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Required to spend too much time with DHs family...

Started by NotChattyCathy, March 30, 2011, 07:41:27 am

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Hi everyone,

This is my first post, so thanks in advance for reading and any input you have!

So the general story is that between birthdays, celebrated holidays, family traditions, etc. there are on average 2 family gatherings a month on my DHs side and that does NOT include a weekend all together in the winter to go skiing and also an entire week together every summer. 

Unless we have an excuse that is acceptable TO THEM for missing any of these get-togethers, his parents get very angry and it becomes a problem.  Up until recently it was something that caused my husband and I a lot of arguments because he didn't mind spending so much time with them (his attitude was like "I love my family and I love my wife - I get the best of both worlds!") - whereas for me, as much as I do enjoy spending time with his family, I also love spending time with MY family, our friends, alone with each other, and at times alone by myself.  And now that we have 2 kids of our own, it's very important to us to spend a lot of time together as our own family unit.

My husband travels a lot more for work now too (sometimes over weekends) and our free time has become even more precious to us than it was before.  We have MUCH less time for ourselves or to spend with friends or relaxing, but the number of family obligations has only increased over time (like I said, they celebrate EVERY birthday so with every new grandchild, a new occasion to have a family party).  It bothers me that it becomes an issue if I don't want to have a family party with his family when it's MY birthday - what if I want to celebrate with MY family or with my friends or with just my husband and children???  Mother's Day also bothers me, we HAVE to have a party for his mom ON Mother's Day (which I'm required to help prepare food for every year), but what if I wanted to celebrate with my mom, or shock of shocks, enjoy Mother's Day with just my husband and children since I'M a mom now too??

Finally my husband and I are on the same page about this and he also sees the number of family obligations as extreme and also his parents' behavior as inappropriate if we don't attend one.  An additional problem to this is that his 2 sisters may well feel the same way, but they always go along with their parents and never speak up.  The last thing we want is for relationships to be damaged, but how do we reason with them if they just won't accept "logical reason"??


Welcome, NotChattyCathy. I'm glad your DH agrees with you - that's the first step. I'm not sure how to handle this since I'm a MIL with the opposite problem; my DIL and her FOO celebrate everything and we get whatever scraps of time might be left, if any. My DS finally stood up to his FIL and insisted we get every other Christmas, so at least we are assured a day EOY!

I know you'll get a lot of support from this site. There are other DILs who are dealing with similar situations. I really feel for you - you and your family unit need to build traditions and memories of your own, and you need to be able to spend time with your FOO.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


Oh, I'm preaching to the choir about this...when people are upset, it has a powerful effect on me.

If they are angry/sad/hurt that you need to take time  apart from them for your own family/personal/down time, that is their  problem. No matter what they do, don't  let it  affect you, or let it change your plans.

It's an  adjustment; it's going to be hard at first, but either  they'll  move past their pain, or you'll be less effected by their negative reaction.

Very simple concept, much harder to put in motion.


Wow.... I thought my IL's were bad with the 12 mandated get togethers a year. (those are extended family, plus 6 more for b-days) :-( You really have my sympathy. Before we got married, we went to every single one. For the most part, DH's family really isn't sooo bad, BUT they have made it ABUNDANTLY clear that they do not like me and I am not/will not be part of their family... Oh, when I have kids someday, those kids will be, but not me.

But I digress, now that we are married, we will not be going to all the get togethers. DH has always been the black sheep of his family so he is used to "the look" and "comments" that they give. They have chosen to ruin any hopes of a "good" relationship. We go only because we are "obligated" not because we want to. We didn't go the Thanksgiving (loooooooooooooong story) and got you-know-what for it. Mother's Day will be the first one the we will be missing since then. We will be spending it with my mom. I'm not looking forward to the "comments" but DH and I have each other's backs so we will get through.

If Your DH has come around to your side, as a couple (extremely important to show that united front), tell the IL's "Oh, we won't be able to make it because we have other plans." Period. End. Of. Story. Don't give them any more info than that. They do not need to know what your plans are or to "approve" your plans. Still go to SOME get togethers, but not all of them.

And IMHO, you should totally ditch MIL and you Mom on Mother's Day. Make it about you! Celebrate with them the day/week before or after. (((((((((((((((hugs))))))))))))))))

lancaster lady

Hi Cathy

Welcome aboard !
Are you saying that your DH now feels that the family gatherings are excessive ?
As they are always with his family , it's up to him to gently break the news to them .We would love to come but we have made arrangements to meet , or attend , or are doing something else .
Mother's day should be shared between each family , including you !
They can't expect every high day and holiday to be spent with them , let this year be your mom's , or yours !
they will have to get used to it , you have your own family's holidays to think of , if they get angry it's up to your DH
to explain .


Yep.. you've gotta be able to Just Say No ... tell everyone that oh sorry we've already made plans... Glad you don't have to beat dh over the head to make him see what is going on.. lots of luck.. oh and Welcome


Cathy - what counts as an acceptable reason to them?  For my IL's, DH just says that he has to work and they're FINE with it.  But that's because MIL is a workaholic and her work trumps everything, so she's okay with DH being just like her.

How old are your kids?  Because soon enough they will have swimming lessons, dance lessons, cub scouts and/or friends birthday parties taking up their weekends.

For me, I had to start tracking where/how we were spending our weekends.  My goal is to spend 65% of our weekends at home, with no guests.  I don't think that's asking too much.  Can you chart it and get the data?  My DH would really react well to NUMBERS, as in "See dear?  Last year, we spent 55% of our weekends with YOUR family, 15% you were away, 5% with my family, 10% with friends and only 15% of the time as a family.  What do you think of that?  What do you think would be a better balance?"

I would also start thinking of your free time, just as you would your spending money.  Although he's on board (for now), if he thinks about it as spending a precious resource, he might be able to stand up to them better.

I just re-read your post and I see what you're asking.  You can't change how they feel.  If you and DH are on the same page, and HE thinks it would work, show them the list of 'occasions' (not including Christmas / Thanksgiving ect) and ask them to pick 10 (remind them that a week's vacation with them counts as 2).  This way, you've given them some input (that they don't deserve), in hopes of smoothing the way.

As for me, I believe that you negotiate your relationships.  It's time for you to negotiate for more time as a little family.  If the IL's are stinky about it and try to guilt you into more, well, I also believe that whenever you re-open negotiations, you have to be prepared that you're may end up with LESS.

Good luck - I really hope that things go smoothly eventually, because I KNOW they will be rocky at first.


I think if DH and I started tracking, we'd just make a contest out of it and bicker over how to be 100% fair. Scoop, I'm amazed that works for you.


Quote from: holliberri on March 30, 2011, 08:54:39 am
I think if DH and I started tracking, we'd just make a contest out of it and bicker over how to be 100% fair. Scoop, I'm amazed that works for you.

Yeah, with my luck MIL would find it and calculate that we saw my family (or FIL, they are getting divorced) 50.00009% and Her only 50% lol


OH! Bad Numbers!!!! That doesn't add to 100%! Luise!!!! Fix it! Fix it! LOL I really am an accountant ROFL, but I deal with BIG numbers lol


There are 52 weekends a year.  How many of them do you want to give away?  12?  10?  6?  Decide that first, and then let your MIL decide which are the important dates for her, where she wants you to attend.

Families who grow up with everyone celebrating everything have never known anything else ... and to them it is normal ... but you don't have to go along.

Set your own boundaries and let everything else go.  If they get mad, reduce the number of occasions you attend.  If they stay mad, reduce again.

They are bullies.


Hi Cathy,
Since finding this forum and reading many of the posts here,(I'm new also)
It really amazes me how some MILs are behaving!
I find my mouth falling open when reading.
Your MIL as well as many others needs to wake up and see how blessed she is to have a DIL who cares how she feels. You sound very kind hearted!

Your post sounded as if y'all get along fairly well? If this is the case? And you've been in this family for a good while now? Why not invite them for a quite dinner just the 4 of you. And together you and your DH tell them how you feel. Tell her it really matters to you how she feels and to hurt her or your FIL is something you never want to do.
But remind her how much over the last few years life has changed for your family. And the many get togethers is proving to be to much right now for y'all as a family.

Unless you've already tried this? It may work or at least help?

If your IL's care for you like we do ours they will welcome the honesty. If they don't? Well at least y'all will know where you stand and think how or what the next step is.
And to be honest with you that much together time would bother me too! I love all of my grown chidlren and their mates! And I of course adore our Grandchildren!! But I wouldn't want them with us that much!  ;D Good Luck.


You are not their kids. They do not make your rules. You have your own family unit and home and it is your choice to design it as you see fit. They did! Sending love...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


I agree that you just have to stand your ground if you and DH don't feel like going to every single event.  Just say you can't.  That's a shame the parents are so unreasonable just because you might miss an event they host.  That's good your DH agrees with you or that would really be a strain on your marriage.  Hey, Mother's Day is YOUR day too and just as important as HIS mother's day and you are "required" to cook while his mom relaxes?!!  :o  Girl, I would put a stop to that.  ;)  Good luck.       


I forgot to add, on Mother's Day you could suggest that you ALL just meet for lunch somewhere so that ALL the moms don't have to prepare food and cook!  Then, the mother can't say you are trying to be mean or anything.  Hey, that's what my mom and I always did.  Who wants to cook on MOther's Day?!  We always went out and it was fun!  Take care.