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Preparing for Visiting Relatives

By Malcolm Rivers

In-laws. Relatives. Torture devices. By whichever name you might know them, folks with whom you share blood or genealogy come by occasionally. Sometimes they're great, other times they're not but thankfully, either way, they're pretty predictable. They tend to come by for the holidays and they tend to stay. Since your home is your castle, it's worth knowing how to prepare to keep your sanity, and your stuff, safe from outside influence

Names on the Orange Juice

Defining boundaries is probably the most important part of any relationship. Its even more important when people are going to be cohabitating with you. Don't want your uncle traipsing through the living room in his underpants? Want to keep your niece from putting the shower curtains outside the bathtub? Tired of your grandpa leaving the gift of his dentures in your swish and spit glass? Tell them. Establish, from as early as possible, what can and cannot happen in your space. Obviously, what you do if they violate these boundaries will depend significantly on your personality and relationships with these people but at least they can make informed choices and can never plead ignorance.

Outline what you do and don't want to happen. Explain what's off limits and what's fair game. Do not be subtle, do not be sneaky, and do not feel obligated to explain yourself or apologize. You are not asking them to sacrifice a kidney or to lend you a yacht; you are telling them what you're OK with since they're in your house; using your electricity, breathing your air. Be decisive, be clear, be kind, be polite. Notice the order: precise and clear, then kind and polite.

Tiiiiime is On Your Side, Yes It Is

Set limits. On everything. Including time. No matter how much you love someone, if you haven't chosen to live with them, you get sick of them. Being miserably stuck living with family is OK if there are no other choices (read: you're 16 and have no money) but for adults, all of whom have their own housing, that situation is unacceptable. Tell them when they can come, tell them when they have to go. No malice, no anger, just directness. The reasoning isn't rocket science (though explaining yourself on something like this shouldn't be necessary.)

You live in your home or apartment. When rent is due (hopefully,) you pay it. If the power company is talking about shutting the lights off (hopefully,) you pay them. When a table leg starts to wobble (hopefully,) you fix it. When people live in places they rack up damage and incur costs. If you're the person living there, costs are on your tab. You're not only the master of your domain, you're the proprietor. So if you're going to be left with the proverbial (or literal) check either way, you get to make the rules. So make them clear and stick to them, period.

Loving your relatives doesn't mean you can't love yourself-enough to set some boundaries for their visits. Prepping your home really isn't about fixing things up, (its your home, you don't need an exterior reason to keep it nice) its about ensuring that you'll still love your relatives, and your house, after the trip. Good luck and enjoy!

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About The Author

In 2005, Malcolm attended Harvard University where he received his Bachelors of Arts...

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