Since I am a frequent visitor to your site, I know I need a polite spine for this situation (often a struggle for me, I’ll admit). My uncertainty comes from when and how to address issues pertaining to a guest who will be moving into my home.

My friend, Beth, is a lovely person. She is warm and generous and very outgoing. She loves to plan get-togethers with friends, and spends most of her spare time and money traveling the world. I very much enjoy her company, but it is usually in small doses.

Several months ago, Beth decided she was not contented with her life here and decided to move across the country. Since I had a large vehicle at the time, she asked for my help with moving furniture and packing boxes for storage. She sold most of her minor possessions in preparation for her move. After a short time, she realized that this new town did not agree with her at all. She was incredibly unhappy, and was unable to find reasonable employment. She decided once again to move to another city, halfway back across the country again. Another month goes by and she still has no job and no prospects and has depleted her savings. I spent many hours talking with her over skype or texting, listening to her situation and giving what little advice I could. I was also going through a very difficult time, having recently left an abusive marriage, but in a way I found helping Beth made me forget about my own problems.

This week I got a message from Beth, giving me the details, and saying that she has no choice but to come back. Stories from Beth are always full of grand detail and embellishment, and she painted a grim picture of how desperate things are for her – no home, no savings, nowhere to turn. I felt the pressure. I told her that if she needed a place to stay until she got back on her feet, I wouldn’t see her stuck. She was incredibly grateful, and I’m happy to help a friend in need.

My issue is this: In the few months since Beth’s departure, the economy here has taken a downturn. People are losing their jobs, and the cost of living has risen. I am currently in the process of finalizing my divorce and it has been messy and stressful. While I live alone some of the time, I also have joint custody of my young children. I have a house, and a job, but with the economic downturn I will be counting my pennies as well. When I thought Beth’s stay here would be just for a week or two it was fine. Since she has no job and no savings, I have no idea how long Beth will need a place to stay. While I’m happy to help a friend in need, I am not looking for a roommate.

I am also unsure how etiquette demands I handle my personal schedule. If I am invited out by a friend, am I required to invite Beth along? Or if I have someone over to visit, is it rude to ask for privacy? Cooking meals is another worry, as I’m not sure if I’m required to cook for Beth (she is a very picky eater, and has some dietary restrictions as well). Beth also has two cats, who will be moving in with her. I love cats, but I’m not sure how this will work out in my small home. Is it best to address these things if and when they arise, or should I be upfront with Beth before they become a problem? Help! 0417-16

Don’t be  doormat.   Establish the boundaries upfront and be firm because if you are not, you could have a permanent house guest who contributes little to nothing to the operation of your home.   Your offer of hospitality should have limits and if she has not found a job in a month, she needs to make arrangements to move elsewhere because you are not a welfare office.

You cook for Beth?  How about Beth cooks and cleans the house as a condition of her staying there?   Why on earth do you think you need to feed her like one of your kids?  She’s an adult woman who can feed herself.   Do not cook for her, do not clean for her.   Her cats need to be restricted to her room only and the kitty litter box routinely cleaned.   You do not want to create an environment where Beth has little or no incentive to leave.    If she gets a room, board for her cats, free food, the house cleaned after her AND a free social life, why would she want  to go back to having to work hard for everything she has?


From the Emory Wheel:

Diamonds may be forever, but a bigger diamond doesn’t necessarily mean a longer marriage, according to study conducted by Andrew Francis and Hugo Mialon, both associate professors of Economics at Emory.

The results of their study indicated that spending more money on weddings and engagement rings negatively correlated with marriage duration, meaning that people who spend more on their weddings tended to have shorter marriages. The study, titled “‘A Diamond Is Forever’ and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship Between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration,” was published in early September and has since been featured on CNN, the Atlanta Business Chronicle and 11 Alive.

In the study, they surveyed over 3,000 adults in the U.S. who either are married or have been married at some point in their lives.

The questionnaire gathered details such as marriage duration, length of time dating, honeymoon, engagement ring expenses, wedding attendance, total wedding expenses and age at marriage.

Francis and Mialon argue that the wedding industry is to blame for fueling the notion that spending large amounts on the engagement ring and the wedding leads to a successful, committed marriage.   To read the rest of the Emory Wheel article, click HERE.

Guys: Investing between $2,000 and $4,000 on an engagement ring means you’re 1.3 times more likely to get divorced compared with the more frugal fellows who only allocate between $500 and $2,000.

For both sexes, spending more than $20,000 on the wedding ups the odds of divorce by 3.5 times compared with couples who keep it between $5,000 and $10,000.

While the study results are correlational rather than causal, it’s still an interesting topic to discuss.


Do You Have The Right To Be Offended?

by admin on September 18, 2017

One Daniell Rider thinks she does. In a post to craft store Hobby Lobby’s Facebook page, Rider posted the photo below and demanded that the decor item of dried cotton bolls be removed for sale citing that :

This decor is WRONG on SO many levels. There is nothing decorative about raw cotton… A commodity which was gained at the expense of African-American slaves.

A little sensitivity goes a long way.



The obvious problem is that no slave harvested these dried cotton decor items and the second obvious problem is that Daniell Rider likely wears a considerable amount of cotton.   The third problem is that African American slaves worked on plantations growing and processing rice, tobacco, and sugar cane, none of which we boycott or deprive ourselves of simply because 150 years ago it was grown and harvested at the expense of slaves.

So, the question, “Do you have the right to be offended?”, could be answered by stating that, yes, you have a general right to be offended on your own behalf.   Etiquette, in general, does not give grace to be offended on the behalf of others who may not share your level of offense in their name.    But others also have the right to not take your offense seriously and dismiss the offense as nothing more than either a power play or expressions of heightened entitlement to be continuously put out of joint over issues that aren’t really issues.





Prayer Before Eating

by admin on September 18, 2017

While visiting my 81-year-old father, he extended an invitation for us to go to dinner, and he requested that I invite 2 other parties (family friends). My father typically extends this invitation when we are all together, and he always insists on paying the bill.

At the Mexican restaurant, we chatted and munched on tortilla chips and salsa. Before the entrees were served, Guest One (a family friend) announced, “Would ya’ll mind if we said grace?” She said that her husband would lead the prayer. I was caught off guard, and I felt more awkward when she announced that we should join hands. (I don’t want to touch someone else’s hands after I’ve already started to eat. Yuck!)

I’m not sure of the religious affiliation of Guest Two sitting to my left, but she seemed a little uncomfortable as well. Regardless, we joined hands and the husband said the prayer. I have no idea what he said because I wasn’t tuned in. My feelings of discomfort, being put on the spot by a guest in a public restaurant, completely soured me. My daughter and I just stared at each other across the table until we were permitted to commence eating our meal with the “Amen”.

My father wasn’t actively tuned in simply because he doesn’t hear well, and he often lags behind any conversation. The saying of grace was NOT a practiced ritual in our home growing up. I will also add that Guest One and her husband know that I am not religious. During a previous conversation, I explained to them that I did appreciate the kindness they’ve shown my parents, but that I did not believe what they believe. So this expectation of joining them in the saying of grace is even more bizarre.

This is not the first time that I’ve been expected to either participate in saying grace or delay eating while other guests say grace in a public restaurant. When dining out, my sister who is Christian, will instruct me to wait to eat because her 10-year-old son is going to say grace. Another awkward situation because now I don’t want to disappoint a child by not complying. So my nephew meanders through a prayer which usually has nothing to do with being thankful for the meal.

As a guest in someone’s home, I am always respectful of the host’s desire to say grace. I will sit quietly, but would prefer not to hold someone else’s hand right before I eat. But I comply simply because I don’t know how to politely reject taking someone’s hand.

My questions are:
“How do you decline involvement in the saying of grace and holding hands when at a public event?”
“If you don’t participate in the prayer, but just sit quietly, do the folks are either side reach over you to hold hands?”
“What is the expectation of religious people when they insist that others follow their personal rituals, specifically public prayer? For the religious, isn’t it slightly bothersome that friends/guests are complying only because they’re put on the spot and stuck in an awkward situation?”

I feel like this expectation is inappropriate and even bully-ish to a certain degree. Being religious isn’t a free ticket to be ill-mannered, but it often seems that way.

All perspectives are appreciated. Thank you. 1227-15

The answers to your questions boil down to issues regarding who is hosting the event more so than issues of religion.   For example, if your father is the one who invites people to join him for dinner and he’s paying for it,  as the host he has privilege of leading his guests in a food blessing or not.  I think the friends of the family usurped his role as host and made an executive decision for all the guests when they should have quietly said grace for their own food and left it at that.

How do you decline involvement?   You sit up straight, fold your hands in your lap and wait for the host to commence eating.   The host/hostess sets the schedule for when to eat by eating first.  That is the guests’ cue that they can now chow down, too.  And if your ind host has chosen to pray along with someone else, you still follow your host’s cues and wait to eat because to begin eating before your host does is rude.    If your host routinely says grace prior to eating, I think you need to respect that if you have accepted the offer of hospitality.

Regarding Christians, I am not aware of any magical advantage to making a circle connection via touching in order to pray over food and Christians who believe there is are simply wrong.    It’s not like the prayer/blessing is flawed or invalid if the diners are not physically touching.   I pray over my food more often than not but I’m not legalistic about it.   My food is not going to rot in my belly or fail to nourish me if I choose to not say a prayer and I certainly don’t feel the need to touch people in the process.   To be honest,   I don’t think 99.5% of Christian will think twice about someone who chooses to not pray or touch.


Feel Good Friday – The Present

by admin on September 15, 2017


Inheritance Hell Doesn’t Have To End Hellishly

by admin on September 14, 2017

A few months ago a reader messaged me asking why there were so few stories on Ehell about probate of Wills and inheritance.  This person made the observation, which I agree with, that inheritances and probate of the Will seems to be far more fraught with drama than even weddings. I don’t have a reason why there have been so few story contributions over the years about nasty, divisive, contentious battles over the contents of Wills or how executors settle the estate or how families fight tooth and nail over the deceased’s possessions.

My own story of inheritance hell happened 7 years ago after the death of my father. I did not want to talk about it publicly for several years because the process of obtaining justice was long and physical/emotionally exhausting. Long story short, my eldest brother was the executor of my father’s estate who refused to be transparent about details of the probate, he financially exploited both vulnerable parents and he embezzled tens of thousands of dollars from the estate and perjured himself to cover the embezzlement. The case file currently residing in a state superior court is 4 inches thick so a few sentences doesn’t begin to cover every instance of the drama. Towards the end of our father’s life, my brother had attempted to have Dad’s Will changed to make him the sole heir, an action Dad’s attorney refused to do. Thwarted, he emailed me and youngest brother demanding that we sign over 100% of our shares of the estate immediately or else he would place Dad in an assisted living facility (something Dad did not want). For some reason this demand was not made to the second oldest brother who, upon hearing of it, promptly made airplane reservations with the intent to have his brother removed as Dad’s caretaker. Dad died 36 hours after the email demand and before my second brother could get there.

Another example of his exploitation was that he took our mother, who had been in an assisted living facility with dementia for years, to her lawyer claiming she wanted to change her Durable Power of Attorney to make him the attorney-in-fact (replacing my two other brothers) and change her Will to make him the sole inheritor. Her attorney wisely and ethically declined to make any changes and alerted my youngest brother, the long-time attorney-in-fact, of the attempt. Once he discovered that he could not exploit our mother, my eldest brother never visited her again in the following five years until her death despite living less than a mile from her. That action sealed my eldest brother’s fate within our extended family and every sibling, aunt, uncle, cousin, niece, nephew, even his own son, cut him completely from the family like a cancer. He’s so despised by some family members that his name is not said, he’s referred to as HWSNBN (He who shall not be named).

I was the person who discovered the embezzlement after I had our attorney subpoena our father’s and the estate’s bank account statements. At the trial, I was given the honor of being the last witness so as to deliver the coup de grace evidence. I sat there and, one by one, line by line, documented every single instance of how my brother had claimed XX dollar amount for expenses in the Probate Final Accounting (filed under penalty of perjury) whereas the bank statements told a different tale. The look on the attorney’s face was priceless. The judge had warned us to not engage in ad hominem statements yet faced with the overwhelming evidence that there was no legal rebuttal that could be made, my brother insisted that his lawyer make an ad hominem attack on me during the cross examination. We could see the lawyer whispering angrily to him and brother insisting. Lawyer did as he was paid to do. I had hired a very good attorney and he did a splendid job keeping us focused. We kept a straight poker face until out of sight of HWSNBN and then my second brother and the attorney started whooping with joy and high fiving while I was still emotionally reeling from the ad hominem dart thrown my way. They LOVED the ad hominem comment because it meant we WON! And win we did..big time. It was a total victory.

On reflection, one wonders what motivates someone to act this way. It wasn’t for a lack of money. Eldest brother received a double share of the estate per the Will and he was the sole survivor on several joint bank accounts and investment CDs. His inheritance was quadruple what the other 3 siblings received. So why the greed to have it all? What showed up repeatedly in the court documents he filed was his belief that he was the righteous son who was the only who deserved his father’s inheritance whereas his siblings were only grudgingly tolerated by our father. It’s classic narcissism. Dad’s handwritten letters to me told a much different story of a loving, forgiving, generous father.

While inheritance hell is not something I want to do again, there is a positive outcome other than the obvious justice in dispersing the estate as the deceased intended. The situation exposed my oldest brother as the lying, divisive element in the family over the past decades and as people began to realize this truth there were reconciliations, more in-depth talks, more expressions of love and more family unity than anytime prior to Dad’s death. Once the cancer had been cut from the family, the family became healthier and continues to this day. And despite the drama, I am the only family member to have very minimal contact with eldest brother who, in turn, wants nothing to do with what he views as his greedy, evil siblings.


Wedding Wednesday – 50% Hosting Is 100% Rude

September 13, 2017

I’ve got another one for you, and I’m not particularly sure about the etiquette here, despite my opinions. We’ve got a “destination” wedding coming up. So we are looking at $500 in flights, another $300 in hotels, suit rentals, taking time off work, and the typical expenses that come along with it. Hey, we RSVP’d, […]

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Grueling Hospitality

September 11, 2017

My DH has a friend, DN who is married and has 3 kids. DN has been someone who I didn’t “click” with from the first moment I met him (it may have been the fact that he didn’t tell me he had a potentially deadly allergy to a food I served him until he almost […]

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