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New Column: Dear Stavroula

Dear Stavroula,

A couple weeks ago, my husband’s sister’s family decided to move to New York from Greece. The couple has two children, a boy and a girl. When my husband asked me if we could have them stay with us until they found their footing, I agreed, of course.
However, since they’ve been here, the children have been terrible. They are incredibly spoiled, they use terrible language, they are extremely demanding – they have really exhausted us and I’m afraid it may lead to other problems in our own family as well.
What do you think we should do? Should we ask them to leave or sit down and talk to them about our concerns?

Anna H.

Dear Anna,
It is indeed very difficult to host so many people in your home and I really admire you for your willingness to help your husband’s family. But you should set your limits. Once your sister-in-law’s family is hosted in your home, they will have to adapt to the principles and habits of your own family.

In my opinion, the solution is not to ask them to leave, because that will ultimately break the family ties, and your husband may regret it in the future which may ultimately lead to an even bigger fight. It is best that you all gather together and set some terms and ground rules.

These rules should not be portrayed with criticism or accusations. Instead, explain how you feel about all of this, how sad you are and ask that you all talk together about how to improve the situation so that you can coexist harmoniously for as long as they need the help. I believe that by discussing this problem with the undertone of love and understanding, it will be solved and everyone will be more cognizant of their words and actions. They probably don’t realize their actions or inactions are causing you this stress.

 

Dear Stavroula,

We have a family friend who is married with children. He is successful, super educated and has a great job. However, he has started what I believe to be, an inappropriate sexual relationship with the wife of a common friend.
This makes us, my husband and I, avoid him because we feel bad and awkward around him.
Do you think it is our duty to tell his wife about his relationship with the other woman or should we not? I imagine you must understand that we are in between a rock and a hard place.

Soula T.

Dear Soula,

I understand how difficult the position you are in must be. Knowing a secret that can negatively affect two families, especially with children, must be so strenuous. I don’t blame you for avoiding those involved in the extramarital relationship. However, I don’t think you should intervene in any way.

On the one hand, there is always the possibility that those individuals involved in the “‘inappropriate” relationship split up and re-establish the balance in their respective homes on their own. If, however, one of the spouses learns about the other spouse’s infidelity, it is almost certain that he/she will dissolve their marriage. This will have a direct effect on their children who are not responsible for the mistakes of their parents.

On the other hand, if you tell your friend’s wife about the affair, there’s a chance she will not believe you and ultimately think that you are trying to ruin their marriage. If this scenario comes to fruition, you will find yourself in an even more difficult position than you are now. Do not forget that in these cases, it is very difficult for someone to see the truth, often denying it stubbornly. There is also always another side of the story that you may not know.

My advice is as follows: if you’ve noticed mistakes in your friend’s behavior towards his wife, perhaps meet with him separately or take him aside at a joint outing and point those mistakes out to him – help him understand and correct them, so he can potentially save his relationship. If you think it will be too upsetting to engage with him, keep coming up with good excuses to avoid him – he’ll get the picture sooner or later.

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My name is Charles Robbins, the chief correspondent of the Chicago Daily Tribune in Constantinople.

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