(Closed) advice about visiting with inlaws

posted 12 years ago in Married Life
Post # 3
773 posts
Busy bee

Not that this justifies their behavior at all, but this sounds a lot like my grandparents.  As they have aged, they have become less and less inclined to leave their house.  My grandmother has even been making a fuss about driving 30 minutes to my bridal shower next weekend. 


It probably isn’t that they don’t want to spend time with their son, but it does seem, at least in my family, that older people feel more uncomfortable out of their comfort zone than younger people.


It’s just a possibility.  And as everyone says on weddingbee… you could have your husband talk about this with them! 🙂

Post # 4
123 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: December 2010

I work with a lot of retired volunteers.  I think we often assume that retirees will want to travel all the time, and while that is true for many retirees, there are just as many that want to stay home and continue a very set routine (choir practice, dinner with friends, etc).  It sounds like your in-laws are the latter. 


My advice would be to continue being as sweet and supportive as it sounds like you have been.  Just be very frank and open with them about why you can’t make it down to see them as much as they might like (money, vacations days, etc.)  They might be upset, but if you are being truthful and kind they will understand.  

I know as a newlywed this first year of holidays "sharing" families – is really tough.  I am looking forward to having kids, because then you have the ultimate excuse not to travel to see anyone!  Then they really do have to come to you!

Post # 5
440 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

On the night I got engaged (at my parent’s Cmas eve party) his grandparents came and left with in an hour. They didn’t even stay for a glass of champagne or pictures. His parents (mom and step dad or dad and step mom) did not come at all. They all have been invited to my parents home numerous times and never come. Irony – they all live within an hour of my parents.  My parents have never even met his dad or stepmom. Its really really sad. At first when they started doing the whole guilt tripping to get us to come visit we would come and it would be quite awkward because no one even acted like we were there. I don’t really know what to tell you other than to spend time with them as much as you reasonably can but have a really open and honest conversation as to why they are not interested in coming. His mom told me when I asked why they didn’t come on the night they knew he was proposing that it was because his step dad didn’t feel like it so they didn’t come. After that I have just politely invited them to spend time with us and let them know when we are going to be in town and if they want to meet us for lunch or dinner they can let us know because we will be at my parents who at least get excited when we come for a visit.

Post # 7
1813 posts
Buzzing bee

considering they travel for other purposes, it would be hard for me to not take it personally…I think you just need to get to the point where you do not bend over backwards, and if they don’t come, you won’t feel guilty…maybe they are still having a hard time "sharing" him, esp. since he is an only child.  Do you think they feel uncomfortable being your guests?  Have your parents invited them to be their guests (overnight)?

Post # 9
2640 posts
Sugar bee

I think you might have just hit on some important points.  They probably arne’t too comfortable staying in your apartment.  Maybe, especially since they are traveling a longs ways.  Sure they might go on cruises, but they stay in nice accomodations I’m sure.  Traveling to see other family doesn’t seem to take as long, and perhaps they have larger homes for your in laws to stretch their legs.  Also, maybe it’s somehow strange for them to be under their own sons roof, for some reason ???  IS he likely to tell the mto be home before 11pm or they’ll get grounded??  Just kidding.  They might seem uncomfortable around your family too.  They don’t exactly come across as introverts, but most of the travels you mentioned was their own family, not someone else’s.

Is it possible to arrange for a decent hotel?? Offer to pay maybe?  Then it  would seem more like a vacation for them?

They might be intimidated by a larger Catholic family.  I hear that.  What religion are they?  Did you have a Catholic ceremony?  If so was there a problem?

Post # 10
1276 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2009

I think Tanya has some good suggestions…but I also totally feel you (not married yet, but we’ve lived together for a while).  One thing I can say is that I think part of it is just getting used to different family dynamics.  I’m pretty close to my family even though I’ve lived a few thousand miles away my entire adult life.  My parents were willing to take a 5 hour flight to meet my FIL’s for just one day…but even when we lived only 45 minutes away from my FIL’s they rarely made the effort to see us (always us going there).  I was fairly hurt when after we got engaged we invited them for Thxgiving and they told us that they felt it was too difficult to fly during the holidays (they only live a 2 hour flight away).  But I think I just need to realize that it’s different…and I totally relate to it being depressing to have the holidays be small and low key when you’ve had a lifelong tradition of large and festive gatherings.  I don’t specifically have advice, mostly just wanted to let you know that you’re not alone.  It’s something I think about a lot but don’t really know what to do about.  I know my sister had similar feelings after she got married…but she says she feels things have changed a lot since they had kids of their own b/c in a way they have their own family to celebrate with and they don’t feel as obligated to go out to visit her in-laws for the holidays (though she lives close to my parents so her default is our old traditions anyway).  Perhaps things will change for you when you have kids as well?  Not much comfort now, I suppose, though.

Post # 12
2292 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2008

My sister’s husband’s parents have NEVER come to visit them – and not only have they been married for 5 years, but my little niece is 19 months old.  It really upsets my Brother-In-Law.  And then, when the travel halfway across the country to visit, they also can’t take any time to spend with them.  And then they say things like it’s so hard to be separated from the grandbaby that they just can’t take it, so maybe it’s not worth even visiting.  And, of course, his mother calls when they can’t come down for every little holiday, and cries extensively.  I personally think she’s manipulative and has some some kind of personality disorder.  My sister knocked herself out for a while, but has since concluded that the only thing she can really do is not get sucked into the madness.

Interestingly, my Mother-In-Law and SIL are the same way.  They used to visit my husband (and the kid) several times a year before we were married.  They haven’t come down to visit since, although we have made it clear that they are welcome.  For Christmas they waited until two weeks before to tell us they weren’t coming – and I don’t think we would have known that early, except that I told him I absolutely had to know whether to expect them about noon, or later in the day (they only live a couple hours away).  And then they had the nerve to ask, after I mailed them their presents, when we would be up to collect ours!  I was really afraid that my husband would be upset – but actually he was pissed as hell.  He said that if they were so uncomfortable staying with us (that was the excuse – I think they’re still just somehow offended that we sold his much smaller house and moved into mine) that they preferred not to see their grandkids at all, then (something unprintable). Not only are we not inviting them this year, we’re taking the kids to Canada skiing for Christmas.

Anyway, I wouldn’t take it personally.  It sounds like your ILs might just be adjusting to losing their son, and not doing it well, but it could be that they just aren’t very social people, and nothing you do is going to make them any different.  FYI – if you have to do the travel to a neutral location for Thanksgiving thing, I would so find a nice restaurant and just go out, as opposed to doing the sad condo-kitchen version of the dinner.  Better yet, just pick a random weekend to meet them somwhere, and celebrate the holiday with dinner at home, and send them a centerpiece and call them up.  And don’t beat yourself up for not being able to make someone happy when they won’t put themselves out to at least meet you halfway.

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