Brotherly Shove

14 Jan

Dear LetterBalm: My brother has been working abroad in Dubai for the past two years. He’s due to return home for a six-week leave, including our sister’s wedding in late Spring. He and I aren’t that close, but both of us are groomsmen in the wedding party. In his last Skype, my brother announced he’ll be staying with me for the duration. This isn’t going to work because my new fiancée and I recently began living together in my apartment, which is pretty small. He doesn’t get along with our parents, and they’ve said staying with them isn’t an option. I haven’t said anything because he can be a pain in the butt, and he doesn’t handle rejection well. I have to tell him, but how?

–No Room for Bro                                   

It sounds like you have a difficult brother on your hands. You’re going to have to man up – be firm but civil, and resist being drawn into family drama. Ms. L.B. suggests you and your fiancée sit down and work out some honest excuses for why your brother can’t stay with you. Is she studying for grad school exams? Does either of you have a big project at work that will involve long hours in the office and take-home work? A possibility: Will your brother’s company fund part of his leave expenses? In your next Skype conversation, be calm but be clear that there is no negotiation:

Chris, about your staying with Maggie and me when you’re on leave, I’m sorry to say it won’t be possible. We really need the place to ourselves. Maggie has a big case coming up in the spring, and I’ll be going into the busy season at work and taking on extra projects for a colleague who’ll be attending an executive MBA course. I didn’t say anything when you first mentioned staying with us because I was surprised. You know how small the apartment is. It would be crowded with three – especially for six weeks – and we don’t even have a fold-out sofa. I also thought you’d want to bunk with your friend Stan because he has a much bigger place and a big-screen TV, which I know you like. Doesn’t your company give you funds for part of your leave? Can’t you book a place on the web from a site that offers short-term rentals or rooms in private homes? You’ll have more privacy and be more comfortable. We’ll still hang out while you’re here – we want to hear all about Dubai.

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