The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a male company worker in my 30s, and I’ve been living at the house of my wife’s parents since I married into her family. My wife’s older sister visits our house every weekend and even uses the room that my wife and I use. I resent her actions.
I now live with my wife, our young daughter, my wife’s parents and grandmother. On weekdays, I come home from work very late at night, so I don’t have as much time with my wife as I want. I feel lucky whenever I can spend time with her on the weekends.
However, my sister-in-law, who has been living away from her parents’ home since she got married, visits our home by herself every weekend and won’t leave until late at night on Sundays. I’m extremely frustrated by this. I’m also concerned it will disturb my daughter’s daily routine.
My wife has indirectly asked her sister to stop coming every weekend and said the same thing to her mother. It doesn’t work, however. My mother-in-law even said her elder daughter feels lonely because she was raised in an extended family and now is away from it.
What should I do to win back my peaceful weekends?
J, Tochigi Prefecture
Dear Mr. J:
I apologize, as I can’t think of a solution that will make all of you happy. A family problem like yours is usually affected by the balance of power among the members involved and their feelings, often making one or more members unhappy and forcing them to endure the inconvenience.
When I read your letter, I felt you are suffering the most in your family, but others may not think so. In other words, they can live happily enough as long as you can continue enduring this. If you can’t stand it any longer, however, you have no choice but to take matters into your own hands.
This means you should tell your four in-laws and your wife, in particular, how unhappy you are and ask them to do something to make it better. You should use your brain to determine a clever approach to this by analyzing the situation.
This doesn’t always work well. It can make the situation even more of a problem, in fact. And even if your strategy is successful, it will likely make someone else unhappy because they will harbor hard feelings toward you over this.
If I were you, I’d once again ask your wife to understand your feelings and discuss this matter with you. It’s probably the only solution.
Taku Mayumura, writer