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Switch to Forum Live View inlaws - is there a limit?
7 years ago  ::  Jun 17, 2008 - 6:11PM #1
SaraK
Posts: 9
There must be a limit because I have reached one!
This is so mild in the scope of things, but in the belief that sometimes it's the little things that can drive one over the edge...
My dh and I have a friendly if not deep relationship with his parents who live a day's drive away. Upon their retirement, his dad very much wanted to rehab a vacation home in the mountains - and chose one 90 minutes away from us. I am thrilled that they have found something they enjoy and it is actually a good investment for their later years. Since last summer, they have been here every 6 weeks or so, and the visits are stretching out longer and longer (they are now on week 3 of a 6 week visit.) Their habit is to call my h, tell him when they are coming, and he says "great." I have asked my h for specifics: tell me when they are coming, and for how long, and please give me at least three days notice, and to check with me to see if it's a good time to come. He has never followed through with any of these requests.
Since they are able to stay at the cabin about three days in a row, my h thinks our troubles are over now.
I disagree. 
My h knows this is a lot of extra work for me. He knows I am not particularly comfortable among his quiet, passive, patriarchal folks. They are good people, but I don't think no matter how long they stayed that I would be as comfortable with them as his brother or my sisters. He is sticking by his argument that we need to be hospitable and available to them out of respect, and that his dad has never talked so much to him as during this project. When they are here, it is an all night discussion of plans and remodeling. They don't offer to help with any of the stuff around the house (I have had to leave for three business trips in the last three months, and they never once offered to stay in town and help with supervising the kids, ages 8-15,  for example.
I'm tired and grumpy and out of "nice".
Besides the great help in letting me vent a little, anyone have some insight to either help me stay the course I'm bound to be on for another 6 months or so, or help my husband see the wisdom of drawing a loving line in the sand once in awhile?
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7 years ago  ::  Jun 17, 2008 - 7:23PM #2
Sailorlal79
Posts: 1,365
The problem here is really with your husband. He is not hearing your concerns or respecting your wishes. It is your house too! Can you sit down for a serious conversation and come up with a reasonable comprimise? For example, putting a more reasonable time limit on visits, and having him pitch in with the extra work. He can't have any good excuse for refusing to have this conversation with you.  Six week visits are absolutely ridiculous!
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7 years ago  ::  Jun 17, 2008 - 9:45PM #3
Hatman
Posts: 9,634
Sara-
I agree with Sailorlal; your husband needs to have better boundaries AND more respect for your wishes.

Perhaps the book "Boundaries," by Cloud and Townsend(do an Amazon-search) may be of some small help, especially in marshaling and supporting your arguments with your husband, who seems unable or unwilling to at least compromise with you---like at least a day and a half's notice would be a help, for example, although it won't address what seems to me to be the core issue: the extra work that no one seems disposed to help you with.

Maybe if you drew up a list of all the extra stuff that you have to do, and gently but firmly suggest that the next time they visit, HE is to either help you with the extra chores, or you're going to take a little 'mini-vacation' while HE shifts the entirety of the load himself.

Of course, if you return and there's a huge pile of mess he left for you to clean up, then trashbags may be in order.

I wish you well; coming between a son and his parents---or a daughter and HER parents---is never easy.

Warmest regards-

Hatman
"History records that the moneychangers have used every form of abuse, deceit, intrigue, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling money and it's issuance."
-- James Madison(1751-1836), Father of the Constitution for the USA, 4th US President
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7 years ago  ::  Jun 18, 2008 - 3:52AM #4
BethK
Posts: 286
I think your requests are entirely reasonable.  Respect should come to you first, then his parents and right now, he isn't respecting you.  6 weeks is a looong time for a visit.  It is his responsibility to set some limits with his parents.
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7 years ago  ::  Jun 18, 2008 - 10:09AM #5
KatherineOrthodixie
Posts: 3,689
[QUOTE=Hatman;569703]Maybe if you drew up a list of all the extra stuff that you have to do, and gently but firmly suggest that the next time they visit, HE is to either help you with the extra chores, or you're going to take a little 'mini-vacation' while HE shifts the entirety of the load himself.[/QUOTE]

If it's the extra work that really bothers you, then I would go one step further than hatman and tell your dh to choose from the list what extra chores he will be responsible for during your in-laws visits.
“The Law of the Church is to give oneself to what is given not to seek one’s own.” Fr. Alexander Schmemann
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7 years ago  ::  Jun 18, 2008 - 11:08AM #6
friendly
Posts: 14
After 9 years of in-laws that are nice and mean well, yet drive me up the blinking wall I can give you an idea of what has worked for me.  I stopped asking my husband to set boundaries and talk to his parents.  In my case it just wasn't going to happen because his family does not EVER talk out their problems.  So what I did was set my own personal boundaries.  I started small so as not to shock them too much but quite frankly a person can only take so much.  Here is how I view your situation.  If your in-laws were coming in once or twice a year, sure turn the house upside down to be hospitable.  But they're coming every few weeks?  That bumps them up to the next level of guest, the kind of guest that just needs to get used to your schedule and maybe a slightly messy house.  It isn't fair to expect you to change everything around every few weeks to accomodate them.  If it were me, I'd take the attitude of "This is what I have going on when they come in and I'll fit the in-laws in around that."  I will warn you, though, this may not go over well at first.  Your husband and in-laws have gotten used to the way things are and will probably resist change.  What's more your husband will probably act like this is all new to him.  Sure, you've talked to him about it but afterwards I'm guessing you went right back to doing the things that aggrevate you (speaking from experience here).   Your in-laws may have no idea how you feel.  Stand your ground.  I wouldn't make a list of chores for your husband (they'll never get done) and I'd stop trying to reason with him.  YOU decide what you are/aren't going to do and stick with it.  I'm not suggesting you be nasty, but definitly be firm about it.  Simply say "Sorry, I have to do XYZ right now, you'll have to do it, hon" and don't back down.  Eventually, your dh will either start pitching in automatically or he'll stop encouraging them to visit so often.

As an aside, I gave this advice to a friend about a year and a half ago (she has a MIL from h@ll) and it has worked for her.  The MIL is still extremely difficult but my friend has better piece of mind.  For one thing, she feels she has some control over the situation.  Also, her dh, once HE had to start dealing with his mother, stopped inviting her around.  Different situation but the idea is the same.
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7 years ago  ::  Jun 18, 2008 - 11:41AM #7
KatherineOrthodixie
Posts: 3,689
That is excellent advice, friendly! Fit your in-laws in around your schedule and the way you do things rather than vice versa, and let your husband take the responsibility.

I know that backing off and quitting trying to manage our relationship with my mother-in-law and taking primary responsibility for it (I'm polite and respectful but nothing more) was when things began to change.
“The Law of the Church is to give oneself to what is given not to seek one’s own.” Fr. Alexander Schmemann
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7 years ago  ::  Jun 18, 2008 - 2:08PM #8
SaraK
Posts: 9
I so appreciate all your responses. It is so good to be HEARD.
I know I mentioned the extra work, but with a family of 6 already, it isn't much to have two more in the house. I can't feed them cold cuts for six weeks, though the thought made me laugh out loud. It's more about having the freedom to be "us" in our own house. Sleeping in if we want, dancing around singing (they think dancing is right up there with lying and stealing) skipping church if we want to, and I barely remember date nights. I think the kids are definitely being shortchanged on time with us, and with their dad alone. If these were the kind of grandparents that take time to spend with each kid, they'd be immeasurably enriched by that. But...playing dominoes with all of us is about the extent of bonding.   
I think what I will do is ask my husband if I can talk to his parents frankly about this (and leave out my under the breath "because you won't or can't".) And I will schedule something out of the house once a week for myself to recharge - they don't have to know that's the reason. That's not easy as my MIL has no life outside her husband, but it's either that or ... feelings ignored are eventually expressed when you least want them to be!
I have very much tried to not change my schedule for them (I'd miss the whole summer if I did) but there are things I haven't signed the kids up for due to the uncertainty of who's home, when. 
I don't know why my husband can't honor his wife and kids as he does his parents, but he's got a long history with these folks that I am not going to change. So talking to them myself - that I can do! And going on with my life where I can - I can do that too.
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7 years ago  ::  Jun 18, 2008 - 2:38PM #9
IreneAdler
Posts: 2,849
You don’t say how old your kids are, but seems a shame you can’t plan their summer activities (and your schedule as well) due to the grandparents and all you must do to accommodate them.

RE: "If these were the kind of grandparents that take time to spend with each kid, they'd be immeasurably enriched by that. But...playing dominoes with all of us is about the extent of bonding."

What would happen if you started scheduling grandparents time when they are at your place? I mean, if all the interaction betw. grandparent and grandchild(ren) is a passing “hello”, then grandparents must get more involved in their lives (am surprised they are not).  Hey, your home is where you are actively raising kids-so activities there should include the kids and kid type endeavors- yes?  Dump the dominoes or have the grandparents teach this to the kids- and then they play together, freeing up your time. Or, find a game suitable for both grandparents and grand kids. Or, can they do some of the driving of the kids to various activities/appointments/shopping ? Can they take the grandkids out to local museums, ball games, picnics, fishing and other events? It might mean you have to procure tickets or pack snacks, but man, what I would give to spend an afternoon with my grandparents. This might also allow you to spend some one-on-one time with a child while the others are out doing something with grandparents. 

And, all this planned activity might scare them off so they decide to spend a minimum of time at your place.

Just a thought. 


Irene.
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7 years ago  ::  Jun 18, 2008 - 4:37PM #10
KatherineOrthodixie
Posts: 3,689
[QUOTE=IreneAdler;571132]And, all this planned activity might scare them off so they decide to spend a minimum of time at your place.

Just a thought. 


Irene.[/QUOTE]

A truly inspired idea, irene! Plan their visit for them, with all sorts of fun activities!!!
“The Law of the Church is to give oneself to what is given not to seek one’s own.” Fr. Alexander Schmemann
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