Too close to parents/family?

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lilly295 Posts : 28 Registered: 1/2/08
Too close to parents/family?
Posted: Dec 1, 2008 7:16 PM

Hi everyone, I'm hoping to get some non-biased opinions about a situation that's bugging me a bit. My FH is very close to his family, closer than I am to mine. This is something that I knew from the start and when we lived closer to his family it didn't cause too many problems for us. He likes to see his family once a week or more, which is a bit more than I'd like but it's something I'm willing to compromise on.

However, now that we're living 8 hours away from his family and almost 12 hours away from mine, things are getting difficult for me. Before I explain it, please understand that I know it could all be in my head, and if it is, please tell me so. Also, this is not about me hating my future in laws, I do love them, even if they bug me a bit (but who doesn't get under someone's skin now and then?)

As I said above, FH is VERY close to his family. Because we live further away now, we've seen his parents 5 or 6 weekends since mid-July, plus spending most of our thanksgiving break with them (wed-sun), which in my mind is fine. I saw my parents one weekend since then and a day over the thanksgiving break which is not as much as I would like but they can't take much time off work to come down to see us.

I have always thought that once I got married, my husband and I would be a family and that family would trump any other families, so if we wanted to spend christmas day together without any parents we would do it. Not that my husband would have to totally disconnect from his parents, but just that I would know that our little family is what's most important in his life. FH's idea was that once he was married his wife would become another part of his family and we'd spend time together all the time because time with family is better than time alone.

When we got home from thanksgiving weekend yesterday, FH talked about how much he missed his parents and his sisters and he wished we could live closer so we could spend more time together, and then he said that our home feels like a home away from home for him. To me, that was hurtful because I feel like if he's missing his parents so much, how can he really be happy with me? Even though we've only lived here since May, I feel like it's my home because it's with him and I don't understand why he doesn't feel the same way. I feel like he loves his parents more than he'll ever love me. It also makes me wonder if anywhere we live will feel like home to him or if he'll only feel at home with his parents. This is a very difficult subject for us to talk about because he usually ends up getting defensive and I get hurt. I admit I am a bit jealous of the relationship that he has with his parents, and I wonder if he will be able to make our family a priority.

My question to you is: are you this close to your parents or is your FH/DH that close to his? If so, how do you balance your family and your wife/kids? If your FH/DH is that close to his family, any advice on how I can not feel like his parents are more important to him? How can I talk to him about it without hurting him and without seeming like I'm attacking his family? Thanks!


kennysoldwife Posts : 3,859 Registered: 4/28/07
Re: Too close to parents/family?
Posted: Dec 1, 2008 7:43 PM Go to message in response to: lilly295

My family is that close. We were raised to be close to each other and we raise our children that way. We have always been the type that our spouses become a part of our family. We love and cherish the families that we made with out SO but for us a family is all of us. Our father and all of our siblings and nieces and nephews. Our circle gets bigger with each addition.

I can understand how you might feel not growing up in a family like that. My husband didn't but he has now embraced our way of doing things and he enjoys it now. He has actually tried to get his siblings to be more like us.

Kenny and Me Perfect Together,  10 years and counting.

  wedding ticker


Nalamienea Posts : 2,924 Registered: 6/13/08
Re: Too close to parents/family?
Posted: Dec 2, 2008 10:42 AM Go to message in response to: kennysoldwife

I'm not super crazy close to my family, either emotionally or geographically. They live on the other side of teh country. Yes, I wish I lived closer, but I don't need to feel obligated to see them every week. I think two hours away would be perfect for me: close enough to see them all the time but not so far away that they could drop in unexpectedly. lol

I understand how you feel. That really stinks. This might be one of those things where you have to write down everything you're feeling and just hand it to him so that he doesn't have a chance to take what you say wrong, and you have to chance to phrase it perfectly intead of on the stop. Have him to the same and then come together to talk about how you're responding to what they write. It's kind of a fundamental issue though and I'm not sure what options you have if you just can't compromise.

note: compromise is kidn of not what you want to do here becuase both parties will feel as if they lose something. You guys need to find a consensus that you both agree with. MAybe if you take a vacation away every year, without his family at all, you'll feel like you get some time with him all to yourself. Somethign along those lines..

best of luck




MrsJunebug Posts : 333 Registered: 1/11/07
Re: Too close to parents/family?
Posted: Dec 2, 2008 10:56 AM Go to message in response to: lilly295

I think we are in the similar yet opposite boat. I am close to my family but my H is not super-close to his. In my family people question why you would spend holidays alone when there are family options to attend. Some of us do it, but only if you've visited recently enough for the trip to qualify as a holiday visit. My parents live 12 hours away and his live on the other side of the country. I want to go visit my parents for 5-6 days at xmas and FH is throwing a fit only wanting to go for 3-4. My dad is sick and I don't understand what difference an extra day or two will make when we look back 20 years from now. H says I just went for two days at Thanksgiving and can go again in the spring, but it's Christmas, you know? It's important for me to spend time with my dad while I can.

I understand your FH's feelings of separation from his family and I don't think it reflects negatively of his home with you. I love my H and I love our life together, but I do wish I could see my family more often. I had so much fun at Thanksgiving and was wishing we were close enough to visit them about once a month. Maybe it just depends on how you grew up. H & I used to live on the other side of the country near his family and far from mine. I find it strange, and such a waste of quality time that nearly all of H's family lives in the same city and rarely all get together. I don't think I could move that far away from my own family again.


mrspinky Posts : 3,773 Registered: 3/14/08
Re: Too close to parents/family?
Posted: Dec 4, 2008 5:52 PM Go to message in response to: lilly295

lilly295 -
My question to you is: are you this close to your parents or is your FH/DH that close to his? I

I think Richard is def closer to his family than mine. I also only have 3 immediate family members while his entire family lives within 1hr30mins of us.

f so, how do you balance your family and your wife/kids?

Since I'm not too close with mine, we really only ever see his. I see mine on holidays/birthdays.

If your FH/DH is that close to his family, any advice on how I can not feel like his parents are more important to him?

Become closer with them? There must be a reason he's close to them.

How can I talk to him about it without hurting him and without seeming like I'm attacking his family?

REally you can't. I'd say just have at it and at least he knows how you feel.

Mrs. Pinky

Our Wedding Website 


HappyGirl13 Posts : 1,298 Registered: 4/21/08
Re: Too close to parents/family?
Posted: Dec 4, 2008 7:08 PM Go to message in response to: mrspinky

My husband and I both love our families, too, but we're both introverts and homebodies to an extent so we're quite happy just hanging out together. We mostly see his family on holidays/special occasions and we see my family somewhat more frequently.

I second Nalamienea's advice. This is a fundamental issue and if it's bugging you now it will bug you more later. Same with him. But I also think her advice about coming up with specific things that will satisfy your "own little family" time and his extended family time will give both of you room to breathe and provide what you both need. Examples: For you--1) Christmas every other year will be you two only, or you two plus your kids. The rest of the holidays are spent with his (or your) family. 2) One vacation every other year with just you two, etc. For him: For starters, see above. But in addition, he gets a visit to his family once a month, with you or without you, on top of the holiday visits, without you giving him a hard time about it.

Those are just examples, of course, and it would be really important for you and he to be really honest with yourselves and each other about whether these kinds of compromises will actually satisfy you or whether you'll each be tempted to fudge the boundaries. If you see you two can't meet in the middle, getting a counselor involved would be the next step.


auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Too close to parents/family?
Posted: Dec 4, 2008 7:36 PM Go to message in response to: lilly295

Dear Lilly,

The question is not how often other people see their family. The question is how much do you want to see family and how much does your FH want to see family.

Let's reduce to simplicity.

Bob wants to spend 100 hours/month with his family.

Sue wants to spend 1 hour/month with his family.

Do they compromise on 49.5 hours/month with his family? Sue has 48.5 hours of boredom, and Bob has 51.5 hours where he misses his family and wishes he were with them.

No: The ideal situation would be for Bob to find a new girlfriend who also wants to spend 100/month with his family and for Sue to find a new boyfriend who wants to spend 1 hour/month with his family. That way everyone is happy.

But, wait, Bob and Sue love each other and want to get married! They want to spend the rest of their lives together! But those lives will be spent with each wishing things were different.

What you have to decide is that if your husband goes to see his family as often as he likes (Bob's 100 hours/week) is that a deal breaker for you. Can you live like that for 40 years? If you are prepared for that, then great. If not, then re-think.

Bob also has to think about it. Is he prepared to go visit his family alone, leaving Sue at home? Is he OK with Sue doing other things, perhaps with other friends, while he spends time with his family? Can he live like that for 40 years? He can? Great. If not, then re-think.


BreAnn Posts : 600 Registered: 11/28/07
Re: Too close to parents/family?
Posted: Dec 4, 2008 7:41 PM Go to message in response to: kennysoldwife

My family and my DH's family is like that. My family moreso on my mom's side. Every marriage, birth or whatever, is adding a new person to this big huge family. When we get together for the holidays with them, there are normally around 25-30 people. Being raised this way, I cannot imagine not spending the holidays with all of them.

Anyways, yea, you need to talk it out with your FH. Even if it does mean a fight. Fighting it out and coming to a decision that you can both live with will make things much easier. Maybe instead of spending Thanksgiving and Christmas with family every year, alternate it. One year spend Thanksgiving with them, and Christmas just the two of you. The next year, Thanksgiving just the two of you, and Christmas with them.

Edit: I just want to add to what I said after reading Aunt's reply. It made me think of something my mom told me about her and dad when they first got married. My mom didn't work. She would have dinner on the table when dad came home, they would eat, she would clean up the kitchen and then they would go see his parents and two sisters that still lived at home. There my grandmother would have cooked and every would have ate AND MY MOM ended up doing the cleaning up there too, and then have to listen to them fight for the rest of the evening! Mom said she hated it, but it made dad happy so she went along with it for about a year. Finally she told him to go alone. That she wasn't doing it anymore. And he would. Dad would get his time with his family that he wanted, and mom didn't have to clean up after more people and then listen to them fight constantly! It was a much happier marriage. She didn't force him to go see her family and he didn't force her to go see his. They don't even always spend the holidays together. My dad just doesn't like to be around a lot of people so some years at Christmas dad stays home, while mom and I go see her family.
I know the OPs situation is different because they live much farther away (both sides of my family live within 20 mins of each other) but, I believe they can find a way to make it work.

Edited by: BreAnn on Dec 4, 2008 7:44 PM


PharmToxGirl Posts : 5,446 Registered: 8/30/07
Re: Too close to parents/family?
Posted: Dec 4, 2008 9:03 PM Go to message in response to: lilly295

I have to admit, this is why I'm very happy that both DH and I are close to our families. We are only 15 minutes or so from his parents, but they are incredibly respectful of not dropping in unannounced, in fact, they rarely come over unless invited. My family is about 4 hours away, not including my Mom who travels all over. She's only near home at Christmas, so DH knows that we have to get up North sometime close to Christmas to celebrate Christmas with my family. (My brother's kids are rarely with him on Christmas anyways, so this allows us to celebrate a Christmas with them too.)

When we first were together, my Mom told me as the holidays approached, that she wanted to see me for one of them, but I was not to feel guilty if I couldn't make it up for both, that we (DH and I) are our family unit and have to function as such. All I can say - is Thanks Mom for being understanding and granting me the privledge of gleaning some of that.

Sometimes my MIL gives us a slightly hard time about not being here for a holiday, but I always discuss our plans with DH and he stands by our plans. (Yay DH!!)

And now, BIL and his GF are in town this Xmas. So we were planning on spending Xmas day with the ILs. Turns out NOW our first Christmas together is at OUR house with my family invading too!!!

And I wouldn't have it any other way. My brother's kids will be in FL (their great grandma is doing poorly) and I want my brother with us, with family. With everything he's gone through this year, I won't go into it now, but he needs to be with me and my Mom and my DH. And the ILs are a bonus. My MIL is SO excited, so I'm really happy!

OK, that won't help the OP any I'm sure. I agree with the PP that this isn't something to let go until you go over the edge. You both need to be on the same page, each making allowances. They can not come from just you.

I do have to say that DH and I dated for almost 6 years before marrying, so we already had this worked out. LOL And if it hadn't worked out early in the relationship, then we might not still be together. So I think I'm in AOTB's camp.


BirdLover Posts : 2,834 Registered: 3/30/06
Re: Too close to parents/family?
Posted: Dec 4, 2008 11:31 PM Go to message in response to: PharmToxGirl

I am very much like your FH. Very close to my family, and my husband is not as close to his (geographically, we live close to my family and not his, so there's not competition for taking time off work to see one family or the other). I could never imagine spending, say, a Christmas Day with just the two of us, because to me, it would be like purposely ignoring family.

My point of posting is to tell you that it has nothing to do with you! Missing his family does NOT mean that he isn't happy with you! When he says that your current home feels like a "home away from home" sounds like maybe you haven't lived there a long time? Maybe he's referring to the location more than anything. Have you asked him what exactly he means by that?

I don't want you to worry. I think it's simply harder to understand when you weren't raised that close to your family (and similarly, at times it might be hard for him to understand why you DON'T want to spend time with family). Like someone else suggested, talk to him, see what things you can do to satisfy your "our little family" time and still have "bigger family time". (For example, seeing family on Christmas, but spending Christmas Eve with just the two of you).

Good luck!

Lilypie Expecting a baby Ticker


PharmToxGirl Posts : 5,446 Registered: 8/30/07
Re: Too close to parents/family?
Posted: Dec 4, 2008 11:58 PM Go to message in response to: BirdLover

Birdlover had a good point. If I really wanted to be with my family for the holiday, then that really has nothing to do with DH.

BUT, at some point I have to recognize that he is not just coming into my family, but I'm coming into his.

Therefore, (equal) times have to be arranged and agreed upon.


ArtBride Posts : 4,838 Registered: 5/9/07
Re: Too close to parents/family?
Posted: Dec 5, 2008 8:22 AM Go to message in response to: lilly295

I honestly think you're taking this too personally...but I understand why you feel the way you do, given that you're not as close to your family.

We also live far away from our families (about 8 hours from our parents, 10 hours from my BIL and the other BIL lives across the country). One or both of us usually makes it home 4-5 times a year, including a week-long trip around Christmas. And people come to visit us, too. Our parents try to combine business trips and visits - usually, each set of parents makes it here at least twice a year. My BIL and his family visit once a year - and our 10-year old nephew is begging his parents to let him come visit us 'on his own' next year! One of my brothers comes to see us 3-4 times a year, and I fly my sister in at least once in the summer, so we can hang out together. Dh and I both wish we could see them all more often, and the time we get to spend with them is very important.

I think this has gotten more important to me as I've gotten older. All of my siblings are younger (24, 17, and 15). At their ages, they change so much and so frequently that I'd barely know them if I didn't make an effort to see them often. My BIL has two kids, and you know how quickly kids grow. If we don't make an effort to see them often, they'll be as tall as I am before I know it...and they won't even know their aunt and uncle. And with our parents...frankly, it's upsetting to go home and realize that your parents have aged drastically in the 6 months that you haven't seen them. So we try to see them as often as possible, so there aren't any big surprises. My parents are very young-seeming for their ages and in great health, but my ILs will soon need more help...and unless we see them often and keep track of how they're doing, we won't know when to give it to them. Anyway, I just wanted to mention these things, since your FH may be thinking along the same lines, particularly since you live so far away.

On Christmas, I also couldn't imagine spending Xmas with just the two of us. Yes, we are our own family, but Christmas isn't about just the two of us. Not to me, anyway - Christmas is about trying to see your entire family, if possible. When we have kids, we may want to spend Christmas at our house...but I'd be REALLY mad if our parents didn't make an effort to come and see us! I really couldn't imagine Xmas with just DH - but I've always been surrounded by people on Xmas, so it would feel lonely with just the two of us. Heck, it would feel lonely with fewer than 15 people at Xmas dinner! Heck, it would feel lonely if I only had one Xmas dinner, as I usually have at least three...(between my parents, ILs, and other family members that have Xmas celebrations).

Oh, and one more note about Xmas. This may have something to do with where your FH is from and where you live now. Let me explain. DH and I are from MA and we live in DC now. We would do ANYTHING to make it home for Xmas, even if our families weren't there. There's just something about Xmas in New England...and Xmas in DC just seems WRONG! I mean, come on! I need some SNOW! Or at least weather that I consider to be COLD! Xmas doesn't feel right if it's 50 degrees outside!

This isn't anything personal. It's not as if he prefers his family to you. And I'm sure that if it came to it, you would 'trump' his family. But why should he choose? The great thing about love is that you can love MANY people. And I think your FH's devotion to his family bodes well for your future family, so cheer up!

Oh, and one more thing. While I think it's a great idea for you to become close with his family, you don't necessarily need to go with him every time he visits. Stick together for important holidays, like Xmas...but if he wants to make an 8-hour trip so he can see his little sister's violin concert (or something) and you're not so into it...don't worry about it! Let him go alone and have some bonding time with his siblings. Go with him often enough that they get to know you, too, but you don't have to make the trip every time.

DaisypathWedding Ticker


NJ4Life Posts : 3,358 Registered: 8/10/07
Re: Too close to parents/family?
Posted: Dec 5, 2008 9:50 AM Go to message in response to: lilly295

Hi Lily. I can sympathize. DH isnt that close to his family but his mom has these dillusions that nothing has changed since he was 10. We live abuot 80 miles from them and we see them about once a month on average. But it's never good enough for the IL's.

I am close to my family,however I was raised to be very independent so I do look forward to waking up on Christmas morning alone with DH. My MIL pressures him starting in August about Christmas every year and even though we've worked out a rotation it's still always an argument.

I suggest nipping this in the bud now. Of course your FH will need to realize that you will be his wife and you will be your own family. Talk to him about starting your OWN traditions first. Then the family follows.

Does he get pressure from his family? Or is it all his idea to want to spend so much time with them?

New Jersey: We have dumps, bays and cement boots and we know how to use 'em


MsDenuninani Posts : 3,962 Registered: 3/16/07
Re: Too close to parents/family?
Posted: Dec 5, 2008 10:24 AM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

My husband is closer to his family than I am to mine. His family gets together once every month or so for what they call family meetings. They live about an hour away, so this is doable for me, so I plan on doing it, although I don't always do it -- namely if I have something else going on (brunch with my friends, a book club meeting, I have to work) I don't go, and the family understands, although I'm sure they are disappointed. My husband goes without me.

Any time the family gets together outside of this one weekend, I don't feel obligated to go, and, again, my husband will go without me.

Here's the thing -- regardless of what his family might think about me not showing up, the only person whose opinion matters to me is my husbands. He knows that I don't want to spend as much time with his family as he does. I'm sure he wishes this weren't true -- but we talked about it before we got married and I pretty much said this is how I am and it's likely not going to change.

So he backs me up. I know that he understands my needs and will always consider them, even when they conflict with his need to have his family close by all the time. We push and pull, but in the end we are able to compromise because we put eachother first.

Your issue, as I see it, is that you don't feel that you come first with your fiance. I don't think you have a big problem with the 1 vs. 100 visits so much as you need to feel that your needs come before his families', and will (from time to time) come before his own.

So here's the question that I would put to your FH: Let's say you get a job opportunity halfway around the country in 5 years and you want to take it. How would you guys handle that as a couple, given his need to be around his family? Would he be able to sacrifice this relationship? Or does he think you should not even ask him to?

My new favorite website:

"I'd hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, or insanity, but they've always worked for me." Hunter S. Thompson


We2Heart Posts : 452 Registered: 10/11/07
Re: Too close to parents/family?
Posted: Dec 5, 2008 3:10 PM Go to message in response to: MsDenuninani

DH and I are very close to our families, but in different ways. For me, I'm used to seeing my family and my extended family too all the time. There's always some family party or get together, especially in the summer. It's practically every other week. (We're all within an hour or so of each other) Anything that has cause for celebration, we celebrate. DH gets annoyed with the frequency of which we see them, so many times I go by myself. He doesn't have to go. But it doesn't mean I love him any less than my family. I just have the desire to be there for my family, to be there to watch my nieces and nephews grow up. And that includes my cousins kids, which we would also still consider nieces and nephews because I grew up with my cousins so they are like my brothers and sisters.

DH is close to his family too but his idea of being close to them is being able to talk to them on the phone. Which he does, regularly. I give him his space when he's on the phone with them and we take every opportunity to go visit his family when it comes. See what he is used to is his family being spread all over the place and not seeing them often. But honestly he probably talks to his family more than I talk to mine. I just see my family more often. Someone else mentioned not being able to imagine spending Christmas with "just the two of us"...We feel the same way. Whether or not we see his family or mine, it wouldn't be Christmas for us if we didn't spend it with family. And if we were to host the holiday, we would expect at least our parents to come.

Yes, your relationship with him should trump all of your other relationships...but depending on your background, what your idea of family is can vary. So maybe for him, (I know this is true for me) you are an addition to his family, not a new family. And he probably wants to keep all of his family close and to see all of his family often. I don't know if that makes sense, so if someone can explain it better please do.

together is a perfect place to be because it's there that you can be delightfully imperfect. and there's nothing closer to perfection than being loved just because you are. 


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