My partner and I live/work in the city and have a cottage up north for which we bought new furniture. We love to entertain family and friends and try to accommodate our guests’ needs.
We both love dogs, grew up with dogs, and, as adults, have had our own in the past. What we cannot accept is poorly-behaved dogs and their lenient owners: Dogs on the sofa, on beds, begging at the table, allowed in the cottage after rolling in sand right after being in the lake… and more.
We end up policing the dogs while the owners ignore it all. This causes us great discomfort and stress. Close family members requested to visit our cottage, just after Christmas. We wanted to enjoy the holidays with them.
We insisted (after a previous disastrous 24-hour visit when they brought three dogs and we were left cleaning for hours) that this time the visit not include their dogs.
Their immediate response was upsetting: "If we can't bring the dogs then we can't come to your cottage."
We said we’d visit them at their cabin instead. However, they later messaged that they now don’t feel welcome at our cottage and their feelings were hurt.
Are we in the wrong here? Should we have done something differently?
Your cottage, your rules. You should’ve posted your boundaries from the start, as in, “Dear Guests: We’ve created a special home away from home with new furnishings and a wish for the same respect for our surroundings as in the city.
Dogs are welcome IF their owners keep them well-behaved, prevent avoidable dirt brought inside, disallow table-begging, and clean up any messes that do occur.”
That way, everyone’s forewarned that it’ll otherwise be a shortened, and sole visit.
Personally, I’ve had dogs and visited others’ well-furnished homes, never feeling that my dogs’ rights were greater than those of the owners.
Meanwhile, since you care for and want an ongoing relationship with your miffed family members, you need to say so. Simply state that everyone’s entitled to different pet- and cottage-lifestyles, but you regret not stating your ways sooner.
Agree to get together in the city, out for a dinner as your guests (meaning that you pay) to get past the “misunderstanding.”
Next year, arrange early to visit their cabin.
FEEDBACK Regarding the pregnant woman who had cheated on her husband with someone of a different race:
Reader – “She was worried that she’d deliver a mixed-race baby and her husband would find out she’d cheated on him.
“I agree wholeheartedly with you that she needs to tell him about what she did. But what about the biological father of this child? This man also has the right to know he has a child and whether he wants a role in being a parent to it.
“This woman unfortunately got herself into a big mess. Too bad she didn’t feel able to go to a therapist and talk to someone about the loss and grief of her previous infertility with her husband.”
Ellie – The “mess” involves an innocent child’s life, so yes, she needs to tell the biological father, once she’s sure who is the father as there were several possibilities.
But her first worry was the husband she wants to keep… if that’s possible, depending on his nature and reaction. Even if the baby reflects his and her race, she needs to confess her cheating. In many cases, a partner finds out anyways, and it’s a much bigger “mess,” that way.
The questions in your column are so outrageous that they’re obviously made up. You should indicate that they’re fiction for entertainment purposes.
Every now and then, I, too, am amazed at some of the things people write me.
However, I’m very often struck by how incredibly brave some people are to write their stories - some revealing childhood abuse by family members and other “trusted” adults. Or years of hardships from illness, pain, addiction, and hopelessness.
Or, recounting relationships that withered from a partner’s neglect, coldness and cheating that leaves the other alone, and afraid to ever love again.
No, these are not made up.
It’s true that some people behave in many, often astounding, sometimes outrageous ways. But if they write me for advice, they're trying to make changes.... and my job is to help them know the options and how to find ways to achieve them.
Tip of the day:
Whether it’s about visiting dogs or people, state your boundaries on behaviour upfront.