Order your copy of Minding Miss Manners now.

Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Sloppy In-Laws Aren’t Going To Change After 35 Years

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have been married to my husband for 35 years, and his siblings treat our home with no respect.

We live in a modest home, by our own choice: There are just the two of us, no children, and we believe in leaving a smaller footprint. We could afford a home three times larger, but plan to stay and be as environmentally conscious as possible.

I am a professional interior designer, so our furnishings, artwork and accessories have all been selected with care, and with the effort to make our small home warm and welcoming.

Yet when the in-laws arrive, they treat our home as if we lived in a dump. They put their feet on the furniture, drop food on the carpet and make no effort to pick it up, spill wine on bedspreads (that’s another issue altogether) and leave wet glasses on wood tabletops. Then they leave when the dinner, brunch or whatever is over, with no effort or offer made to help clean up.

I don’t mind the cleanup so much, since they are not careful with dishes and have on numerous occasions thrown silverware into the trash. I would rather do it myself to avoid any broken or lost utensils.

Why would they treat our home with no respect -- or more importantly, treat us with no respect? I get frustrated and angry because my husband never says a word. He is the youngest, the fourth boy, in his large family.

I guess my question is twofold: Why the lack of respect, and why won’t my husband speak up?

GENTLE READER: Because he grew up with these people’s household habits, and therefore sees only habitual sloppiness where you see disrespect. Omitting the malicious motivation will not remove the wine stains from your bedspread -- what will? -- but removing the anger will help you deal with this situation.

You say you don’t mind cleaning up -- really? Miss Manners would think you would make that easier by covering your tables with trays or coasters and using old bedspreads. Their visits are not the time to display your interior decorating skills.

And instead of expecting your husband to speak up, couldn’t he just clean up?