Dear Amy: For a few years now, I've been getting bent out of shape about two close relatives who show up without warning on many a weekend and expect to just hang out at our home for hours.
These relatives live 90 minutes away. They claim they cannot call to let us know when they're coming "because we never know when we're coming."
Once in a while, I manage to miss them by being away on a weekend when they drop in, but honestly, I cherish my weekend time at home to clean and cook for the coming week, catch up on bill-paying and freelance work, read novels, take baths and such.
We live out in the country and can't even pretend we're not home. I don't know of any way to basically send them away when, suddenly on a Saturday or Sunday, there they are at our door, be it 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. or 6 p.m. (often with food or drink in hand) ready to socialize at our house! Other times, there might have been a family dinner planned that evening, but they come hours early and hang out with us.
When I want (or expect) to see them, I genuinely enjoy their company.
What can I say? I've already asked them many times to give us some notice or perhaps even a choice in the matter.
— Bent Relative
Dear Bent: Have you gotten visibly angry or expressed your extreme frustration in the moment, or do you do what many of us do and express your hostility by being coldly tolerant at the time and furious later?
One minitantrum directed toward your relatives might get the message across that they should respect your right to privacy.
The next time this happens, stop them at the doorway: "I've asked you many times to give me the courtesy of a heads-up before you show up here. You don't seem to care. So tell me, what would it take to get your attention? I genuinely like to see you, but not like this. This is driving me crazy."
Dear Amy: My nephew's wedding left a bad taste in my mouth. My sisters and I worked intensely to help make his rehearsal dinner, wedding and day-after brunch fairy-tale events. (The bride's mother wasn't involved.)
My sister "Barb" supplied the wine and Champagne for the reception, and after the brunch, she told me to take home a bottle. When my nephew saw this, he blew up. He yelled that I was "stealing from the bride," along with other rude comments.
He wouldn't let it go, not even when my sister intervened. After more verbal abuse from him, I snapped. I told him that I had worked hard for weeks to make his event a success, and I thought he was being ungracious. His response? "There's nothing I can do about how you feel."
We did not speak again before he left, so the bad taste lingers. This nephew has yelled at me before, but I wrote it off to his youth. Now I think I just don't like him as a person. Any advice, besides avoiding him for the rest of my life?
— Tired Aunt
Dear Tired: Your nephew is right: He cannot control how you feel. His job is to control how he behaves.
Because you two are already on the outs, you have nothing to lose by trying to clear the air. Say to him, "I really do expect to be treated the way I treat you — with respect. I may not be your favorite person, but can you manage to be civil toward me?"
His response will be revealing. It may lead you to choose avoidance.
Dear Amy: "Hurting" suffered the loss of her only child and was shocked that her friends didn't express their sympathy.
I've been there. I was shocked at the way some people basically seemed to run away after my loss.
I recommend the group Compassionate Friends for its work with bereaved parents.
— Also Hurting
Dear Also: Compassionate Friends has helped many grieving family members (including mine). Check compassionatefriends.org for local support.