How to handle a visiting brother-in-law's bad habits
My husband's brother has left after another visit and I would appreciate tips on how to tell him, when he asks to visit again, that we love him but he's not welcome back unless some things change drastically.
He never visited us until we moved to a cool city with lots to do. Now he's come twice, and we don't want a third. He's immature and self-centered, but I wasn't prepared for what a bad houseguest he is. He won't have so much as a cup of coffee at our house, insisting on going out for everything. The first trip he just sat back expectantly when the check arrived, until we finally had to tell him we could not afford to pay for everything. He only wants to do what he wants to do, making faces and being passive aggressive at our suggestions. He doesn't pick up after himself, he drinks a lot. You get the idea.
My husband's suggestions are to either pretend we're not available whenever he suggests visiting again, which is not really my style and is going to be suspicious eventually, or tell him he can visit for no more than two days. I'm fine with that, but that will still necessitate a conversation about why.
Should we draw up a set of rules for him? Other suggestions? He has the right to live how he wants, but we want to draw the line.
-- Not Your Hotel or Servant
Of course you do -- his "right to live how he wants" doesn't include doing so at your expense or without any consequences.
His being "immature and self-centered" does mean he won't anticipate this himself, yes, because that's the one-question maturity test: Do you treat others as if you're more important than they are? Yes/no.
However, you're talking as if you need a big conversation to get your point across, and in fact you don't even need him to get this. All you need is to be utterly unmoved by any expectations he has that you're not willing to meet.
For example, you say: "He insist[s] on going out for everything." No big conversation needed there; just don't budge. "We're having our coffee here. You're welcome to go out if you'd like."
And: "[W]e finally had to tell him we could not afford to pay for everything"? Again, no need to explain or stall until "finally" arrives. Instead, that first time he sat back: "Your share is $X." And if he "forgot" his wallet: "We'll get this one, you get next." If he tests you, establish who's paying before you order.
And: "He only wants to do what he wants to do, making faces ... at our suggestions," means, "OK! Have fun. Will you be back by dinner?"
And: "Please pick your clothes up -- they're on the hall floor." Because, seriously. Stand there while he does it.
Hosting invited guests involves forbearance (even then, within limits), but you don't have to take this self-invited guest anywhere, buy him anything, agree to anything, or put up with anything from him you don't want to. And you can say, "Sure, come visit -- just two days, though; that's all we can manage," and don't explain further. Embracing that in the moment is the drastic change I emphatically recommend.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.
(c) 2019, Washington Post Writers Group