Dear Blake,

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?

Signed, Julie
From Trenton, New Jersey

*                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *

Dear Julie,

I agree with you that your mother-in-law doesn’t respect you, and I don’t think old bat respects her son either. However, if nothing stops her from coming over, you should take advantage of her insensitivity with your own selfish needs, by putting her to work as soon as she walks in. here are some suggestions. As soon as she enters your home, hand her some cleaning products and point to the room you want her to scrub down. Or, have your husband show her a video on how to rotate the tires on his and your cars. And then you and he should take a nap, reminding his mother to wake the both of you when she’s done. Or this idea. Start calling her every day, and demand that she shows up. To enhance the effect. Have a time clock next your door bell, with her name on card she can use to punch in. And this last idea. Drop by her place with a list of chores she’ll have to do the next time she comes over. If you do that enough times, she’ll change her phone number, change her name, and probably change states too, when she abruptly moves. I hope this helps.