Friday, January 20, 2012

What Do I Do to Her Visiting Relatives Who Take Over Our House?

Dear James and Mirriam,

My wife, a Filipina and I (I am Dutch) live in a spacious  condo unit in Makati. Our place is  good enough for my three-year-old son, my wife and I.  However her relatives visit us at twice  a year.  We have an extra bedroom for guests but when they come, their minimum number is three.   I feel uncomfortable if  there are five or more guests, and some   have to sleep in our living room, and also stay with us for more than one month.  During these relatives' visits  I feel like I am invisible.  My wife caters to all of their needs, wants and whims, and tells me these  are all expected of her.  I could understand that they miss each other and they have to catch up with each others'  life stories, hence the constant chattering in their dialect,  consuming  lots of food, drinks, etc. I hate that they also take over my house - they tell my wife how everything should be done like rearranging our furniture; how to 'discipline' our son, how to cook our food; etc.   What annoys me is suddenly my wife treats me  like a second-class citizen in my own home.  She has to cook Nanay or Tatay's favorite food; go to the beauty salon with her sister; go out shopping with everyone;  watch Tagalog movies in movie theaters, etc.  I feel left out, and all the while I am spending more money for everyday expenses and their shopping, eating out, etc. 

My son unwittingly joins the 'snubbing'.  He goes out to 'them' for his needs, for his socialization, etc. There are times that I am not able to control myself and become sarcastic to all of them, although I don't think they understand or maybe they just don't care at all.   I long for the day when her relatives leave and we are living 'normal' again.  I have another worry:   Her older sister who had just separated from her husband  would like to live with us.  She has two sons.  I don't like her relatives living with us, especially that they think  they have the right to take over my home.  What shall I do?   

Invisible Husband
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Dear Invisible Husband,

Have you talked to your wife about how you feel?  You and your wife should have a serious talk on  how her relatives are damaging your relationship.    You should agree on the duration of her relatives' visit;   the number of relatives who could visit, etc.   Your wife should be able to understand how you feel, and should be considerate enough to have her relatives  adjust to your kind of lifestyle.   It is not your place to talk with her relatives about your discomfort or annoyance, and your sarcasm is not the right  way of expressing your feelings.   Your wife should be 'ambassadress' to keep the peace between you and her relatives by catering to your and your son's needs before her relatives' wants and needs.  

As regards her sister, if you are not comfortable with her staying with your family, be frank about it.  You may help the sister to find a good accommodation, and help financially  until she gets a job out of the goodness of your heart, but you're in no obligation to give her support.  You and your wife should make it clear to the sister what kind and to what extent you are helping her. 


Dear Invisible Husband,

I agree with Mirriam's advice and if that does not work, tell your wife you are consulting a divorce lawyer.