Post # 1
I live in one state, FI lives in another state, and my FILs live in yet another state. FI and I spend one major holiday/year with his parents, which is generally the only time I see them. They send me a card and small gift for my birthday (I send them cards, too), but that’s about it for communication. No emails or phone calls to say hi. Even with the upcoming wedding, any questions about the wedding have gone through FI. He talks to his parents every weekend and sees them several more times a year than I do.
FILs and I don’t have tons in common, but I wish we were in more frequent contact. There is certainly no bad blood! My own parents involve FI in their lives quite a bit more. I’ve asked FI if his parents want to get to know me more, and he says they “know I’m busy” and don’t want to inconvenience me. FSIL, who at least occasionally comments on my FB photos/statuses, apparently feels intimidated by me and doesn’t know what we would have in common. (I’m in grad school and give off a “smart” vibe, I guess??) I made an effort these past holidays to develop my relationships with them (e.g., taking FMIL out for lunch), but it hasn’t spawned any new communication since then.
I know that IL relationships are give and take, but I am really wondering how much to invest in this relationship right now. I just don’t know how to grow a relationship with them beyond what I’ve already done and in a way that isn’t superficial talking for the sake of talking. It’s like we’re family for 5 days a year and then nothing.
My education/training over the next several years will be crazy and, in fact, will limit even my ability to do the annual holiday thing with them. FI and I are marrying in April, I won’t have time off to see them for holidays 2013, so I will likely go until holidays 2014 (20 months!) without seeing them. I certainly don’t want to appear any more stand-offish or detached than I already have. (FYI, FI and I will continue the LDR for a little while after we’re married, so them visiting BOTH of us isn’t an option.) I want to feel like their family but need help “breaking into” their family structure.
Is this typical for in-law relationships? Any bees with similar experiences have suggestions for growing these relationships?
Post # 3
My Ftalkers to his parents at least weekly as well. What we do is BOTH thank to them. Get on a separate line, or on speaker phone, and be part of the conversation.
Skype is great for this too. You can see each other and see body language. Skype is also great for sharing the planning.
Post # 4
I would say just call them up to ask how they are doing. Just ask about them and their life. Start there and see how it goes! Or perhaps email first?
My MIL has called me on the phone maybe 3 times. I never call her. It’s nice when she calls, but I definitely couldn’t do it every week! Every other month is fine. We do email.
Post # 5
I talk to my FFILs a few times a year, when we are in the same state. They made a big deal of wanting to talk to me on the phone more, but never followed up. But I guess I don’t have a strong desire to be friends (mostly based on their pat history with me) Not everyone is super social and wants to spend time and chat with everyone they know. Some people are just not wired that way.
As for his sister, are you both on facebook? This is a good way for low pressure conversation. Just make a few comments or likes on her page, she can do the same to you, send her a funny email now and then. No pressure makes for the best relationships sometimes.
Post # 6
maybe it’s just me but we are the same way & I wouldn’t change it for the world! He talks to & keeps up with his family, I do the same with mine. I used to talk to his family more until they started getting all weird & basically told me that I disappointed them & not who they thought I was after seeing some pics of me doing a pole workout on FB. After that mess I’m more than happy to let him handle his own & me handle my own. It’s really not so bad!
Post # 7
@philodendron: Before we got engaged, DH and I were living in two separate states. He lived with his parents in AZ, and I went to grad school in LA. Bc of my course load it was easier for him to visit me. Before i moved to AZ to be with him a year before we got engaged, I only seen his parents 3 times in 7 years. Granted I saw them a lot when we all lived in AZ. However, when DH and I moved to Houston, I hardly ever talk to his parents now. I think we average one telephone conversation every month and a half. His parents are busy, I’m busy, and neither one of us are phone people. We have a great relationship despite the lack of communication.
Post # 8
I thought you wrote FI at first, and I was thinking “no, that’s not really typical” but FILs? Normal.
Post # 9
- Wedding: September 2012 - Southern California
@joya_aspera: Haha I thought the same thing ;]
@OP: I don’t talk to my ILs outside of my DH. We all like each other, but I keep up with my family, he keeps up with his family, & share all that with each other. We usually have dinner with our parents [seprately] like once a month or so, but that’s it. No Stephanie/MIL cutesy lunches or Mark/my dad golfing extravaganzas haha.
Post # 10
I find that email and facebook are a good way to keep in contact with ILs. My FILs live halfway around the globe and I rarely talk to them directly. I am not a phone person at all – my best friend also lives on the other side of the world and we never call each other – we just write each other long emails. With the FILs I also keep in touch via email and facebook. We see each other once a year and they are always super nice to me and treat me like family. So I don’t think you have to keep in regular phone contact with your ILs to have a good relationship with them (in fact, that applies for any relationship, not just with your ILs).
Post # 11
Thats probably ok.
But if you want to talk with them more- call up his mom and ask her for such and such recipe she has that you would like to make and then update them with wedding plans. I bet they would love to chat with you more and this way you have an excuse
Post # 12
Thanks everyone! How do these dynamics play out once grandchildren are in the picture? Does a switch flip and the ILs suddenly become interested in their DIL? Or is their son the main conduit to the grandchildren?
Post # 13
Well its different for my FI and I because we live in the same town as both our parents and I am back living at home until the wedding. So obviously my FI sees my parents almost everyday. They are also close, we do dinner with them frequently and sometimes my FI will go do things with just my dad. He doesn’t live at home so its a little different. Back in college, we came home 1-2 weekends a month and I saw them a lot and was really close with them (I could talk to FMIL about stuff I couldn’t my own mom, even though my mom and I are super close to) but a lot of family drama happened and for a year we only saw them 4-5 times. Now things are getting better. With the wedding approaching and for the past year, it has helped us get closer. I email FMIL a few times a week to discuss rehearsel dinner, showers, what we are up to, or whatever, her and I get lunch ALONE about once a month.. When his brother comes home (hes a student at west point) or his sister who lives across the state comes in, we see them more but also do stuff just the 4 of us (me, FI, FMIL, FFIL) about every 2-3 months. But we both talk to them weekly either via email, phone or seeing them in person.
Post # 14
@philodendron: Not sure how it’ll work once we actually have kids, but I’m currently pregnant, and they’re still not actually interested in talking to me. DH speaks to them once a week or so, and we have a small apartment so I can usually overhear what they’re saying, and hear that they’re talking about me, and how I’m feeling, and when my appointments are, but they never ask to speak to me directly.
Post # 15
@philodendron: That’s a good question! I am thinking they’ll interact more if there were kids.
We don’t plan on having kids, I am not sure the ILs know this. She thinks she can remind me that I’m not getting any younger, as if that will work!