Sunday, November 20, 2016

In which my brother visits and it is stressful for Primo because - I think - he has never had a normal adult relationship with a sibling

My brother is here on his way back home after my uncle's memorial fish fry last week. Greg rode up from Texas and is visiting us on the way back.

It is fine with me - but it is an unscheduled, surprise visit.

Which is hard for Primo.

1. Primo hates surprises +
2. He really doesn't like houseguests because he likes doing things His Way and really, so do I - we are both cranky old people who don't want anyone on our lawn +
3. It is the weekend before the primary election. A lot of Primo's friends are running. The primary is what matters because most of these races are in districts where the opposition doesn't even bother to run. If the candidate wins the primary, she runs unopposed in November.


Cranky husband.

Plus Primo is annoyed that Greg is getting his own food. "When T visited," Primo said, "I asked him if he wanted breakfast or lunch and then I made him something."

"Yeah," I said, "but I am not interested in orchestrating or preparing meals for three people. If it's breakfast time and Greg wants something to eat, I am quite happy for him to get what he wants out of the fridge and prepare it himself."

Primo is totally uncomfortable with this and I have been trying to figure out why. I told Greg to help himself to what he wants. I say that to all of our houseguests. But usually, people don't do it. Your siblings, though, will do it.

Primo thinks this is odd.

I do not.

But then I realized that Primo has never had what I consider a normal adult relationship with a sibling. His sister died almost a decade ago and even when she was alive, it was not what anyone would consider a healthy, normal relationship: she would expect Primo to drive her to a bar or someplace where she could buy drugs and then want him to sit in her room with her and listen to heavy metal and get high. He felt guilty about being the healthy, employed child and about living far away from his parents and his sister, so he would grit his teeth and do what she wanted.

He has never stayed with either of his two half brothers, either at their homes or together at Sly and Doris'.

I have stayed with my siblings, both at their homes and at my mom's. Siblings can do things other people can't and you don't think it's weird. I got pissy when Primo's friend from high school started going through our cupboards, but it would not bother me (much) if my brother or sister did it. If they did it, I would just ask what they were looking for so I could help. When Primo's friend did it, I was seething with his violating a boundary that I had not invited him to cross.

BTW, my brother has covered his food before he puts it in the microwave. He has washed his own dishes. He has kept the guest bath tidy and is not leaving his stuff all over the place. He is a good houseguest.

What about you guys? Are the rules different for siblings from regular houseguests?


  1. Completly agree. No one is allowed to visit me...except for my brother and sister in law. They know where everything is, and can help themselves to anything. They also clean up after themselves.

  2. I feel like I am careful in who I let stay as a houseguest. Once they have crossed that boundary into being allowed to stay, it is "make yourself at home".

  3. I wish my few friends that visit would make themselves more at home.
    When my sister visits she makes me nuts, she either asks constantly if she can do things, in a way that makes it seem like she thinks I am going to say no.
    Or she snoops around and runs commentary on how things are in my house. She always phrases her comments like they are questions but it is very easy to hear the judgement underneath. Bah, makes me nuts. "How can I possibly be happy with the same photos on my wall, how can I be so organized, why do I eat certain foods." On and on, do you want another sister?

  4. When I ask someone to stay as a houseguest, I'm comfortable enough with them that I really don't mind what they do. I guess I"m lucky in that way. It would bother me if someone would aimlessly go through cabinets, but that's never been an issue for me.

  5. If anything I am a more careful houseguest when I visit my sister than when I visit friends (which I do much less frequently). For one thing, my sister is very particular about cleanliness and procedure and for another, maintaining a happy, friendly, peaceful, generous relationship with my sister is far more important to me than that of a friend. Friends come and go, sisters are forever.

  6. I think the only houseguests friends I'm likely to have, I'm as close to as my sister (great relationship). They officially don't count as "people". "People", in my somewhat introverted world, cost me energy to spend time with. My sister and certain friends aren't "people" and I'd find it weird if they DIDN'T route around to find what they wanted. :)

  7. This post is so insightful. MY MIL to this day has issues with me because I got something to drink out of their fridge w/o asking first. One reason out of many, but all as absurd. Especially when I was told it was ok by other family members.

  8. We have a two bedroom apartment. My brother and sister in law come over and occasionally a friend; they never stay over. My kid's friends occasionally do. Rules are: dishes are where they are, if you use it wash it (or at the very least rinse and put it in sink), if you are a friend of my kid and have been to my home more than once I'm either knitty, Mrs.knitty, or mom. If you call me Mrs."lastname" I'll start searching for my MIL. Also fizzy waters are in the fridge, but if you drink my apricot la croix we better be blood.

  9. I have no siblings (at least, none that I grew up with, long story), but my closest friends are like family to me, and they are all the kind of people who make excellent, considerate houseguests. Not that we have company very often, but it happens. I actually named one of them as alternate guardian if my wife's family can't do it. (I love my family, but they're not great parents; my friends are very in sync with us when it comes to stuff like that.)


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