DEAR AMY: I have three sisters-in-law. I have been a part of their family for 15 years. We all get along (for the most part). Recently, my husband and I purchased a home. We have an open-door policy for people to come and use our pool. We also host family gatherings. At our latest gathering, I noticed two of his sisters wearing my clothes. One volunteered: “We were wet from the pool, and found these in your dryer.” I was assured that I would get the clothes back that night, but they were never returned to me. Last weekend there was a birthday party. They made off with some towels. I went to their home and found a blanket that was given to me by my mother being used as a curtain in one of their bedrooms. One sister asked me if she could borrow a shirt, and I obliged. She wore neither of the two options that I lent her, and has not returned them. I prefer not to be confrontational. I know this is petty because at the end of the day, those things do not really matter. I feel frustrated because people are violating my kindness and my space. People come over knowing they’re going swimming. Is it my responsibility to provide them with clothing and towels?
DEAR PUT UPON: If you truly believe these material things don’t matter, then carry on. Prepare yourself to have your home slowly stripped, however.
This does bother you, and it should bother you because this is not about towels and blankets, but about boundaries and respect.
I cannot imagine actually enjoying an “open house” policy to the extent that you come home from work and find people lounging around your pool. Casting liability issues aside, do you really want people having free rein to your home?
This would be fairly easy to fix, but you would have to be willing to pitch a few fits, and basically declare that when people come to your home, they are expected to bring their own clothes and towels. You might set up a “lost and found” basket system, where anything in the basket is fair game — otherwise, hands off. And for goodness sake, get your blanket back.
The next time one of your sisters-in-law asks to borrow something, say, “Well, I’m still waiting for you to return the things I lent you last time, so when you return those things, I’d be happy to lend you something else.”
DEAR AMY: My husband passed away last year. He wrote his own obituary. We discussed what he wanted many times. He did not want the names of his children from his first marriage in his obituary. Neither child had anything to do with my husband for more than 20 years because of their mother. He always told the kids that our door was open, but he never heard from them. He didn’t even know where they lived. His obituary had my name, our sons, their wives and our grandchildren. It was very short and just the way he wanted it. We both knew I’d take flak for it. I was told I should have changed it and that I’m to blame for how it was written. My husband didn’t need his former family or siblings’ approval to write what he did. I would never have changed his or anyone else’s last requests. I’d like to know if other readers have gone through similar situations like this and how they handled it. I’ve never seen this subject addressed in your column.
DEAR STANDING: My daughter held a job working for several newspapers, helping people place death notices. According to her, it was not uncommon for people to leave out family members in these notices. Sometimes, two obits would be submitted for the same person — each mentioning different family members.
I disagree with your husband’s choice to leave out the names of his own children, in part because these notices can be seen as documents of record.
It also achieves his ex-wife’s goal, which is to keep these children away from their father. However, you’ve carried out his wishes, and you shouldn’t have to justify it.
DEAR AMY: Lately, you seem to be publishing “trashy” questions in your column. What gives?
DEAR FED UP: I don’t classify people’s problems as either “trashy” or “classy.” Nor have I noticed a remarkable change in the queries sent to me. Every genuine question deserves a genuine response.