Annie’s Mailbox for June 6, 2011: Sister-in-law’s nosiness no longer tolerable
June 6, 2011
Dear Annie: I have lived across the street from my husband’s sister for 20 years. She is super-competitive and nosy. She knows our every move — when we are home, who is visiting, etc. When she sees a car in our driveway, she will come over with some lame excuse to see who is visiting. If I buy a piece of furniture or paint a room, she comes over to spy on my decorating.
My husband is aware of her nosiness but copes with it. I am on edge all the time. I’ve decided the next time she runs over to snoop, I will tell her how nosy she is and how sick and tired I am of it. Would that be wrong? Moving is out of the question.
— Fed Up
Dear Fed Up: So your insecure sister-in-law admires your decorating and is so lonely that she spends her time envying your visitors. We feel sorry for her. And after 20 years, you’d cope much better with this intrusive woman if you could find it in your heart to feel sorry for her, too. We know she is difficult, but she’s family. Invite her for coffee once in a while. A reasonably cordial relationship with her would be better for everyone.
Dear Annie: Two years ago, after my wife died, I moved to another state to live with my brother and his wife because they needed help.
I have three sons, all of whom now live far away. They call two or three times a year. I’d like to hear from them more often, so I call them when I want to talk. I have hinted strongly that I wish they would call more frequently, but the last time I did that, my oldest son asked if I was having a “pity party.”
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They do say they love me before hanging up, but I wonder if it’s true since they so rarely keep in touch on their own. I even bought an expensive computer with a camera so I could see my grandkids, but my son says he doesn’t have time to set it up. I don’t want to create a problem, but I am.
— Feeling Dejected
Dear Dejected: We agree that your sons don’t call as much as they should, but there is no rule that says children must be the ones to initiate contact. We suggest you call them once a week. Send e-mails. Text the grandkids. Be upbeat. Plan visits. And please look into activities to keep you socially active and engaged. It sounds as if you will need to be less focused on your children.
Dear Annie: This is for “Concerned Wife,” whose husband was diagnosed with diabetes. Six years ago, that was me. I believed I couldn’t control what my husband ate, and then realized I did the cooking and shopping. When my husband went to the doctor, I went along and asked to see a dietitian. I went to diabetes classes.
My children were also at risk because diabetes runs in the family. We began with small, healthy changes. I quit buying soda and served water or low-fat milk. I cut back on the carbs and cooked more protein and vegetables. To reduce sodium and sugar, I cooked more from scratch. I learned how to make healthy substitutions, such as lean turkey for ground beef. I introduced a new vegetable a month, serving it the same way once a week for four weeks. It worked.
I never once blamed the diabetes. I’d say, “We are trying new things.” Over time, we all began making better food choices. I began walking and invited my husband to come with me. As we walked, we talked about our day, the kids, our dreams, and it turned into a nighttime ritual.
Tell “Concerned” not to make this “his” problem, but to create a team spirit. Be positive about changes. The whole family will benefit.
— Been There