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Old 04-26-2012, 06:59 PM
Antigen Antigen is offline
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Tired of holidays with my in-laws-in-law

I'm tired of having to grit my teeth and sit through stuffy holiday get-togethers with my brother-in-law's wife's parents. We've been invited to a Mother's Day dinner and I'm trying to find a polite way to get out of it.

They're not bad people, and it's very kind of them to include us in their invitations, but they're just not people I enjoy spending any time with. They keep trying to host things because it saves my brother-in-law and sister-in-law (and their 10-month-old) from having to choose between sets of parents at Christmas or Thanksgiving - her parents invite his parents over for the festivities. That's great for them, but it also means that if we want Thanksgiving dinner with my husband's family, we have to go to his brother's wife's parents' place, which I hate. They're not his family, they're not my family, and I resent being pushed into a relationship with them. She generally acts like everything I say is slightly inappropriate, nodding and smiling and turning away to another conversation, while he's an animated functional alcoholic who moves towards slurred sports and political rants by the end of the night while his wife smiles tightly and serves us coffee in tiny gilded cups. I am always so uncomfortable there, and it's not like I have the option of ditching these events to be with my family, as they're all back in Canada.

Mother's Day is especially tough on me this year, because besides me missing my own mother and grandmother terribly, my husband and I have been trying to conceive for a while with no success yet. The email invitation came to us saying that the guys would do the cooking and cleaning up while the Moms would get to play with the grandkid! How fun! I'm not a guy or a Mom, shall I sit over by the sink and read a book?

I want to say I'm being ridiculous and they're only trying to be nice, but I have no illusions that they actually want my company. I'm only there because it would be rude not to include us, and I feel that from the moment I set foot into their house. Maybe if I have to go this year, I'll be inappropriate and classless, since she's acting like I am anyway, and then I'll get drunk and yell at him about hockey.
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  #2  
Old 04-26-2012, 07:32 PM
Alice The Goon Alice The Goon is offline
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What does your husband think about the situation? Unless it would cause a huge rift between you, I'd just stop going to most of the get-togethers. I'd suddenly be very busy with my own family, friends, and/or job, but still be friendly and polite with them. I might still go once or twice a year, if they kept inviting me, just to not seem like I'm trying to cut them out altogether and cause a big family drama, but no more than that. Life is too short to go hang out with people that you don't want to hang out with, doing things that you don't want to do.
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Old 04-26-2012, 07:34 PM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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For the hell of it how about you invite everybody over to your place? I would be more than willing to bet they would bow out<evil grin>

For Mothers Day, why don't you ask your husband to spend a nice romantic day alone with you trying to conceive ... you don't have to spend *every* holiday with his parents.

[we have never spent Mothers or Fathers day, or 4th of July with either of our parents. We don't feel the need to spend every holiday with family, we *are* our own family unit.]
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Old 04-26-2012, 07:38 PM
Buttercup Smith Buttercup Smith is online now
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Exactly what Alice said. Life is too short. Do what you and hubby want to do if just be home alone working on the baby. They are probably only being polite in asking you and it won't matter either way if you are not there. If the invite came by email that is how I would let them know I couldn't make it this year. Or not.
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Old 04-26-2012, 07:46 PM
Alice The Goon Alice The Goon is offline
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Ask yourself what is the worst that will happen if you stop attending these people's get-togethers. Will they stab you? Probably not. Will they turn your husband's family against you? If they do, then they (hubby's family) surely didn't care for you or know you well in the first place. Anything else they could do to you?
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Old 04-26-2012, 07:49 PM
miss elizabeth miss elizabeth is offline
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Just don't go.

If your husband wants to see his parents, invite them to your house (or visit their house) on a day near the holiday.
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Old 04-26-2012, 07:52 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
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I would stop going to most of the in-law family events. If you want to see your husband's family, there is plenty of time to have them over for dinner or take them out for dinner or just go over and visit them - you don't have to go to the house of people you don't care for for that.

As an aside, my sister was dating a guy from somewhere on the East coast of the US for a while (Connecticut? something like that), and apparently his family thought she was "quaint." Is that the vibe you get from the in-laws in-laws?
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Old 04-26-2012, 07:53 PM
Antigen Antigen is offline
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Originally Posted by Alice The Goon View Post
What does your husband think about the situation? Unless it would cause a huge rift between you, I'd just stop going to most of the get-togethers. I'd suddenly be very busy with my own family, friends, and/or job, but still be friendly and polite with them. I might still go once or twice a year, if they kept inviting me, just to not seem like I'm trying to cut them out altogether and cause a big family drama, but no more than that. Life is too short to go hang out with people that you don't want to hang out with, doing things that you don't want to do.
He isn't much more inclined to go than I am, but he feels like it would be rude not to. I think that he's worried about upsetting his own parents, because they're becoming pretty good friends with the inlaws-in-law, and he doesn't want them to feel like they have to take sides. That's the worst case scenario, as far as I can see it - the in-laws feeling trapped and me feeling bad about it. Also, my sister-in-law may be upset with me and not want to see us much, so I wouldn't get to enjoy their company (or my nephew's) anymore.

I would love to find a believable reason not to go, but as I said, I have no other family to be with. This came up last Thanksgiving, and I very nearly didn't go, but it meant my husband wouldn't get turkey dinner with his family, so I sucked it up and went, only to find out they'd also invited an aunt, a sister, and grandparents. Really awkward. I'm not good with meeting new people, so I sat in the living room with my husband and ate a lot of olives.

At least for Mothers Day I think we can get away with seeing my mother-in-law on Saturday and letting them do their thing on Sunday. There's no possible way for them to see it as anything other than "Antigen doesn't want to be there", but I can't see a way around it. I shouldn't care, I know, but the "make everyone happy" instinct is very strong in me and hard to fight.
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  #9  
Old 04-26-2012, 07:59 PM
Antigen Antigen is offline
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Originally Posted by Cat Whisperer View Post
As an aside, my sister was dating a guy from somewhere on the East coast of the US for a while (Connecticut? something like that), and apparently his family thought she was "quaint." Is that the vibe you get from the in-laws in-laws?
Yes! At the very beginning she would awkwardly try to make conversation by asking me something about Canada, and when she found out it's not really all that different or exotic, she'd be all "how interesting" and have another sip of wine. I can't decide if she thinks I'm stupid, or if she just addresses everyone with a vaguely condescending tone. I feel like she's always thinking "isn't that nice, dear" when I speak. The dad-in-law-in-law isn't so bad, really - I think he's sometimes irritated by the Martha-Stewart-fanciness of the matching napkin rings and his wife's attitude, and he hides with the men and drinks a lot. If it wasn't for the drinking, I'd probably hang out with him and be ok, but after he's had a few, he gets loud, and I feel awkward.
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Old 04-27-2012, 02:30 AM
Rachellelogram Rachellelogram is online now
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Originally Posted by miss elizabeth View Post
Just don't go.

If your husband wants to see his parents, invite them to your house (or visit their house) on a day near the holiday.
Best idea. It doesn't make any sense at all that you and your husband have any sort of obligation to keep going to these events.
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  #11  
Old 04-27-2012, 02:37 AM
Alice The Goon Alice The Goon is offline
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Originally Posted by rachelellogram View Post
Best idea. It doesn't make any sense at all that you and your husband have any sort of obligation to keep going to these events.
It does make sense- she's a people-pleaser. Eventually she'll become a jaded, cynical thing that doesn't give a shit what people think about her, but she's still shiny and new. It's sweet, in a way. Takes me back.
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  #12  
Old 04-27-2012, 09:01 AM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
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Originally Posted by Antigen View Post
Yes! At the very beginning she would awkwardly try to make conversation by asking me something about Canada, and when she found out it's not really all that different or exotic, she'd be all "how interesting" and have another sip of wine. I can't decide if she thinks I'm stupid, or if she just addresses everyone with a vaguely condescending tone. I feel like she's always thinking "isn't that nice, dear" when I speak. The dad-in-law-in-law isn't so bad, really - I think he's sometimes irritated by the Martha-Stewart-fanciness of the matching napkin rings and his wife's attitude, and he hides with the men and drinks a lot. If it wasn't for the drinking, I'd probably hang out with him and be ok, but after he's had a few, he gets loud, and I feel awkward.
Ah, I think I've got it. I have to go now, but I have more thoughts on that.

Would you mind if we named the people in question for ease of reference? Would George and Mary work?
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  #13  
Old 04-27-2012, 09:06 AM
Antigen Antigen is offline
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Originally Posted by Cat Whisperer View Post
Would you mind if we named the people in question for ease of reference? Would George and Mary work?
Sure, George and Mary would work fine.

Alice - I am very much a people-pleaser. Going against "the rules" upsets me to a huge degree, and I try hard not to ruffle feathers. I know I need to try and care less about what others will think of my actions, but these are people I'll be seeing again, people who are connected to other people who I see a lot, so it's hard to say "screw them and screw the consequences".
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  #14  
Old 04-27-2012, 09:11 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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I have a feeling that Mary is a Queen Bee who wishes she was... no so much pre-troubles Martha Stewart as living inside The Philadelphia Story. You are a somewhat-unknown, uncontrolled variable, therefore you're scary.

Yep, I said scary. I know, you're about as scary as a chipmunk, but that's to people who don't think they're the axis of the carrousel... the woman wants to have all of you little colored vials going round and round and round and roooooooound! and has never heard of centrifugal force.
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Old 04-27-2012, 11:48 AM
perfectparanoia perfectparanoia is offline
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Originally Posted by Nava View Post
I have a feeling that Mary is a Queen Bee who wishes she was... no so much pre-troubles Martha Stewart as living inside The Philadelphia Story. You are a somewhat-unknown, uncontrolled variable, therefore you're scary.

Yep, I said scary. I know, you're about as scary as a chipmunk, but that's to people who don't think they're the axis of the carrousel... the woman wants to have all of you little colored vials going round and round and round and roooooooound! and has never heard of centrifugal force.
Goodness! My sister frequently invites both sides of the family (hers and my brother in laws) over for special occasions. While I am not the biggest fan of it (since these people are practically strangers to me) she does it because it makes things easier for her and more fair to my brother in law.

She isn't doing it out of some desire to be the centre of attention, she is doing it so that both she and her husband can see their families on whatever special day.

It is often incredibly hard when you get married to share holidays. It's easier for me since my parents live close and my in-laws don't so I can only really see one or the other.
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Old 04-27-2012, 12:11 PM
redtail23 redtail23 is offline
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She isn't doing it out of some desire to be the centre of attention, she is doing it so that both she and her husband can see their families on whatever special day.
Well, I would say that expecting everyone to cater to you and your spouse is fairly equivalent to desiring to be the center of attention.

So instead of doing the running around to 5 different places for Thanksgiving all those years, I should have simply insisted that everyone come to my house to make my life easier! Who cares about their other kids, who are now required to come to my house to see their parents for holidays - they don't matter! What difference does it make that some of those people dislike/are uncomfortable with each other - they don't matter! What counts is that MY FAMILY - the only important people involved - get to have things their way.

Actually, we did end up doing that once we moved to a large enough house. But that's because (1) we were already doing a huge amount of the holiday prep/cooking/cleanup, just at other people's houses, (2) those houses really weren't big enough either and once we got a big place, the in-laws requested it, and (3) we didn't make everyone come at the same time; each family got their own meal.
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Old 04-27-2012, 12:30 PM
miss elizabeth miss elizabeth is offline
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Again, just don't go.

Who cares if they get offended? They aren't your family. If anyone asks why you aren't coming say, "The get-togethers are nice, but we didn't feel like doing that this time" and leave it at that.

You really ought to start establishing boundaries now; it only gets harder the longer you let this stuff go on, and you only have one life. Your loyalties are to yourself and your husband, not your in-law's in-laws. I think you overestimate how much they care, also. Just worry about yourself.
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Old 04-27-2012, 12:40 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Would it help if you actually found something else to do so you have a good reason not go? Maybe you need to see that the world won't fall apart if you decline an invitation.
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Old 04-27-2012, 12:42 PM
Nava Nava is offline
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Originally Posted by perfectparanoia View Post
Goodness! My sister frequently invites both sides of the family (hers and my brother in laws) over for special occasions. While I am not the biggest fan of it (since these people are practically strangers to me) she does it because it makes things easier for her and more fair to my brother in law.

She isn't doing it out of some desire to be the centre of attention, she is doing it so that both she and her husband can see their families on whatever special day.

It is often incredibly hard when you get married to share holidays. It's easier for me since my parents live close and my in-laws don't so I can only really see one or the other.
Your sister invites everybody for every single occasion and then treats someone from distant Canada as if they were exotic, fragile objets d'art? Really?

Inviting "everybody" so those big family dates get easier: good. Making every celebration take place in your domain and in your terms: bad.

Last edited by Nava; 04-27-2012 at 12:44 PM..
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Old 04-27-2012, 12:57 PM
Blkshp Blkshp is offline
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So your husband's parents have opted out of hosting any of their own family holidays? Is there a good reason that they are content to simply mooch holiday meals off the other in-laws -- even second string banquets like Mothers Day?
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Old 04-27-2012, 12:58 PM
gwendee gwendee is offline
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Originally Posted by Antigen View Post
(snip)
At least for Mothers Day I think we can get away with seeing my mother-in-law on Saturday and letting them do their thing on Sunday. There's no possible way for them to see it as anything other than "Antigen doesn't want to be there", but I can't see a way around it. I shouldn't care, I know, but the "make everyone happy" instinct is very strong in me and hard to fight.

"Everyone" includes YOU. It has taken me many years to grasp this, and I hope you can see it too. I am not suggesting that you only every do things that make you happy. There are legitimate family connections that need to take precedence, but this occasion does not seem like one of those to me.

If it were the only time this year that same group would be assembled I might be urging you to suck it up, but that doesn't sound like the case.
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:52 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
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Your sister invites everybody for every single occasion and then treats someone from distant Canada as if they were exotic, fragile objets d'art? Really?<snip>.
I don't get the impression that she treats Antigen as if she's fragile so much as Mary sounds like a bit of a snob - she sounds like she can't manage to treat Antigen as if she was just a human being like everyone else, regardless of where she came from.

I think you really will have to stand up for yourself on this one, Antigen. You will probably need to see George and Mary a couple of times a year, but you don't have to see them every time they invite you.
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Old 04-27-2012, 01:58 PM
elbows elbows is offline
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Just say no. Just be honest. With yourself and with them. No one will die. You can do it. They've heard it before, I promise.

Stop attending, if it feels like this relationship, is being forced upon you. You may find, once you do so, you don't mind the occasional event where they are. Or not.

Either way, it's good practice for when you have a family.

Honesty, give it a try!
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Old 04-27-2012, 02:19 PM
Nava Nava is offline
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Originally Posted by Cat Whisperer View Post
I don't get the impression that she treats Antigen as if she's fragile so much as Mary sounds like a bit of a snob - she sounds like she can't manage to treat Antigen as if she was just a human being like everyone else, regardless of where she came from.
Yeah, for her the exotic visitor isn't a human being, it's something to be looked at. Like a vase.
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Old 04-27-2012, 03:45 PM
Antigen Antigen is offline
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Yeah, for her the exotic visitor isn't a human being, it's something to be looked at. Like a vase.
I don't think it's that bad. I think that I'm just different enough to make her slightly uncomfortable and she doesn't know how to react to me, so she nods and smiles and mostly ignores me. I'm polite, I engage in conversation, I compliment her meal, and as far as I can tell I'm meeting the social expectations of such a family event. My best guess is that she's got a different expectation for the event than I do. In my mind it's a family dinner, so we're friendly and silly and we chat about what we've been up to, what we've been reading, that sort of thing, and that's normally how it is with my husband's family. With Mary, it's like she'd prefer it to be a tea party or art gallery opening. What I don't understand is why the dismissive tone seems to be aimed at me alone, when my husband acts in an almost identical way.

It doesn't matter. I will be skipping the Mother's Day party and everyone will have to live with that. I'll deal with the next event as it comes up. I'll be seeing these people at two other events (which I actually want to attend, despite their presence) in the next two months anyway, which will be plenty for me. My husband's parents keep agreeing to these get-togethers in part because they enjoy George and Mary's company, and also because they see how it simplifies things for my brother and sister in law, and my nephew, by giving them one event to share with both families. I'm sympathetic to that, but it also makes me a little bitter because I don't have that option for my side.
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  #26  
Old 04-27-2012, 04:31 PM
Omar Little Omar Little is offline
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Antigen, when you and your husband start having kids, you and he may have to start your own traditions. Unfortunately for you, your husband's brother got started first and as such has been dictating family gatherings by including his wife's extended family in the mix. And no one else has minded much as the common grandchild is the only one and everyone loves him so much.

But as the number of grandchildren grow including your own, this arrangement will get old. Your husband and his brother need to have a conversation including their parents about how longer term family gatherings need to take place.

In the meantime, it's perfectly okay for you to pass on the invitation to mother's day dinner.
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