Taking Cousins Phone Calls


Okay, so I married my husband almost 10 years ago and everyone know when you marry your husband, you marry his family. I was expecting his mom dad and sister, but not cousins who live across the country (whom I have seriously only met 5 times).

Now this cousin latched onto me, she felt a closeness to me that I truly can’t understand, we have very little in common. She calls me and talks to me for an hour straight and I can’t say a word in edgewise. She has a drinking problem and has called me drunk. Because we are 3 hours difference, she calles sometimes at midnight her time because she knows I am awake. I would let her speak to me for the long conversations, but it got to be too much last year and so I got caller id.

I don’t really want to go into problems that she has. I will say that she has made life choices that are detrimental and I feel they have a lot to do with what she is going through now. I have even yelled at her about mistakes before in years past, and she would stop calling me for a month, because she knew I was right. But I don’t feel I could correct her now. She is going through a divorce right now, so she just wants to call me and vent, but I have 2 kids and am pregnant with my third. I honestly don’t have time for her. She called a few weeks ago aand left a message. I decided she was srunk because the message was so garbled. I had my good friend listen to it one day when she was over and she totally agreed. I didn’t return that phone call. don’t call me drunk!

She also calls sometimes and doesn’t leave messages. I sometimes go back through caller id on my phone to find a number so I won’t have to look it up, to call back someone who left a message, but if someone doesn’t leave a message, I don’t call them back. Am I supposed to be clarvoyant?

She called again on Valentine’s Day. This is the day that I cleaned the house made dinner for my family and for my friend who is suffering a miscarriage, and then sewed an entire Pocahontas costume for my daughter to wear the next day at school (I was up till midnight) I was exhausted but babysat two friends kids the next day, and I was so tired that night that I didn’t even clean the house. Today is my day to clean. I did not call her back, because I honestly don’t feel like it. I am so tired. I am sick and tired with pregnancy and trying to be a good mom to my kids.

So the cousin calles my SIL and whines at her for an hour and asks her why I never return her calls. My SIL calls me and says, I know its annoying, but she is family. I say, “She’s YOUR family, not mine. I have a sister who is recovery from major surgery and calling me about how much pain she is in. I will take that call, she is my sister, but your cousin wants to call me drunk and whine about everything. I love you, but you and your brother need to take those phone calls. I have enough going on.” I siad this lovingly to don’t yell at me about being mean to my SIL, she understood my exasperation.

So What do you all think. Am I handling this right? Should I continue to avoid her calls and let my husband call her back?


I think the way you handled it was fine. Your first priority is to your husband and children, not to distant relatives on your husband’s side of the family.

Personally, I would never take a phone call from someone who was drunk. I hate being around drunk people.

You’ve also explained to your husband’s family as to why you won’t take the phone calls, so now she knows and maybe she’ll lay-off for a while.

Scout :tiphat:


My FIL thinks I am a saint for speaking with her at all, and after the latest drama having to do with her, my MIL is now on my side about avoiding her calls. So at least my immediate family is on board. I can’t speak to the rest of the family about it though because they are all on the “poor cousin’s” side and refuse to see that anything she has done in her life would have contributed to her current situation.


I think you are doing the right thing. It sounds like you have put up with this for a long time and she is using you for her therapist, which is ok if *both *parties *want *a relationship like that. She is obviously not respecting your time if she is venting for an hour or more, an all her calls are like that.

You don’t have to cut her out of your life, but there is nothing wrong with you talking to her when it is convenient for YOU and you have the TIME.

As far as family goes, my cousins were as close as siblings when i was growing up, but we have become more distant as adults. The cousins who still live in our hometown are close, but the rest of us older cousins have moved different parts of the country but keep in touch with email and teh very* rare* call or visit. if we happen to be traveling near them.

It isn’t totally strange that she feels like she should call if she grew up in a family similar to mine.

It sounds like you are handling it well. Don’t say another word about it to any other family member (It would never come back the right way down the grapevine back to her) Just continue to take a break, using your caller id. If she leaves a message have your husband call her back. When you do talk to her refrain from saying anything like “I haven’t talked to you for a long time!” or anything else that could be taken as an invitation to call. Just be honest and kind, and don’t feel guilty about it. It’s much worse to let it drive you crazy to the point of needing to vent to a person who might tell her what you said, then it would just hurt feelings rather than solve the problem.

Remember too, that in some families, cousins are close.


I am assuming the reason why you put up with the dredded calls for so long is mainly that you wanted to be kind and supportive of her. If you want to remain a good example or supportive symbol of a person in her life, you could send her the occasional nice card that says something cute or funny like “Hang in there” with a kitten holding onto a tree branch. That way she doesn’t feel abandoned, yet you don’t have to deal with all the drama. :whacky: Maybe even include the occasional self help/ Women of Grace kinda article in there.

I hope you get some much needed mommy rest… . advice I don’t take often myself! I understand. I attract the most emotionally needy of people. My friends call when there is something wrong, very rarely to go out and have good clean mommy- without- kids fun, which is what *I *could use!

I have a friend right now (yes I consider her a friend) who is having alot of problems and calls to talk about them, then asks me to babysit her children (which are great kids, I dont’ mind at all,) so that she can go and have fun with another friend whom she never sees. Like, wow, I’d like to go out and have dinner and a tropical beverage too!


Thats a good idea…I think I will send a card. I can’t send an Alanon flyer with it though, although that is what she really needs.

I have another friend you suffers from bipolar. I can only take so many of her calls as well, but she is atleast doing her best and being a faithful wife and mother, so I do speak with her. When I spoke a little about the cousin, she told me to be understanding. I guess after that conversation, I started doubting my intuition. Thanks to you all for backing me up.

Another reason I am trying to make a break from her is because my FIL warned me that she might try to move out here to be with us as a support system. She has unhealthy dreams of becoming famous from modeling or acting, and we happen to live in CA. Although, she has no idea how BIG California is, because one time she was offered a modeling job in LA and she considered taking it and called me to ask if she did if I would be able to pick her up at the airport. I siad would she be flying into SF or Sacramento? She siad, no LAX. I siad, no- I was not willing to drive 10 hours to pick her up(20 hours round trip). She siad, Oh–Your state is that long? Duh! Look at a map! I probably would have driven two hours to either SAC or SF-- for us Californians an two hour drive is totally understandable, but seriously LA?


[quote=beckyann2597]My FIL thinks I am a saint for speaking with her at all, and after the latest drama having to do with her, my MIL is now on my side about avoiding her calls. So at least my immediate family is on board. I can’t speak to the rest of the family about it though because they are all on the “poor cousin’s” side and refuse to see that anything she has done in her life would have contributed to her current situation.

From what I know of alcoholism, the Enabler is an important part of their addiction. The Enabler protects and defends the alcoholic and calls on others to understand him. This gives the Enabler good feelings and a sense of superiority over both the alcoholic and those who are so “uncharitable” toward him.


yep, I guess I am viewed as an “uncharitable” person in this situation. I even asked my husband, am I too callous? We have talked alot about editing people out of our lives who do not add to our lives at all. I know it sounds hard, but after a while, I feel like this cousin is leaching on us and it is not healthy. Its difficult finding a happy medium between callousness and a doormat.


Pray for her, and try to be the best example of a Christian you can be -


I had an in-law like this who would get drunk, call in the middle of the night and ramble on, often abusively. This is how I learned to handle it, after about 60 seconds.

“Well, thanks for calling, I’ll let you go now.” click.


This cousin is THE reason I got caller ID. Husband and I are in full agreement about him taking the calls or calling her so I don’t have to deal with it.



Sounds like you have the situation well in hand.

In the immortal words of Ann Landers (or was it Abigail van Buren?), “Nobody can impose on you without your permission.”



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