It’s that time again! Email your questions and comments to , and we’ll get them posted here with answers.
Dear Blue Midget,
I need advice on how to make my girlfriend stop spending money on things for the house like STICKS that are “decorative.” I mean, we had an agreement to not spend money on things and to try and save to pay down some debt, but she is buying stuff – clothes, strainers, BLOODY STICKS, frames for photos, expensive shampoos! Does this mean I can buy more Video Games or UPGRADE the PC? DECORATIVE STICKS!!! I asked her if I could toast Marshmallows with them and she didn’t talk to me for an hour! DUMB!!! It’s a stick – a long twig looking thing, like 5 ft long. She bought a million of them! Bloody hell!
Decorative Stick Owner
Dear Decorative Stick Owner,
Dear Blue Midget,
I have a friend who just found out that her sick mother in law will be coming to live with her for at least a year. Her mother in law, though sick, is a control freak and has already sent a list of demands including changes to not only her room but the whole house. My friend is beside herself with anxiety over what hell her life is going to be like for the next year or more. She is afraid she will not be the queen of her castle anymore, and her husband is a momma’s boy so she can expect no backup from him. She asked my advice and I have no idea what to tell her. The first thing I could think to tell her was to put down the phone, open the door, and run like the wind, but that is not very practical. What should my friend do?
Better Her Than Me
Dear Better Her Than Me,
There is a saying, and it is generally believed to be true, that “the customer is always right.” It is a good general rule to follow, although there are always exceptions. Along with good customers that we want to appreciate and do all that we can for, there is always a person or two who generally believe we should bend over backwards for them, fulfilling all kinds of ridiculous requirements and requests, simply because they are the customer. As a retail manager, I learned early on that there is some business that you just don’t want. And there comes a time, when you need to remember, kindly and respectfully, that some people are more than welcome to take their business elsewhere.
Your friend should not take any of this personally. Instead, she should view it as a manager who runs a business – it is her store to be managed, and she should not feel that it is up to her to fulfill her mother-in-law’s every request. But, be professional. Don’t get personal about it, because emotions can cause the situation to get out of hand. If I were her, I would choose to incorporate the changes that make sense, and the rest I would not do – but be professional about it. She should probably also, professionally, explain her feelings to her husband and the stand she will be making about this. Now, if her husband chooses to bend over backwards for his mother, that’s his choice, and she should respect that. However, your friend should not feel obligated.
I have seen, firsthand, how a person will continually get walked over and taken advantage of by the same person or persons over and over again. And most of the time, this happens because the victim allows it. Some people feel bad about setting boundaries for themselves, allowing others to take advantage of them. However, people will continue to take advantage of you until you tell them that what they are doing is not okay. Until that point, the offender keeps on doing it because your actions tell them that it’s ok. So there comes a point where we need to respectfully, politely and firmly say, “No.” But we don’t, because we aren’t being “nice” and guilt sets in. Thus, we sabotage ourselves. In the same way, the mother-in-law keeps on doing this because the son has never said no. Let me be the first to tell your friend that it is okay to set boundaries for herself. But she should be polite and stand her ground, without letting emotion get in the way. Be professional.
Most importantly, while her mother-in-law is staying there, your friend should schedule regular dates with her husband once a week to get away, just the two of them, over a movie or dinner, or whatever they fancy. If the mother-in-law cannot be left alone, have someone come over to sit with her for a few hours – yes, I’m dead serious. I would also suggest that she schedule at least one other thing for herself – a book club, a church function, whatever – once a week or once every other week for just herself, until her mother-in-law is gone out of the house, even if she ends up staying there for the next year and a half.