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Annie’s Mailbox: Relatives take over lake cabin

Dear Annie: We own a small lake cabin. My husband has a stressful job, and the cabin serves as a relaxing retreat that helps keep him out of the doctor’s office.

I have relatives who, for the past 18 years, have invited themselves to take up residence at our cabin every summer. They like to stay for three weeks. When we’ve tried to limit their stay to two weeks, they say we are “nasty.” Even though we don’t live year-round at the cabin, we want it to be available for us. They say we’re still welcome to come while the five of them are staying there, but it’s hardly the same.

We have other relatives in the area, but none of them offers or is able to host overnight guests. If we say “yes,” it puts my husband and me in a foul mood. If we say “no,” we are the bad guys and it upsets all the other relatives. We enjoy these people. We just don’t want to give up our space for such an extended time. What do I do? – Michigan Molly

Dear Michigan: If you don’t want people to take advantage, you must be willing to be the “bad guys” until they get the message. They are counting on you to feel guilty and give in. Don’t do it. This is your cabin. It is your relaxation space. You are under no obligation to let other people stay there for any reason. You have been extremely kind to allow these relatives to barge in on you every single summer for 18 years. If they are not appreciative and respectful of the exceedingly generous two-week limit, you should tell them they cannot come at all. Period.