Alice, My Sister Mocks My Home and Refuses to Visit

Alice, My Sister Mocks My Home and Refuses to Visit

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Ask Alice
Jul 22, 2017

Dear Alice,

My husband and I live in a small (800 square foot) bungalow. My sister and her family refuse to come visit us because, "my house is too small" and will insult my home at every opportunity. She dismisses my hurt feelings because "it's not insulting if it's true." What can I do? Help!

Sincerely,
Bungalow Blues

Dear Bungalow,

Sometimes, we take for granted our family members' abilities to bounce back from the things we say. And while teasing your sister in high school for loving Joey Fatone is altogether different from teasing someone about their home, sometimes those patterns are hard to break. Giving your sister the benefit of the doubt, perhaps she thinks she's being charmingly cavalier, or is so comfortable in the idea of unconditional love that she feels she can be (brutally) honest without you taking it to heart. And you can take it to heart! No one likes to hear that their home is lacking in anything, especially after attempting to open your doors and welcome your sister into your space.

Is your sister refusing to come visit you at all? Ever? There are a lot of barriers when it comes to traveling (especially if your sister has children) — money, vacation time, logistics, etc., and if your sister has communicated that, perhaps they're just not travelers. But if she's just flat out refusing to visit you, won't stay at an Airbnb or other accommodations that seem large enough for her ... Perhaps (I would bet, actually) that there are some other things at play here. It sounds like it's time to sit down and have a discussion with her, no jokes, just honesty about why you're hurt and why she matters to you (because she does! It sounds like you want to share the life you've built with her). Find out what's really going on, because it sounds like it's about more than just hosting for the both of you.

Best of luck,
Alice

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