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In-law issues... help!!!

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ephemery1

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Mar 20, 2006
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1,724
So... FI and I had a long talk this morning, and it raised a LOT of interesting questions. I would love love LOVE your input/experiences.....

Background: He's an only child, close to his mom and dad... they live less than an hour from us, but recently purchased a house in a golf community and spend most weekends there (about 3 hours from us). They are truly kind, caring people and I get along well with both of them... although his mom tends to be a bit more reserved and hard to get to know. But I gotta give them credit, they raised an awesome guy!!


My parents live about 1.5 hours away, in my hometown. I spend a fair amount of time there because:
a) All my best friends are from grade/high school and are often around
b) I do some work for my dad and that's where his businesses are
c) I'm very close to my 2 brothers, so when they're home, I like to see them
d) We're planning a wedding there for May!


FI comes home with me occasionally too... he loves hanging out with my brothers and friends, likes playing golf at the club with my dad, helps with wedding stuff... and it's an easy drive for a 1-night visit. I'd say within the past 6 months, we've been to my hometown together maybe 6 times (about once a month?). In this same period of time, we've been down to his parents' golf house at least 4 times... where he plays golf with his dad, and I sit on the porch with his mom. We don't know anyone else there, nor is there anything to do but golf and go out to dinner. It's relaxing, but 6 hours roundtrip to sit on a porch? 4 weekends in 6 months seemed like enough to me.

Welllllllll... not enough for his parents, apparently.
FI is a bit frustrated with them because they've both expressed their disappointment/resentment towards us for spending more time in my hometown than with them at their golf house. FI tried to explain all the above reasons for that... but they're still not getting it. I understand that they don't have other children so they don't have much context for what constitutes typical 28-year-old son behavior, but GEEZ... what do they expect?? My parents, incidentally, are really laidback... they invite FI's parents up all the time, they've never mentioned anything about how much time is spent with who, etc... so unfortunately I don't have a ton of patience for this weird, competitive behavior.

I know this is only going to get worse... we're not even married yet!
I am SO sorry for making this so long... but if you've made it all the way through, help please!!!!
 

labbielove

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 28, 2006
Messages
862
Hi there,
I am sorry for your dilemma. The best advice I can give is to set a precedent NOW!!!
As long as you and hubby-to-be are on the same page with this, it will work out. It is hard with him being an only child, and I agree it is weird behavior- who keeps a ''scorecard'' of where someone else''s time is spent?
They should be grateful you are within driving distance at all and not across the country or further.


Personally, for a young working couple with only weekends as free time that round trip to their golf house seems like a lot- could be different if they were only 1 hour away.
They have to realize that you 2 have a life/home/responsibilities of your own.

Sorry I don''t have an answer other than to make sure you and fi are a team on this one, and present a united front!
good luck.
 

Princes

Rough_Rock
Joined
Dec 9, 2006
Messages
36
While I have not "made it all the way through" or hardly even put my foot in the door. Our situations sound simular.

My BF/FI is the "first born" as his mother calls him and his younger brother still lives at home, doesn''t date or get out much. I get along with his parents well but his mother really needs to let go. The live about 25 mins from us now. My parents/family live about the same. We spend a lot more time in my hometown w/ my family than we do with his. The situation is a lot like yours. We are looking for a house that puts us a little closer to my family but not in the same town. This will make our trip to his parents about 40 to 45 mins away. His mother has expressed concern and even sends him links to homes for sale by where they live. He''s expressed to her he doesn''t want to live in that area. We mostly plan to move closer to my hometown b/c we can get a bigger home for less money in that are. His parents live in an epensive area. We wouldn''t even be able to afford most of the homes on that side of town and we''d end up w/ a smaller house than what I own now. We want to upgrade, not downgrade. Anyway, he hasn''t even told his mother about our plans to get married. She doesn''t even know he bought the ring and plans to ask me to marry him in Jan. He doesn''t even know how to tell her b/c she is going to FLIP. Mostly b/c she cannot let him go.

I wish you luck and what you two may need to do is write them a letter. Express your feelings and explain to them how you have spent about the same amount of time at both places.

I don''t really know what is best for you but hopefully someone who has experienced this will respond and shed a little light. It may be that they just have to get mad and get over it. There may not be anything you can do to make this better.

Good luck!
 

dani13

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 12, 2004
Messages
6,183
Oh geesz, what a PITA!!! Sounds like his parents just dont want to let go...I dont think you should feel guilty at all about this though...

I feel like there is no way to satisfy everyone in life...as long as you make attempts to see them as much as you can...they shouldn't make you and your fiance feel guilty about being with your family more...why are they so preoccupied with "keeping score"?

I hope you can work things out....sorry you have to deal with this!!!
 

ephemery1

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Mar 20, 2006
Messages
1,724
Thanks SO much for your replies... you're completely right about making sure FI and I stay united on this one... and so far I think we are, but it is really hard for him not to feel guilty... he is a notorious people-pleaser and hates the idea of someone being mad or upset with him. And I genuinely like his parents! So I just really want them to understand, ya know?


style="WIDTH: 97.93%; HEIGHT: 85px">Date: 12/9/2006 5:16:52 PM
Author: Dani

I feel like there is no way to satisfy everyone in life...as long as you make attempts to see them as much as you can...they shouldn't make you and your fiance feel guilty about being with your family more...why are they so preoccupied with 'keeping score'?
Speaking of "keeping score", I (being neurotic) just went through my calendar and made a detailed spreadsheet of exactly where we were for EVERY weekend of the last 3 months. Turns out, we spent more time with his family (including extended family) than we did with mine!! Since Sept, the only times we've been in my hometown were for a funeral, a meeting at the church, and Thanksgiving... and his parents were there for TG with us! When I told FI, he wasn't surprised... but he said his parents just don't believe it. SIGH. Maybe I should send them an anonymous copy of the spreadsheet?? Hehe...
 

KimberlyH

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 15, 2006
Messages
7,485
ephemery,

It does sound like she''s being way too tit-for-tat, which is silly and can be difficult, especially because her perception is incorrect. But her only son is getting married and it probably is freaking her out a bit, so I''d give her a bit of leeway to cope and deal. That''s not to say she should get her way, just that she has a right to her feelings, just as you do to yours. You say you and FI are on the same page, so perhaps the next time he talks to her he can mention that she may be seeing things a bit differently than they actually are and that this shouldn''t be a competition. I would do this instead of explaining all of the reasons why you go to your hometown as often as you do because it sounds like you''re building a defense which is not necessary.

My experiences are totally different than yours. My husband is an only child, sort of. His half brother and step sister bowed out of the picture a very long time ago for various reasons. My FIL is deceased, I never knew him. My MIL has Alzheimer''s and doesn''t even know my name; on occasion she remembers that I am married to her son. I only wish that wanted me to come visit and spend more time with her, although I see her almost every day, she doesn''t even remember we''ve come to visit. I guess my point is if you''re biggest issue with your new family is that you''re feeling too wanted than you''re doing alright. I think I would look at it from that persepective the next time she said something. And then I''d thank her for wanting us around and let her know that we, as a couple, do our best to spend time with both of our families, but again, it''s not a competition.
 

anchor31

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Oct 18, 2005
Messages
7,074
Ugh... Mine are like that too, I''m not sure I can really help. We tried explaining that I can''t spend so much time travelling and not studying, but they won''t listen, so now we just ignore the complaints. My sympathies!
 

Kit

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 7, 2005
Messages
501
Oh dear. My 2 cents:

They are insecure.
They are competitive with your parents as a result.
They are taking things personally that they shouldn''t be.
They are being selfish and needy.
They are causing drama where there was none.

It''s not like you''re not visiting them at all, right? I would be extremely annoyed if I were you. My advice is that the priority must be for you and FI to be a united front. Second priority: FI deals with them head on--alone! He''s their son and he must set boundaries with them. Boundaries, now! He must have a talk with them, tell them they''re being unreasonable. Nip this thing in the bud.

And most of all, DON"T spend another minute worrying about their insecurities. They are bringing all this on themselves. Oy!
 

Webmn0key

Rough_Rock
Joined
Nov 3, 2006
Messages
19
to me it sounds a lot like you both want to spend a lot of time "going home" rather than creating your own home together. Im betting you guys are a very young couple as well.


I recently moved 600 miles from our families (as well as got married). My family just assumes ill be "home" for Christmas. Like its my duty to drive 600 miles for a whirlwind trip to see them and my wife''s family. Im like, "We arent coming for Christmas." and they are like.. "Ohhh. Well we want to see you." And im like, "Well drive your @ss up here.". :)
My new wife and i want to spend time together for Christmas, not frantically driving all over creation making obligitory Christmas visits, which is what we did last year while we were still dating and living in the same state as our families.

I would suggest, whatever you do, like someone suggested already, is to come to a consensus NOW, and lay down the law NOW. Getting married isnt going to make the issue easier, and i would make sure i knew how each of you felt BEFORE you get married.
 

dani13

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 12, 2004
Messages
6,183
Date: 12/9/2006 5:50:52 PM
Author: ephemery1
Thanks SO much for your replies... you're completely right about making sure FI and I stay united on this one... and so far I think we are, but it is really hard for him not to feel guilty... he is a notorious people-pleaser and hates the idea of someone being mad or upset with him. And I genuinely like his parents! So I just really want them to understand, ya know?





style="WIDTH: 97.93%; HEIGHT: 85px">Date: 12/9/2006 5:16:52 PM
Author: Dani

I feel like there is no way to satisfy everyone in life...as long as you make attempts to see them as much as you can...they shouldn't make you and your fiance feel guilty about being with your family more...why are they so preoccupied with 'keeping score'?
Speaking of 'keeping score', I (being neurotic) just went through my calendar and made a detailed spreadsheet of exactly where we were for EVERY weekend of the last 3 months. Turns out, we spent more time with his family (including extended family) than we did with mine!! Since Sept, the only times we've been in my hometown were for a funeral, a meeting at the church, and Thanksgiving... and his parents were there for TG with us! When I told FI, he wasn't surprised... but he said his parents just don't believe it. SIGH. Maybe I should send them an anonymous copy of the spreadsheet?? Hehe...
LOL, Eph....do you want me to send them the copy of the spreadsheet?


Seriously though, I agree with Kit- have the FI talk to them about this...this needs to be addressed NOW, or it is only going to get worse......Wow, they sound like really needy people... Your fi should talk to them, and try to make them understand that they should not be taking this personally. Its kind of sad though, its like they have nothing else in their life going on other than their son and his fiance...you almost do have to feel sorry, b/c some people really dont have much to look foward to in their lives...your fi is their only child- their true pride, joy, and happiness, ya know??? Just trying to play devil's advocate here....


I am sorry you have to go through this, I'm sure this issue will be resolved...I am just saying, maybe if you guys try to look at it from that point of view, it will kind of make you feel beter about it, and not as bitter...their words and actions are probably not coming from a bad place at all, ya know what I mean???
 

Kit

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 7, 2005
Messages
501
Send them the spreadsheet. I''m not kidding. Maybe it will make them see how ridiculous they are being. And how they are driving you crazy.

I wholeheartedly agree with Web, who is right and funny also


Seriously, stop exhausting yourself doing things to make other people happy, and spend your time doing things to make yourself happy. Life is too short.
 

diamondfan

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 17, 2005
Messages
11,016
there is always a chance for competitiveness with families to be. I think you just need to have your fiance gently reiterate the points you have made, and just be nice but firm. I would not allow myself to get into a defensive posture. I would also want my guy to support and back me up, because I hate to say it but this could just be the first in a line of issues that crop up and I would want to set the boundaries NOW. I mean, you can certainly express that you realize it is tough and you empathize, but X Y and Z are in place and this is what will be. You can be caring but not pushed around...
 

ephemery1

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Mar 20, 2006
Messages
1,724
You guys are all so wise... thank you!! And WebMonkey, we are 27 and almost-29... so it's nice to be thought of as very young, even as we approach that 30-mark!
We are both close to our families (immediate and extended)... it's one of the things I loved about FI from the beginning. I talk to my parents and brothers almost every day (online or by phone), though FI doesn't talk to his nearly that much... and at times he talks to my brothers more than I do.

I should point out that my in-laws haven't said anything about this to me... they are always kind and gracious in person. But for them to bring it up with their son, means it must be bothering them... ordinarily they keep feelings like this hidden. Honestly, I enjoy spending time with them... on many levels, I think I got lucky with my in-laws! Their perspectives/communication styles are just different than I'm used to. They're very culturally sophisticated, but their lives were always fairly isolated... not a lot of social life and FI's friends were from his private school an hour away, so their primary connections to people were more formal with coworkers or relatives. Contrast to my family, where both parents grew up in the area and are always out and about... my brothers and I have grown up with our friends since preschool, and our house was always full of people (parents' friends, our friends, neighbors, etc). And IF somebody had a problem (ie., with how we divide our time), they'd presumably just bring it up in a light-hearted way: "Hey... you love them more than us now or what?" Not saying it's perfect, but definitely more my style!

So when FI's parents got this new house, they fell IN LOVE with the community there, and now have a much more active social life... and I think it's hard for them to understand that just because it's new and exciting for them, doesn't mean it's new and exciting for everyone else!
Plus all the things Dani mentioned are SO true... they are probably terrified of losing their son and freaking out over any indication that might be happening, real OR imagined!
I just don't know how to make it clear to them that nobody is losing anyone... but as the PS-council pointed out, marriage shouldn't involve a scorecard.

I agree with the importance of setting boundaries... I guess I'm just unsure how to express that to them? Do we have a sit-down conversation all together (with the spreadsheet... hehe...jk
)? Do I let FI try to explain it (which he has tried, and hasn't gone so well)? Do I approach it with his mom on my own? I am willing to try ANYTHING... I just feel so bad for FI right now, because he's obviously upset about this...
 

KimberlyH

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 15, 2006
Messages
7,485
ephemery,

I think this is one for hubby to handle. Parents tend to take constructive criticism from their children better than daughters-in law and sons-in-law. It is best for him to present you as a united front. Next time he talks to them on the phone or is alone with them he should simply explain things to them. But again, drop going on the defensive (we visit eph's family more because we have friends there, etc.) as it only serves as a means for them to go on the offensive. It could be as simple as him saying something like:

I know you feel that there is some inequity in regards to our visiting families. It upset me to hear you both believe this so eph and I talked about it and thinking back over the past several months, we have actually spent more time with you than with her parents. But for us, and for you, that shouldn't be what is important. This isn't a competition and has nothing to do with our feelings for you. I'm sorry your hurt. This is a big time of change in mine and eph's lives, and we have done our best to include you in all that is going on. I hope you will be able to look at this a bit more objectively and see that no one is being favored or left out, because that is the truth and I do not feel we should have to defend how we choose to spend our free time.

Then let the chips fall where they may. They may never change their minds, and then FI will have to learn to let go of it. They may really respect him for being so honest and start to see things differently, awesome! Unfortunately, it's impossible to control what others think and how they see things.
 

diamondfan

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 17, 2005
Messages
11,016
Ephemery, I think it is important to intially let him deal with this. I had this same issue with my in laws many moons ago and sadly, even when we showed them PROOF, they still acted all hurt and miffed, so in the end, it was a nightmare. When my first son was born early and was 9 days old, we had Thanksgiving at my mom''s. ALL the other Jewish holidays we spent with his folks AND we had spent the LAST Thanksgiving with his folks, with the total understanding we were going to MY mom''s the next year and alternate that way. My mom only had this one holiday...and Mother''s day, but she cared less about that. Because my new baby was there (remember he was NINE DAYS OLD), my in laws were PISSED. They called my dh to lecture him and ream him out that MY MOTHER HAD SPENT MORE TIME WITH THE BABY THAN THEY HAD AND ALL THEIR FRIENDS WERE COMMENTING. I nearly committed murder. Literally they were giving my hubby crap over where a 9 day old baby had a holiday meal. The competitiveness was not to be believed. We started having to lie to them if we were doing something with my mother, because no matter HOW much time we were with his folks, they never seemed to take that into account and were always keeping score. So, just be prepared that even with a nice conversation and reasonable expectation setting, human nature is what it is and there is a chance, especially when kids are involved, that this may continue to rankle a bit...not to scare you but just to give you our experience. So, we just, in the end, did what we wanted to do, and if they complained we sort of shrugged, since WE knew the truth and the time spent, and no amount of convincing or justifying mattered...
 

dtnyc

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Messages
1,082
I really feel your pain. My MIL put her head on my DH's shoulder at SIL's enagement party and whined about how much she missed him (he is in B-school 4.5 hours from their Mon-Fri home, 6 hrs from their weekend home- we actually don't live together right now and commute to see one another on weekends.)
I wanted to slap her and say- you miss him! I miss him. She doesn't seem to understand how it's very far to go to their weekend home for just a weekend and that visiting my parents (who live 3 hours from me and 1 hour from him- between the 2 of us) is so much more convenient!
Also like you, my parents live in my "hometown" where we had the wedding and where many of my friends live, etc. My parents did pay for most of our wedding, so I definitely told MIL at one point that we needed to spend time w/ my parents because of the lovely wedding they gave us. That shut her cheap skate butt up!
 

monarch64

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
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Messages
17,744
ARgh...feeling your pain ephemery!

I moved 5 hrs. away from my family to be with my DH, and coincidentally we moved into the next suburb over from his parents. His family is small, but they all live within an hour of us...we spend the majority of holidays with his family.

About 2.5 yrs. ago, my father became very ill with cancer and wasn''t expected to live. AFter extensive surgeries at Mayo Clinic, chemo, and radiation, he now has a somewhat cleaner bill of health and who knows--he may have some years left yet. However, DH''s family (read: My in-laws, who I love dearly) have started to become very pushy in the last year or so to have my parents come visit for the holidays. There was some friction over our wedding--we had it in Chicago instead of in my hometown--and my parents have sort of had a somewhat negative attitude of his ever since, but also my father is not able to travel by air or car due to his physical circumstances. He IS able to make the car ride down to FL (14 hrs.) about once a year, but that is a place he absolutely loves and makes him feel free (he vacationed there as a child and adult for many years), but still my in-laws do not understand why he can make that trip and not a trip up here to see them/us. I understand it perfectly, and know that if my father were to take a turn for the worse at any given time, he would rather it be in an environment in which he feels happy and comfortable, but they do not see it that way. It''s very hard to explain to them, and thus far, I haven''t shared all these details with them. I really feel it''s his business, and if they are really that interested/hurt/concerned, they have my parents'' phone number and can call and ask what their problem is with coming up here to visit. To me, it''s better left up to the parents to hash things out...

Eph, in your case, have you ever thought about the fact that maybe it shouldn''t be you and your FI''s problem as far as who "gets" who on holidays? What if you just stopped stressing about it (both of you), and let your sets of parents figure it out for themselves? After all, it''s not like they have a problem with either of YOU, it''s the so-called "adults" who are not communicating here.

Just my .02, hope I don''t offend anyone...
 

gail013

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Sep 21, 2006
Messages
335
Well this is, and has been going on in my family for years. Both of my brothers spend more time with their in-laws family, than with my parents. I live 11 hours away, and can only come down twice a year, and my parents come up about twice a year. But my parents get really irritated, that both of their daughter- in -laws would rather spend time with their parents. It hurts their feelings, as my parents do a ton for them-babysitting for example and just helping out when needed-mowing the lawns, invititng them over for dinner etc. It really irritates me when my parents are left alone, as each of my brothers head out for a holiday-I think that''s insensitive, as there is no other family around.

It doesn''t seems to get any easier, and once kids are involved it gets harder. I also think it''s important for a couple to have their own traditions at home, instead of being expected to spend every holiday with somebody. I mean it''s your time too.

Figure it out now, and I''m afraid parents do keep score, but most won''t want to mention it for fear of alienating you.
 

diamondfan

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
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Messages
11,016
gail, could your parents go with the in laws, or have your brothers, their wives and their families meet somewhere central? I think it is not nice for your parents to be alone if everyone is within reasonable proximity...
 

gail013

Shiny_Rock
Joined
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Messages
335
Well, they have been invited to go along, and we certainly invite them here and offer to pay for them to fly, since it is a long drive, but honestly, that''s not what they want. They spend alot of time helping my brothers and their wives with their kids, and they love to have everyone over. They also invite my SIL''s parents over, and on occasion have been good sports and gone along when invited. I have talked to my brothers about this, and I thought we had agreed that they wouldn''t be left alone on major holidays-Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it just happened this last Thanksgiving. I am not sure what to say to them, as I think it is my SIL''s who aren''t being thoughtful here, and I don''t want to create bad feelings. I don''t think it''s asking too much for them to alternate holidays, so one of them is in town, but it''s not working that well, and it''s hurting my parents feelings.

I know we are careful to spend time with my hubbies mom, and be equal with our time on holidays. I think parents do expect their kids to come ''home'' no matter what their ages.
 

diamondfan

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
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Messages
11,016
It just makes me sad to think they are alone and your brothers are off with their wives families. I think there has to be some equity to things, and no one should have to be alone on holidays. It is not fair for your folks to not be able to have everyone come to their home sometimes, maybe alternate one holiday at your folks, one with you guys, one with one brother''s wife''s family and one with the other brother''s wife''s family...
 

gail013

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Sep 21, 2006
Messages
335
Yeah thanks DF, I feel bad too. We are going there for Xmas, and both brothers have "arranged their schedules" to be in town. However I heard tonight that one of the SIL''s wants her family to leave Xmas morning to see her parents. My parents are pretty disappointed, but I am going to try to intervene with my brother, and just say something like"gee we haven''t all been together for a holiday weekend in years, I hope you guys stay in town" or something like that.
 

diamondfan

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
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Messages
11,016
I hate when you have to wheedle a bit, or make a comment and the person does not really get how hurt others are by their actions. Either the holiday should be about your parents, or not, but I think leaving then is not that nice. Do your brothers listen to you? (Sorry to thread jack, just wanting to hear some details)
 

gail013

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Sep 21, 2006
Messages
335
Yes I am the older sister and because I live out of town, they appreciate that I don''t get too involved in the family going ons. I know though most of this is my SIL''s doings and my brothers just have to speak up.

I am up late as I have a bad cold and the medicine is making me wired, and I can''t sleep. Do you work late hours?
 

diamondfan

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 17, 2005
Messages
11,016
No, I just am a MAJOR insomniac from way back when! PS is either good or bad where that is concerned...I hope you feel better soon...
 

firebirdgold

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 30, 2005
Messages
2,216
Seriously, he has to be the one who handles this. I''m totally in his position, my parents simply fail to understand that holidays are not joint custody issues and that who sees us more is not a competition. For crying out loud, my parents live 2.7 miles away from us half the year! They''ve actually complained that we''ve spent more time with his family than with them this year!
They''re having trouble with the concept that we''re not having christmas with them, and since we''re going to visit his family this christmas my parents are sure that they''ll get us next year. I''m going to save that battle for when we actually hit that bridge!


Basically your fi''s parents are too involved, and too clingy. He''s the one who has to change the dynamics, if you try they''ll just blame you. I know you haven''t spent too much time at your parent''s town lately, but you should probably keep it to a minimum as well. You''re making a life together and once you''re married you''ll be a new family. I know you need to go down there for business and for wedding planning, but make people come visit you too! And spend more time together on the weekends and less visi ting family!
 
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