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Originally published Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 6:26 AM

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Wife nags husband to help his parents move

Advice columnist Carolyn Hax backs writer’s efforts to get her spouse to step up.


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Dear Carolyn

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

DEAR CAROLYN: My husband’s parents live in another state. They are in their 80s but quite compos mentis and still play the occasional nine holes of golf (more than I can say for myself).

Now, after almost 50 years in the same house, they are moving to an apartment. They have done everything necessary to get to this point, like getting rid of stuff (huge job), selling the house, finding an apartment they love, hiring the movers, etc., by themselves.

I have told my husband it would be good if he went up there to help with the actual move. I have told him how stressful and exhausting a move can be even for younger people.

He has asked them if they want him to come, but they have not given a definitive answer. My view is he should just tell them he’s coming. I doubt they will tell him not to. I don’t want to keep nagging, but I feel strongly that my husband should be there. What do you think?

– In-Law

DEAR IN-LAW: I think you’re right, and as spouse you have extra leeway to give a kick when needed. “They need you. I’m through being subtle.” If applicable: “We’ll want our kids to do the same for us someday, so set the example now.”

If you don’t have other responsibilities keeping you home, then go with him.

As most of you know, I’m not normally of the impose-yourself school of family relations, but this is ridiculous. Even with a professional, full-service, pack-and-unpack move, someone still needs to make food runs, answer 1,000 questions, manage temporary housing and set up basics, including furniture arrangement.

Re: Move:

OK, when did the pod eat Carolyn? When has it EVER been a good idea for one adult to force their way onto another? The parents are fully competent adults who can take care of themselves, the husband doesn’t want to go, so why is it good to force this on other people?

– Anonymous

DEAR ANONYMOUS: Guess my disclaimer wasn’t disclaimey enough.

Two octogenarians haven’t declined their son’s offer to help. Sometimes, it’s really, really OK to add 2 + 2, say, “I’m coming — I’ll stay out of your way unless and until something needs doing,” and just show up. If the son’s presence is genuinely unwelcome, then he can just apologize for presuming and go home. But I really don’t see that happening. Moving is just different.

Re: Move:

Any reason the wife shouldn’t volunteer herself to help her in-laws move? Husband can watch the kids, if that’s necessary.

– Anonymous 2

DEAR ANONYMOUS 2: I thought of that, but then thought, “Geez.”

Unless the husband would be just another piece of furniture for his parents to worry about, this really is his time to (pardon me) step up.

Re: Move:

There’s also the fact that they’ve lived in this house for almost 50 years. They might (read: will) find it unexpectedly sad to leave the house for the last time, and having their son there to mark the occasion, share in the bittersweetness, might really help. It might be good for husband, too, to get a chance to say goodbye to his childhood home. He should go.

– Anonymous 3

DEAR ANONYMOUS 3: Arguably the clincher. Thanks.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax. Find her columns daily at www.seattletimes.com/living



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