get him to "get it", so my work is cut out for me.
Thank goodness the heat wave broke!!! It's actually PLEASANT outside today!!!
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Old 08-03-2006, 12:35 PM   #12
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Phantastica, I will make SURE my hubby sends out our garage passcode ASAP so that EVERYONE on the forum can pop by whenever they want!!!! I'll make sure I cook for 700 EVERY DAY, and we'll all have a great time!!! Or, better yet, my sister-in-law has a swimming pool -- maybe we could all meet there for breakfast unannounced...BRING YOUR SUITS!!!
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Old 08-03-2006, 12:38 PM   #13
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Perhaps you can have a sit-down with your SIL and ask that she call prior to popping by. Then you are in control and can say no. Maybe you have plans, maybe you're having sex (hey, you never know). Is your hubby at home or does he work?

My hubby is close with his family, but always insists that they call prior to a visit.

Hope all works out.
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Old 08-03-2006, 12:46 PM   #14
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Thanks for the advice, ev! I really hesitate to talk to her, because although she is really, really nice, she can be really, really nasty and is extremely sarcastic about people behind their backs. I see it all the time, where she will criticize other family members (in-laws as well as siblings) in the most nasty, rude terms. I'm actually afraid of her, because I know that if I say ANYTHING that is slightly south of what she wants to hear, I will be discussed and dissed within his family (they often do this on three-way conference calls). I've found this quite inappropriate at times (i.e. at funerals - seriously) and have noticed that whenever I try to tell her something important, she interrupts with a sarcastic remark that focuses attention back to her. My SIL claims that she is using her sarcasm as a "tool" to deal with life - I privately consider this to be poor listening skills and insecurity to make sure that the spotlight is always on her. She also will hijack conversations by starting sarcastic "asides" when someone else is speaking and continuing a side conversation with that person. Tough when there are only 3 of you in the room...SO, I am completely reluctant to talk to her about his, as no good will ever come of it. Time to work on hubby!!!!
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Old 08-03-2006, 12:52 PM   #15
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I don't think talking to your husband or his family about this is going to help. You're just going to come off seeming like the bad guy.

How about if you start showing up at her house unexpectedly, preferably just prior to mealtime? Make it a point to show up when you think it would be inconvenient for her. Be absolutely nice and agreeable, like there is nothing you enjoy more than her company. After a couple of weeks, ask her for a key to her house so that she won't have to bother answering the door when you come over.

If that doesn't do the trick, she is truly dense.
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