Why is it so hard to live with your family?

Presumably my parents got married because they loved each other. They had three children and raised them the best they knew how.

So why can’t I stand being around any of them for any length of time? My parents were here Friday evening till Tuesday morning. My sister and nephew came along, but stayed until Thursday afternoon. I almost killed myself.

Now, I am married to the man I love, and we have a daughter. We like things the way they are, we three. And our dog. Three people, one dog. We get along. It’s nice.

Someday is my daughter going to hate coming to visit? Or us going to visit her? Is she going to count the hours until we are not under the same roof again?

Just wondering how things go awry. My mother never stops talking or sharing her opinion. Same with my sister, but she doesn’t know it. She has no earthly idea that everyone doesn’t want to know what she thinks about everything at every moment.

I had been looking forward to their visit, especially my sister staying the extra couple of days, but it was just too much.

But now they are gone. Free at last, free at last, thank…well, you know the rest.



Sorry to say…but yes.

I think it has something to do with dominance or some such. You are the alpha female of your house and like that fact…plus you have your own routine and things to do…you know…alpha female type stuff. :slight_smile:

Your daughter will feel the same.

Oh, you meant YOUR family.


I love my family, and I enjoy their company. I’m happy to have them visit…for a while. In my case, it’s mostly because I’m generally a rather quiet, private sort of person. I like peace and quiet, I like doing things in my own way and in my own time. Those things are sometimes attainable if only one or two of them are around, but if the whole crew is present, peace is no longer an option. They all have firm (often conflicting) opinions about nearly everything, and don’t hesitate to voice them. Also, they’re just plain loud–I’ve been heard to curse their “dwarvish racket” more than once.

It’s tolerable for a few days at a time, but a week is usually enough to make me want to run off and hide someplace quiet.

I like living with my parents, at least for no more than a month or so. Of course, it helps to keep an apartment to come back to!

I just spent about a month and a half up at their house, just to get away for awhile. It was quiet, peaceful and safe, with lots of grass and a nice garden which I helped my mom with. (I never knew I liked weeding so much, seriously. Mostly in the past I’ve hauled mulch and lifted heavy stuff.)

Anyhow, we have a pretty decent time together. There’s enough room so that we don’t get in each other’s way and can get some space when we need it. We didn’t always get along this well, but we all agree that we’re glad we’ve lived long enough to enjoy each other’s company as adults.

I commuted to work while I was there; it’s about an hour. Otherwise Mom and I went shopping or did household stuff during the day. I am getting to love to cook, so most nights I cooked for them. In the evenings we hung out on the back porch and had extended happy hour and my dad and I watched “NCIS” or “Law and Order” and cracked on the shows. I don’t have the cable where I live so TV is a big treat when I go there.

Anyhow, as much as I love spending long visits with them, I don’t think I could live permanently at home. I’m still pretty used to having my own territory and keeping funky hours. Plus I don’t care for the design of their house… it’s too wide open. I don’t like walking around a lot and it’s like if you forget something you actually have to walk up a lot of steps or what seems to me like a long distance. And look, I’m not talking about a 30 room house either. I’ve just gotten used to a five room apartment. (Hah, I told my mom that I hated walking around a house a lot and she was like, you are so lazy! Yes, I am.) I also like small cozy spaces and my miniscule apartment definitely qualifies. :smiley: Also, my folks have a serious hatred of technology. So, no Internet access, no computer, no cell phones. Hell, they just started using a microwave oven about 10 years ago. They’re like Episcopalian Amish people or something. So I do miss the Internet when I’m there.

As far as the Alpha Female stuff. Listen, everybody knows that Mom is the Alpha of All Alphas. What is it they say? When Momma’s happy, everybody’s happy! Honestly though nobody really wears the pants in this family. It’s more like Mom and Daddy both trying to get into the same pair of pants at the same time.

So yes, I like living with my family but it’s always good to have a backup place!

Well, here’s a subject I can relate to. (groan pun not intended, I swear)

I get along well with my parents. I get along tolerably well with my extended family. My sister? Well, we have too much history.

And that’s the problem, I think - your (generic you) family knows all about you and so can hit all the sensitive spots. Everything is magnified because of all the things they did to or with you while you were growing up. And a lot of times your family ends up treating you like you’re still a kid.

I think it depends a lot on the family. I can easily imagine living with my parents if for some reason that had to happen. That would work OK (though not perfectly). The thought of spending more than a few hours in the company of my in-laws makes me want to kill myself. My husband feels the same; it’s not a case of us each being more comfortable with our own families–it’s that my parents are very laid-back and his parents make us tense just by being in the same room.

My family and I have virtually nothing in common. If it weren’t for the accident of birth, I doubt I would have ever known any of them. It’s easy to say this when you’re fifteen, but I’m saying this as someone a fair number of years beyond that. I love them, and I think they’re almost all genuinely good people, most of the time. Still, we were like cats and dogs growing up. Especially my brothers and I. I often think that we’re incapable of showing affection towards each other, our entire relationships are couched in terms of rivalry. I were to share a piece of innocuous good news, say that I had recently received a particularly good blowjob, my older brother would claim he’s had more and better, and my younger brother would say “yea, but bj’s from ugly bitches don’t count.” Years ago we all put each other through the fire, so it’s hard to relate to each other as equals or to be really close to each other. However, if I need something, I know they’d do everything in their power to help, and vice versa. It’s weird.

My sisters are another story entirely. Three of them are from my mom’s first marriage, and are significantly older than those of us from mom’s second marriage, so there’s a generation gap there. My full sisters are playing out scenes from “failure to launch” so it’s kind of hard to relate to them as adults at this point. I find myself associating more with my older sisters than with my sisters who are closer to my own age. Still, in all of us there’s a sense of family, but not really familiarity, if that makes sense. We all go our own way, and we don’t socialize much outside of family gatherings. About the only thing we can agree on is we can’t figure out how mom, even with the help of two different fathers, managed to produce such a disparate brood. Once mom is gone, I doubt most of us will see each other more than once or twice every few years. That will make me sad, but to do otherwise would be forcing closeness for the sake of closeness. Sharing a physical location doesn’t necessarily engender warm feelings or familiarity.

My wife comes from a very different background. She grew up next door to her aunt and cousins and grandma provided the daycare for them all growing up. So for her, spending lots of time with family is the norm. Of course offsetting this is the fact that her family is highly dysfunctional and at any given time there will be no less than three feuds between at least two of them(makes planning family activities a bit more difficult). She says she understands, intellectually, how a family’s bond is they way they feel about each other, not just the time spent in their physical company, but for her they’re difficult to separate. The way my family can go weeks without speaking to each other, and just quietly catch up next time we get together, boggles her. She knows far more about the minutiae of her relatives lives than I do about mine, and that’s how she likes it. Me, unless someone is born, graduating, marrying, or dying, I can wait to hear about it until the next family gathering.


One of my moms likes to say, “You think I’d be better at not pushing all your buttons - after all, I installed them!” :smiley:

She sounds like someone we need to get on board at the dope!

[WhyNot is thinking :smack: :eek: :frowning: :mad: ]

Obviously there’s the history thing. But also, more people=more stress, especially if you’re the host(ess) trying to keep everybody happy. Add to that the stress of being the “link”—you’re the connection between your family and theirs, so you want to be true to your family’s needs but also theirs. Ugh.

Eric Berne wrote a couple interesting books, e.g. “Games People Play.” It’s a pretty short read IIRC, pop psychology that had some cred in counseling circles.
Dr. Berne discusses procedures, rituals, and pastimes in social behavior, in light of this method of analysis. For example, a boss who talks to his staff as a controlling parent will often engender self-abased obedience, tantrums, or other childlike responses from his employees.

The broken-record nature of the interactions made me think of it. People get caught up in games and don’t really communicate. And it can be pretty exhausting.

http://www.ericberne.com/Games_People_Play.htm has some more information.

“See What You Made Me Do” is an example.

(1) First-Degree SWYMD: White, feeling unsociable, becomes engrossed in some activity which tends to insulate him against people. Perhaps all he wants at the moment is to be left alone. An intruder, such as his wife or one of his children, comes either for stroking or to ask him something like, “Where can I find the long-nosed pliers?” This interruption “causes” his chisel, paintbrush, typewriter or soldering iron to slip, whereupon he turns on the intruder in a rage and cries, “See what you made me do.” As this is repeated through the years, his family tends more and more to leave him alone when he is engrossed. Of course it is not the intruder but his own irritation which “causes” the slip, and he is only too happy when it occurs, since it gives him a lever for ejecting the visitor. Unfortunately, this is a game which is only too easily learned by young children, so that it is easily passed on from generation to generation. The underlying satisfactions and advantages are more clearly demonstrated when it is played more seductively.


I’ve got to re-read this before I visit mom again :frowning:

It’s got nothing to do with family per se. My husband likes staying with his mom, and I do too; we’ve planned a vacation where we’ll be staying in their guesthouse this fall.
On the other hand, I can’t be in a room with my own mom for more then an hour before I get irritable.

What matters most, I think, is how the people around you match your rythm, your flow.
Everytime you have to adapt your own flow is a minor irritation. But so small and so petty that most people won’t allow themselve to feel that irritation. But boy do they add up over a week or so!

For instance, my mom has the habit of adressing me, just when I finished talking, and I am turning around to go off and do something else.
She also has the habit of giving advice when that is uncalled for, at cross purposes to the conversation.

I think it’s because you unconsciously fall back into behavior patterns and expectations from when you were a kid, but you also remain aware that that old “mold” doesn’t fit right anymore. This dichotomy leads to stress and for me, exhaustion (emotional, but sometimes physical).

My parents now compete for my time and attention. If my mom shows me her garden, Dad doesn’t join us–he’s pouting in his study. If he shows me something online, my mother doesn’t want to share in it, she withdraws and sulks in the living room. They interrupt one another while talking (and not in a good way). Essentially, I feel like I baby sit them. Luckily, they have taken to staying in a hotel when they visit us (our “guest” bedroom is inhabited by #2 son), so their visits here are nicer.

My sibs? No way would I live with them. I’ve never even visited them. One’s in L.A. and the other in Austin. They are both single, travel a great deal and between my kids and my work, we don’t travel to see them. They do come to us, sometimes, but they also do the hotel thing. It makes for better visits.

Nah, she IS pretty darn awesome. She and my dad really would make great Dopers. My dad’s a lot like What Exit?, which I’ve teased 'Exit about before. Dad’s the only Republican who can actually make convincing arguments about politics that make me want to learn more and not cover my ears and run away screaming. (Step-)Mom’s an old hippie neopagan who’s wiser than dirt. I heart them a lot. I actually like visiting them - but that’s partly because it’s a very big house and they’re excellent at letting us (that is, my nuclear family) enjoy ourselves without getting in their way and vice versa. Like **Maastricht **says, our “flow” matches well. Still, there are buttons, and they do get pushed. It’s okay, really. I installed a few in them, too!

After all the buttons they’ve given us, it seems only fair to repay the favor! :wink:

Well, I guess it’s not exactly universal that people don’t want to spend great amounts of time with family. Hmmm…

My sister would complain vociferously about our mother and her mother-in-law talking too much. Meanwhile, she talked too much. And loudly–not drunk or anything, either. Just really loud. Lots of laughing at her supposedly witty comments.


GO UPSTAIRS AND GET THAT LAPTOP COMPUTER AWAY FROM YOUR HUSBAND SO I CAN LOOK UP SOMETHING ONLINE. (Well, it’s kind of late and he is using it to listen to BBC7, so no, I’m not going to do that. He thought we were done with the computer because we were watching a movie on TV.)


LET’S MAKE THESE BROWNIES NOW. (It’s 9:30–they won’t be cool enough to eat until 11:00.)

She is home-schooling her son, which is not necessarily a wrong thing, but I doubt that she is good at it. They seem to stay up past midnight all the time and sleep until whenever. He sleeps with her and her husband. AGE 8.5 AND HE SLEEPS WITH HIS PARENTS. He can’t tie his shoes and constantly calls her for help in the bathroom. Otherwise, he was a cute a delightful boy. But I’m seriously concerned about the home-schooling and didn’t say anything because I didn’t want her to yell at me.

Constant commenting about healthy eating, meanwhile I never saw her eat a vegetable other than mashed potatoes. We had ice cream at a shop one evening and later on at the house she had some more. She asked if I wanted some and I said no, we just had ice cream two hours ago and she said that was a long time ago.

She only brought her son two pairs of shorts so part of the time he was wandering around in a big t-shirt while she washed his clothes.

Well, I guess I need to let this go and move on with my life now that they are gone and maybe I won’t see them again for five years. Maybe by then the little guy will be a big guy and hopefully he won’t be sleeping in their bed.

After years of therapy I feel somewhat qualified to answer this! Short answer: because these people have been around long enough to really hurt you.

My mom’s side of the family doesn’t understand me at all. After 34 years, this hurts my feelings!

My dad’s side of the family is extremely repressed and we all relate to each other on a very surface level. After 34 years, this hurts my feelings!

Of course, it is way, way more complex than that, but ultimately these people piss me off because they are the ones who SHOULD understand me best, but instead seem to understand me the least.

I have an even simpler answer:

You would feel this way about almost anyone you spent time with solely because you had to.

I can’t think of a single human being on this planet I would actually be relaxed with if I went and visited them in their house for two or three days. Even my best friend gets on my nerves after awhile. The ONLY adult in the world I do not tire of is my wife, and of course that’s selection bias; one of the main reasons she’s my wife is that I CAN live with her without tiring of her.

I find staying at my parents becomes very irritating very quickly - they’re loud, for one thing - but oods are I’d get irritated staying at your house, too, and vice-versa.

You notice the irritation with your family because, of course, they’re the ones you have to visit the most often.

Ah yes. I will be dealing with this for the 4th of July weekend. You see, we all get together at a rental house at a resort and then go out on the lake on my fathers house boat… fun ensues after that especially after about three cold ones, Christ, I can hardly wait. Shoot me now.

Hmmm… I could’ve pretty much written that OP word-for-word (well, except the parents loving each other bit… they bitterly divorced a few years back, when I was in my early 20’s).

We put the FUN back in dysfunctional, my family does, and I’ve decided after years of putting up with their crap that I’m done with it. Shared genetics does not exempt them from the basic courtesies that are expected from any guest staying in my home, so if they behave in a way that would normally get someone kicked out, they will be shown the door. Pretty simple, really, as far as epiphanies go.

My mother gets it.

My sister didn’t. This was her last visit.

Let’s see. My older brother raped me, and then told me that I couldn’t understand how much that hurt him over the years without a consideration of anything that happened to me. I’ll never be in the same room as him again.

I’d probably do the same to my father, who sexually abused my sisters, if he were still around.

My younger brother (search in the pit) or my mother’s relatives (also searchable).

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?