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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Miss Manners: Curious in-law needs some boundaries

By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin Andrews McMeel Syndication

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My father-in-law has been overstepping the boundaries of my personal space for as long as I’ve been with my husband. He is a very curious person, but he exercises his curiosity in my home without permission to the point where I’m uncomfortable and bothered by his behavior.

My personal workspace is not in the main flow of the house. He lingers, looks around and picks up papers without asking. Instead of socializing, he will wander the house, picking up and examining everything – touching all my belongings (including my instruments).

I would never in a million years take such liberties in someone’s home. Then there are his attempts to be helpful in taking on tasks without permission or being asked – like planting a tree or digging up a concrete sidewalk in our backyard.

I’m losing my mind, and feel there is no solution. After years of this behavior on his part, I dislike him, and dread the times he stays in my home.

GENTLE READER: Where does your husband stand in all of this? Presumably not in the backyard, or he would have noticed the sidewalk being dug up. Miss Manners suggests that you enlist his help in setting parameters for your father-in-law’s behavior – and in the meantime, invest in some secure locks.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I went to bat for a former hardworking colleague and acquaintance, and it resulted in a better job with a 10% raise for her.

Ever since then, we’ve been in near-daily contact and we seemed to have forged a good friendship. I recently gave her $100 cash and my well wishes for her impending cross-country wedding, to which I was not invited. From my understanding, it was a small to-do thrown by her in-laws.

Later, on social media, I saw photo after photo of the wedding, along with a statement thanking her friends and loved ones for making it to the celebration.

The event seemed to be attended by dozens of friends. I felt hurt, thinking we were closer.

What does etiquette dictate in this situation? Do I ask why I was not invited? Or do I move on?

GENTLE READER: Given the professional and transactional nature of this relationship, it is quite possible that the bride considers you solely a work friend. Or the invitations to her wedding were sent out before you two became close. Or some combination of the two.

Miss Manners finds that those lines so often get blurred. The general rule is that if your interactions never existed outside of work hours – or could be considered a tax write-off – then it does not qualify as a true friendship, however pleasant the collegial relationship.

Miss Manners does not recommend that you ask the newlywed about the wedding. Instead, if you are still interested in pursuing the relationship, invite her and her new husband to dinner, making sure that you stay outside of work – both in location and in topics of conversation.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,

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