Annie’s Mailbox: Wife’s daughter needs boundaries during visits
Dear Annie: My wife and I are in our late 60s and have been married for six years. We were both widowed. We have a great deal in common and are happy together.
Our one bone of contention is her daughter. “Justine” is in her late 30s, married and living overseas. Yet every time she visits, she expects to get picked up and dropped off at the airport, despite the major problems that driving both ways can cause for us. Hints that she might want to get a taxi are blissfully ignored.
When she comes without her husband, she reverts to being an irresponsible teenager, treating the house and its contents as if she had never left. She comes and goes as she pleases, helps herself to the fridge contents, takes over our cellphone, uses our car without filling the gas tank and hogs the computer to carry on long, loud conversations, all without a thought for the disruption she is causing.
Her mother doesn’t see anything wrong with this. Justine has just left after a two-week visit and did not put her hand into her purse once the entire time, not even at the coffee shop. She spent almost half of her visit out of the house, often staying out all night.
I hate to see my darling wife taken advantage of like this. Do you think I am being too old-fashioned? Is such behavior acceptable? How can we change this before we have a major argument that will benefit no one? – Cranky Canadian
Dear Cranky: Please talk to your wife about some boundaries regarding Justine. Make concrete suggestions (Justine will take a cab from the airport; she will have restrictions on the use of your computer, cellphone and car, etc.), and ask your wife to agree to enforce these conditions for Justine’s next visit. But we warn you: Unless your wife is willing to put her foot down, nothing will change. If that is the case, please tolerate these visits as best you can, because getting between your wife and her daughter is a lose-lose situation for you.