DEAR MISS MANNERS: My sister-in-law (wife of my husband’s brother) has declined the last five invitations to events either thrown by me or in my honor, each time with a not-entirely-convincing last-minute excuse (i.e., traffic was bad, her child was tired, etc.).
How many times do I allow her to decline before I remove her from my guest list entirely?
GENTLE READER: How important are the relationships with the rest of the people involved?
The easiest solution is to continue to keep her on the list so as not to provoke ire amongst her and the rest of the family. But if you are feeling bold and can maintain a polite tone, Miss Manners would recommend that you enlist your brother, saying, “It seems that our parties always seem to fall on times that are inconvenient for Sophie. Would she rather that I not burden her with them?” This will likely either force her into a confession or encourage your brother to press the issue privately.