My wife and I have gathered with my parents and siblings (my brother and my sister + her husband and kids) for every Christmas since 2004. My wife does not feel completely at ease around all of them, and it’s led to some frustration in trying to plan our Christmas travel. Her parents live overseas, and although she misses them terribly, for a number of reasons she does not visit them very often; this is why Christmas has always been with my family. A few times now she has proposed staying at home for Christmas while I travel to be with my family. This of course is not really an option: I would feel horrible knowing my wife is all alone on Christmas, and I would also have to explain it to my family. The only other alternative is for me to stay home with my wife, and she doesn’t want to deprive me of the opportunity to see my family. And at the same time, I hate the idea that I’m dragging my wife to an occasion where she’s not totally at ease.
I can certainly appreciate that someone might not ever feel like they are “just another sibling” in their spouse’s family. My sister has said as much about her husband’s family. But that outsider feeling doesn’t seem to be universal. Example, my brother-in-law seems very comfortable around the rest of us (granted, he and my sister have been married 25+ years), and I have friends who feel very comfortable around their in-laws.
So I’m curious, looking for some perspective, I guess. If you’re married, how do you feel around your spouse’s siblings and parents? Completely at ease? Always on edge and minding your manners? Somewhere in the middle? Have you been reluctant to attend family gatherings because of your unease?