Post # 1
I feel like I’m in a situation that is only going to grow worse with time… so my fiancé’s family is a very matriarchal family and it pretty much revolves around FH’s grandma and then her four daughters which include my Future Mother-In-Law. The family is very high drama so there’s a lot of emphasis on the “family is everything” mantra and it’s assumed that newcomers fall in line and this is essentially “the family” so all holidays, every persons birthday, every time someone moves – you’re expected to be there and like it. My family has an opposite dynamic. While FH’s family uses guilt trips and manipulation to make you feel obligated, my family is a lot more laid back (they also live 3,000 miles away). I’ve been having problems wedding planning because FH and I want to do our own thing and that is not how the family operates. We’re not having children at the wedding and it’s obsene to them that we’re not. I think they are usually used to being really involved in family weddings but it’s so hard for me because that essentially means they want FH and I to give them all of this control and attention when it’s my mom and Dad who gave us all of the money and they let us have full control…
so as for Future Sister-In-Law. She is a very high drama person. She’s getting a divorce and has two kids, so essentially expects my FH to “step up” and essentially be a father figure to these kids which I don’t think is his job. He doesn’t want to cater to her demands but the family pushes and pushes and pushes until they get you to break and it’s so unhealthy!! Every time I point it out FH gets so extremely defensive and he tells me that’s not how it is when it’s really clear to me. She isn’t in the bridal party (we agreed not to have our siblings on either side) and she’s super upset we didn’t go dress shopping and that we aren’t best friend right away. Honestly I just feel choked by her and forced to have a relationship and it’s making me uncomfortable. Plus she does this guilt trip thing on the side and it makes me want to stay as far away from her as I can. This week alone she invited me to lunch, guilt tripped us that we aren’t here next weekend to help her move, guilt tripped us into going to her sons baseball game and she facebook friended my mom 3 times. This is just not what I want – I want clear boundaries between the relationship I have with FH, my family and the in laws. We can’t use “we’re busy” as an excuse anymore because she says “oh well you’re free to go hiking and out with friends and do fun stuff so you should be free for all this family stuff”. I just think it’s really unhealthy for her to have expectations on us like this, we shouldn’t have to defend how we spend our time.
Anyway, it’s driving a wedge between FH and I and I’m not sure how to handle this. I’ve agreed to some of the hanging out with her but it’s never good enough and she’s driving me crazy. Just feel this is going to get worse with kids because she will say that she expects time with HER niece/nephew whatever. So unhealthy!!!
Post # 2
I am of the “you help family” mindset. If my neices or nephews have a sports event and it isn’t conflicting with one of our kid’s events, we go. If one of my sisters was going through a divorce I would be right there with her through it.
I understand having the wedding the way you want, I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to be involved in your nephews lives? Their home life is in a major upheaval right now, they could probably use all the family support they can get.
Post # 3
The boundaries you want to set will not be acceptable to his family period.
I don’t see the big deal in helping family move or attending a baseball game. Are you really that adverse to being friends with your SIL? It sounds like they’re actually not guilt tripping at all.
I’m of the ‘you help family’ mindset and it’s not like they’re guilt tripping you into giving them money to buy drugs, which is what you make it sound like.
My husband and I didn’t want kids at the wedding but we invited the family children anyway because that is NOT the hill to die on.
You honestly just don’t sound compatible with your Fiance’s family and the wedge it’s driving between you two is only going to get deeper if you aren’t more open to his family.
If it’s her niece/nephew you two theoretically had YES she is going to want to spend time with them because Family.
If your fiance values family more than you do, you need to compromise and stop accusing his family of guilt tripping and use some adequate language to explain what you’re feeling.
Post # 4
Sorry, can’t agree with the other bees on this. It doesn’t sound like she’s rejecting his family but more like she feels the family is being rather pushy or more precisely, grossly overbearing. I didn’t read anywhere in here where OP didn’t want to spend time with FI’s family or wants to remain closed off from them. What I DID read is that they want control, control of the wedding, control of the couple’s time to where they can’t say no. SIL is going thru a divorce & since none of us knows the dynamics of that family or its breakup, why IS Fiance expected to be the father figure to his nieces/nephews when they already have a father?
The picture that I’m getting from OP is that she & Fiance are expected to be available to his family 24/7. Ummm Nope, nope and more nope! I do agree that she may be incompatible to his family…..I got nothing on her compatibility to her Fiance.
OP, you & Fiance will need to be on the same page if your relationship is to survive. I suggest counseling, be it couples or individual or both…..and this needs to be a dealbreaker for you bee.
He needs to know that he’s supposed to be standing up for you. He isn’t right now and if he can’t be made to see that then it doesn’t bode well for your relationship bee.
Post # 5
Just rememver that you not only marry the person but you marry their family as well. If you want clear boundaries, your FH is the one who really needs to set them. If his family is super close, but yours is more relaxed (my current situation) then you need to get used to it or let him do the family things and do your own thing. My SO is expected to drop everything and help his family at the drop of a hat. So I let him do it. I don’t pay attention to the guilt trips his mom throws on me “I made extra food for lunch because I thought you were coming over” (no she didn’t, he was only supposed to be there for an hour not for the full day). I just apologize and state that I was not planning on coming you only asked for her son, etc. Just don’t play the game.
While I’m big on helping family, I totally get that sometimes its too much. My family is close and we would do anything for eachother but we also all grew up and have our own lives and we’re all very respectful of that. My best friend is constantly setting boundaries with both her overly clingy mom and her in-laws (the same hive mentalitly that you describe here) I’m not going to lie, its a big source of contention for both her and her husband. But each person handles their own family, they do things with them on their own and they all do things together depending on the situation. Just be firm, and set your own boundaries if your FH won’t set them for himself
Post # 6
stunnerrunner : I have SIL like this so I totally understand. Feeling like you’re being suffocated just pushes you further away. From the surface it looks innocent and just her wanting you to be a part of her kid’s lives, but there are times when it can be way too much. It sucks that she is divorcing, but it isn’t your or your fiance’s job to help fill any ‘void’. I assume they still see their dad right? My SIL is so out of control that I’ve had to distance myself from my nieces and nephews because that’s the only way I could distance myself from her. It sucks when kids are caught in the middle, but if having a close relationship with your SIL would be toxic, then that’s life. What you do with your free time is none of her business either. Maybe hide any social media posts from her so she can’t see what you post and what you’re doing.
I would try couple’s counseling with your fiance. A therapist can help both of you realize what’s healthy vs unhealthy and how to set boundaries. This has helped with my fiance and me. While our situation wasn’t nearly as bad as yours, it helped him see how his family dynamic wasn’t healthy at all. It sometimes takes a professional to point it out because that’s all my fiance knew his whole life so to him it was normal.
Post # 7
Sympathy bee, my D h and I are in the same boat. His family is super suoer involved in each other’s lives and also help wach other out all the time with every thing, my family is suuuuper laid back and you kinda do what you want. It’s not easy to navigate at all. I have no advice, I’m in the midst of a 5 week inlaw visit and dying, so clearly I’m the last person to offer guidance on boundary creation. Just know that it might well always be a tension but there are ways to remind yourself that this is the family of someone you love very dearly, so compromise as best you can.
Post # 8
They sound very enmeshed. This would make me bonkers too because they think they have dibs on your free time. Totally over involved.
If your fiancé is happy to be attached to the hip of his family then maybe your values aren’t compatible when it comes to family. It’s his family and he needs to be firm with the boundaries of what you both want. This will only get worse if/ when you have kids.
Post # 9
So we are on the same page but there’s definitely this expectation that we conform and basically my personality, thoughts and feelings on the matter are not being taken into consideration at this point. I want to clear something up from PP – I am not saying that I don’t want to be involved and going to games and being “family” is fine- it’s just that it’s never enough and this whole “family is everything” thing is way too much for me. I don’t think they get that I’m an outsider and wasn’t raised this way and they don’t understand why we aren’t all best friends and why my family and their family aren’t this big stinking clan. It’s not the dynamic I want. I just see that their expectations are just way too high for what’s realistic for me. FH is “on my side” but it’s causing him stress because they try to wear him down when I’m not around (I suspect) so I am not sure on how to go about this. I think it would be nice to have a relationship with Future Sister-In-Law but she only has one speed (which is that we’re BFFs) and honestly she drives me crazy and I just don’t see us ever being besties. I shouldn’t have to apologize for that, should I? Just because we are brought together by circumstances doesn’t mean we have to spend every weekend together. She definitely feels that way and I do NOT.
Post # 10
Counseling for you and your Dear Fiance before you marry. Either you agree to total enmeshment with and control by his family, or he agrees to setting real boundaries with them (which they will resist strenuously). But get clear with each other before you marry, or your life will be constant struggle and conflict and unhappiness.
Post # 11
What kinds of demands is your SIL making regarding her children and your FI?
Post # 12
sablescorpion22 : Very well said. I couldn’t agree more.
Post # 13
Same thing happened to my friend. Her husbands family was very high drama and stress and expected way too much out of people because they’re “family”. Same with your guy, one of his sisters just expected him to take over the Dad role for her kids. The mom would just buy tickets to things for everyone without even asking if they’d be available first and throw a tantrum if they didn’t go because they’re “supposed to be making memories”. Luckily her husband was on her side and as a team they decided to set boundaries. Admittedly the mom now really doesn’t like my friend but my friend is ok not being liked as long as she gets to make her own choices with her time.
Yoi need to set your boundaries and stick to them. It’s not going to go over well but it’s your life and you need to live it as you see fit. His family probably won’t like you too much but hey, that’s life
Post # 14
OP- my inlaws are not to the extreme that you describe but they are very enmeshed (and, in my opinion, very co-dependent). I do what I want to do with them and I do not do what I do not want to do with them. I don’t make up stories or tell lies about being busy. Just saying “No thank you!” can be the entirety of your response.
Regarding SIL basically tracking your movements and telling you “Well if you can do x y z thing, you can do this.” I would simply reply “I have other friends and other things that I like to do. I enjoy spending time with the family in ways that feel good for me. But I’m not going to be available at all times.” and then go on to other conversation.
My SILs spend quite a bit of time together and their kids are together a lot and my son isn’t a part of their gatherings all the time. We have other things going on and I would be more resentful and uncomfortable if I felt forced to do things I didn’t want to do than I feel just saying yes or no as suits me and my family.
As long as you and your Fiance are on the same page and he is respectful of your boundaries, I would just take their words as them sharing their perspective and I would do the same. They might not be used to someone doing things differently and that doesn’t have to make you or them wrong as long as you respect your own needs and do not cave to them or get entangled in their drama.
Post # 15
kimmykat024 : I disagree. I’m marrying my fiancé and his family is his family and my family is my family.