Dear Annie: My sister-in-law, "Kate," has a son who is a year older than mine. For my husband's sake, every time Kate comes to town, I tell her she's welcome to stay with us.
Kate doesn't always behave herself. I try to blow off her offensive comments, but it's hard. My husband says, "My sister is stupid. Don't let her get to you." But her last visit was the final straw. She asked whether my 2-year-old son is "normal" because he has a big head. Annie, he looks like his father, who is tall and broad-shouldered. So is my brother, who played high school sports. She asked this repeatedly, and each time, I calmly told her that his pediatrician says he's perfectly fine. Then she had the gall to ask my husband whether our son was actually his.
Kate also will make nasty remarks such as, "Did you serve bad bacon? It tastes funny," or "You don't wash your floor. It's sticky."
I'd love to tell Kate exactly how I feel about her rude comments, but I know the consequences won't be worth it. I already ignore her phone calls and reply only by text. I'm tired of crying to my husband over Kate's nasty behavior. I can tell that he is getting irritated with me. What do I do? -- Ready To Explode in N.D.
Dear Ready: First, stop complaining to your husband. It's tiresome and accomplishes nothing positive. Instead, learn better ways to handle Kate. When she complains about your sticky floors, reply, "Oh, I'm so sorry. Here's a mop." If she dislikes the food, smile and tell her, "Sorry I can't make what you like. Feel free to do the cooking." When she insults your son's size, nicely say, "He's so athletic looking, like his father and uncle." The trick is to remain wonderfully polite, sweet and perfectly innocent while you drive her nuts. It might help to understand that Kate says these things because she is jealous. We feel sorry for her.