(Closed) How do I handle his family being so close?

posted 10 years ago in Family
Post # 3
778 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2009

I have an extremely close family similar to your FH.  My dad has 13 brothers and sisters and most of them lived within a three mile radius of each other.  I had no friends growing up, I had cousins (about 11 of them 1 year apart from me).  Its a little surreal but it’s nice to have family like that.

In order to create some boundries, I would start locking your door.  If it’s locked no one can ‘just walk in’.  I would also always call before going to anyone’s house in the family.  If expected just call and say, "Hey, John* and I will be over in five minutes, would you like me to bring anything?".  I would also pick a date night for you and FH, and let others know that that time is off limits, no phone calls (unless an emergency pops up) and not drop-in visits.

If you set boundries and stick to them, people will slowly start to respect them and you.

Always be sure to be gracious and nice and friendly.  Invite people over for more formal structured visits to keep them close.  It will be nice.

Post # 4
221 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2009

Can you have dinner with them every other week or once a month? It would drive me bonkers to know I was obligated to dinner with them every single week, too.

Post # 5
952 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2009

That would drive me BANANAS, so I feel your pain. I think there should be boundaries, but it sounds like your Fiance probably won’t feel that way unless you really make it clear to him because it’s just how he was raised. It is nice that they’re very inclusive and want you to be part of their family, but you really need to tell Fiance how this is making you feel. If he thinks you’re the weird one-you need to tell him that most families are not like his, and while it’s not weird-it’s not typical. I’m assuming you don’t ask him to spend as much time with your family as he asks you to spend with his, so there’s a certain issue of fairness here too. It’s not all about him!

Post # 6
2434 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2008

I agree with the idea about locking the door.  Also, maybe in addition to calling ahead when you visit- ring the doorbell.  Maybe if they see that’s how you operate they will extend the courtesy to you.

As for soup night- what about a compromise- instead of weekly dinners, what about bi-weekly? or monthly?  Then they can still have a tradition, but it’s not so consuming.

Also- you don’t have to say yes to everything.  When you don’t feel up to going to something, tell your Fiance you need the day/night/dinner off from his fam.  Ask him to make an excuse for you (you’ve got a work project, you’ve got a migraine, you had insomnia and are taking a nap, etc) and you will be sure to join him next time.

I think the date night is also a good idea.  Talk it up to the family so that they know you have something special that night and shouldn’t be disturbed.

I have a close family (not geographically, but emotionally) and we see them often.  So far it has been a hard adjustment for my husband.  I encourage him to tell me how he feels and then I we try to compromise.

I think he’s like you- he likes that I have a close family, but it’s overwhelming for him at times.

Explain to your husband that you want to be a full-fledged member of his family and are looking forward to the family closeness, but that’s it’s a hard adjustment for you.  Tell him what you told us- 10 years from now you see yourself being like his sister and her family.  But for right now you need to help you ease into it.

Maybe if he knows that you’re not rejecting his family’s way of doing things he’ll work with you on it.

Good luck.

Post # 8
93 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: July 2009

I can see why this is hard for you, and I agree that this will be a major part of your marriage.  I also see what you’re saying as far as it being nice when you have kids, but needing some space now. 

Do you think that it would help if you explained to your fiance that you’re looking forward to having a very close family relationship when you have kids, but in the immediate future you want to spend some extra time with him alone?  Also, are there times that he could spend with his family that you could use as time for yourself?  That way you get a break from his world, but he get to spend the time he needs with his family.  A final thought… In order to maintain a good relationship with his family, it might be good if you just sat down with his mom and explained (if you’re going to be missing many family functions) that with the difference in your background, it might take awhile for you to integrate yourself into the traditions of a big family. I’m sure she’d understand that you’ll slowly become more accustomed to spending time as part of a large group, but in the meantime really look forward to some time for yourself.

Good luck!

Post # 9
538 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

I come from a family similar to your Fiance, family is super important to me. We do pretty much everything together. My grandmother lived across the street before she passed away, my aunt lives around the corner, my uncle bought my grandmothers house and 2 other aunts live pretty close too. I actually am sad that when we move we won’t be in the neighborhood (its too expensive for us).

 The only advice I can give, is be careful how you distance yourself. You don’t want to come across the wrong way. You say you love your mother in law and her family, maybe you should have a heart to heart with her and explain how much they mean to you, but that you need a little newlywed space. Make compromises that work for everyone. Explain you love the family get togethers and can’t wait to be a part of all of these traditions, but coming from a small family, it will take some adjusting time.

I think when you marry someone, you marry their family too, it isn’t just you two now, you don’t lose family, you gain family.

It sounds like they really love you and maybe being honest with them is best. People who love you want you to be happy and comfortable. I also think you shouldnt ask your husband to skip soup night if he wants to go, maybe you can go every other week and on the weeks off let him go and do something alone? It is hard writing a repsonse to this, if I sound harsh, I dont mean it, I think it would be a huge adjustment to come from a small family into a tight knit one. I always feel sort of bad for people coming into our family, it can be intimidating and overwhelming. Hope that helps.

Post # 10
1813 posts
Buzzing bee

oh, one time his dad walked in w/o ringing the bell, and I was n***d in bed, not feeling well, taking a nap…luckily covered…we had to have a BIG talk about how they couldn’t just use their key anymore!

His family is about 30 mins away,so it isn’t as severe, but mine is 9 hrs away, so I feel like I’m outnumbered sometimes, too.  🙁

Post # 11
3363 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2009

Wow…I don’t know how I would handle that.  My friend had a similar situation in her first marriage (the divorce had nothing to do with it).  It made her nuts though.  Have you considered moving?  Maybe not too far, but far enough that they can’t just walk on over?


Post # 12
127 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

Man, it reminds me of Everybody Loves Raymond, a show that I hate to watch because it makes me feel so awkward. My fiance’s family has some boundary issues for me too. Luckily they are 5 hours away so I don’t have the same kind of problems, but they are a lot closer and, to me, kind of invasive. Meanwhile my parents come across as cold to him. It has taken a lot of getting used to for us both, and we’ve had several arguements about how I ‘don’t care about family’ just because I don’t talk to them every day and how he ‘needs to grow up’ because until recently they still payed for things like his phone and car insurance. Now we have a pretty good balance and I do feel like I am a member of his family and am a lot more comfortable with how they operate. If I was in your situation I would desperately want to move, but I think the best solution is to talk to him and his mom about how you’re feeling. Maybe also ask the Brother-In-Law and the cousin’s wife how they adjusted to the family. There’s nothing wrong with them being close but I do agree that it’s important to cut the cord at some point.

Post # 13
68 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

My husband’s family is like that a little too.  While we aren’t physically that close (we like about half an hour away), we are very close with them.  We go over to their house for lunch every sunday after church, and see them at least one other time per week.  We are actually looking for a house closer to them, for that reason.

I think you do need to set up some boundaries about them just stopping over at random, and walking in. 

About the weekly dinners… why don’t you let your husband go every week, and you go whenever you feel up to it, maybe every other week?  I can recall a few times that I haven’t felt like hanging out at my in-laws after church and needed some alone time, so I went home and my husband still went over for lunch, and no one minded.  I think that is a good compromise, because the family is obviously important for your fiance, and that way he can still keep with the tradition, and you can just go when you feel like it.

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