Minor family vent — any advice?

posted 3 years ago in Family
Post # 2
Member
7654 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2012

beeconomist:  I am going to take a deep breath and try my best to remain calm, lol. In my case, i have the exact same in laws except that…they don’t really “value” that time we spend together. So my situation is slightly different in that respect.

I am just going to say it sounds like you give them WAY more time than I would. My MIL expects the amount of time with us that you are giving your in laws. I couldn’t do it. I just want to forewarn you…the more you give in the harder it is going to be once you get married and have kids.

I was excited to spend lots of time with my MIL, and it really came back to bite me in the ass once I did want to spend a weekend with DH. She started guilt tripping and becoming increasingly overbearing. We have been putting our foot down, but now we are going to open a whole new can of worms with her first grandchild due in a few weeks.

Getting back on point, I have went to therapy for my needly in laws. One thing I can tell you is her comments are annoying, and they always will be, BUT you have to start setting boundaires. if you are ok visiting a few times a month, fantastic. If they want you to visit more, you just need to say, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Your FMIL saying “that’s all?” is a form of guilt-tripping no matter how politely and sweet she says it. Stick with the days you feel most comfortable. They are allowed to feel sa,d disappointed, even mad, but you control your own feelings. IMHO, you are giving them ample time (actually too much of your time which may come back to haunt you one day). Just stick to your guns and say, ‘I’m sorry you feel that way” and move on.

Post # 3
Member
74 posts
Worker bee

It sounds like we have similar inlaws! FI’s family needs everything celebrated… together. Or else there are tears, sulking, guilting, etc. Father’s day, mother’s day, birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving. Everything! FSIL also demands  time with her brother specifically without me, which I find odd. It comes down to their needing to realize you and FI as a new unit now; your priorities are to eachother and if you make a decision to do or not do something when they want you, they need to respect those decisions.

I’m finding its taking some getting used to by FMIL. I think the best approach is for you and FI to talk about your plans well in advance, and FI can let him know if you will not be making it. There is no need to have an excuse or provide one. If there are objections, FI needs to be firm and let them know that the guilt trips are disrespectful to him and end the conversation. Keep your chin up! they’ll get used to it (or so I like to make myself think….)

Post # 4
Member
4441 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: January 2013 - Harbourfront Grand Hall

beeconomist:  Personally I would get in touch with them some way.  Like during the snow day, call them and let them know you wish you could have made it but didn’t want to risk driving.  Or if you don’t call them, drop a note in the mail.

Post # 6
Member
74 posts
Worker bee

 

beeconomist:  Definitely stick to your guns! Set the standard (as others advise). My mother told me that I can either change FMIL’s behavior or I can’t. You and FI are the ones with control over the boundaries you set. That was my biggest breakthrough – and improved my communication with FI over how we spend our time with our families.

Post # 7
Member
370 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2016

beeconomist:  Here’s my two cents:

You’re starting your own life and future family with your FI, so at some point his family is going to have to get used to the fact that you two have other priorities and things going on. My S.O. has sort of the same type of family and there are some times when I just don’t want to go because I have other things to get done, or I value my alone time. Sometimes my S.O. goes without me and sometimes he stays with me. His family is just going to have to deal with the fact that not every weekend can be spent with them.

If their lack of excitement still bugs you when you tell them the dates you are visiting, just say that you are going to be starting a life with your FI and weren’t necessarily raised with such a family order. Not to say it’s bad, but say that you and your FI value your alone time.

 

Hope it helps in some way. 

Post # 9
Member
370 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2016

beeconomist:  Some families really don’t understand that. It’s unfortunate. Just do your best to explain to them that while you love spending time with the family, you need to attend to other important issues as well. Good luck, love!

Post # 10
Member
3637 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

I’d give them the benifit of the doubt and say that they don’t realise what sour pusses they are being and how they are making you feel. Perhaps in their head they want you to know how much they love spending time with you and that they could never see you enough. Of course, rather than feel loved you just end up feeling guilty. 

I would bring it up and address it straight on the next time it happens (or possibly get your FI to do it seeing as it is his family) say something like “I’m sad that we have to leave too but didn’t we have an awesome afternoon?” if their mopeiness continues say “every time we leave/can’t make it you guys make me feel so guilty! It really ruins the day/rest of the day for me”. Just be honest and see if things change. It might be hard though because it seems like it’s ingrained in the family culture.

Post # 11
Member
42522 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

beeconomist:  We all have to be careful not to take on responsibility for other people’s feelings. When she says “that’s all”?  then you reply “yes, those are the weekends we can make it this month” and don’t for one minute take on any guilt.

Have you invited them to come to your place? I don’t mean a casual ” you’re welcome anytime” but a specific invitation. Soometimes older people aren’t as comfortable dropping in. They might appreciate an invitation to know that their company is desired.

Post # 12
Member
1734 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 1998

Are these just passing comments when you’re leaving, or are they drawn out? I.e., is it just< “We wish you could have stayed longer…” when you’re leaving, or is it a drawn-out discussion among the family members? (“They’re leaving so soon?” “I wish they could stay longer…” “When will we see you again?”). The answer so that drastically changes my answer; in the former case, some families simply communicate how much fun they had in a way that’s phrased negatively (…coming from such a family, I understand it). But, I’ll assume this case is really the latter: that you are beginning to feel like you better make every get-together…or else.

What you call “valuing family time” I call “enjoying taking hostages.” Throwing a good ol’ time for everybody periodically can be — well, a good ol’ time. That changes when social pressure demands you show up or you’ll be entertained by childish displays of pouts, gripes about how you’re leaving so soon or how you can’t visit at all. Don’t these people have other life obligations that get in the way?

While I agree that this should be addressed — but I wouldn’t hold my breath, seeing as this attitude is pervasive throughout the family — I think it should come from your fiance. He handles his family, you handle your family. I’ve seen how “in-law taking on the family” arguments tend to go in many families: coming from a blood/adopted relative of the family, it probably would go over very smoothly. Coming from an “In-law” (i.e., INVADER/OUTSIDER!), an even, kind tone can come off as intrusive and unfair.

Fiance should consider telling them, “Beeconomist and I work full-time, (insert other obligations here), etc. We also need to spend time alone, with her family and with our friends. I’ve noticed that whenever we can’t make a get-together or we leave, someone says (insert sample phrases they’ve said here). We visit quite often and want to be close to BOTH of our families. We’d appreciate it if from now on, we could just focus on having fun with the time we have without negative commentary.”

Some families demand every ounce of time. I thought my in-laws would blow a gasket when my sister-in-law and her husband, who live several hundred miles away, had to return to their home state twice in about 6 months for funerals on his side of the family. Given that her husband had limited time off, these visits were quick and involved no visits with my in-laws. Being privy to those entitled conversations, all of the gripes about how much more time “his family” was getting and so on left me sitting there awkwardly.

But, it is a line in the sand that you must draw going forward in your marriage. You and your fiance are going to form your own family; you are not the dolls available 24/7 at the whims of his family, extended and otherwise.

Post # 14
Member
7 posts
Newbee

All these responses have been great, and I really don’t have much to add except that you are not alone!!  We’ve had a lot of issues with my FI’s SIL, like she went berserk on him for spending time with me/my family(when we spend just as much time with everyone).  She even showed up where he worked and tried just showing up with no warning at our house.  She has tried to sabotage/come in between my FI & I until he finally told her off and she still refused to see that she is wrong.  So, basically.. It could be worse.. lol  <end rant>

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