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Set boundaries with nosy in-laws

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar

Dear Annie: My husband is an only child, as are both his parents. They have no interests, no hobbies, no friends, no family and no social life. They are stuffed shirts and tightwads. They also are gossips, which means people who know them don’t care to associate with them.

Mom and Dad wouldn’t spend 10 cents unless absolutely necessary, so they criticize anything I purchase. They also make “joking” comments about weight every time we see them. They will pick up any piece of paper in my house and read it. When I know they are coming, I hide my calendar, notes on my refrigerator and greeting cards. Otherwise they ask prying questions about everything.

My husband and I are financially secure and would never borrow from them, so they have no reason to be involved in our finances. It’s not their business if we are 20 pounds overweight, my house needs to be dusted or my child has freedoms they don’t approve of. How can I get them to keep their veiled criticisms and opinions to themselves and stop poking their noses in my private things? – Driving Me Crazy

Dear Driving: When you can figure that out, you can bottle it. Your in-laws do have a hobby – you. They will continue to be nosy and intrusive, so you must set boundaries and make sure your husband backs you up. If they criticize, say, “Sorry you feel that way.” If they go through your mail, breezily pluck it out of their hands while changing the subject. When asked intrusive questions, respond obliquely and with a smile so they can blame you for nothing, while you give out no information beyond what you wish them to know. It will help, of course, if you can include them now and then so they don’t feel completely left out of your lives.

Dear Annie: My friends and I go to one another’s houses every Friday and watch movies. It’s great, except for one thing.

Two of our friends are in a relationship and they like to make out, with loud moans and groans, whenever they are together. At first I thought I was the only one grossed out by it, but everyone else feels the same way.

We’ve asked them to stop, but each time we do, they get louder. It’s at the point where we can’t even hear the movie. Are they overdoing it? – Get a Room

Dear Room: Of course. They are flaunting their relationship to make sure everyone knows how special they are. You can stop inviting them, making it clear that their behavior puts a damper on the fun for the rest of you. Or you can leave when they get too hot and heavy, claiming they obviously want to be alone. We suspect a few responses like this will take care of the problem.

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar write for Creators Syndicate.
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