My daughter and her husband live a few hours away from us and visit mostly on holidays. Most of the time, my son-in-law sits quietly in a corner, seldom saying a word or cracking a smile. If we go out to dinner or a club, he doesn’t offer to help pay.

My husband and I are financially well off, and we don’t mind picking up the tab. However, this guy hasn’t once uttered the words “Thank you” or “my treat next time.” When he does talk, he comes across as a sarcastic know-it-all.

Many get-togethers have been practically ruined because of his anti-social behaviour. We have bent over backwards to make him feel included. I understand love is blind and don’t expect my daughter to choose sides, but we are feeling the strain from the tension he creates. What can we do to avoid a permanent rift? Sandra, by e-mail.

Dear Sandra

This certainly is one battle you can’t win. While you might be tempted to complain to your daughter, it probably wouldn’t do much good. She must have recognise the inappropriateness of her husband’s conduct and has decided not to make an issue out of it, choosing instead to tolerate it as best she can. And confronting him probably wouldn’t have much of a positive effect.

If the guy is ajerk, then talking to him isn’t going to do anything except give him an excuse to keep your daughter from seeing you. Since they live far away, you don’t need to put up with this often. You might just have to decide that being with your daughter is worth the annoyance of having her husband over from time to time. Try to minimise the situations in which his rude behaviour surface. Also, make every effort to be with your daughter as much as possible when he’s not around. With luck that will give you some relief as you learn to cope. Besides, it’s likely that this issue will come to a head on its own between them.

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