Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wag Vs. Angie: When In-Laws Move In (Three strikes and you're out)

Hello from the land of Wag Vs. Angie! It's been awhile, but we're back now so let's not dwell mmkay? Welcome back for round blahty blah blah something or other. I've lost count. Today we're going to be talking about something husbands and wives all over the world fear. It's a story so horrific and painful that it's usually only talked about when one partner is out of the room. That's right. When in-laws move in. Da da daaaaaaaa!! You can find out what Wag had to say over here.

Here's the sitch my friends. We've talked before about how to deal with that nasty mother or father in-law that can't seem to find it in their power to treat you like a human being. What we've not covered is what happens when that old viper needs a place to live. What do you do when your spouse wants to bring dear old Dad or Mom home to roost? Do you:

1) Acquiesce, remember to respect your elders, swallow the stinging words, and make your spouse happy?
2) Give a conditional agreement and inform your soon to be new housemate that you will not be disrespected in your own home.
3) Put your foot down, remind your spouse of the years of hurtful words, and toss them some brochures for some suitable assisted living facilities.

I thought long and hard about this over the past few days. My initial response was obviously option three. I am kind to those who are kind to me, but I've reached a time in my life where I have very little patience for people who treat me poorly. In my mind, option 3 was definitely the way to go. However, the more I thought about it the more I leaned toward option 2.

My niece got a book for graduation many years ago by Robert Munsch called Love You Forever. The story is about the special bond between a mother and her child and repeats the theme "I'll love you forever. I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be." It follows along through the little boy's life until he's a grown man and the roles are reversed. The bond between parent and child is a strong one.

Imagine looking into your spouse's face and saying, "Absolutely not! That old _____ is NOT living in MY house!" If you manage to escape without suffering a slap to the face the look of sadness and heartbreak might haunt you forever. In a perfect world, you'd never be put in this situation. Your spouse would have stood up for you of their own free will long ago and this behavior would have ended. Had it not, your spouse wouldn't dream of asking you to give up your man cave/crafting room/home gym to house the angry beast. Life's not perfect.

A definitive no puts your spouse between a rock and a hard place. You'd essentially be asking them to choose between their love for you and their loyalty to their parent. How would the shoe feel on the other foot?

Still, you shouldn't be forced into a situation where you are ridiculed or harassed in your own home. This is a place of peace and comfort. It's an escape from the outside world. You've created this world with your own blood sweat and tears and no one should be allowed to disrespect it, elderly or not. Option two is the answer.

Sit down with your spouse and law down the ground rules. Be understanding of your partner's situation. They feel a sense of love and obligation to care for their aging parent and that is admirable. Explain that you are concerned about the way your in-law treats you and the strain it will put on the home. Make your expectations of treatment very clear. Iron this out as much as possible before opening the door and clearing out the spare room.

I hate to sound like I'm discussing how to deal with children, but I see it much the same given the circumstances. Your in-law needs to be taught what is and is not acceptable in your home. It would be unfair to completely stifle their freedom to voice an opinion, but when that first insult happens you need to be ready to say, "Evelyn, that was rude and hurtful. I won't be talked to that way in our home. If you cannot be kind at the very least be quiet." That's warning one. It's sounds a heck of a lot nicer than, "Listen up you old bitch, speak to me that way again and you'll find yourself on the front walk with your cat and your knitting!" Though that does have a certain appeal...

Have you ever noticed that no one seems to learn on the first try? I doubt this will be any different. Warning two will need to be a bit more stern. "Bob, I don't appreciate the way you're speaking to me. You're free to find a place to live where you don't have to be around me. I will help you pack if that's your choice. Otherwise, learn to hold your tongue.

Personally, I'd only allow for 2 strikes, but if you're one of those baseball lovers who wants to use the whole analogy go right ahead. Perhaps your final warning could be something along the lines of, "I have my finger on the mouse lady. Keep running your yap and I'll submit this application to Shady Acres Home for the Crotchety. You'll find yourself doing string art in the day room faster than you can say Metamucil. Just keep it up."

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