My mother-in-law became ill last September when she and her husband were visiting for the High Holidays. Though she has fully recovered, it has been eight months and my in-laws are still in our home. My mother-in-law is critical of everything and everybody save my husband, bickers nonstop with my father-in-law and meddles in everyone’s business. I have been polite and respectful to her all this time. If I say anything to my husband, he gets upset with me. I am ready to move out because I hate being home when she is around. Any advice? My husband will not go to counseling or speak with a rabbi about this.
— Invaded by in-laws
If your husband is unwilling to listen to a third party, you will have to do all of the talking. Let him know baldly that your in-laws are not the issue. It is your marriage that is at stake. Make it clear that if your in-laws were ill and required full-time care, or could not afford to live on their own, you would be delighted to welcome them into your household — assuming that a serious conversation preceded that move and that the decision was a joint one. The invasion was never discussed, and it’s time for it to end. If your husband doesn’t see your point, you may have to give him a taste of living alone with his parents. From what you report, you won’t need a hotel room for long.
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Over a year ago we celebrated my son’s bar mitzvah. My brother-in-law’s son attends a military academy, and the parents had him wear his dress uniform. To make a long story short, my nephew became the center of attention rather than my son. I asked his parents why he wore the uniform, and they said that he didn’t have any other suit that fit. I think this was an opportunity for my brother-in-law to direct the spotlight to his son. Do I have the right to be upset?
— Angry auntie
Probably you did have the right to be upset — over a year ago. It is hard to imagine any adult so insecure that he would need to steal the attention from the bar mitzvah boy — especially assuming that your nephew had a bar mitzvah of his own, out of uniform. If he didn’t, the issues may be other than what you think. But the event — and your interpretation of it — are no longer the point. Your son has doubtless got on with his life, and it’s time you did too. Holding on for a full year to any slight — real or imagined — or grudge is not good for your physical or mental health. Especially since your brother-in-law is oblivious. Bury this one. And remember the bar mitzvah boy, who doesn’t sound to have felt one bit slighted on his important day.
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