My wife's sister is very close to our family, and over the course of the last few years, it's become a common practice for her to do her laundry at our house. I don't generally mind this, my wife enjoys this as an opportunity to visit with her sister, and we've used it on occasion as free childcare.

Sister is now getting married. The husband is also a generally fine individual with whom I can get along. With him in the picture, sister will also be in a much more stable position financially.

However, my wife and I disagree on whether the two of them should now do all their laundry at our house. She doesn't want to lose the opportunity to spend time with her sister, whereas I see this as an opportunity to establish some boundaries based on her sister now having her own family.

I never really minded sister doing laundry, and I theoretically don't have an issue with her doing a couple extra loads, but something just doesn't sit right with me with the concept of my being a gracious brother in law turning into my being the family laundromat. They've apparently offered to pay, but that somehow makes it more off-putting.

I realize there are multiple perspectives on this, and my question may be ambiguous, but I guess -

I don't mind them coming over to visit, even frequently, but part of being a married adult is not relying upon your "old" family to do basic life things like laundry. I don't want to antagonize either her or my wife (who doesn't want to rock the boat and doesn't want to lose seeing her sister frequently), but - how is the best way to approach this topic in a gentle but suitably firm manner?

Age range of all involved individuals is 35-40.

  • 1
    You say "I see this as an opportunity to establish some boundaries". Are there other behaviors which are boundary crossing ? Are just this one and you're afraid more will come ?
    – MlleMei
    May 27, 2019 at 20:45
  • 3
    Could you try to expand on why this is so offensive to you? It sounds like you just don't want them to use your laundry equipment under any circumstances (for more laundry than just your sister-in-law's). In figuring out approaches to suggest, it would help us to understand more about why that's the case, if possible. As I understand what's written here, I'm not sure I would interpret any new boundaries like you suggest as anything other than arbitrarily demanding that the family be less close and spend less time together from your SiL's perspective.
    – Upper_Case
    Jun 6, 2019 at 14:25
  • 2
    I am not sure it matters but: could your wife's sister do her own laundry at her own home? Does she own the proper equipment, but would rather use yours, or is it that instead of buying it, she would rather wash all her and her husband's clothes at your place?
    – essay
    Jul 2, 2019 at 13:57
  • @Upper_Case and his own wife's perspective.
    – WendyG
    Jul 15, 2019 at 11:12
  • Can you clarify: Does your wife do here sister's laundry as well as yours or does your sister-in-law do her own laundry, just at your house?
    – DTRT
    Jul 15, 2019 at 19:42

1 Answer 1


As the original poster, I can't say this is the best solution, it's just how the situation played out.

I don't believe there's necessarily a most correct course of action here, since much of this is predicated on some of my notions of how families work and are expected to behave.

As part of all of this, I was just open and honest with my wife in expressing that with her sister getting married and starting her own family, there needed to be some firmer boundaries regarding our (my personal) space, as her presence would necessarily involve bringing more people over.

While she didn't necessarily like it, she understood it, and her sister similarly understood my position.

I admit to being somewhat conflict averse, and as is often the case, people will often react totally reasonably (despite all the nightmare scenarios one can dream up).

As some time has passed since this question was posted, I'll add that things have naturally shifted such that everyone is happier - my wife still spends quality time with her sister in a more structured setting (plans for coffee, etc). We still have opportunities for everyone to get together as an extended family, and I don't feel like I have a second family encroaching upon me on a regular basis.

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