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(Jupiter Images/Stock photo)
(Jupiter Images/Stock photo)

My brother-in-law constantly crashes at our place Add to ...

The question

My husband and I are 30 and live in our own place downtown. Lately, any time we go out of town, my husband's younger brother asks to "crash at our place." He lives with his parents, so it is understood that he stays at our place so he can spend time with girls (he says they "bring their own sheets") and have other friends over. Although I don't really think anybody will steal or damage anything, I feel uncomfortable having him/them stay in our place for days at a time without us. I feel that my home is a private place that I pay for and that if he wants to enjoy himself, he is welcome to get a hotel room. My husband thinks I am being unreasonable. Am I obligated to let him stay?

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The answer

I'm often accused of making up my own questions, but people: There's no way I could come up with these types of details - e.g. your husband's little brother's claim that he successfully commands the women he shags under your roof to "bring their own sheets"?

My response to that is fourfold: 1) seriously? 2) ew; 3) how unromantic; 4) B.S.

Not necessarily in that order.

So … what? Your brother-in-law and his booty-call babes transport their own bedclothes from their domiciles to yours - how? In a backpack? Then they take the sheets out of the backpack, unmake your bed and make it with their sheets? Then when they have conducted their erotic transactions, they unmake the bed and make it again, restoring the original sheets?

Please.

My first piece of advice is to run a little test on this claim: Tuck a $20 bill under the sheet and see if it's still there after one of your brother-in-law's visits.

I'll bet you five bucks it remains undisturbed.

Now, I'll admit your question, madam, is complicated by a couple of extenuating factors.

First of all, of course everyone likes to think of their house as a refuge for those in need of a temporary roof. Truly, one of the joys of having a house is being able to offer shelter to someone who needs one - especially family members.

Early in my marriage, I put up (with) one of my wife's brothers for six months, when the lad needed a place to stay. And it was my great joy to do so. Until, after being fed and housed for over half a year, he chewed me out for eating some of "his" peanut butter. Then alarm bells started ringing. "Brrrrrringggg! It's bag-packing time!"

But in this circumstance, your husband's younger brother is stretching the definition of the word "need." I think you are absolutely within your rights here to bring a big old clown shoe down on his presumptuous shenanigans.

It's partly for his own good.

As usual, there's a Seinfeld that covers this. It's the episode where Kramer starts abusing his spare-key privileges, breaking "the covenant of the keys," and Jerry asks him to give the keys back.

At first, Kramer's upset, but he later explains to George that having Jerry's keys "kept me in a fantasy world. Every time I went over to his house. it was like I was on vacation. Better food, better view, better TV … That became my reality. I ignored the squalor in my own life because I'm looking at life, you see, through Jerry's eyes. I was living in the twilight, George. Living in the shadows. Living in the darkness."

Like Kramer, your husband's brother is living in the twilight, living in the shadows, living in the darkness, seeing the world through your eyes - i.e. imagining that he lives in your nice house, and ignoring the reality, which is: He's still bunking with his parents.

The sooner he is relieved of this fantasy, the better. If he's a big enough boy to be shagging babes and directing them to pack their own sheets, then he's a big enough boy to get his own apartment.

Bringing a big old clown shoe down on this ridiculous arrangement will be good thing for your marriage, I predict, as well.

Man, these brothers must be charming fellows. Not only does the younger brother (supposedly) have a Svengali-like ability to command his booty-calls to furnish their own bedclothes. But the older brother (your husband), pardon me for saying so, has you completely bamboozled - into thinking not only that this is an acceptable and normal situation (it's not), but also that you're being "unreasonable" for even suggesting his brother be a better guest or (God forbid) stop using your place as a shtup-shack, pied-à-terre and party palace while you're away.

Excuse me, madam, but the one being unreasonable here is your husband. Reasonable behaviour would be for him to step up, grow a set and tell his brother to "get a room."

Finally, this all will be good for you. These two charmers are walking all over you like a welcome mat. Time for you to be strong, maybe even a little tough.

Tell your husband he has two choices: 1) revoke his freeloading little brother's key privileges post-haste; or 2) sleep on the couch.

And if he chooses the latter option, he has to bring his own sheets.



David Eddie is the author of Chump Change, Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad and Damage Control, the book.



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