Post # 1
I have a bit of an awkward family dynamic that I’m walking into, and I’m unsure of how to handle it. A quick background on my own and my Fi’s families:
My extended/immediate family: My father’s side of the family is huge and catholic (i.e. involved in everyone’s business all the time). I have 17 first cousins on that side. We’re a close family, talk frequently, have all our holidays together (some alternate now that we’re growing up and marrying into other families), and see each other more often then just holidays. I speak to my mother almost daily and she’s an amazingly strong woman. I’m very close with my family and love being around them.
My Fi’s family: speak rarely, see each other on only Thanksgiving or Christmas, and really aren’t involved in each other’s lives. They don’t have a significant amount of disposable income for travel and my Fi is a bit embarrassed about how he grew up and hasn’t been optimistic about my seeing it. Here’s the Jerry Springer part: his parents have been divorced for 27+ years. His mother has been remarried around 5 times (seriously, he didn’t know what her last name was anymore when I went to send her a save the date!), and they just decided to get back together after all these years and his father is now getting divorced from his step mom (who is in and of itself another can of worms that I’ll make a separate post for).
So, where this is even more strange is that I have been asking my Fi for years to meet his mother. We’ve been dating almost three years and engaged for 5 months now. His family lives several States away. I threw him a graduation party (for his MBA) a week after we returned from a vacation where we got engaged. This was the FIRST time I met his mother. She was very nice and talkative and I enjoyed meeting her. I haven’t seen her since. I have asked my Fi about trying to go visit and the timing is just bad or “there’s no where for us to stay” etc etc etc. I asked if I could email her and he said she doesn’t have the internet and lives in a trailer. I don’t want to push too hard but I find their family dynamic/communication strange. I’ve sent her a newspaper with our engagement announcement, save the dates, my mother made and sent her a photo album of our proposal…she’s never responded or acknowledged that she’s received them. Do I leave it alone and chalk it up to different family dynamics or do I push my Fi and ask for her phone number to open the doors of communication? I know that this is the way he says his family has always been but it’s so abnormal to my family that I don’t know how to handle it. I don’t want to seem like an absent-minded bride and only focused on myself and mine…but if she isn’t communicating either then what can I do? He said she liked me and only had good things to say so I don’t think I’ve offended her in any way. At the rate we’re going, the second time I will see his mother is at the wedding! Am I missing something?
Post # 3
I suggest you leave it alone. Keep including her in things like you have been by sending important things, but otherwise follow your FI’s lead. It’s his family and his comfort level is important. (Though I do advise getting her phone number, in case of an emergency involving FI – better to have it than not be able to find it if you need it.)
Is your FI an only child? I’d only be concerned if he has siblings who interact with their mother a lot more.
Post # 4
Each family dynamic is going to be different, but you need to let your FI take the lead in dealing with his family. He gets to set the tone with this one.
I kind of got a lesser version with this with my FI. His grandma died last year. He barely flinched. He didn’t go to the funeral (that was several states away) Neither did his sister. His parents were the only ones that went, and they barely spent any time there. They spent 5 days here before they even left.
My family is like yours, big, crazy, Catholic. When we have a death in the family, we assemble like the Avengers. We are there for a week. We lean on eachother and spend a lot of time together. I learned really quickly though that I needed to keep in my place in this situation. It’s not my place to dictate how his family or even him reacts to the situation.
Post # 5
First, i would void using the word strange, differnt from what you know is safe.
I would just leave it. People have different relationships and different means or communication. Its clearly different from what you are used to, therefore hard to fathom. But it is what it is.
Post # 6
- Wedding: June 2013 - Upstate NY
Sounds like socio-economically they are on a different plane than you and you/ she knows it will be hard to connect…? Maybe not, maybe she’s just distant. I would just let it be. Pushy MIL’s are the WORST!
Post # 7
I would leave it. My FI’s relationship with his parents is very different than mine. But it doesn’t make one or the other better – just different. I would continue to send things to her in due course (like STD, album, etc) but I wouldn’t try to contact her by phone or email if your FI doesn’t initiate it. You just have to accept it for what it is and leave it at that.
Post # 8
Coming from the other side, I say definitely leave it alone. My husbands parents are the kind to call us when his brothers girlfriends cat that we’ve seen once in 6 years is put down. They are the kind of family to be in each others business all the time.
While my family is close in the ‘if you need me i’ll be there in a heartbeat’ kind of way, we’re not like that. It was very hard for me to get used to the in your face kind of family they are. For example they’re bff’s with his brothers gf’s (now fiancee) family, especially parents. I don’t want my parents to be best friends with his parents. I have enough to deal with in my own life/family, I don’t need them meddling there too. (Though I know it’s all coming from a good place).
People come from different walks of life, different dynamics. I don’t like everyone to know everything, I don’t want people to know about what surgeries I’ve had or what I use for birth control. His family – all is fair game.
It’s ‘strange’ to me yes, but like a PP said, strange isn’t a word you should use, just different than what you’re used to. It took a while for my husband to understand I didn’t want him to relay what I ate for breakfast or that I have blood tests to go for, or what my relationship is like with my father/mother etc unless I decide that’s something I want to bring up.
If he says cool it, or he’s evasive about you contacting her, drop it.
Post # 9
@lia22: serious LOL at the cat thing. My fave line of the day!
Post # 10
@LuluInLove: “dead” serious this happened….and it was the only reason for the phone call. I mean really? I LOVE animals, I love them more than 99% of human beings, but really? “So, I just wanted to let you know that so and so put down their 19 year old cat today”….ok…….thanks?
And to put it into family dynamic perspective I said to DH, “are you fucking serious?” and he’s all like “what’s so weird about that? They just wanted us to know”. Again, really?