Dear Amy: My in-laws live six hours away. I like it that way. They keep talking about moving to our town, but this would be at the cost of our relationship.

They’re lovely people in small doses, but we lived near them for a year when I had my first child, and it was awful. They often don’t respect boundaries, and make everything about themselves.

My father-in-law can be especially obnoxious. He fights with me when he’s drinking (which is every night).

We would prefer to see them on our planned short trips two or three times a year. I want to tell them to stay where they are, but I don’t know how to do that.


Amy says: Your in-laws seem to be fishing for encouragement, but it’s important to remember that you don’t have to bite every hook that dangles.

If they explicitly ask you what you think of the idea, ask them a series of questions before you respond: Why do you want to move? What are you hoping for? What is influencing your thinking?

After listening to them, respond by being honest: “We all enjoy our visits with you, but I in particular struggled when we lived close by because I felt you didn’t respect our boundaries. Living at a distance has been better for our relationship, certainly from my perspective.”

If your father-in-law is a belligerent alcoholic, your mother-in-law might need more help than you realize. Take a fresh look at their domestic situation to honestly discern if they are OK. The situation at their home might be deteriorating, which is why they are looking for a change. An elder housing community might be a good fit.

Greed on display at shower

Dear Amy: I recently received a “display bridal shower” invitation.

The invitation states to bring your gift, unwrapped and unboxed, to the shower. The gift will be on “display” for everyone to see so that there’s more time to eat, drink and celebrate the bride-to-be.

I am uncomfortable with it. So are some other relatives. Isn’t the whole idea of a bridal shower to watch the bride open each gift, see the excitement and reaction on her face, thank the giver and hear the ooo’s and ahhh’s from guests?

This seems over the top, and classless/tacky. What is your take on this?


Amy says: I recently went to a shower like this, and there were almost 100 guests. It would have been pretty wasteful, outlandish and exhausting to witness that amount of unwrapping.

I’m not sure about delivering a gift “unboxed,” however. This might make it impossible for the bride to exchange a gift, if she receives multiples. Regardless of how “tacky” you might think this is, it is truly classless (to use your word) to gossip about this with other family members. Either climb on board or send your (wrapped) gift, with regrets.


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