DEAR ABBY: My widowed mother-in-law, "Minnie," works full time as a trucker, traveling around the U.S. She doesn't have a home of her own since she lives on the road. My husband and I live in a small one-bedroom apartment. When she's here for holidays or family functions, she always sleeps on our couch.
At first I didn't mind once or twice for holidays, but since my niece was born, Minnie wants to be home more to visit with her. My husband's brother has a large home and plenty of space, but Minnie never stays there because she doesn't like my sister-in-law. Minnie is also irresponsible about letting us know when she's coming and how long she will be staying. One night can turn into a week.
I have had many conversations and some blowout fights with my husband over this issue. He's the older brother and feels guilty about asking her to stay at a hotel. My sister-in-law doesn't help the situation. She sabotages holidays and events to ensure Minnie won't feel comfortable staying there. I don't know how I will manage to get through the holidays this year. Help! -- DREADING IT IN THE EAST
DEAR DREADING: Blowout fights with your husband are detrimental to your marriage. Because he appears to be unable to summon the backbone to have an honest conversation with his mother, I guess it's up to you.
Explain to Minnie that the current arrangement isn't working. Tell her twice-a-year visits for holidays and family functions were manageable, but in the future, if she's unwilling to stay in her younger son's home, she should arrange to stay at a hotel or motel for those "extra" visits.