So help me out with my biggest in-law issues

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BirdLover Posts : 2,834 Registered: 3/30/06
So help me out with my biggest in-law issues
Posted: Jan 22, 2010 11:41 PM

My two biggest issues about my in-laws are: their " cheapness" and their emotional shallowness.

Hear me out before you think I'm a brat!

When I say " cheapness", I don't mean that it bothers me that they don't spoil my child or buy expensive presents . What I mean is that when we get together, they tend to cost us money in ways we can't afford as we are VERY tight on finances (ie they'll borrow the car and empty the gas tank and not refill it, except us to drive two hours to see them at a ______ show because they can't possibly visit us JUST to visit US, etc). We can't afford the extra money, and saying THAT is someone failing to make it into their brains . So...any ideas for a polite way of getting through to them? We really don't have money to spare, and they are loaded.

Second...when I say " emotional shallowness" I don't mean that they put a lot of importance on material things . Rather, they like to act like everything is logical and practical and that there is never any reason to be upset about anything. And I don't want to get into a long story about it, but sometimes in manifests in ways that are EXTREMELY upsetting to either me or DH. So...again, any ideas on how to politely deal with that? Or how I can work on not letting it bother me?

Sometimes I don't even want to see them or talk to them (but they live 6 hours away, so this isn't a day to day issue, thank goodness) but I try to buck up for my husband and daughter.

Oh, and one other thing: their house isn't remotely baby-proofed nor are they willing to babyproof it, yet they constantly want us to visit them and staying at their house is the only acceptable thing (in their yes). So advice on handling that one, without making it sound like we think that they don't care about our baby's safety, would also help!

I hope I worded all of that okay...it's late and I'm tired...


Lilypie 1st Birthday Ticker

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FrancieElaine Posts : 654 Registered: 6/26/09
Re: So help me out with my biggest in-law issues
Posted: Jan 23, 2010 10:35 AM Go to message in response to: BirdLover

Yes, thank heavens they live six hours away! Here's the thing. You and your DH are a family now. You have a small child. You have a life. There is no reason why you should feel obligated to visit. Holidays? Aren't you going to want to be at your own home to start your own traditions? Six hours is a long way for a baby to travel. And if you can't afford it, that is another reason not to make the long trip.

I can see visiting once or twice a year IF you want to and can afford it. You can't do anything to change the way they are. They were that way long before you came along and they are going to stay that way. The only behavior you can change is yours. And I think for them to expect you to do all the traveling is ridiculous.

I used to feel "pressured" to leave my home and travel long distances to see family. They NEVER came to see me. I finally decided to take control of my own life and make my life here. I do make it across two states to see them a couple of times a year. But the highway runs in both directions. It takes more than one person to make a relationship work. Does that make sense?

You are your DH are adults now, not his parents little children. It is up to your DH to tell them politely "we can't come" or even better "we are choosing to stay home". Of course, you know to stay out of it. It's up to him to handle his parents.

I would not share any of my personal business with them. In other words, you and your husband should keep issues about finances, problems with work, parenting issue, etc. to yourselfs. I would not tell them you can't afford to drive to see them. It isn't their business. You don't owe them an explanation. You have a family now and you are staying home. I am sure you and your DH work very hard and want to relax in your own surroundings during your time off.

This isn't being mean. It is just taking up for yourself. I know you can do it! The sooner the better. Good luck girlfriend.

Francie Elaine, The Bride Whisperer

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CatStandish Posts : 2,766 Registered: 6/20/08
Re: So help me out with my biggest in-law issues
Posted: Jan 23, 2010 10:56 AM Go to message in response to: BirdLover

Oh, Bird... a good way to nip that car borrowing thing in the bud.

When you know they are coming, start only putting small amounts of gas in the tank. Then when they come, there won't be much in the tank in the first place (that is if you guys can't say "No, use YOUR car." or "I'm sorry, we need the car."). So, when they ask to borrow it, you can say "Sure, but it's almost out of gas." They might borrow it and fill it up. They might borrow it, and put a little bit in it to do their thing. And they might decide that if they are going to have to buy gas anyway, they'll use their car or they'll skip it.

In any event, they won't be using a full tank of gas. If they use 1/4 tank or 1/8 tank of gas, it isn't as big of a deal as it is if they use a full tank. You're essentially limiting how much of their running around you're going to fund because they have demonstrated a serious lack of consideration for you.

Misty

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myra Posts : 5,550 Registered: 3/28/06
Re: So help me out with my biggest in-law issues
Posted: Jan 23, 2010 12:44 PM Go to message in response to: BirdLover

You are your DH are adults now, not his parents little children. It is up to your DH to tell them politely "we can't come" or even better "we are choosing to stay home". Of course, you know to stay out of it. It's up to him to handle his parents.

Right, right, right!! Could not be said better or more clearly. You and DH have to learn to say NO when someone is abusing/manipulating you.

Love Cat's solution about the car--that is, if you haven't got the cojones to say NO in the first place.
myra at www.classysassyweddings.com

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: So help me out with my biggest in-law issues
Posted: Jan 23, 2010 5:11 PM Go to message in response to: BirdLover

Dear BL,

You have to learn how to say "No".

No, you cannot borrow our car. Last time you were here, you took our car and returned it with no gas. If you need a car while you are here, you can rent a car and pay for your own gas.

No, we cannot visit you. Your house is not babyproofed, and we have to consider our child's safety. We will come when we can afford to pay for a hotel.

No, we cannot go to the halfway point because we cannot afford to do that. We may be able to go there at some point in the future, but at this moment we cannot afford it.

State things in a non-emotional, factual manner. This seems to be the way they look at things.

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BirdLover Posts : 2,834 Registered: 3/30/06
Re: So help me out with my biggest in-law issues
Posted: Jan 23, 2010 11:22 PM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

Cat - I love it! Great idea!

Others - generally, in life, I am not a doormat . Have never been (Ask my mother. She tells everyone that I've been standing up for myself since age 6). My struggle is knowing that the relationships between in-laws can be SO fragile (and I've learned a lot of that from on here), and also that often, when a man tells his parents "we have decided that..." they just assume he's being manipulated by his wife.

I don't want to cause crap between them, but I also want to be fair, not put our child at risk or run up debt just to appease them.

So...that's why I posted. To make sure I'm not being unfair, and to make sure that asserting myself won't be seen as rude.

I know that it's a better idea, of course, for my husband to deal with his parents. However, I feel that they know this, as they often corner me about stuff when he isn't around. So in that case, it's fine for me to speak up, right?
Lilypie 1st Birthday Ticker

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BirdLover Posts : 2,834 Registered: 3/30/06
Re: So help me out with my biggest in-law issues
Posted: Jan 23, 2010 11:37 PM Go to message in response to: BirdLover

P.S. I just realized that the title of this post sounds more dramatic than it is. I'm not exactly trapped in in-law hell. It's just the money thing is really stressful, seeing as we're trying to pay off a (not too large, not too small) balance of credit that has come up since I've been on maternity leave. And it's one of those situations where SOME people don't understand that we're trying to live within our means.
Lilypie 1st Birthday Ticker

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FrancieElaine Posts : 654 Registered: 6/26/09
Re: So help me out with my biggest in-law issues
Posted: Jan 24, 2010 8:42 AM Go to message in response to: BirdLover

You know, when I first read your post I thought, "That doesn't sound like Bird, she seems so assertive..."

Sweetie, I totally understand what you are saying, and you are right. The relationship with inlaws is sooooo delicate. My first husband and I built a beautiful home in our late 20's on a lake in a gated community. My inlaws lived two miles around the lake, and anytime my inlaws had guests, my FIL would just show up with them to give them a "tour" of our home. He would never call, often catching me in my pajamas! To make it worse, he would show them inside our closets, etc. It made my husband furious, but he nicely asked his parents to call before bringing guests over. Well, you are right.. for years they said it was ME that MADE my husband tell them to call first. I swear, I think that one incident caused great harm in our relationship. So you are right, you have to be careful.

Looking back though, I wouldn't have done anything different. I mean, sometimes you just have to stand up for yourself. And the fact is, we had to do it several times in different situations over the years. After a while, they learned the boundaries.

BTW, I think you are just adorable.

Francie Elaine, The Bride Whisperer

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BirdLover Posts : 2,834 Registered: 3/30/06
Re: So help me out with my biggest in-law issues
Posted: Jan 24, 2010 6:12 PM Go to message in response to: FrancieElaine

Aw, thanks Francie.

I'm just dreading it. One time, they made a HUGE deal about my husband and I wanting to go to our favourite restaurant for breakfast while visiting them. Apparently, it was " selfish" of us (even though we invited them to come along). My husband dealt with it, but later they cornered me when I was alone and I had NO idea what to do. So in the future, what would be a good thing to say? Something like "Husband has already talked to you about this."???
Lilypie 1st Birthday Ticker

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FrancieElaine Posts : 654 Registered: 6/26/09
Re: So help me out with my biggest in-law issues
Posted: Jan 24, 2010 7:16 PM Go to message in response to: BirdLover

Geeze.. they cornered you? That is terrible! I thought about this for a few minutes before I replied. I rarely have to think about my responses... heh heh.

I think I would just refuse to go there with them, period. I figure you are in a lose lose situation if you even attempt it. Thank heavens you live so far away and whatever you do stay six hours away!

Francie Elaine, The Bride Whisperer

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BirdLover Posts : 2,834 Registered: 3/30/06
Re: So help me out with my biggest in-law issues
Posted: Jan 24, 2010 7:51 PM Go to message in response to: FrancieElaine

Lol Francie. Yup, cornered me. Not his mom and dad, his mom and sister. Which made it worse because she and I generally get along well! And we all know that the more you like someone, the more difficult it is to stand up against them!

Lilypie 1st Birthday Ticker

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Mushaboo Posts : 2,165 Registered: 3/22/08
Re: So help me out with my biggest in-law issues
Posted: Jan 24, 2010 10:40 PM Go to message in response to: BirdLover

Birdie, as you know my life with MIL is hell most days so I'll pinkie promise to be nice about your ILs.

It's tough to have pressure on you, the DIL. My MIL knows I do not want to be around her so she did blame me for everything until DH told her exactly how he felt. He explained how she gives him anxiety, how he can't come over every time something breaks at her house, how his home life here with me is always going to be his #1 priority, how it's our decision not to have kids not 100% mine, how he won't lend her money because he knows she's blowing it on stupid stuff, how her crying wolf is just old, etc etc etc. It took him 4 years to 100% handle it, but he did it.

IF your DH isn't ready to be so blunt, I have two suggestions.
1. Whenever they ask you directly about anything (like the cornering you over your fave eatery), always deflect back to your DH. Be sure he knows this is a gameplan. My answer for everything DH's mom has issues with is this "Hmmm. I understand what you're saying. I really don't have any more details for you. I'm sure DH can give you more details if you'd like to ask him." Then move on to something else. "By the way, do you have plans tomorrow because I'd love for us all to have brunch at ABC Eatery. Isn't that one of your favorites? Then maybe the girls can go shoe shopping." You come out smelling like a rose every time!

2. You said that they way they act like no one should ever be upset about anything is something you can use to your advantage instead of letting it upset you. Play the same game! Make everything factual and no big deal. MIL corners you. "Blah blah, Birdie, WTF? Blah Blah." You respond, "MIL, XYZ serves great food. No biggie. (then deflect again) Maybe you and I can have brunch there tomorrow then shop for some baby safe locks afterwards. I want to show you how to protect your granddaughter and make this a safe place for her to visit." AOTB also used factual non emotional responses in her posts as well. I looooooooove Cat's suggestion.

wedding ticker

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BirdLover Posts : 2,834 Registered: 3/30/06
Re: So help me out with my biggest in-law issues
Posted: Jan 25, 2010 12:12 AM Go to message in response to: Mushaboo

Thanks. I forget, do you guys even see your MIL much?

I think it's going to take four years for DH to get it completely handled too! He's not terrible at standing up to them (was before, now is pretty good and it's NOT because of me! ha ha). I'd say his biggest problem is THINKING that something is handled when it really isn't handled. So that I can maybe help him with.

The emotion thing...it's just weird. Like, just one example (a really dumb one) DH was getting tea for everyone, and when he went to pour milk into the tea, she slapped his hand and said that he was " doing it wrong". He responded with something like " what the heck, mom? How do you pour milk ' wrong'?"

She cried.

If my husband and his sister get in a tiff, she cries.

It's like she can't handle anyone being anything less than thrilled with each other.

But, that is not my problem.

Lilypie 1st Birthday Ticker

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FrancieElaine Posts : 654 Registered: 6/26/09
Re: So help me out with my biggest in-law issues
Posted: Jan 25, 2010 11:08 AM Go to message in response to: BirdLover

YIKES! Your MIL sounds a tad emotionally unstable. I think you are on the right track to dealing with it though. It's not going to be easy (how well I know) but you can do it.

Francie Elaine, The Bride Whisperer

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NJ4Life Posts : 3,358 Registered: 8/10/07
Re: So help me out with my biggest in-law issues
Posted: Jan 25, 2010 11:41 AM Go to message in response to: BirdLover

Oh birdie, your ILs sound a lot like mine. We're always expected to do what they want us to do, no matter the cost. Once MIL and SIL were planning FIL's 65th bday and they sent out an email and didn't realize there were some SIL-MIL emails below. And MIL goes like this to SIL: "It's $150/pp, I doubt NJ & DH would spend money on that". RIGHT?! and I immediately call DH and say "did you see the bottom of the email?!" I flipped out. Sure maybe she didnt mean anything by it but how does that sound? It makes us sound cheap. And honestly, damn right we wouildnt spend that much, when we can't even afford to spend that on ourselves/each other. Well he called her on it...and she gotm ad and threw a fit and wanted to cancel the whole bday celebration. But DH felt it needed to be talked about and he did it. And I was so proud. 2-3 yrs ago he would have turned it around on me. So I guess my point is, it takes time...and after so many tries, i know it will FINALLY sink in.

And I know how it is to deal with an MIL who thinks everything is perfect all the time. She cries if she thinks DH and SIL don't see each other enough. If SIL invites us up and we can't make it, his mom gets mad at us. And it took DH a really long time to realize that just b/c you're siblings, it doesn't mean you need to be super close...especially when the 2 have nothing in common...so I hear you...

In one ear, out the other I say. Plus it makes for great stories for MY family and friends!! :)

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

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