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Tinka

So...I'm not family?

52 posts in this topic

This has been the first holiday season that DH and I have participated in after a couple years break. One of the points of contention before the break was the insistence of spending the holiday the exact.same.way DH and his siblings did when they were kids. It's virtually impossible to do, especially as the family grows with marriages and grandchildren. The logistics usually involve much travel for all of the sibling families, due to visiting their in laws and doing the rounds in DHs family that is required.

Anyway, DH and I were ready to try again this year. Things seemed to go well at first, we were included and asked our opinions sometimes, which I saw as a sign of hope. Then it all started going down hill about mid-December. Plans were not finalized, I actually wasn't given a time for any of the 3 events DH and I were planning on going to until the day of the event. We had to miss one due to this.

And in the midst of it, my SIL and I had an interesting conversation that I still can't figure out the logic of, which brings me here. She said since we married in to the family, we don't get opinions, we should do what the family wants. (she was meaning that -I- should do what her husband, my DHs brother, wants) This was in response to my statement that if the DHFOO wants certain things, they need to plan it, ask for it and make sure that everyone is comfortable with it. They can't just willy nilly decide everyone is going to do X, not plan and not notify and then magically expect it to happen. SIL seems to think that we could do all this last minute stuff, have great food prepared for "magic time" and still be in the DHFOO good graces, that basically we are their helper elves to make their holiday happen. And additionally, she and her husband have talked about me and this is what they think I can do for DH and his FOO. Irregardless that my DH actually wants none of it.

So my response was that either I'm family or not. If not, then I don't have to do a thing for any of them. If I am, my opinion actually does matter, my comfort matters, my time matters, my well-being matters, my holiday matters etc. So which is it?

I still didn't get a satisfactory answer and doubt I'll get one. Unless I'm missing something here, do people actually think this way of their in laws (no matter if it's MIL or DIL)? When someone gets married, is the new ILs seen as someone to carry out their chores and wants? Not a person, but a wallet or worker bee? I just can't wrap my mind around it.

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Tinker, as a MIL, I can't wrap my mind around it either. Often DIL will ask if I want her to bring something. I simply tell her that if there is a special dish that she associates with a certain holiday, to feel free to bring it. I usually tell her what menu items I am planning (she is a bit of a picky eater). I have made adjustments or added side dishes per her request...but I do so for DS, DD and SIL also. I feel that if we are a 'family' then each members wishes are important. I also ask what day or meal times work best for them. If both AC can't make it at the same time, I simply plan for two different days if it is important to me. DD likes to make desserts, I always plan one anyway just incase something comes up and she doesn't get around to making one. I also take request from the granddaughters...at Thanksgiving one wanted Turkey...DD had one thawed and I cooked it. The other GD asked for pumpkin pie...I made one even though she was the only one who ate any that day.

Different families do have different ways...they all aren't wrong...just different. Participate where your hubby and you wish to and decline the invitations where you aren't. What ever his FOO thinks really isn't your concern as a couple.

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Your SIL has a very interesting point of view; that's for sure! It sounds like she has mixed up "daughter in law" with "indentured servant"!

Good for you that you can't wrap your mind around it; just ignore and go on like you normally would.

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In my husband's family, the ones related by blood were considered the "in-laws." Those who married into the family were considered "out-laws"....

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I'm used to the notion that I'm second class in DHs family, I get it and just figure I'll do what I can. But the idea that I'm just there to serve another husbands needs? Wowzers, I wasn't prepared for that. And to be honest, it really did put a damper on my enthusiasm at re-joining DHs FOO for Christmas. It also makes me think what do they think of my kids? What are they in the family?

DH was really upset to hear it, but I get the feeling he doesn't quite understand what it's like to be the one who this attitude is being directed too. In my FOO, he IS family. That's it.

I guess it's just a slap in the face, again and one I wasn't prepared for. I went into my marriage accepting all and wanting to know everyone for who they are. Only to find out time and again that I'm only good if I do exactly what they want.

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Tinker, I was looking for the Thanksgiving thread which I could not find. If I am correct, you and MIL had a heart to heart on Thanksgiving and worked through some issues. My apologies if I have the wrong poster. I would take what SIL said with a grain of salt. Sometimes SILs are more difficult than MILs and sneakier. Sometimes they pretend to be your friend, your contemporary and then back stab. Why would you have to follow the traditions that BIL wants to follow? Makes no sense. Would there be a reason why SIL wants to do this?

Tinker, you are part of the family and your opinion does count. If you have traditions you like, want to keep, and pass down to your children of course you should be able to do that. What does Mr Tinker think? If I am correct about your Thanksgiving conversation with MIL than I would speak with her again about this. It's a perfect time as the holidays are over for quite some time. Even if you didn't speak I would still approach this. You have nothing to lose. It could just be SIL stirring the pot.

As for myself Tinker, I am not set in my ways and welcome ideas and traditions from everyone. I would never refuse to include another's holiday tradition. When families become blended so should ideas and traditions. Not everyone does things the same way and everyone should feel important. ODIL and I are two different religions and we have shared many different customs and truly enjoy it. If I think about it, my own MIL wanted to do things her way but I put my foot down after my parents passed away that she was not going to take over every holiday. The only thing I think I would refuse to do is serve bread on Passover!

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Elaine, my MIL has been great this year. I have no complaints about her, the only thing I hope is for the continued shared interest in respecting each other and a little bit more organization.

This is strictly from my SIL/BIL. I'm not sure what SILs motivations are, other than making her husband happy. And for some reason, I factor into that and I can't understand why. Why is what I do even on his radar? It really makes me uneasy. Mr. Tinker and I have had some suspicions about what goes on in their household that are less than pretty.

Mr. Tinker seems to think it's their sexist notion that women do certain things and that's it. End of story. They are telling me I'm wrong, immoral and other things that have to do with religion that I don't want this thread to get turned into.

It's just hard to be around a group of people like this.

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Is it possible that certain traditions that BIL really liked are no longer happening now that there are 'outside women' putting in their opinions?

Maybe it is simply that BIL doesn't want anything changed from his cherished childhood memories. Apparently his own wife has allowed him to tell her how things will be and he thinks either his brothers or his own wife should make sure that HE gets his way.

This doesn't mean that your MIL is onboard with him or even really knows he has this agenda and trying to press it onto the rest of the ladies n the family.

Have your DH handle this situation, after all, it is his FOO even if it is a mere SIL doing the campaigning.

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Organization and planning are so very hard for some people. It's really too bad you and mil don't organize the same way. I bet neither of you are changing. You may have to let that go. I see no reason in the world you should to follow some obscure thoughts of sil and bil. You only need to agree with your own dh. Let that go too, with never another thought.

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I have trouble with organization, and envy people who are well organized. If you and MIL got along well this year. Don't let what SIl & Bil's issues are get in the way of what you do. Misery loves company so maybe that is where sil was coming from don't fall in that trap.

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I really do not believe MIL had/has anything to do with this. I am trying to not let it interfere in our progress. I'm mostly just venting here because it was really stressful being around him and when I am around him, I'm around MIL too. I'm not sure if it's something I should talk to her about, I don't want to burden anyone. But, I also know that I'm cold as ice when he is around, I'm sure she is noticing but I hope she doesn't think it has to do with her.

I'll probably never know where his thoughts come from, but again for me, it's not a bell you can unring. Typing my thoughts out here, it has really become clear to me just how much I want to avoid him.

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I'm a little confused that your SiL and BiL are discussing what YOU can do to make THEIR holiday better? Did I read that correctly? If they are displeased it seems reasonable that They make those changes they deem necessary. Perhaps BiL needs to pitch in more with cooking to make that happy?

In any case--you and everyone else is right--you get a voice, or you can't reasonably be expected to participate. You're an adult, not a child, and so can't be "compelled" no matter what SiL says.

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My ODIL is so organized and grounded that I'm jealous! Tinker, I really think if BIL is giving you so much undo stress on the holidays you may be best off not having holidays that include SIL and BIL. Everything has its price, now that you are getting along with MIL I don't know what could happen but I guess you and Mr Tinker should discuss and decide.

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Yes, you got that right, Eowyn. The conversation we had was because DHs FOO has a very specific tradition that they refuse to alter or accomodate anyone else on, even though it is very expensive, time consuming and stressful. They must do it because it's tradition. There is no changing their minds about it. So, ok that's fine. What I found not ok was the lack of planning to do it and then people thinking that all of this would magically appear at a magical time because they forgot to plan it. We were just supposed to know and show up accordingly. So SIL and I were talking about it and I said my piece, that if they insist on doing this, they must take some of the burden of it. They cannot just magically expect it to happen, they do need to plan. This is their function, their wants and we are being good sports by giving it to them when it's not our ideal to begin with. If they do fail to plan, it is their own responsibility and cannot or should not blame anyone else.

That's when SIL went into her monologue about how we married in and it's our duty to do what the original FOO wants.

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I don't think I would automatically participate in something I wasn't comfortable with or that didn't work for me, even if I were a casual friend, let alone "family." Oh I'm very much a "when in Rome... "person. But if I'm not happy with how things are going in "Rome," I won't continue going there. It doesn't matter if I'm a blood relative, an IL or the neighbor from down the street.

As for SIL, I agree with PPs that she's pushing her own/BIL's agenda. Maybe "making points" with him, if that's what she feels she needs to do. I'm glad you're not blaming this on MIL. But I think Elaine is right - this might, unfortunately, impact on how much you see MIL around holidays, etc. You and DH need to talk this out and proceed with caution. Perhaps you can just avoid SIL at events in DH's FOO? Or listen politely, for a moment, when she begins her talk about IL duties and then change the subject? (Or just say, "We'll have to agree to disagree" and then change the subject, if possible?) Please avoid any convos with her or BIL about religion, etc. (I'm sure MIL knows why you suddenly get cold when BIL is around.) Again, proceed with caution...

Glad it helps to talk to us and hope you keep reaching out here...

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P.S. And don't voice your opinion to SIL, anymore, about what DH's FOO need to do. Clearly, she's not in your camp!

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Is this a cultural thing with them? :

"That's when SIL went into her monologue about how we married in and it's our duty to do what the original FOO wants."

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Is this a cultural thing with them? :

"That's when SIL went into her monologue about how we married in and it's our duty to do what the original FOO wants."

Not really a cultural concept that anyone would immediately recognize. It's pretty much based on what they want, when they want and how they want. So you can say it's part of their family culture, but it's not something that is based on outside forces.

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It's a deeply-ingrained family tradition? If so, you're not going to see them change, so it's up to you to do what you need to do for yourself....

Lots of families have the "women serve men" mentality, especially in past generations. It takes alot to get that to change, and they'd have to want to change.

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Tinker from a MIL POV. I had a really hard time planning Christmas this year. Just try giving 9 people "their Christmas".

The worst part was trying to get a day and time to fit everyones schedules . I worked Christmas. I work the weekend after Christmas. I was off the weekend before Christmas. Everyone else works jobs where they are off weekends and holidays. My mother is 87 and not well so I thought we should spend some part of Christmas with her;. 5 of the 9 of us live 10 minutes from my mother. The rest of us have to travel the same distance no matter where we had it. I asked my sister ifshe would be willing to host "Christmas" dinner the weekend before Christmas and then asked my youngest married son who is the one who would have to travel if he would be willing to change our "usual" Christmas and go to his aunts house instead. That was the easy part- every one agreed. But you wouldn't believe the number of phone calls I had to make to narrow down when on the weekend we would get together. The day changed from Sat to Sun to Sat to Sun and the dinner time from 3- 5 PM numerous times. It was getting annoying. You are trying to juggle 9 peoples preferences. And I was the go between for the host and my kids. (I tried to get my sister to talk to my children directly but she refused_

I didn't have to deal with the food this time but that can be a big issue in my family because we have a lot of picky eaters. So and so doesn't like spicy food, dairy, and everything has to have a ton of sugar. Person 2 hates everything so we just ignore him (my nephew- he's OK with it), person 3 doesn't like mushrooms or most vegetable and hates sweet things- you get the picture. What do you have to eat that everyone will like?

I was talking to people at work about this and they said- "This is why you plan Christmas when you want it, serve what you want and then tell them when it is and what is being served and they can come or not come."

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Stay away from SIL and BIL if possible. Let DH deal/talk with them. I think SIL is stirring the pot, she has realized that you are in MILs good graces and is trying to change that. Family gatherings at Christmas are hard. My attitude changed when my children were small. Before kids we did Christmas at home, then rushed to ILs, then rushed to my parents for gatherings. Once the kids got older we finally put our foot down and said no more on Christmas day. Kids deserved to stay home with new things just as we had when we were small. My parents changed to another day and all the family still gathers either the week before or the week after Christmas. My ILs wouldn't change and insisted on keeping the Christmas day tradition. Now, its sad to say no one gathers with ILs. The four grown up children now are grandparents and want to gather with their children.

Also, requesting/or forcing someone to participate in something that is costly is just wrong. Not everyone can afford costly events. For example: We always chip in together and get a big gift for my mom (my dad is dead) Last year I couldn't chip in and had made something for my mom instead. That was the most difficult conversation I believe I have ever had with my brother. But it was okay. Everyone else was able to chip in.

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I think that attitude is strange, but to be honest my DH's family (extended family, not PIL so much) do have it. I hear "It's a DHFamily thing" constantly, often about irritating behavior. There are certain things that are just expected, and I did stir the pot a bit when DH and I decided that some of them didn't work for us. Some people acted like I was bananas for not acting enough like a "OurLastName." They got over it, and now they know how it is. It sounds to me like your SIL is getting a lot of pressure from her husband to just fold right into his existing traditions and that she doesn't get a voice, so she doesn't want you to have one either. I'd just ignore her. I have an aunt-in-law like that, who hasn't seen her own FOO for a single holiday in *decades* because uncle-in-law doesn't want to. She gave me some flak at first for insisting that our families are equally important, but she gave up the attitude when she realized how it is really going to be.

I will say that for some families, letting go of or changing traditions seems really hard. I think that sometimes, too, the AC who never had to do any of the work to make those traditions happen (in many cases, often the men) don't realize that they aren't just magic. They don't want to do the grown-up work of planning the trip, or making the feast, or whatever, they just want it to happen as it did when they were children. The longer people let them think it doesn't take any effort the longer they will fight the change. They just don't really realize that Mom had to get up at 5 a.m. to make that feast, or that Grandma always started making those ornaments in October and now someone else has to take on the work, or whatever.

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"That's when SIL went into her monologue about how we married in and it's our duty to do what the original FOO wants."

I've gotten this PSA before, from a scattering of ILs. It was my MIL "asking" DH how we wanted to get together, then calling us after she conferred with SILs and saying, "Well, I talked to your sisters, and the 'consensus' among us was..." Which meant DH's wishes didn't matter for squat, and their lack of organization and communication indicated our time spent together was going to be chaotic, disorganized, and yet strangely, micromanaged.

It was my SIL2 explaining to me that I had to be "fair" and give my DH's family what he gives mine (ha! Which is essentially NOTHING, because my FOO's requests for our time, affection, favors are practically nil).

It was FIL telling me that all he wanted from me was to make his son happy and do what his FOO asked/told us to do. Which is when I stumped FIL by saying, "And what of my happiness? Is that unimportant?"

It's a bit like whack-a-mole, isn't it? That's what I found. DH's family would ping off of each other in weird ways. I thought I was getting along with one, and another would cause problems. The problems would be addressed (so I thought) and another would be offensive. Around and around and around. And nothing so petty or infrequent as to be easily ignored or gotten-over. When religion is used as an excuse to insult or bully, I find it impossible to ignore OR get over it.

What is incredible is that you and your DH have already demonstrated a willingness to boycott the whole family "tradition" in the past, yet your SIL and BIL are assuming that if you are present, you'll be "in it" up to the hilt just like old times.

Tinker, would your DH be willing to address this with his brother and his SIL? Ideally, he would communicate to them that their effort to manage HIS marriage (and deciding his wife's "duty" to them) is completely unacceptable, and did they notice that you both were willing to skip Christmas entirely for the past two years? What on earth made them think you both could be bullied this year and just take it? And why would they think that you both would subscribe to any holiday "traditions" that put spouses last? Do they really want you both to stay away completely, is a little flexibility, consideration and accommodation really such a bad thing compared to adhering rigidly to "tradition" and hurting family in the process? Because if it is, you'll have to stay away.

Your SIL... I imagine they're both pretty miserable and you make a convenient scapegoat. The more they demanded and chastised, the less I would do.

Seriously. I think they're giving you the greatest Christmas gift ever...the gift of no guilt whatsoever for doing less and less, the more they kvetch about it.

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Oscar, seriously, I wish we could throw our DHs FOO in a room and see who comes out a winner lol.

This SIL is DIL2 who spent a lot of time in the victim seat and got a reprieve when I joined the family. Now that MIL and I don't really have any beef, maybe she is looking to get the heat off of her. But I do imagine most of the heat is coming from her husband, I don't believe this is from MIL at all.

A lot of times this would just be a blip on my radar because it really is par for the course for DHs family members to try to tell someone how to feel and when to feel it and what to do about your non-existent feelings. But what stopped me in my tracks this time was the fact that religion was interjected pretty strongly to make SILs case. When she knows I don't believe what she does. And then we have the history of her husband trying to wrangle us into going to their church and that kind of stuff.

Skipped, I do like you co-workers suggestion and that's what I suggest any time they want something. It's what I do for myself and family, if I want to host an event that I set the date, I plan and execute the menu, I invite people with 3 weeks notice. Essentially, I go by the etiquette books irregardless if it's a holiday or not. One of DHs FOOs excuses is that it's a large family too, and thats when I say even more reason to plan in advance. See listen, I'm not a scrooge or impossible to reason with, but if tell me an event is the 22nd, I'll say ok and mark the calendar. Then I'll want to know time since one of the boys has a game On the morning of the 22nd I'll get texts that it is at 6 pm and don't forget to bring X, X and X. Um, thats when the boys game is and I didn't have plans to go to the grocery store to buy and prepare all this. And frankly, it is not my tradition, so I can't see carrying the burden of a tradition that others want but can't plan.

This is virtually how it goes every time. I figure if they really want it bad enough, they will start planning themselves.

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I love the extra-duplicitous "don't forget" angle-- as if you're supposed to remember something you weren't told in the first place.

Nuts to them!

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