Annie's Mailbox: Guests have overstayed their welcome

Dear Annie: An acquaintance recently lost his job, and we invited him and his wife to move into our home on a temporary basis. We all agreed they would live with us until one of them found another professional position.

It's been only three months, but it's already uncomfortable. "Sue and Bob" do small household chores and pay a minimal amount in rent, but that doesn't counteract the interruption they have added to our daily lives. They have taken over the fridge, the cabinets, the laundry room, the living space and the kitchen. We have no private time anymore and cannot trust them to lock doors or turn off the dryer or coffee maker when they leave the house. They parade around the house semi-nude, make a lot of noise when we're sleeping and talk while we are reading or watching TV.

We have discussed these issues and others as they have come up, but it hasn't helped. We've asked them to keep out of our bedrooms and home office, but the other day I found both of them coming out of the office. We do not want to put locks all over. We want to trust them, but it seems unlikely. They have made comments about our bills, which indicates they have looked at our private mail.

They are supposedly applying for jobs, but so far haven't found anything that pays what they feel they deserve. We worry we'll be stuck with them forever. They have severance pay, unemployment and money from family members. They spend it on manicures, personal trainers and new electronics. Here's the kicker: They are actively seeking a divorce.

How do we tell them they have overstayed their welcome?

- Bad Roomies

Dear Roomies: You need to set a deadline and stick to it. Tell Sue and Bob that you hadn't anticipated the job search would take so long and you can no longer accommodate them. Give them one month to find other arrangements. Bring home boxes so they can pack (and help them along). At the end of the deadline, if they make no attempt to leave, tell them you will put their belongings on the front steps. Then change your locks.

Dear Annie: My husband and son have chronic lung problems. Our son has asthma, and my husband's lung health has gotten worse over the years. We have never been smokers, but we have tolerated our relatives who are. Lately, however, family gatherings are proving difficult. Exposure to cigarette smoke can cause my husband to have a setback and my son's asthma to flare up.

I have mentioned that their smoking causes problems, but they don't seem to pay attention. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. If I were a smoker, I would feel terrible if I thought I caused someone else to have health problems, but they don't seem to feel the same. Yet they would be upset if we didn't attend these functions. Any suggestions?

- Smoked Out

Dear Smoked Out: Your husband and son should not be subjected to cigarette smoke, period. Tell the relatives you love them and would enjoy spending time with them, but your family's health comes first. Ask if they would please smoke outside. Otherwise, sorry, but you won't be able to come.

Dear Annie: Hurray for "Put Some Clothes On," the man who objected to the trend of women wearing "tight clothing, push-up bras and plunging necklines."

I teach at a community college and am routinely barraged by students with practically half their breasts "looking" back at me. It distracts me from the subject matter, and I'm a happily married female! I can't imagine what it must be like for my male colleagues, let alone other students trying to get an education.

I'm no prude. Some of these styles might be nice in another setting. I wish I could tell my students to button up, but I'd probably be sued.

- Cover Up and Learn

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