Author Topic: Can I get some help with a difficult sister-in-law?  (Read 7636 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

that_one_girl

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 157
Can I get some help with a difficult sister-in-law?
« on: January 11, 2013, 09:08:50 AM »
My SIL must be the most difficult person to deal with.  There's no negotiation with her.  It's her way or nothing at all.  The problem is that I am the one who LIVES here in my family-in-law's vacation home.  What can I do that will help her understand that I get to be in charge of where things belong in the house that I live in and pay half the bills for?

Hmmmmm

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6468
Re: Can I get some help with a difficult sister-in-law?
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2013, 09:35:28 AM »
Welcome to the site. I hope we can offer some assistance.

I think a little more detail is needed.  Does she live their as well or is she just visiting?  Who owns the home or the items that she doesn't want moved?  Who pays for the other half of the bills? Have you confirmed with the owner that they ate ok with you moving things?

I think a little more background will help because I can imagine your SIL writing the following.

"My parents are letting my SIL live rent free in the family vacation home.  She only has to,pay half the bills.  This has been our family vacation home for years and is sentimental because of all the happy memories.  I'm bothered because she thinks because she is living ther full time she has complete authority and keeps making changes and moving things around.  It bothers me that I no longer have as much access to the home, but how do I make her understand that it's not fair to just change things with out discussing with other family members.  My parents won't say anything because they don't want to upset her and she is a little bit of a drama llama."
« Last Edit: January 11, 2013, 09:57:52 AM by Hmmmmm »

alkira6

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 978
Re: Can I get some help with a difficult sister-in-law?
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2013, 09:38:22 AM »
Agree with the PP. What was the deal regarding you living in the vacation home? Are you there alone, is it still the vaction home, how is access set up?  I can't really give any advise, but you have my sympathy because your post was loaded with a sence of frustration.

bloo

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1297
Re: Can I get some help with a difficult sister-in-law?
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2013, 03:31:58 PM »
Agree with the PP. What was the deal regarding you living in the vacation home? Are you there alone, is it still the vaction home, how is access set up?  I can't really give any advise, but you have my sympathy because your post was loaded with a sence of frustration.

Agree with PP's. Need a little more info but am sorry for your obvious aggravation!

Is your spouse available? How does your spouse handle it?
You are half-owner or you just pay half the bills as rent?
How much access do your in-laws give to your SIL?

Hmmmm's flip-side argument that your SIL could write shows that a little more background would be helpful.

VorFemme

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 12973
  • Strolls with scissors! Too tired to run today!
Re: Can I get some help with a difficult sister-in-law?
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2013, 04:04:41 PM »
I have never lived in a "vacation home".  I am going to make the "interesting assumption" that the house is located near some desirable location (lake, seaside, mountains, or some other feature & area that make it a popular vacation destination).

It is your full time home?  Not just the weekends?  And is there an extra bedroom (or two) that family members use for their vacations, then "share" the common areas (living room, kitchen, etc.)?  Are bathroom facilities shared or is there a "suite" set up for the vacationing family members to use exclusively (guest quarters)?

I am going to base my advice on you and your spouse (SIL's brother?) using the same common areas, such as kitchen, living room, any dining & laundry areas, and at least one bathroom when they are there.  I am going to assume that whatever bedrooms the rest of the family uses for vacations are not in use when they aren't there (they aren't making your children move out of their bedrooms for them to use over the weekend - these are "guest bedrooms" - as to bathrooms - no advice other than to clean any in common use before vacationers get there and make sure that there are clean towels & a roll of toilet paper - they should probably bring their own supplies for the rest of the time and NOT take YOUR toilet paper with them when they leave).

If you want to get some cheap "sample sized" bottles to keep on hand to set up the bathroom when you know their schedule - that might be a nice to do but optional thing.  If the house were empty, they'd have to bring all their food & other supplies with them every time they came to the house.

You live there, you get to move YOUR stuff around to make sure that the kitchen & other storage works for you.  That includes rearranging the furniture - but I wouldn't get rid of anything - unless your husband discusses it with his parents & siblings or any other relatives involved.  Grandma's china might be left on display instead of being used, except for "family" get to-gethers, as an example - that way you can't be blamed if anything seems to be damaged. 

Your everyday dishes, your supplies of toiletries, bedding, towels, food, and day-to-day staples are YOURS - you might want to clear some space in the pantry for their supplies (they are bringing their food, aren't they?) and a section of shelf in the bathroom or linen closet for their towels, toilet tissue, sheets, pillows, laundry soap, and so forth & so on (underbed storage boxes on wheels might work for things that they want to leave behind, if they fly in - it's gotten expensive to check luggage). 

I'd go so far as to suggest a small metal or particle board "locker" with a keyed lock for each family that might come to stay and need space for THEIR stuff to be left behind - but only non perishables.  Towels & sheets could be communal or private to each family - depending on things like allergies to scented laundry soap. 

But you may want your spouse to ask his sister what would make her happy and see if you can make some minor changes that would improve her attitude. 

Of course, if she wants free access every weekend and two months in the summer; your family  to move to a hotel while her family is there so she can use the master bedroom & have free access to the entire house & its facilities; and all furnishings to be left as if preserved in amber as it was back twenty (thirty?) years ago - then she might be indulging in wishful thinking.

Furniture, sheets, towels, and pillows do wear out & need replacing; dishes break; and food doesn't keep forever.  Having someone live in the house keeps a lot of things in better shape (no mice & bugs, no wild temperature variations from not being heated or cooled when vacant, and the various supplies are fresher - whether soda, flour, shampoo, or toilet tissue).

Besides - having someone in the house probably means that the place has cable or satellite TV, phone service, and probably internet - which would be cost prohibitive to set up ONLY when someone was going to be staying there.  So - more amenities for her family and she only has to pitch in for part of the costs (unless the OP & her spouse are paying 100% of those bills).
« Last Edit: January 11, 2013, 06:17:22 PM by VorFemme »
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I say more?

TootsNYC

  • A Pillar of the Forum
  • *****
  • Posts: 30648
Re: Can I get some help with a difficult sister-in-law?
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2013, 08:07:41 PM »
I think that the owners of the house need to set out the expectations for the renting residents and for the non-owner visitors (even if they are family).

So my vote is to first get you and your DH on the same page. Then have your DH speak with his parents about this. You guys are renting, even if you don't pay money directly to your ILs but instead pay other sorts of bills. Get it in writing somehow.

And then your DH needs to ask his parents to have a word with his sister about this whole idea. Share with them (without a lot of rancor or ranting) the things she does that interfere with the "this is our home" idea.

Be sure you ALSO create some sort of "this is our vacation home" space and routines, etc., for people. Because the owners of the house have probably made that a condition of the rental. But you'll want them to spell it out with you.

Then, it's enforcing her PARENTS' rules.

Also remember--you may never get her to agree. You just want to come up with something that works.

(and your frustration is an indicator that it would be good for you to find a way to live in a different house--I wish you luck! It isn't always easy.)

that_one_girl

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 157
Re: Can I get some help with a difficult sister-in-law?
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2013, 12:21:07 AM »
Thanks for all the responses.   I didnít have a lot of time before, so I couldnít include all the details, but I will flesh some things out for you all.

The arrangement is thus:  my husbandís brother and father bought this house that is in a vacation/retirement area.   Some people live in this area full-time and some only vacation part of the year.   They needed help paying for the house.  Since we needed a place to live and thought that investing our money in the familyís vacation house would be better than just throwing it away by renting from a landlord, we agreed to give an initial investment of $30,000 and to pay half the mortgage per month and the primary resident (us at the moment) pays 80% of the electric, heating oil, internet (which they use to watch Netflix), and Direct TV (which we do not use, but BIL insists on having to watch football, even though the games he wants to watch are rarely on.)  My husband is now listed on the title to the house along with his brother and father.   

When we moved in, we brought a houseful of things with us.  Frankly, our furniture is a lot better quality than what was already here when we arrived because of the simple fact that this house is a catch-all for the whole familyís hand-me-down furniture that they no longer need for their primary residences.  They helped move some of the furniture to the basement to accommodate our larger pieces.   We also purchased furniture for the Master Suite, which we use, since we are the full-time occupants of the house.  I reorganized the kitchen to combine my dishes and small appliances with the ones that were already here, and was told that it was ďSpot onĒ.  I have not thrown away anything that is theirs (not even so much as a spoon or fork) without their permission.  It is hard to keep the kitchen organized, since SIL frequently puts things away in the wrong places. I put post-its up that listed the contents of each cabinet, but SIL insisted they be taken down.

They still have access to the home for vacations.  The living room and kitchen are ďsharedĒ in the sense that the boys turn cartoons on and then sit and play with their Kindles even if I am already in the room listening to music.  There have been several times when I thought SIL was done in the kitchen, and as soon as we start cooking, she starts cooking something as well.  SIL has her own cabinet in the kitchen that she puts non-perishables in, which I donít mess with (canít speak for my husband).  There is one ďcommonĒ bathroom that we have been asked not to use while they are here.  Not really a problem with that, except for the fact that I canít soak my sore muscles in Epsom salts while they are visiting.  I place a basket of toiletries on the counter when our overnight guests are here.  SIL has accused us of using her toiletries, which is ridiculous (she uses coconut scented products, and coconut does not go well with my body chemistry).   That bathroom contains the only linen closet in the house, and when we moved in it was the only functioning bathroom, so that is where all our towels and cleaning stuff got put.  SIL frequently complains that there are no towels in the closet and that they are HERS and should be put in there.  One of hubbyís responsibilities is to carry up the folded laundry and put it away (due to the fact that I have joint problems and CANNOT negotiate the stairs while carrying something) He frequently forgets, so all the mismatched towels that go in the linen closet are usually in the laundry room (in the basement) where I have folded and stacked them waiting for hubby to put them away.   The Master Bathroom was finished only after we arrived to contribute 50% of the supplies/labor.  When that bathroom was finished, we bought matching towels for it, rather than try to remember which mismatched towels in the linen closet were ours and which were theirs.   Bedroom #1 is permanently reserved for them and no one else uses it Ö EVER. (this was a little off-putting to me, however, one of the boys has allergies, so I understand why they want to control who/what is in there).  SIL even expects me to stay out of that room, which wouldnít be a problem, except for the fact that she feels that it is appropriate to go into our room without asking permission.   SIL acted absolutely astonished that we borrowed the box fan from Bedroom #1 when hubby flooded the house and needed to dry the carpet as quickly as possible.   As I said before, we have the Master Suite.  Bedroom #2 SIL initially told we could share (so that is where our guests have stayed) though now she has changed her mind and wants it reserved permanently for them as well.  This is kind of a problem for me because it makes it so that I cannot invite my ailing mother or my elderly grandmother to visit, since they expect our guests to sleep on the couch.   I rarely have guests and most of them donít stay overnight, but when I do, I think I should be allowed to use one bedroom to accommodate them (providing, of course, that I use my own linens).   When they do visit, SIL normally sleeps in Bedroom #1 with the boys, their luggage is placed in Bedroom #2, and BIL sleeps on the couch.   I would like BIL to use Bedroom #2 so that I can be up (either due to insomnia or because I have to work an opening shift) and clank around in the kitchen without feeling like I have to tiptoe around or do yoga in the living room without feeling weird. (Something about BIL waking up to see me trying to contort myself into various strange yoga poses just squicks me out.  BIL and I kind of have some animosity because he feels that because he is a contractor that he should be allowed to dictate how the furniture in my bedroom is arranged.  He feels that the design of the house calls for the bed to be in a certain place in the room, and that this reasoning should trump the fact that I need the bed to be against a wall so that my husband is shielding me from the fan blowing on me.  I have certain tactile issues and cannot sleep with air moving past my skin. I have tried to explain this to BIL, but he just does not get it.)

I asked them to give me at least 24hrs notice before they come.  I feel that is only polite.  I explained that I asked this because I have some anxiety issues and I like to plan things out.  I also explained that I want to avoid having MIL or her daughters and FIL or BIL and family in the house at the same time, as they do not get along.   SIL told me that if MIL was here when the other side of the family showed up that MIL should get a hotel.   This makes me very uncomfortable inviting anyone to the house, since I cannot guarantee they will have a place to sleep. (I donít think I can say to my friends/family, ďPlease come visit me, you can stay with me IF you want to sleep on the couch while a perfectly good bedroom sits empty and IF you have enough cash on hand to get a hotel at a momentís notice.)  SIL invites whomever she pleases to stay overnight.  When I asked SIL if they could text me to let me know if they are planning on having an overnight guest (especially if itís a male I havenít met), she acted like I was out of line.  BIL feels like since they are also partial owners of the house that they should not have to give any notice.  I don't know if I can handle the fact that 5 people might just descend on my house at any given time.

My husband is available, but he is very passive-aggressive and non-confrontational.  He would rather sweep problems under the rug than deal with them.  He handled negotiating the whole arrangement, and he agreed to some things that I would never have agreed to.   For example, had I been in charge of the negotiations, I never would have agreed to pay for the Direct TV (we both hate watching TV with commercials and being tied to the networkís schedule and are not sports fans, so we use Netflix and Hulu exclusively)   Heís  a whole nother issue that belongs in a relationship counseling forum and not an etiquette forum.  I am very much on my own here.

I donít have children, I have puppies who stay in a fenced enclosure or in my bedroom in their crates when there are extra people in the house.  SIL seems to think that I canít possibly be fulfilled without children and that I should have children as soon as possible.  I asked her politely over e-mail (so that I didnít have to discuss my ovaries in front of the boys) to please stop suggesting I should have a baby, and she wrote back that she was offended by me asking that.  I would not even want to bring a child into this situation.

Speaking of dogs, SIL doesn't like her dogs to be on the couch.  That's fine, I respect her wishes by keeping my dogs off her couch and only letting them on our couch.  My dogs are trained not to jump up unless they are given the command.  Her dogs are not, and she acts like I should enforce her rules on her dogs.  If I see her dog on the couch, I will tell him to get off, but I don't think I should have to put aside my knitting or whatever I am doing to try to drag her giant dog off the couch.

Every time they are here I feel like I am being pushed into my bedroom.  I agreed to own half a house, not one bedroom with occasional kitchen use.   

They live 3 hrs away, so they drive in.  Sometimes, if I am lucky, I will get a call before they leave, and sometimes I will get a call when they are 30 minutes away.  The most recent time I got a call when they were at the end of the driveway (they swear up and down that they told hubby, and he swears they did not).   I have asked them to communicate directly with me, and not go through hubby, since he is unreliable, yet they insist on speaking to him.

The issue that prompted this post was this:  SIL looked in a cabinet that had Tupperware on two shelves and medical supplies on the top shelf and said that the medical supplies were in the wrong place.  She continued on to say that medical supplies belong in the bathroom (something I know is wrong, because the moisture ruins them) and reccomended that I use the cabinet under the sink to store the medical supplies (this cabinet smells strongly of perfume, so I don't think it is the best place).  I didnít feel like getting in an argument, so I told SIL I would find another place for the medical supplies.   I donít understand why SIL thinks that I should keep everything in the place she would keep it.   I need her to understand that I live here and I should be allowed to have my things in the common area.   I put the medical supplies in the common area so that everyone could use them, but now they will be in my room, and she will need to ask to use them.

If I could afford to leave my husband and live on my own, I would do it.

bloo

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1297
Re: Can I get some help with a difficult sister-in-law?
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2013, 12:38:54 AM »
I promise you I read every word of your post. My blood pressure, I think, rose a few points while doing so.

Short of exploding on a regular basis at your DH, BIL & SIL (completely counterproductive by the way) there is nothing you can do in this situation.

I realize you say you are on your own. And you are. You have a relationship issue with your DH. If he had any boundaries whatsoever, HE would have handled this situation pre-emptively by not getting into it in the first place.

Etiquette will not help, but if I may be so bold as to suggest marital counseling for you and DH, maybe his eyes will be opened and he can start cleaning up this mess he got you into.

I really feel very sorry for your situation and am glad that you are wise enough to not bring a child into it right now. Keep doing the yoga, it's good for peace, relaxation and overall de-stressing.

Promise

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 353
Re: Can I get some help with a difficult sister-in-law?
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2013, 12:40:50 AM »
Short of selling your portion, I don't know what you can do. Have you had a large family meeting with ground rules set and agreed upon before beginning the meeting? This is one where you might need an unbiased mediator who keeps notes as to what is agreed upon. After it's over all parties sign an agreement about behavior, use of items, and basic expectations. Otherwise, SIL will still do what she does and act resentfully of you in that home.

that_one_girl

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 157
Re: Can I get some help with a difficult sister-in-law?
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2013, 01:09:37 AM »
It's not really MY portion ... the agreement exists between DH, BIL, and FIL.  SIL and I are referred to in the written agreement as "spouse", not even named!  It irks me!  Even if I had a portion to speak of, they do not have enough money to buy it from me.

I ask DH for marriage counseling on a regular basis.
"Hey Girl, what do you want for your birthday?"  "Marriage Counseling"
"Hey Girl, what do you want for Christmas?"  "Marriage Counseling"
"Hey Girl, what do you want for Valentine's Day?"  "Marriage Counseling"
"Hey Girl, what do you want for our anniversary?"  "Marriage Counseling"

I have tried to get me, hubby, SIL, BIL, and FIL all together for a meeting to discuss this issue, but I cannot.  SIL and BIL are always busy doing vacation-y stuff.  The boys are constantly present.  I don't feel comfortable discussing adult things in front of them.

Gwywnnydd

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1649
Re: Can I get some help with a difficult sister-in-law?
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2013, 01:17:37 AM »
It's not really MY portion ... the agreement exists between DH, BIL, and FIL.  SIL and I are referred to in the written agreement as "spouse", not even named!  It irks me!  Even if I had a portion to speak of, they do not have enough money to buy it from me.

I ask DH for marriage counseling on a regular basis.
"Hey Girl, what do you want for your birthday?"  "Marriage Counseling"
"Hey Girl, what do you want for Christmas?"  "Marriage Counseling"
"Hey Girl, what do you want for Valentine's Day?"  "Marriage Counseling"
"Hey Girl, what do you want for our anniversary?"  "Marriage Counseling"

I have tried to get me, hubby, SIL, BIL, and FIL all together for a meeting to discuss this issue, but I cannot.  SIL and BIL are always busy doing vacation-y stuff.  The boys are constantly present.  I don't feel comfortable discussing adult things in front of them.

I'm afraid your primary problem is not your SIL. Your primary problem is your DH.
I don't have any advice, but I have lots of sympathy, that really sucks :(.

bloo

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1297
Re: Can I get some help with a difficult sister-in-law?
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2013, 01:20:02 AM »
It's not really MY portion ... the agreement exists between DH, BIL, and FIL.  SIL and I are referred to in the written agreement as "spouse", not even named!  It irks me!  Even if I had a portion to speak of, they do not have enough money to buy it from me.

I ask DH for marriage counseling on a regular basis.
"Hey Girl, what do you want for your birthday?"  "Marriage Counseling"
"Hey Girl, what do you want for Christmas?"  "Marriage Counseling"
"Hey Girl, what do you want for Valentine's Day?"  "Marriage Counseling"
"Hey Girl, what do you want for our anniversary?"  "Marriage Counseling"

I have tried to get me, hubby, SIL, BIL, and FIL all together for a meeting to discuss this issue, but I cannot.  SIL and BIL are always busy doing vacation-y stuff.  The boys are constantly present.  I don't feel comfortable discussing adult things in front of them.

Thanks for the clarifications. I am very sorry. Rock and hard place.

In your position, I would go to see someone for marriage counseling, alone if I had to. I think that is what I would do if I was in your position. It may be quite illuminating for you.

While I hope you stay on this board, again, etiquette is not going to help you with this issue, IMO.

Corvid

  • Etiquette Hell Thread Assassin Squad
  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 882
Re: Can I get some help with a difficult sister-in-law?
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2013, 01:41:31 AM »
Wow.  You are not in a good place.  Your in-laws are ridiculously bossy and inconsiderate and you've got no back-up and few options.  This arrangement apparently works for everyone but you, no one cares how you feel about anything, so they have no incentive to change.  How often do they come?

VorFemme

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 12973
  • Strolls with scissors! Too tired to run today!
Re: Can I get some help with a difficult sister-in-law?
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2013, 01:45:27 AM »
The only Etiquette Hell suggestion I can see is to get a lot of chocolate bunnies, some Coca Cola, milk, and Kahlua - I'm not sure if offereing them to SIL would improve HER attitude - but having one yourself might help you cope with her.

If all else fails - smash the chocolate bunny and eat the bits while drinking the Bunny FooFoo (a shot of Kahlua, several ounces of milk, and the rest of the glass - or a second bunny - filled with Coca Cola so that it is fizzy and tastes a bit like an ice cream float, only alcoholic).  If you can't have Kahlua - smash the bunny and eat while drinking an Coca Cola float (optional - coffee ice cream instead of vanilla). 

Putting the faces of BIL and SIL on the bunnies is not a good idea - but you can imagine them being there.

And it sounds like SIL has control issues...I'd suggest a LOCK on the master bedroom door - with a key around your neck - even when you're just heading to the living room. 

Out of curiosity - how old are "the boys" that SIL is sleeping with them instead of her husband? 
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I say more?

sparksals

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 17358
Re: Can I get some help with a difficult sister-in-law?
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2013, 01:50:15 AM »
This is a marital issue, not one of etiquette.  Your husband needs to stand up to his family and put his wife ahead of his bossy sister.