- 5 years ago
- Wedding: March 1998
I pride myself on getting along well enough with people. But the more time goes on, the more I wonder if my in-laws aren’t secretly from another planet. My mother-in-law’s side of the family, well, including her husband…they’re all headstrong. They all know better than everybody else. Everybody else needs to hear their opinion. None of them can back down.
This was last heavily demonstrated at the awkward Christmas gathering held by my husband’s grandmother. His mom kept insisting that his grandma needed to see a doctor for a particular symptom – grandma kept refusing. Neither would back down, and my mother-in-law kept driving at her point. Eventually, granny raised her voice, mom raised her voice, and they were having an explosive fight over it that ended with both bawling and everyone leaving.
They also feel the need to give me advice. I made a point long ago of not sharing anything personal about my life with them. This was compromised when my brilliant mom decided to post about an injury I had, and then I was getting phone calls from all of my husband’s family about how I needed to do x, y and z for it. I didn’t mind the calls of, “Hey, do you need anything?” but the “Make sure you do x! Make sure you do y! “was irritating. You say I should stay off my feet when I’ve had a sprained ankle? Revolutionary!
My sister-in-law, upon hearing that my brother’s wife was having a baby, sent me a long e-mail with things she felt I needed to tell my sister-in-law to do.
I would never give anyone advice unless they specifically asked for it. It’s just rude and I thought that was common knowledge. It’s condescending and rude to do otheriwse. When my sister-in-law visits, she feels the need to tell me which ingredients I should and shouldn’t use, etc. I’m not comfortable with her being in our house, as I feel she’s always looking around for something we’re doing “wrong.”
The only time she actually talks to me now is to inundate my inbox with a billion pictures of her kid, or to tell me what to do. I’ve learned that when she asks for something – i.e., wanting pictures of our new house – it’s so she can point out things she thinks are wrong and tell me how I should improve it.
My husband won’t back me up on this. He tells me I’m too sensitive and that I should just ignore it. I’ve been ignoring it for years. He picked at a sore spot the other day when I mentioned I wanted to cloth diaper when we have kids (I have everything I need for it) – he turned to me and said, “Oh, wasn’t my sister thinking about doing that? You should ask her for her opinion!”
I get that he was thinking, “I know someone who might have done that, they could be a resource.” She’s the last person I’d ever ask. I’m far more inclined to talk to my pediatrician or even go online for what I need than go to someone who can find yet something else to chip at.
The fact that he sees nothing wrong with getting them involved in any problem-solving is, frankly, uncomfortable for me. It makes me think my husband’s going to run to them every time I’m having issues with my kid, and they’re going to see that as an opening to tell me what to do. I know to some degree it’s inevitable…unfortunately in many “mom” circles (and in the ‘wife’ circle, as I’ve learned), it’s seen as socially acceptable to tell others what to do.
I don’t think I can continue doing this for decades to come. I’m not a ‘junior’ member of the adult world, nor a ‘junior’ wife or ‘junior’ future mother. If I need help, I can ask for it – though given issues with my in-laws, I’d never ask them. Until then, I like to solve things myself. I like to think that I’m intelligent and resourceful enough to be able to handle most obstacles that come my way.
But, again, my husband won’t back me up on it. I’ve thought of things I could say to discourage ‘helpful’ advice, but most just come off sounding bitchy. “I can handle it” or “Don’t worry about it, we’re able to take it on” doesn’t come off as direct enough to discourage it in the long-term. I still feel that if I say something to them, it would spark a feud between me and my in-laws. If my husband said something, they might be annoyed for a short while before quickly moving on.
My husband’s sister does it to him periodically, and he just gets an aggressive tone with her. She acknowledges in those moments that the advice apparently isn’t welcome, but continues doing it in the future anyway. If he would confront this with her head-on, though, I do have a feeling it would stop. He goes about it passive-aggressively, and I suspect she just thinks, “Oh, he’s not in the mood for it right now.”
What would you do in my situation? Earlier on when we were dating, it wasn’t a problem, but when we moved in together…wow. More than anything, I’m seriously pissed off at the way my husband handles it. It’s like he refuses to see it from my perspective and frequently just says I’m too sensitive, too this, too that, that I “read too much” into their behavior. Maybe I am reading too much into their behavior and seeing it as malicious when they’re just ignorant. But still, the source doesn’t excuse the outcome, in my books.