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Annie's Mailbox

Ask Amy column

Q. Our friends came to us and asked us to “watch” their house (next door to ours) while they rented it to their daughter’s friends.

On more than three occasions, the renters’ dogs were loose, running in the street and behaving aggressively toward my husband and me.

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On more than three other occasions, the renters have had parties, lasting past 3 a.m., disrupting our sleep with noises and cigarette smoke while they partied on their deck, which is adjacent to our bedroom.

When we addressed these issues with our friends, they indicated that we should “reach out” to the renters, implying that we should be friendly to them despite their rude and “un-neighborly” behavior.

What would you do next, given that our neighbors asked us to be “nosy” and tell them what their renters are doing?

A. You should never have agreed to “watch over” a house that you have no actual responsibility for or authority over. You reported to your friends, and they essentially told you to handle it yourselves. So handle it.

You need to convey to the house’s owners, “We don’t feel comfortable taking responsibility for your house. From our perspective, the renters are intrusive, irresponsible, and disrespectful. We’re letting you know this now, and we’ll also let them know that the next time we have a serious problem with their partying we’ll call the police.”

Q. My fiance and I have set a June date for a small wedding with just family and very close friends. We are both in our 50s, and it is his first and my second marriage. I do not want his sister to attend.

He suffers from low self-esteem and has spent his entire life angry that she is stronger, better-looking, happier, and more successful than he. He also feels that their parents prefer her.

The last time I saw them together, we had invited his parents out for a meal. She was not invited, but the parents brought her along, and he withered, developed a migraine, and was unable to participate. It is my understanding that he responds this way whenever she is around, like a turtle withdrawing into his shell.

He has consented to have a wedding rather than elope because I want my family and friends around me. It’s important to me that his parents attend. But I do not want his sister to attend because her very presence upsets him. I have only met her two times, and we got along very well on those occasions.

How should I handle this?

A. You don’t mention discussing this with your fiance. Does he not want his sister to attend his wedding? How does he feel about his parents attending?

Your advocacy on his behalf is admirable, but he should also advocate for himself. The way you describe this, his sister is not a toxic person; she is simply herself, and he could (and probably should) work harder to accept her as she is, the way he would hope for the people in his life to accept him.

His sister will be in his life — or at least on the fringes of it — forever, and if he can work out his feelings about his sister he could attain a more balanced perspective, which would ease his anxiety and suffering.

He could definitely benefit from counseling to help with his self-esteem and family issues. You should both pursue premarital counseling to define and refine your respective roles.

Send questions by e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 North Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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