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nytimes – How can I tell my mother-in-law to stop?

My partner and I live on the west coast; our families live on the east coast. When we get home, we make detailed plans to see our parents so that our visits are evenly distributed and fair. Over the past few years, however, when we visit my family, my partner’s mom has a habit of stopping by and sticking around for the day. (She spent the night once!) It upsets me; it prevents me from spending time alone with my parents. We told her that these days are reserved for my family, and that my parents do not infringe on the time that she has designated with her son, but she continues to spend. I want her to respect my private time with my family. No advice?

BEAUTIFUL GIRL

It’s tempting to conclude that your partner’s mother is a rule-breaking monster. (And maybe she is!) What could be fairer, after all, than dividing a six-day visit into three days with your family and three days with your partner’s? Here’s the problem, though: Sometimes neutral rules (like yours) affect people in different circumstances in very different ways.

Let me give you an example from my marriage. My mother was a widow and a little lonely. My husband’s parents are married and lead an active social life. My mother necessary our visits more than my in-laws. So we spent more time with her. Now, that might not be your situation – and more importantly, it might not be what you and your partner want. (that matters too!)

On your own account, you and him clearly asked his mother to stop passing. So ask again, and this time explore why she is struggling to comply with your request. Or maybe (and this is just an idea) you and your partner can briefly split up and spend time with your families individually, then time with them together. Additional bonus: A mini-break from our partners (which we love)!

My boss regularly buys lunch for all the staff. When he does, there is a person in the office who always orders a starter, a main course and a dessert. Everyone just orders a sandwich or a salad. One day this person said to me: “It’s dinner for me tonight! as she ordered a meal of penne with vodka. Is it appropriate? Why is this bothering me so much?

COLLEAGUE

Let’s start with the most interesting question: why this bothers you. I think your sense of fair play is offended by a colleague who takes advantage of your boss’s generosity. (Guess she doesn’t order three-course lunches when the company isn’t taking the note.) Still, if your boss doesn’t care, why would you? I would do MYOB here.

I agree that your colleague sounds catchy. On the flip side, this occasional greed can help her feel better about a number of grievances at work. And rest assured: your boss is reimbursed by the company for the cost of lunches (or they are deducted as a business expense on his taxes).

I am a caregiver for my husband who has been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. He also suffers from leukemia and an inoperable brain tumor. Our next door neighbors recently installed powerful wind chimes very close to our house. They keep us awake day and night! My husband needs to rest and I have to give him 30 pills a day, which is difficult when I lack sleep. Their house is like a fortress, so we wrote letters to them (including my husband’s dire diagnoses). But nothing has changed. The husband is a doctor, but they don’t seem to care. Earplugs and noise machines don’t help. No advice?

AND ME

I’m so sorry for your troubles! The last thing you need is cold-hearted neighbors. For now, forget to contact them again. Your city may have a noise ordinance. Call their administrative offices or the police department’s non-emergency number and ask if they can help you.

Also let the medical team treating your husband know what’s going on. Maybe a social worker can get involved. Or maybe a member of your husband’s medical team knows the doctor-husband and can call on your behalf. If the readers have any other ideas, please send them, and I will pass them on to Andi. Good luck!

Friends of mine were on vacation in a small town waiting for a local restaurant to open. It had rained and the street was strewn with puddles. Their teenage daughter dug her toe into one of them and found a diamond ring with a good sized stone. Her parents let her keep him. Would you view this as a “research gatekeeper” situation?

JILLE

Much to the chagrin of veterans of the playing field, the law is often more complex than that of “goalie finders, weeping losers.” Our common law (the jurisprudence created by prosecutions and judicial decisions of judges) recognizes a doctrine of finders keepers.

But many states have passed laws that require researchers to try and confirm that the property has really been given up – and not just lost. This often involves police reports. So it’s a complicated situation. (And how much could you really appreciate a ring that stirs someone else’s sadness?)


For help with your difficult situation, send a question to [email protected], Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.



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