Dear Abby: Mother-in-law stays too long and too often in our small apartment

A trucker, she doesn’t always reveal her plans, and one night on the couch can turn into a week.

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DEAR ABBY: My widowed mother-in-law, “Minnie,” works full time as a trucker, traveling around the U.S. She doesn’t have a home of her own since she lives on the road. My husband and I live in a small one-bedroom apartment. When she’s here for holidays or family functions, she always sleeps on our couch.

At first I didn’t mind once or twice for holidays, but since my niece was born, Minnie wants to be home more to visit with her. My husband’s brother has a large home and plenty of space, but Minnie never stays there because she doesn’t like my sister-in-law. Minnie is also irresponsible about letting us know when she’s coming and how long she will be staying. One night can turn into a week.

I have had many conversations and some blowout fights with my husband over this issue. He’s the older brother and feels guilty about asking her to stay at a hotel. My sister-in-law doesn’t help the situation. She sabotages holidays and events to ensure Minnie won’t feel comfortable staying there. I don’t know how I will manage to get through the holidays this year. Help! — DREADING IT IN THE EAST

DEAR DREADING: Blowout fights with your husband are detrimental to your marriage. Because he appears to be unable to summon the backbone to have an honest conversation with his mother, I guess it’s up to you.

Explain to Minnie that the current arrangement isn’t working. Tell her twice-a-year visits for holidays and family functions were manageable, but in the future, if she’s unwilling to stay in her younger son’s home, she should arrange to stay at a hotel or motel for those “extra” visits.

DEAR ABBY: Some of my extended family members have become vegan. When they come to my home, I make sure to have appropriate food for them, in addition to non-vegan food for others. When I am invited to their homes for a celebration, they offer only vegan selections. No one is allowed to bring non-vegan or meat-based dishes to their home.

It has reached the point that I no longer want to go there when a meal is involved. I have tried talking to them about this, but their reply is, “No meat allowed in our home.” I now leave before mealtime because I don’t like a lot of their dishes.

Is it common for vegans to prohibit guests from ever taking other food into their home? Thanks for any light you can shed on this. — MEAT LOVER IN HOUSTON

DEAR MEAT LOVER: People become vegans for a variety of reasons. Some do because they feel it is unethical to kill animals for food. Others do it because they feel raising animals for slaughter is harmful to the planet. People also become vegans for health reasons.

Individuals who adopt this way of life often feel as your relatives do, and that’s their privilege. If it impinges on your freedom or limits your enjoyment of these celebrations, forgo them and either participate in get-togethers that don’t include food or go to an accommodating restaurant.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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