Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ms. Vicki,

My mother-in-law is crashing my husband’s homecoming! Can I tell her to stay at home? She ruins everything she gets her hands on, and I can’t take being in the same room with her, let alone for my husband’s homecoming.

He has been away for 15 months. When he came home after 18 months for his R&R, guess what happened? She actually came and insisted on staying with us for the entire 14 days my husband was home. I didn’t even have the opportunity to enjoy my husband, and I was so angry. We could barely be intimate because everywhere I turned, she was right there looking at us.

I know my husband loves his mother, but he has to establish some boundaries. Why can’t she go somewhere and be with friends who are her age?

This homecoming is special, and not only is she insisting that she comes, she’s also bringing a host of other people with her and has basically told them they can stay in my home. How can she invite people to stay in my home without clearing it with us? This is ridiculous. If they want to come, at least they should reserve hotel rooms.

She is planning my husband’s homecoming party right under my nose with catering, etc. Yes, this is her son, but he is my husband. He will be home in six weeks, and I’m ready to put my foot down now.

Ms. Vicki, please tell me I’m not the one with this problem. I think my mother-in-law is not showing any respect to me or my husband.

You’re a military spouse, and I’m sure you’ve dealt with deployments. How did you handle your husband’s homecoming? — No Respect in West Virginia

Dear West Virginia,

I didn’t really have a family or in-law problem at my husband’s welcome-home ceremonies. It was always me and our sons there to welcome him because much of our family doesn’t like to travel.

Your story, however, does sound familiar — many spouses have the same problem regarding the service member’s homecoming and who should be in attendance.

Let me encourage open communication and honesty on this issue among you, your husband and his mother. Yes, you are excited to know time is winding down and your husband soon will be returning home. You’ve missed him tremendously and can’t wait to reunite. Moreover, you would like time alone with just the two of you during his first days, and perhaps a few weeks, at home. This is totally normal and understandable given what you have experienced in his absence.

In defense of your mother-in-law, she misses her son, too. Research is showing that all loved ones feel the adverse effects of having a loved one deployed.

Talk to your mother-in-law and tell her exactly how you feel. Let her know you would rather have minimal to zero company for the first couple of weeks your husband is home. Plan a time for her to visit after you and your husband have spent some time together.

You also should let her know she is out of her lane for inviting others to the homecoming and to your home without your knowledge or permission. Find out who she has given invitations to and let them know this is not the time for them to come, and that you had not planned to entertain or be responsible for others staying in your home.

Talk with your husband, too, and ask him to speak with his mother and his family about them coming. You could help him plan a big welcome-home party for soon after his return for all of his family and friends.

But there’s something you must understand. Yes, the homecoming is about you, but it’s more about your husband. It’s his homecoming, right? If he decides he wants everyone to come, you may be stuck with his decision. If he does want everyone there, you can help make hotel arrangements for everyone.

I truly hope this does not turn into a family feud. When your husband returns, I hope you can realize how blessed you are that he came home safely — and maybe your mother-in-law’s attendance at his welcome home may not be so important in the big scheme of things. I wish you the best and keep in touch.

Vicki Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three. Her column runs in The Washington Times on Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at

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