DEAR AMY: Our friends came to us and asked us to "watch" their house (next door to ours) while they rented it to their daughter's friends.
On more than three occasions, the renters' dogs were loose, running in the street and behaving aggressively toward my husband and me.
On more than three other occasions, the renters have had parties, lasting well past 3 a.m., disrupting our sleep with loud noises and cigarette smoke while they partied on their back deck, which is adjacent to our bedroom.
When we addressed these issues with our friends, they indicated that we should "reach out" to the renters, implying that we should be friendly to them despite their rude and "un-neighborly" behavior.
What would you do next, given that our neighbors asked us to be "nosy" and tell them what their renters are doing?
— Nosy Neighbors
DEAR NOSY: You should never have agreed to "watch over" a house that you have no actual responsibility for or authority over. You reported to your friends, and they essentially told you to handle it yourselves. So handle it.
You need to convey to the house's owners, "We don't feel comfortable taking responsibility for your house. From our perspective, the renters are intrusive, irresponsible and disrespectful. We're letting you know this now, and we'll also let them know that the next time we have a serious problem with their partying we'll call the police."
DEAR AMY: My fiance and I have set a June date for a small wedding with just family and very close friends. We are both in our 50s, and it is his first and my second marriage. I do not want his sister to attend.
He suffers from low self-esteem and has spent his entire life angry that she is stronger, better-looking, happier and more successful than he. He also feels that their parents prefer her and treat her better.
The last time I saw them together, we had invited his parents out for a meal. She was not invited, but the parents brought her along, and he visibly withered, developed a migraine and was unable to participate. It is my understanding that he responds this way whenever she is around, like a turtle withdrawing into his shell.
He has consented to have a wedding rather than elope because I want my family and friends around me. It's important to me that his parents attend. But I do not want his sister to attend because her very presence upsets him. I have only met her two times, and we got along very well on those occasions.
How should I handle this?
— Standing by My Man
DEAR STANDING: You don't mention discussing this with your fiance. Does he not want his sister to attend his wedding? How does he feel about his parents attending?
Your advocacy on his behalf is admirable, but he should also advocate for himself. The way you describe this, his sister is not a toxic person; she is simply herself, and he could (and probably should) work harder to accept her as she is, the way he would hope for the people in his life to accept him.
His sister will be in his life — or at least on the fringes of it — forever, and if he can work out his feelings about his sister he could attain a more balanced perspective, which would ease his anxiety and suffering.
He could definitely benefit from counseling to help with his self-esteem and family issues. You should both pursue premarital counseling to define and refine your respective roles.
DEAR AMY: "Fed Up" said she was worried that she was "enabling" her sister by allowing her to repeatedly crash on her couch during times when the sister's husband was being abusive.
Sis needs a therapist and her sister's emotional support. Fed Up doesn't have to be a doormat, but I hope she doesn't abandon her sister completely.
DEAR BEV: I agree. It is very challenging for family members to see a loved one return again and again to an abusive relationship; a nudge toward professional help, along with ongoing emotional support, is the answer. Thank you.