My wife’s father and I hate each other

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My wife and I have been together for 16 years. Both in our mid-to-late 30s. We are having a problem with a lot of things, but I lost it last night. Her father and I hate each other. He texts her four to five times every day and is needy. He lives two hours away, which helps, but it's still an issue. I gave her a choice – choose to tell him Saturdays are off limits to him. She got a huge attitude, and now we may split up.

Help please.

– A choice

The two of you need professional help, like real counseling. Start looking for that. If you have trouble finding a couples therapist, ask one of your doctors for help.

To tide you over, here's what I'll say: The Saturday rule doesn't work. I don't know anything about your wife's dad and his needs, but it's clear she priorities family, and if her dad believes he requires her attention on a weekend, she's going to be more stressed and detached from your day together if she ignores it. Also, four or five texts over 12 to 14 hours isn't that many, in my world, at least.

You say you and her father hate each other, but ... how does he treat your wife? I guess I'm wondering whether your issues with this are all about you, or whether you're trying to care for your wife by helping her set boundaries. Based on the little you said, it seems to be about your comfort. Is that true? Who’s the priority here and why?

Without knowing more about the conflict, I can only say that she's not going to drop her dad. That means you and your wife will have to deal with some of these other problems, and set attainable goals for communication. Or accept defeat.

I'll also say that the length of your letter – and the missing information – is telling. Maybe it was just about speed and giving me the basics, but think about what you didn't disclose and why. Sometimes it's obvious that letter writers avoid sharing information that makes the answers to their questions seem clear – and not in their favor.

- Meredith

Readers? Would this Saturday rule work for you with an older relative ... or anyone in your life?