Issues with DH's Stepmom trying to "Call the shots" (esp w holidays) rant

posted 2 years ago in Holidays
Post # 16
8815 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

lowkeybridetobe :  “If you offer to HOST a holiday, unless you clarify it is potluck, then you provide the food and you cook.” — You are definitely at BEC stage with her because saying “you bring the cornbread” IS clarifying that it’s potluck. Or at least that if you want to come enjoy the comraderie and all the other food that everyone else is making, you’re expected to bring something too. This isn’t unusual. Clearly it’s different from how your family does it, but it’s not at all unusual for parents to assume their kids are coming for the holidays and to assign them a dish. This is their tradition. In their family, everyone knows they’re supposed to bring something and this lady will tell them what it is. If you don’t like it, don’t go but be aware that if everyone else is cool with it, you’re going to look like the outsider who doesn’t value family. 

I don’t understand how your family is missing out. Do the families live on opposite coasts or something?

Post # 19
747 posts
Busy bee

May I ask what her background is?

In my family this would be totally normal, kinda seems like a cultural thing Maybe?

Post # 20
694 posts
Busy bee

lowkeybridetobe :  then don’t go. Say “we can’t make it on Christmas Day but are excited to celebrate the weekend before!” She can expect things until the cows come home but that in no way obligates you. I agree that you probably need to take a step back. Ya, she sounds annoying af but you’re also letting her get under your skin way more than you should. 


Post # 21
2706 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2015 - St Peter\'s Church, East Maitland, and Bella Vista, Newcastle

FutureMrsGrabs :  this.  OP, work out with your husband what YOU two want to do for holidays.  Then when you are voluntold what event you’ll be attending and when, along with what you’re bringing, if that doesn’t fit in with what you two have decided to do, you say “sorry, that won’t work for us but we’ll see you the Saturday before Christmas and look forward to celebrating with you then.”  If she kicks off, you say “you seem to be having some trouble controlling your emotions, we can continue this conversation when you have them under control” and then hang up or leave.  Realistically, what can she do if you say you’re not attending? She can’t ground you, or take away your car keys – you’re grown adults who she is still treating as children.  She can throw a temper tantrum all she likes, but it won’t achieve anything.  And don’t spend your Christmas driving all over the state, do what you want to do.  Because if you set boundaries now, things will be much easier when you have kids and want to stay home on Christmas morning so your kids can play with their new toys, and you don’t want to hurry them through gift opening so you can get to granny’s in time for people to eat.

Post # 22
8815 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

lowkeybridetobe :  BEC = “Bitch Eating Crackers”:

You’re so mad at her that even normal things are pissing you off. 

I don’t spend Christmas day driving across the state. In fact, for 20 years Christmas Day at my house was like Wonka’s factory: nobody ever came in, nobody ever went out. From our very first Christmas together, that day was for our little nuclear family. We made arrangements with the rest of the family on other days. Yep, both sides bitched a little the first couple years but after that, it was just normal.  Everyone had fun at the other celebrations because there was no resentment or hard feelings. It was great. Control your own self, don’t try to control others. It works.

Post # 23
2651 posts
Sugar bee

Definitely agree with Daisy_Mae :  on the BEC thing. 

You need to realize YOU ARE AN ADULT. If you don’t want to do something, don’t do it. If Darling Husband wants to appease her soooo bad, he can go. Then you guys can hash this out when you’re not seeing red in regards to everything his stepmother does. You need to just put on your big girl panties and say “No.” Until you do that, this isn’t going to change. She’s going to be the way she’s always been, you’re going to be fuming over cornbread, and it will be the same song and dance year after year. 

“We will be doing Christmas dinner at my parent’s house, but are very excited about Christmas Lunch the Saturday before.” Period. End of story. Stop turning the period into a comma. It’s a period. She’ll figure it out from there, and you’ll be NORMAL and courteous from there. 

You teach people how to treat you. If you don’t want to be summoned to events, then you better figure out how to be polite while setting boundaries, or you’re going to have a battle for every holiday for the rest of your life – not to mention when there are actually kids in the picture. 

Post # 24
8815 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

lowkeybridetobe :  Adding some more. The Christmas thing changed last year because my daughter got engaged and she WANTED to spend some time with her future in-laws on Christmas Day. She’s an adult and she’s making her own life. Her Future In-Laws invited our whole family over but we politely declined. There was no drama on any side. Adult children can choose to keep the traditions they grew up with or they can modify to suit their evolving lives. The thing is, if you (read: your husband and by extension you) want something to change, you need to have the courage to change it. You can’t just go along with everything while silently stewing and hoping his parents will suddenly spontaneously and miraculously know how you’d rather do things and decide to do it that way.

Also I have to ask, is your screen name ironic? You are totally not low-key. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, and you’re not ridiculously (high-key?), but it’s odd that someone who chose the name “low key bride” has so many posts stressing about minor details. Are you maybe working on becoming more low-key or is it poking fun at the “Bridechilla” thing? 

Post # 25
351 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

I’m going to disagree with the Bees here who think you’re being uptight or stressing over minor details. Your stepmother sounds overbearing. It also sounds as though she hasn’t quite grasped that now her stepson is married, she/her family will not always be the priority.

Your place here is to do this: set aside your personal feelings about your stepmom, the religious stuff, etc. None of that is really anything you can change. Focus instead on what you can fix: the holiday issue.

Sit down with your Darling Husband and figure out a good division of holiday time that will leave you feeling like your family gets equal time (or at least as much time as you want with them). Then, it will be your **DH’s job** to inform **his** stepmother that he and his wife will be available on X, Y, and Z dates this year, period. If she quibbles or quarrels, it is your **DH’s** job to explain to **his** stepmother that now he is married, he is also a part of your family, and thus it is important to him and to you as a couple to spend time with them as well.

And that’s where the conversation between Darling Husband and his stepmom should end. There should be no debate, no apologizing, no more justifying, arguing, defending or explaining. She knows the dates you’ll be available. Period.

More generally, while it’s really your DH’s place to run interference with her, you also need to learn to become comfortable saying NO to her. “No, we won’t be there in time to barbecue for all your guests. No, we won’t be spending Christmas dinner with you this year; it’s my family’s turn.” And so on and so forth.

You grew up in a different kind of family. She’s never going to be that kind of family. So, you need to learn new skills in order to deal with her — skills you never needed to develop with your own family. Setting boundaries, without justifying, arguing, defending or explaining them, is the KEY skill you need to work on.

Lastly, you say you feel bad “trashing” this woman to your husband. So, stop trashing her. But don’t feel bad about discussing the matter of boundaries, calmly, with your husband, and figuring out how to present a united front on these matters.

Post # 26
1773 posts
Buzzing bee

You and your Darling Husband need to have a conversation. Start with how each of you wants to spend each holiday that is important to you. If that means alternating which family gets what day then lay that out very clearly when you’re invited to an event. 

But first of all make sure you’re both on the same page. Some of this would irk me a bit too. My family is very much grandma rules the roost, grandma hosts most family occasions and will decide if she’s feeling up to hosting or not. Every family is told what they need to bring to contribute to the family meal and everything is divided pretty equally. My grandma used to do it all but she’s in her 80s and as a group we decided to split it up and lighten the load. We also all help clear and wash dishes after as well. I’ve also said when something doesn’t work for me like going out for an expensive dinner two days before payday for Mother’s Day. Yeah she wasn’t pleased but I told her I simply couldn’t afford $150 for dinner right before payday. 

If you as a couple don’t want to run around like that then don’t figure out what you want, keep it fair between the three families and do what works for you as a couple. 

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