Perspective | Carolyn Hax: A mother-in-law stays in a hotel because of her son’s comments


“Stressed out”???? He’s referring to the fact that I put effort into cleaning, planning meals and preparing the linens. I don’t think I gave off the impression that I didn’t want her to come, and I would have done the same for any guest. I think he’s really just upset because I disrupted HIS week — he of course is more comfortable with her and cares less about things like giving guests a clean towel.

So what do I do now? Most of my communication with my mother-in-law is through him. I must look like an unwelcoming daughter-in-law and I’m sure her feelings are hurt. What is the least awkward way to repair the damage my husband has done?

Gah!: 1. These are pre-pandemic questions to give us a preview of post-pandemic life. They are not encouragement to travel or host right now.

2. Ask your husband if he prefers to have his mother stay off-site. It could be that he used you as his excuse to steer her to a hotel. If so, then use this, in turn, as a good opportunity to discuss the marital politics of his throwing you under the bus without checking with you first.

3. If he wasn’t using you in this way and actually likes having his mom stay with you, then call your mother-in-law — after notifying your husband of your intent — and say you and her son have a very different idea of “stressed out.” Say he sees putting out fresh towels as stressful preparation when you see it as a staple of having (and not scaring off) guests, and you enjoy having her as a guest, so please come,

In other words, give him his turn at taking the fall. Good luck.

Dear Carolyn: My mother is very old and old-school. My family is fine using their best behavior for the length of a dinner, but with longer visits that doesn’t work. We are a family who thinks farting is hysterical. She does not. That’s kind of it, in a nutshell.

She is a quiet, helpful person, who thinks of herself as a low-maintenance guest, which is mostly true, but my husband and children chafe at her formal, old-fashioned ways. When she visits, everyone in my family makes themselves scarce and people are much shorter-tempered. I can’t deal with that for the 10 days she’s planning to visit. I do want her to come, but not for as long. I need to tell her some semblance of the truth. Suggestions?

Best Behavior: Why don’t you just tell her your family is an unruly, farting mob and can’t maintain their best Grandma-friendly behavior for a full 10 days? You love her. Say so. And want her to feel welcome. So it’s well-behaved visits of a few days or full-on Wild Kingdom for 10.

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