Post # 1
Well, I knew it would come to this at some point. My new FIL and I are really not on the same page at all politically (he is conservative; I am liberal), religiously (he is a die hard Christian; I am an athiest), and socially (see above.) He also has a recent job that requires him to fly to our neck of the woods a lot. So, DH is at his beck and call whenever he flies in. We (or perhaps it is only me) never really know when he is going to come in, and DH has to drive 30 minutes out of the way to pick him up at the airport, and drive him to wherever he is staying (thankfully, not with us.) It wouldn’t bother me so much if it was a once in awhile thing, but he comes in now almost every week, and disrupts plans, etc. and it has been grating on my nerves.
So…predictably, after keeping my frustrations bottled up inside for awhile, I exploded last night. I just feel like FIL is way too involved in our life together. He is constantly trying to “counsel” us, doesn’t respect or accept the fact that we are atheists (he is constantly giving DH religious books and trying to “re-convert” him, and trying to get him to go to these Christian groups), and ultimately doesn’t respect the fact that we are busy adults with a lot of things going on. And though it bugs me that he isn’t considerate of our schedules when he asks us to pick him up, that is really only the tip of the iceberg. What I am most afraid of is that he will be entirely too involved in our life as a separate family when we start having kids, etc. DH considers his constant need to “counsel” us to be helpful, and I just feel like he doesn’t understand us. Further, if I felt like we needed counseling (which we don’t), I would seek it from an objective party (not a family member).
I don’t know. Maybe it’s just that DH and I weren’t raised the same. My family was supportive, but they knew when it was time to set me free and let me be an adult. I have been independent for awhile now (as I am almost 30), and I just find it difficult to take when FIL treats us like we’re young adults just getting our start. We know how to balance a checkbook, we aren’t going to church for anything but baptisms or funerals (out of respect for our Christian family members), we are responsible enough to read and sign our own contracts (he insisted on looking at our fully executed contracts for the wedding–I thought this was ridiculous and he never saw any of the contracts).
I guess what I’m getting at is…how do you set your boundaries with in-laws to prevent future anger? And more importantly, how do you communicate this to DH and not sound like a crazy/possessive wife?
Post # 3
- Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL
It is not unreasonable to tell the FIL to butt out of your marital discussions regarding finances and contracts (unless you and your FH agree ahead of time to ask him about something specific.) My FIL is extremely conservative as well and as a moderate I have learned to banter with him but my FH is extremely liberal so there are certain topics of conversation that are off limits as well as limitations on the length and “heat” of the conversation.
However, all of these ground rules need to be brought up by your FH since it’s his father. It’s an integral part of growing up and establishing your marital family together. Sit down with your FH and set some ground rules regarding visits and topics of coversation. Tell your FH that your marital family comes first but it does not mean that his family does not matter at all.
Post # 4
I can relate, and sympathize, my FIL is uber religious, and Mr. 99 and I walk a path seeking peace and enlightenment….it all broke loose between me and that man during a family meeting that ended promptly after he and I stood face to face screaming at each other and I said, “Being loud doesn’t make you right, being a man doesn’t make you a leader and being old doesn’t make you smart. You earn those things.”
He’s always been very considerate and measured with me after that, and while I am not proud of losing my temper, I am proud that I showed myself and my values to a man who underestimated me.
Be yourself, stay true to that and it will work out.
Post # 5
Oh you are in the annoying FIL boat too, eh? First, DH HAS to be on the same page as you. He has to support you, or nothing will change. We are lucky that FIL doesn’t come around, so we are opposite of you, but we do have similar issues. FIL is always trying to tell us what we should or should not do. I had a HUGE blow up with him about a month ago (in public none the less) and since then DH has been doing his best to help support me, and tell his dad how it is.
It is ok to tell your FIL when you have plans and that you won’t be giving up those plans to accomodate his stay. I would be willing to house him while he stays, but if he is just coming into town and wants to meet up for lunch and that doesn’t work for you then tell him straight out or he will continue to feel like he has that upper hand on you.
Post # 6
Girl, I feel you. My fiance’s dad is always up here in DC from FL unexpectedly (not every week though!) and he always feels the need to advise us on our lives. However, my fiance has spoken with his dad and has told him many times that he makes his own decisions and is only keeping him informed, not asking his permission.
That being said, it sounds like maybe you’re not on same page with your husband. It’s kind of up to him to manage the relationship between him and his father, but first, you have to make sure your feeling about his father’s involvement in your life are known, and then that you and your husband can get on the same page.
Post # 7
Thanks for the support, Bees. I don’t feel like DH and I are currently on the same page. He is a reasonable and level-headed guy, so I don’t doubt he will understand if I can just communicate how I feel to him without totally ragging on his dad. I just don’t know how to do that. Funny thing is…tradition says that we are supposed to hate our MILs, but I absolutely love my MIL.
Post # 8
And…OMG. Ironically, I received an email just now from FIL asking me to join in on some Christian ministry thing. I think there may be smoke coming out of my ears.
Post # 9
I know the religious stuff bothers you, but you may have to let that roll off your back. Many Christians believe that it is their responsibility to lead others to Christianity. He’s probably not doing it to be mean or annoying; he just fails to understand that it’s not going to work with you and FI. (Now if he’s openly criticizing your atheism or your choices regarding religion, that’s different.)
I would start small – talk to DH about the need for your FIL to let you and him know ahead of time when he’ll be coming in and have an alternative means of transportation ready for suggestion (taxi service phone number, etc.) in case you have plans. Explain to DH that his father’s insistance on looking over every document and trying to advise you makes you feel as though he doesn’t trust you and DH as adults. Maybe DH can gently tell him when it happens, “Thanks, Dad, but we’ve got this. I’ll let you know if we have questions.”
If this works, maybe you can work on the religious thing, but that’s a little more sensitive, so I wouldn’t start there. It doesn’t sound like he’s forcing you into doing anything in that arena, just incessantly suggesting it.
Post # 10
Yeah, unfortunately, the religion thing will probably always be an issue (especially as FIL went to seminary.) I guess I just wish he/everyone else out to convert me would respect my beliefs just as I respect his. We will attend church to support nieces and nephews getting “dedicated” or to go to funerals. Even though we have to sit through a worship service that contradicts what we believe, and we almost want to laugh at the worship music, we sit quietly and respectfully and deal with it. It just makes me mad that it is acceptable for him to continue to shove his beliefs down our throats (even though we have communicated our beliefs), while it is unacceptable (and disrespectful) for us to show him the physical evidence supporting evolution, or demonstrate that being a homosexual is not a choice. It just doesn’t sit well with me. But, that’s something that I just have to accept, I guess.
I will talk to DH about FIL and his random fly-in times. Perhaps it is something that he and his Dad talk about, but is never communicated to me. I don’t know. At any rate, DH and I do need to get on the same page or FIL is going to drive me crazy.
Post # 11
I don’t have advice for the overall situation, but one way to reconcile things a bit with DH: be VERY sensitive. It’s his FATHER you’re talking about. Yes, he won’t agree with his dad on everything either, but it is still his own flesh and blood. NEVER say that your DH is “Just like his dad” or anything like that if there are ever disagreements about any of it. Trust me. I know from experience. You never want to tell a man he is just like his father in a negative context.