Dear Abby: Mother-in-law seems to love visiting at worst possible time

She’s been told over and over to call ahead but persists in dropping by unannounced.

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DEAR ABBY: How do I get my mother-in-law to stop dropping by without calling first? My husband and I have been married for 26 years. Both of us have asked her nicely over the years to PLEASE call to make sure it’s a good time, rather than just drop by unannounced. She, however, blatantly ignores our wishes and continues to do it. Even when she discovers it’s a bad time, she blankly looks at us and has this “drop everything, I’m here” attitude as she comes strolling in.

Once, when I had just finished preparing a lovely dinner I had worked hard on for a couple of hours, as we were sitting down to eat, she rang our doorbell. We had plenty of food and invited her to stay. Instead of joining us or going home, she went out our back door and sat on our patio — in our view. We went out and again invited her to join us, but she refused to come in or take the hint and leave. So we had to see her the whole time we were eating my lovely dinner.

We have told her she always drops by at the WORST time. What I don’t understand is why she gets her jollies doing it. It could be a nicer situation if we had an agreed-upon time and we could all have a nice visit.

Normally, I have a great relationship with her, and talk with her frequently on the phone. Two weeks before an event I was working on, I told her the following week I was going to be crazy busy working on it. She told me to not bother calling her the following week so I could concentrate on that project. But during that busy week, she dropped in on us again!

I don’t think she respects me at all. My husband sent her a firm email telling her not to do this again. How do we get through to her? — MAD IN MISSOURI

DEAR MAD: Your mother-in-law continues to do this because you allow her to get away with it. The next time she drops in unannounced, tell her it isn’t convenient and DON’T LET HER IN. If she “strolls” in anyway, you AND your husband should tell her she is interrupting what you are doing, ask her to please call before coming over and then show her out. She isn’t going to like it, but if you are consistent, your problem will be solved.

DEAR ABBY: I work with a girl my age. We were kinda close friends years ago, and then drifted apart. She has worked here for three years now. She annoys me because she plays dumb when I know she isn’t, and she constantly nitpicks at things I miss, like putting commas in places where they should be. She also likes to aggravate the boss to get a rise out of him. I am not one for confrontation, so I grin and bear it, but it’s wearing on me, and I don’t know how to tell her to leave me alone. — AGGRAVATED CO-WORKER

DEAR AGGRAVATED: Scratch the idea of telling this girl to “leave you alone.” By editing your copy and putting in commas where they belong, she’s making you look GOOD. Her relationship with the boss is none of your business. If he was seriously aggravated, he would let her go.

You do not have to be bosom buddies with your co-worker. In our work careers, there will always be some people we will “love less.” The secret is to find a way to coexist — unless the situation is so terrible that it prevents you from doing your job.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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