DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband’s family was not trained in etiquette as mine was, which I can understand. However, to me, much of their behavior crosses the line as rude and inconsiderate.
My mother-in-law passed away earlier this year, and was occasionally rude at family dinners that I hosted, but I felt that she genuinely cared about me, and I overlooked her behavior as ignorance.
My husband’s sister, on the other hand, is rude and inconsiderate, and thinly veils her contempt for me. She waits until late afternoon on the day of a dinner to ask if she can bring anything, knowing that I will have planned and prepared everything by then. She doesn’t lift a finger to help out, points at dishes and asks “What is that?,” makes statements like “It’s 7:30, shouldn’t we eat now?” (when she has not prepared one part of the meal), and I have caught her making a look of disgust at me when I looked up from my meal.
On other occasions, she shows up early and asks if I have “anything to munch on” or “anything sweet.” She wanders around the house to see if I’ve changed anything or look at what I’ve done, etc., bringing along her adult daughters or whoever else may be with her. I can’t take being angry and hurt anymore.
GENTLE READER: Since you managed to indulge your mother-in-law’s idiosyncrasies, perhaps you can do the same for your sister-in-law -- particularly if your husband is not going to help.
In the meantime, Miss Manners suggests that you try saying in your sweetest tone, “Oh, dear. I never seem to be able to please you. I will just have to observe how you do things the next time we have dinner at your house.” This will either force her to be the host next time or concede that it will not happen -- so that she had better appreciate what she has here.