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Self-Help Advice on Annoying House Guests

Written by Paul Wolf

Advice on setting boundaries and keeping the peace. When a demanding relative becomes an unwelcome overnight guest, stress levels soar. Here's how to make the best of it without checking into a motel.annoying house guests

The following problem was put before problem-solver and stress-buster author, Jerry Minchinton:

My mother will be coming to town next week and wants to stay with my husband and me. She says it is not worthwhile to stay just one night and has told us (she didn't ask) she will stay at least two. My husband is not happy. I admit Mom is a handful, but telling her to check into a motel won't go over well. What should I do?

The amount of strife you'd be creating by sending your mother to a motel probably wouldn't be worth the quieter house even if your mother is a handful, says Minchinton, author of Wising Up: How to Stop Making Such a Mess of Your Life.

A bigger issue is your husband's feelings. If your husband and mother have an irreparable relationship, it will be less stressful to plan a one-on-one visit with her. You could suggest that you take a mother-daughter trip for the two days or go visit her instead.

If the relationship between your husband and mother is workable, that means make room for Mom. But be sure your husband knows you sympathize with him. To sweeten the deal, you may want to offer to reciprocate your husband's tolerance of your mother by doing something he enjoys after she leaves, such as taking him to a ballgame.

Remember, she is your mother, not his. If he feels that the stress level will be too high to handle, encourage him to take that important business trip sooner rather than later. After all, it's only two nights.

If your mother starts to make a habit of inviting herself over and dictating the terms of her visit, you will need to sit down with her and have a talk.

At such time, you should be gentle, diplomatic and firm. The issue mustn't be her style or personality, because you can expect no good outcome from such a conversation. The issue should be your desire to manage your household and control your schedule.

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