Post # 1
The bee has led me to believe that in the majority of cases, husbands and wives, or brides and grooms, will have the child of the parent who is at odds communicate with the parents.
FMIL says she wants to invite her church group to your 20 person, intimate, family only wedding. She may react negatively to the reality that that is just not going to happen. You send Fi to handle the details (even if she is communicating this issue directly to you. Even if this is happening right in front of your face, in that second, you will still try to deflect the conversation, and have Fi break the bad news)
This is a completely disturbing trend to me, personally. I understand where it comes from. You have a certain place in this relationship. You also are not the child of this parent, and you could easily be blamed unfairly, or have a grudge held against you long term- even for something relatively minor (or for something a parent would easily forgive their child for) To me, there are PLENTY of situations where I would do the same thing, and have Fi talk to his own parents.
That being said, I’m also joining his family. I also have a right to live my life the way I want- including how we are planning our wedding. If something comes up, I feel I have a right to say something. So, in the above situation, if FMIL said “I am inviting 20 people” I’d say, “Oh. Sorry. We actually don’t have any more room on the guest list.” I’d be direct. I’d be polite. And I’d be honest. And if she kept trying to steamroll me about it, I’d be firm. I don’t need my Fi to jump in to rescue either one of us.
This gets me even MORE when we are talking about couples with kids. If grandma wants to tell me how to raise my child, or go behind my back and do something with my child I am not comfortable with, you bet your ass I am going to talk to her AS THE MOTHER OF MY CHILD.
Wat about you, Bees? What are you thoughts on this? Where do you draw the line?
Post # 3
I feel the same way when it comes to a “strong” parent. For example my FIL. no way im letting my husband handle that. His dad is hard to talk to. His mom i feel totally comfertable with. But i have to watch what i say because i realized pretty quick that she tells her husband EVERYTHING. pretty much anyways. A far as having to do with my kid. I feel the same as you. I would have no problem telling them whats up. unfortunatly i know when i have kids some of that will come up. My husbands brother has a kid, and i know thats when we will mostly bump heads.
I dont think its far that you want a small wedding and she wants to invite a ton of people. at least my mother in law asked if it was okay to invite people. My FI wanted to invite like his whole town. i told him we needed to stop some where cuz then i would also have to invite my whole town. if he had to invite all the high school teachers i would too and then we would have 200 people. ;P
Post # 4
It really varies by the situation, and by the couple’s parents.
In my case I do not really view marriage as joining his family…more like we now have common interests. If FH wants to break some bad news, they may be more likely to forgive him… but also he can take a harsher tone, and can communicate differently than I would to explain the issues to them.
One thing I have learned is that FH’ family has a very different approach to disagreements than mine, and he does understand it best, so often it is better to have him approach them, and me approach my own family.
Post # 5
@Asia: I’m too outspoken not to say something. FI knows that I am my own person and I don’t need him to come to my defense or speak on my behalf (though of course he does). If I have something to say, I say it and I always know that he will back me. I have been in quite the arguments with his mother…guess who he chose? I know I’m the priority and I feel free to speak my mind to anyone.
Post # 6
If my husband and I together are having an ongoing problem with his mother (his father has passed away), he gets to handle it. At least, he gets to try to handle it first. Then if necessary, we’ll handle it together.
If I am having my own problem with my MIL that has nothing to do with my husband, then I’ll handle it myself when I’m ready (although I may discuss it with my husband first).
And vice versa.
In the situation you’re describing, I would have my husband handle it because he knows how to deal with his mother better than I do (at least, this was the case when we were planning our guestlist). We actually did have a similar situation, albeit not as extreme (just a few people instead of 20). It was much easier for my husband to tell her that she needed to pay for any extra guests she wanted to invite rather than my telling her. And she did pay for them, so they got invited. I don’t think she and I were at that point in our relationship yet. Plus my husband and his mother view and deal with money/ financial issues differently than I and my family.
Post # 7
It varies depending on what the situation is and if it’s something that affects both myself and my husband. I totally agree that it’s stupid for only him to deal with his parents, just as it doesn’t make sense for only me to deal with mine.
Luckily, my parents are pretty easy-going, so my husband feels comfortable pulling them up if they do or say something he’s not comfortable with. Sometimes I might pull them aside privately to address something (e.g. my sister comes to visit a lot and basically takes over the house, which annoys my husband, so I mentioned to her some little things that might help – knocking, letting husband have the TV, not demanding that husband cook her food, etc.).
When it comes to his family, he will usually be the one to break “bad” news to them – so if we can’t visit when they thought we would, someone has passed away, etc. Mostly because he tends to avoid talking to them at the best of times, so I’ll usually hassle him with “You have to tell your parents we’re not coming/You’ve got to let them know about X,” because at least then he’s spoken to them on the phone.
His family can also be pretty nosy about finances, career choices, children, home stuff…basically anything we do, so we tackle those things as a team – they might ask husband how much money we got for our wedding gifts and we will both just be really vague “Oh, we haven’t really counted it,” and if they get too pushy, I’m more than happy to say “We figured we weren’t going to tell anyone how much we got,” because husband has a little difficulty being direct with his parents (FIL can be a real pain sometimes).
Post # 8
I can’t deal with his family because I think they’re all crazy. So I let him do it.
Post # 9
Also, when I have children, all bets are off and courtesy goes out the window (when necessary– obviously I will try to be nice first).
Post # 10
@JenniMichele: I am not looking forward to that. I believe in things like…reading to kids…letting them get a little dirty…teaching them table manners…you know, crazy things. It’s not going to be fun to be judged constantly.
Post # 11
@peachacid: What? Teaching them table manners? For shame!
Post # 12
We don’t have these issues. If fmil is talking to me about something & there’s an issue I’d be between us. Although really we have no issues. Same with my family & fi. If it’s something with both of us or dd then we deal with it as a couple. We try to be a united front. Luckily we rarely have any issues with either of our families, they’re both respectful of us as a couple & family.
Post # 13
@Asia: The hypothetical you describe – Where the MIL or FIL says something directly to me – of course I would reply.
But for most things contentious (both in my life, and on The Bee), it’s a case of having to think about it and get back to the parents to tell them the “bad news”. And yes, in that case it’s the child of the parent, every single time, in my book.
DH once went against my advice and tried to address something with my mother. It went horribly bad.
Post # 14
@paula1248: It’s always interesting to hear the other side of things like this. So what do you do if FMIL comes at you directly, and intentionally sperately from your SO? Do you just kind of try to quietly get out of it? Do you tell her she’ll need to talk to her son?
UGGGH! You guys, the kids thing is the only time I think we’ll have any serious problems. :-/ FMIL can be very rude and closeminded about people’s religious views. Early on, while she was being rude about how hypocritical allll christians are and how stuuupid they must be, I let her know I was one. It was weird. And while my religious views are not easily classified and are evolving (this was 5 years ago), that’s none of her damn business. So you can imagine how completely disturbed I was when she visited (for the first time after our engagement nearly a year ago) with a pamphlet on an athiest summer camp that we absolutely had to take our kids to. I was floored. I tried getting out of it at first by just being non commital. But she kept bringing it up. Eventually, I just had to flat out tell her that I think summer camps are kind of creepy, and I certainly won’t be sending my kids to this one. Her daughter and I spent the rest of the evening teasing her about it (making a joke of the situation definately diffused things)
You’s guys. We don’t have kids. We aren’t trying to have kids right now. She is already wanting a grandchild. And she’s already trying to overstep her bounds on it. I can’t not talk to her directly. And if I can’t do it now, it’s going to set the precident of me not doing so later.
Aside from her quirks (and prejudices) my MIL is a very nice lady who absolutely loves her kdis and has welcomed me with open arms. She’s awkward. She has a lot of foot in mouth moments. But when someone flat out tells her that she’s wrong, she is someone who is capable of correcting herself (particularly when she is being prejudiced or small minded)
Bahhhhh… Anyone else have some specific stories to share? Times when you either did or did not defer to your SO to diffuse tensions with the in laws?
Post # 15
@Asia: MIL is deceased, in fact I never met her 🙁 However DH’s older sister is sort of the main driver family events. If she or anyone else asks me about anything in the least controversial, the reply is always “I’ll talk to DH and get back to you”. But it really doesn’t happen much. Perhaps one of the good things about not having a MIL? – but believe me, I’d much rather she was alive. Plus by all reports she was a remarkable woman.
We have kids but none of the 3 surviving parents interferes much, if at all. My mother’s pretty good at giving mothering tips while also deferring to my judgement.
Post # 16
@paula1248: 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 I’m really sorry to hear that. Like you, I don’t have a ton of problems with Fi’s parents (and likewise for him) I thought that that might be why I wasn’t too terribly concerned with taking my own matters into my own hands? But I think the oposite could also be true. That because you guys don’t have many problems, the simplest solution (and the one that works best for you) is for your SO to handle things.
Really, everybody’s families are different. 🙂 For me, I’d have an easier time telling my FMIL something that I was certain would make her upset (but that was necessary) than I would telling my own parents (it’s just not really how our relationship works)