Dear Abby: Husband, wife end up fighting every time they come over

Hostess is tired of the volatile couple ruining every gathering.

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DEAR ABBY: My husband has a “best friend” from childhood I’ll call “Artie,” but they have little in common anymore. Finding things to do with him and his wife is a struggle. We like to travel, so we always invite them along, but Artie says “no” to everything. His wife, “Ann,” and I are pretty close.

The problem? We all spend a lot of time together (at our home) and they fight constantly! It doesn’t matter where they are. Ann shows up at our house in the middle of the night needing a place to sleep. Their fighting has ruined more gatherings than I have fingers and toes to count. I feel like our life is consumed by their toxic relationship. My husband tells me I should just “ignore it.” But he’s not the one who has to tend to his friend’s wife EVERY day. I don’t know what to do. Help! — EXHAUSTED IN ALABAMA

DEAR EXHAUSTED: What you do is draw the line. Tell your husband the unrelenting warfare in his friend’s marriage is more than you care to handle. Tell Ann the same thing, and that if she can’t sleep under her own roof, she’ll have to find other accommodations than your house in the middle of the night. Urge her to get counseling and to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) or a local domestic violence shelter if Artie is violent. As to socializing with them as a couple — on trips, yet (!) — explain to your husband that you have lost your appetite for it, and if he wants to see his childhood friend, he should do it without you.

DEAR ABBY: I’ve been married for six years. When I met my wife, we decided she’d move into my home with her teenaged boys. I told them upfront how important it is to me to keep a clean home. When they come home from college, they leave a mess in the kitchen, and it drives me crazy. This has been going on since we married, and I’m ready to tell my wife they are not allowed back into my home.

I have reminded them many times about cleaning up after themselves, but their mess continues. I’m close to losing my temper over it. It angers me to see grown men in my home do this. It feels like they are blatantly disrespecting me. When I was away for a year, my wife constantly complained to me about their lack of cleanliness as well. Am I in the wrong? — TASKMASTER IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR TASKMASTER: You are not wrong. Remind the “boys” — without exploding — that you have asked them repeatedly not to leave the kitchen in a mess after they use it. Then tell them — without exploding — that if it happens again, they will have to arrange for other accommodations when they visit.

It goes without saying that your wife should back you up on this. They should also ask their mother if there is anything else they can do to be helpful when they visit — like wash the towels they have used and make up the beds with fresh linens before they return to school.

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.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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