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When Mom’s Dreams Don’t Match Everyone’s Budgets

Greetings, EHell.  Thank you for helping me learn to be a polite adult.  I write with yet another mother in law story.

Some background on the family: the four siblings are not close.  Two of them have been condescending about our career choices and corresponding salaries, so we’re content to be with people who accept us for who we are, not what we earn.  We make polite visits a couple of times each year and shake off the comments; the rest of the time we’re happy with the life we’ve chosen and made together.  It’s never fun to be around snobby people, so we limit our time with that part of the family.

Dear MIL often has visions of family harmony that don’t correspond to the rest of the family’s hopes or desires.  Thus she makes plans that the family can’t fulfill to her expectations. I don’t think she’s malicious in her intent, just epically clueless.  She has made insensitive statements about finances, forgetting that my husband and I have chosen service careers (ministry and education)  that keep our tastes (and vacations!) much simpler than hers.  Never has she spoken outright rudely, it’s more that she forgets that not everyone lives the same life she does.

Her latest request highlights this perfectly.  She and her husband will celebrate their 20 year anniversary in a couple of years.  They want the entire family to convene on a tropical island (four kids, spouses, ten grandkids).  She called everyone with this idea and asked that we start saving so we could afford to come. “It’s her dream”, she told us.  They offered to pay for the anniversary dinner, though, once we arrived at said island. (Gee, thanks?)   She skipped the step between dream and planning: asking the rest of the family their inclination.  Instead of this being a family discussion, two people decided what everyone would like and asked the rest to start saving.

Thanks to this site, I could see this several ways instead of simply being slack-jawed.  It reminds me of wedding invitations where the guests are asked pay for their meal, or where cash requests explicitly adorn party festivities.  If one plans an event in an expensive location, one must expect some to be unable attend due to the cost rather than requesting a major budget overhaul to make something happen.

I’ve never heard of this dynamic before, though I do come from a family with more modest vacation and anniversary traditions than MIL.  My family of origin brainstorms reunion locations together, and the places we choose honor various incomes and tastes.

We’re going to decline on budget reasons, and will go into more detail if pressed. It doesn’t feel right that I point out to my MIL that her request was tacky.  It’s unlikely that my friendly SIL will go with her family either (they want to save for Disney).

I’m always impressed with the level of clueless behaviour from this side of the family. This one caps it off for me, though! 0202-15

{ 96 comments… add one }
  • ketchup August 26, 2015, 6:11 am

    My parents in law are planning something similar, though less expensive or extravagant. We don’t live in the same country as they, and they’ve made it quite clear that all our expenses will be met by them.

    What your parents in law are doing is so rude. They’re trying to spend your money! If they want to celebrate stuff with you and invite you to their vacation, they can foot the bill.

    • Jewel August 26, 2015, 9:42 am

      Now THAT is the way to coordinate an anniversary trip with your adult children and their spouses! Your parents are a class act.

      On the other hand, I can’t decide if the OP’s mother-in-law is rude or clueless. I tend to think a little of both. If she thought a little more about her financial circumstances in comparison to the OP’s, she would have realized the annoyance and hurt her plan announcement caused. That she’s that wealthy and is only springing for dinner, after expecting all and sundry to expend serious money and time to travel so far on her behalf, is terribly rude.

      Think of how different this situation would be if MIL had said, “Our 20th wedding anniversary is in 2018. We would love to celebrate in Bora Bora and want you all to join us at the resort, OUR TREAT.” With that approach, there still could be some consternation over issues of getting off work, traveling with young children, getting passports, etc., but it’d be a different kettle of fish altogether than the scenario the OP is currently experiencing.

    • Shyla August 26, 2015, 12:38 pm

      My parents wanted a family vacation. They paid to rent a large house in driving distance. It was an expensive house but they paid. An island vacation is a big money committment.

    • Basketcase August 31, 2015, 8:10 pm

      My friends parents are doing similar – paying for flights for all the kids, their partners and the grandkids to a tropical island. I think the kids are paying for their own food and activities, but the flights, transfers and accommodation (which includes breakfast) are all covered. And this was decided 2 years out so they had heaps of time to save their spending money.
      A very cool way to do it.

  • Tracy P August 26, 2015, 7:17 am

    I think the OP is the one with a snobby attitude problem. She seems to look down on her in-laws because they have more money.

    And I don’t see how the MIL’s idea/request was tacky. She came up with a grand idea. And gave the OP and husband a couple years notice. Most likely the anniversary idea will change in a couple years. Or, the OP and husband can decide if they want to try to save enough to come or not.

    MIL is clueless, but not rude or tacky. It would be better if she would help pay for everyone to come to her island getaway if it’s that important to her that they be there.

    • Hollyhock August 26, 2015, 8:36 am

      I do think it’s tacky and entitled to expect anyone, let alone people in the midst of raising young families, to fork out thousands of dollars to celebrate one’s own milestones. Twenty years is hardly a breathtaking anniversary, for one thing, and it sounds as though the husband in question may not even be the father of MIL’s adult children (unless they were born out of wedlock and/or all are under 20 years old.)

      In my opinion, couples really aren’t owed anniversary celebrations and certainly not ones that cost others a very large chunk of their entertainment/vacation budget. If MIL wants a backyard BBQ with family, OK, but beyond that I would not go. Even if she paid everyone’s way, it’s still using up family vacation time and other resources for one’s own selfish purpose.

    • Leigh August 26, 2015, 9:47 am

      I disagree. Asking someone to save up for two years is a huge commitment for something they aren’t planning themselves. It also doesn’t take into account that for many with lower paid careers, saving for two years could all be for nothing if, say, a car blows an engine, or there are major repairs needed on a home, medical emergencies, etc.

      Telling other people how they should spend their money or time, or setting their priorities for them is rude. What the person is saying is, “I want you to commit to spend your time and money on something I want, and I didn’t ask for your opinion or input into the planning.” You may not see that as rude, but it is. It is placing your own values ahead of another person’s, family or not.

    • ally August 26, 2015, 10:10 am

      Did you miss the beginning of the post where the OP spent 2 paragraphs stating age doesn’t think MIL is rude, just clueless? Your admonishment makes no sense as OP wasn’t saying anyone was rude.

      Her idea isn’t tacky, and as long as she gracefully accepts that sone people won’t come, she won’t be rude. But I DO think it quite a bit presumptuous to spend my money for me, and plan to “spend” my vacation time for me. I agree with OP, it’s insensitive not to take someone’s level of finances into account, when in a close family situation like this where people know a little bit now than average.

      I would never dream of inviting an underemployed friend to go Dutch at an expensive NY steak restaurant. If I really want to have dinner with her, we discuss ideas to see what works.

    • GeenaG August 26, 2015, 10:21 am

      Its tacky because she is demanding they start saving *their* money so they can comply with her wishes for a specific type of vacation. You don’t get to spend other people’s money! I too would look down on anyone who told me how I should spend my money. It’s only a “grand idea” for a vacation if MIL is offering to foot the bill for everyone which is the only acceptable way to extend an invitation of this nature to others. She is the trifecta of rude, clueless and tacky.

    • Jessica August 26, 2015, 11:33 am

      How is telling someone how to spend their money or where to spend their time NOT rude or tacky? It wasnt an idea, the way OP told it they were told ‘THIS is what you will be doing’

    • Tracy P August 26, 2015, 11:56 am

      Easier to just put a reply here rather than go one at a time.

      “She called everyone with this idea and asked that we start saving so we could afford to come.”

      MIL called and asked that they start saving so they could join in. She never ordered them to. There was no command that this is how you will spend your money and vacation. She asked! Which means that they OP and family can then answer in the negative if they so choose.

      It sounds to me like the MIL is fully aware that they can’t just whip out a wad of cash and hop on a plane. Hence she made her request a few years in advance so that if the OP and family want to join, then they can save and come along.

      • Ulla August 27, 2015, 1:54 am

        Sometimes even asking something so out of the world is tacky, clueless and maybe rude too.

        The fact that MIL states/”asks” them to start to save for the trip is very much trying to dictate other peoples’ finances. In addition, she jumps right over the actually important question, do they want to go or not. That is only question and thing MIL should mention while inviting them (unless she wants to pay for them). How they manage their money, what they save for and so on, that’s all only for OP and her husband to know and decide. IN addition, my mind just boggles on the idea that someone would think it’s good idea to have a trip to honor them where the attending people would need to save several years to attend it. Many people save few years for their own wedding, which is far more important celebration than MIL’s anniversary.

        While we are in this topic… I’m planning a roadtrip with you. Why don’t you start saving for a car now? 😉

      • ally August 27, 2015, 9:14 am

        It doesn’t matter that they have a few years to save. Conservatively speaking, hotel and airfare for a family to something like this could be $5-10k! If the family was capable of saving that up, I’m sure they have better ideas for it.

        Just because she asked nicely doesn’t make the request not rude

      • psammead August 27, 2015, 6:40 pm

        It doesn’t sound as if MIL invited the LW, or said “I hope you can come–we’d love to have you!” As described by LW, it sounds a good deal more like “voluntelling” them that they’re needed and expected, and the heads-up to start saving ahead of time is so they have no excuse for not coming.

        It is not necessary to issue orders or make obvious demands to convey that you expect someone’s presence at your event, and that you’ll be hurt and disappointed (and the event ruined for everyone else) if they don’t appear.

        (I’m thinking now of old Mrs. Gibson in L. M. Montgomery’s “Anne of Windy Poplars,” who doesn’t expressly order or demand that her grown-up daughter forego the silver wedding celebration she’s been looking forward to for ages–she just “leaves it to her daughter’s conscience.” As Anne notes, Mrs. Gibson has been getting her way for decades by leaving things to people’s consciences! )

        • goddessoftheclassroom August 29, 2015, 2:34 pm

          I adore LM Montgomery!

    • Emmy August 29, 2015, 1:41 pm

      I have to disagree also. This big vacation is MIL’s dream and it certainly isn’t rude if the OP and her family don’t want to spend a huge amount of money on this (not to mention they may not wish to use limited vacation days on a trip like this). It doesn’t matter how much they make or how long they have to save it up for the trip. If this dream is so important to MIL, she will find a way to fund it. If she is unwilling to do that, she should graciously accept that her DIL will not want to scrimp, save, and sacrifice for 2 years for a vacation she does not wish to take in the first place.

  • Dublin August 26, 2015, 7:17 am

    Just a question, are you declining because you genuinely cannot afford this trip or because you are simply trying to prove a point?

    It sounds like you are being invited on a once in a life time adventure with your family and being given a couple of years to save for it. This is an invitation, not a request and you can say no. So its not really rude or even particularly unreasonable. They are giving you plenty of time to save and notice to plan it out. They are ageing grandparents and likely see a finite amount of time to do things like this and probably trying to get as much out of life as they can. And that include you and your children, be flattered, not slack jawed.

    • HelenB August 26, 2015, 10:13 am

      Alternatively, they could plan a simpler celebration and, if so desired, the OP and family could go visit them multiple times over the next few years rather than waiting for the big blowout a couple of years from now.

      Also, if this couple is celebrating a 20 year anniversary it’s possible that they’re still quite young (or remarried, of course). Grandmothers can be 40 years old as well as 80.

    • Goldie August 26, 2015, 11:14 am

      It doesn’t take too much of a stretch of imagination to picture a family that genuinely cannot afford a trip like that, and still won’t be able to in two years. It doesn’t matter that they were given two years to save. I trust that they have already planned their finances for two years and found they have higher priorities – a few possible ones are debts, house payments, kids, sick pets, medical bills, kids’ education savings, retirement savings, emergency savings in case one of them gets sick or loses their job. Which of those should OP stop spending money on in order to save up for her MIL’s tropical party?

      • ally August 27, 2015, 9:12 am

        This is such a good post. I love vacations, but they only come after everything on that list has alway been addressed.

      • siamesecat2965 August 27, 2015, 11:55 am

        POD. I know in my early years out of school and working, I lived paycheck to paycheck, while still living at home. I didn’t have a lot of bills, but I also didn’t make a lot. So really, no matter how badly I might want to do something, I simply didn’t have any extra money each month to save for something like this!

    • Dee August 26, 2015, 11:43 am

      It’s not OP’s once in a lifetime adventure, it’s her MIL’s. We don’t even know if OP and her family even like the vacation destination, or want to spend that much holiday time with family. If it is not unreasonable for the MIL to spend OP’s money on such an extravagance then it works both ways – OP can demand that MIL buy an expensive car to OP’s liking, whether or not MIL wants that car or even needs it. But that would be ridiculous and so is this situation. This is not about MIL seeing the kids and grandkids, it’s about grandiosity and money. OP is well advised to stay out of it.

      My husband was invited to an event that would have required much travel. He was eager to go and see everyone, but I asked him if he thought it was worthwhile to pay that kind of money and time, like a cover charge, simply to see these people. He declined and was criticized by others for it. But he has seen those people since, on his own time and in a way that made better sense, financially, and the original event is since forgotten in everyone’s mind. Spending money for the sake of spending money, which is what this MIL is doing, just using others’ money, is ultimately unsatisfying. OP needs to keep her own priorities in mind – that is, her family and finances and free time, and if there’s any leeway then to consider MIL’s demand and how unnecessary that demand is.

      • Cami August 26, 2015, 7:53 pm

        It’s not OP’s once in a lifetime adventure, it’s her MIL’s. ”

        Exactly. My MIL and FIL once “invited” us to go with them on a religious shrine pilgrimage in 2 years time. This trip was their lifetime dream. We had zero interest in the topic or in spending our very limited extra money on a trip in which we had no interest. And by “invited”, I mean, they used that word but the connotation was definitely, “You WILL do this or be subject to 2 years of guilt tripping, nagging, complaints, crying, and endless phone calls to other relatives describing your lack of familial loyalty and that Cami is an evil DIL determined to wreak havoc on the parental-child bond, etc etc etc. ” Unfortunately, for my ILs, neither of us respond to emotional blackmail. Nor do we respond well to people telling us how to spend our money.

        And yes, we did hear about our evil for 2 years. Or rather, they apparently carried on about it for the two years. About 2 months into it, my dh informed them we were not going to speak to them if they kept harassing us about it. They kept it up, my husband kept his word and stopped talking to them. In the end, NO ONE agreed to go on this trip with them and when they finally realized that it was their dream, but no one else’s, they faced reality.

        • Sonya December 2, 2015, 11:45 pm

          Well done on your and your husband’s part!

  • lakey August 26, 2015, 7:34 am

    This isn’t just cluelessness it’s self-centeredness. If she is telling you to spend a couple of years saving for this, then she knows you can’t afford it. Personally, I’m not a fan of destination weddings, but at least when people do them, they plan them knowing and accepting that a number of people will decline.
    A simple, “We won’t be able to do that,” is all the explanation you need to give.

  • Ergala August 26, 2015, 7:39 am

    My husband and I make a very modest living. My SIL and her husband have careers that pay incredibly more and my sister and her husband make a considerable more than us. The only reason I know this is because my brother in law loves to discuss politics and believes the middle class gets too many breaks. That is until I showed him that we pay more in taxes than he and my sister do. They are salaried, my husband is not. I only get paid when someone buys my work. I typically barter though, service for service. Not everyone can afford around here to have done what I do and I like to create memories and art.

    I digress. Often times we are called with vacation plans to some other location. We have two children ourselves and it just would be not only incredibly expensive but also would take a lot of maneuvering around schedules. Because of this we are just simply no longer invited. More reasonable options are never offered. My husband and I haven’t been on vacation or had a break in over 11 years. We just kind of take it in stride and deal with it. When we got phone calls asking if we want to go to XYZ destination and it will cost over $800 just for the hotel and gas to get there….we just respectfully decline. We don’t have credit cards and pay for everything on our debit card. It’s how we keep our debt down. I’m not going to break the bank to take a vacation. For people that do have credit cards or can afford to drop over $800 it doesn’t make sense to them. They think we’re being stingy or just don’t want to spend time with them. No we want to spend time with them! We just don’t want to miss a car and house payment to do so! We’ve tried planning get togethers at a more reasonable location for us for a cheaper cost and they always decline stating it doesn’t sound like fun. Okey dokey.

    If your MIL presses you and guilt trips you I’d just tell her the same thing I said here. You can’t sacrifice your credit rating and financial obligations to go to a tropical island for their anniversary.

    • AnaMaria August 27, 2015, 11:43 am

      On a smaller scale, when my dad was teaching, his colleagues would often make plans to go out for a drink after school (I was a student, so I was always sitting with him by his desk and bore witness to this) and my dad never went because 1) his religious convictions were against drinking or going to bars and 2) he’s pretty introverted, and after pouring all his energy into his students all day, he just didn’t have the energy to go out afterwards. Even so, the other teachers always extended an invitation and would add, “They have great appetizers/smoothies/desserts!” They never pressured him; they just let him know he was welcome and their were alternatives to drinking. Pressuring someone to come along (unless you know that person well enough to sense that they DO want to come but fear you’re only inviting them to be polite), or guilting them after they say no is rude. But, deciding to exclude someone based on a past record of “no’s” is also rude, especially if you’re not going to ever agree to something THEY would be interested in/able to do!

      • Ergala September 1, 2015, 8:05 am

        That has happened to me before….I wasn’t invited to a family member’s wedding when I was living on my own for the first time because they were told I wouldn’t be able to afford to go. It was in the next state over and the rest of my family went. It was a step-sibling too….it hurt. At least send me an invitation so I can decide for myself! I had no idea the wedding was close by because nobody said anything to me until the week of. I probably committed a faux pas but I asked why I wasn’t invited and I was told because they didn’t think I could afford to attend. This happened a lot when I moved out at 19. I was excluded from pretty much every single family excursion because family members didn’t think I could afford to go. Baseball games at Fenway, the beach in Maine…if I was an older sibling and the rest of my siblings were still at home I could understand, but I’m the youngest and the last to leave home. So the fact my older siblings were invited and I wasn’t just outright stunk. I cried a lot during my first year in my own place. Primarily because I felt pretty cut off from my family, it felt as though I was being punished for striking out on my own.

        That being said, my husband and I have now taken a stance of we don’t spend our money to spend time with people that can never seem to come this direction. Our money is for our family of 4 and that is how it will remain. We have stuff we need to pay off (car loan for starters) and we are buying a new house hopefully in the next 2 years. I’d rather own my own home than sip lemonade on a beach for a few days.

    • Sonya December 2, 2015, 11:49 pm

      Good for you! I find your perspective refreshing and inspiring.

  • knitwicca August 26, 2015, 7:53 am

    “That won’t work for us. I know you will have a wonderful anniversary with the rest of the family.”
    Then simply repeat as needed.
    Do not mention budgets or finance. It is none of their business.

    • siamesecat2965 August 26, 2015, 8:40 am

      I agree. And I also think that MIL really should have first discussed this with everyone, to try and see what would work well, so everyone could be included, as is her desire.

      I don’t like being told what to do, or how to spend my money or vacation time! I just last night got a message from a friend of one of my very good friends, about how the two of them are spending NYE overseas, and how she would LOVE to surprise my good friend, and invited people to come. Let’s call friend of a friend Mary, and my friend Carol. It’s my Carol’s birthday shortly before, and Mary thought, since Carol has had a rough year, losing her mom, among other things, that she’s like to have a surprise party for Carol, while on this trip.

      No pressure, and I politely declined due to not being able to take off then, and not having the $$ to take such a trip. I got back a nice note from Mary, saying too bad I can’t make it, but that’s it. Would I like to go? Sure, but I’m also planning a milestone birthday trip for me next year, so it just isn’t going to happen.

      That being said, I may give Mary some $$ and ask her to take Carol out for dinner while they’re there, since I can’t actually be there with them!

    • Lisa H. August 26, 2015, 11:25 am

      Could not have said this better. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

  • lkb August 26, 2015, 7:54 am

    It seems that “That won’t be possible” is the only response necessary in this case. The OPs finances are nobody’s business. Plus, making plans like that a couple of years in advance seems risky — who knows what can happen between now and then.

    I agree that the MIL is probably clueless. Best wishes to her and her husband though.

  • Charliesmum August 26, 2015, 7:55 am

    Just as an LOL – I got a little hung up on the 20th anniversary bit for a moment – I’m thinking ‘how could someone who’s only been married for 18 years have 4 kids and 10 grandkids?’ until I surmised that it’s a 2nd marriage. I’m slow of brain this morning.

    My mother has said that she would love it if our families could all go to a resort together one day, but every time she mentions it, she says that she and my father would pay for the resort, or the plane tickets, or something like that. Even though I and my sisters are perfectly able to pay for that sort of thing, should we desire, (and would probably insist should it ever actually come to fruition) my mom realises that it’s HER dream, so she is the one footing the bill, and dreams accordingly.

    Nothing wrong with your MIL’s ‘dream’ but the assumption that others would want to spend their hard-earned wages on a holiday that isn’t THEIR dream is a bit clueless, as you said.

    It’s one of those things I imagine you just sort of roll your eyes and giggle at, and move on with your life!

    • wren August 29, 2015, 9:03 am

      This reminds me of my mother’s dream that she and her children and their families all go on a cruise together. But there was no way it could be managed, for various reasons. Then she was diagnosed with cancer. She told us that she wanted us to use some of the money we inherited to take our families on a family cruise, everyone together. We agreed. Turned out that of the three kids, one went on a cruise a year or so later. The other two had other interests in spending their inheritances. But everyone joked that Mom was frustrated that we still had not done our family cruise, even though she provided the funds.

  • cattlekid August 26, 2015, 8:59 am

    Not only is MIL asking you to prioritize your financial resources to fit a “dream” of hers, she is also asking you to prioritize your time resources as well. My assumption is that this tropical island is not your home, so there will be a potentially significant time commitment. To me, that issue is just as important as the financial one. If this would be your only vacation for the year, it doesn’t sound like it would be a pleasant one, especially if MIL would assume that you would spend all your time as a family.

    I echo previous posters who have said to decline with “that won’t be possible” with no further explanation. If time, distance and finance permits, you could always offer to host a separate anniversary dinner for MIL and other available family members that would be less of a burden than a tropical vacation.

    • Sonya December 2, 2015, 11:53 pm

      Good point! I’m sure that there would be considerably more expenses that came up on the trip as well, all part of the “dream,” and I doubt that mother-in-law would suddenly start offering to pay for these things too. “Dream” activities, “dream” accomodations, “dream” meals…but the bill would be no “dream” 🙁

  • crebj August 26, 2015, 9:06 am

    OP, this was a request from your MIL, not a plan or a command performance, and way in advance. And it’s her anniversary; she’s allowed to state her inclination or dream for a celebration.

    It sounds like you really don’t want to be there, and that you have a chip on your shoulder re: your nobly chosen economic status.

    • Lacey August 26, 2015, 12:21 pm

      It sounds like you’ve never had family members disrespect you because you make less money than they do. It’s hurtful. I think it’s not so much that she thinks she’s “noble” as she’s asserting that she still contributes to society and has worth as a person despite not being as well-off as her in-laws.

      • Ergala August 27, 2015, 7:31 am

        Exactly Lacey. We deal with that all the time. We didn’t choose this situation but it’s the one we’re having to live and we’re doing the best we can. Fancy vacations and a fancy car aren’t at the top of our priority list….food on the table and heat in the house is. Because of that we are somehow beneath the more well to do family members.

    • clairedelune August 26, 2015, 6:51 pm

      It’s not an appropriate request, though, any more than it would be appropriate for her MIL to say “buy me a pony, it’s my dream!”

    • Sonya December 2, 2015, 11:58 pm

      MIL “asked that we start saving so we could afford to come.” It’s a very expensive request! A person who is sensitive of others would not make such a request of someone who might either not be able to afford it or not be interested without being very very clear that it’s okay for that person to say no. If a person doesn’t offer any kind of awareness of the free-will of the other person, it suggests that the person is very self-centered or at least not very empathetic.

      In general, I definitely agree that it’s good to ask for what you want, and to be okay with a ‘no’, but she didn’t ASK if the family wanted to come with her, she just talked about how much she wanted the trip and then told them to start saving. She just needed to add a few sentences (“I understand if you don’t want to do this” … “It’s up to you, just wanted to mention it in case you’re up for it”) etc., and then MIL would have been fine.

  • Vic August 26, 2015, 9:12 am

    The main problem I have with this is that MIL assumes that as long as you have time to save up for this trip, there’s no reason why you would decline. Personally, even if I did save enough money to take my family to an exotic location for vacation, I wouldn’t. There are so many other things I could do with that money that would benefit my family more, like a new car, improvements to my house, money for my child’s college fund, or just having more money in my savings account as a cushion against whatever life decides to throw my way. This trip wouldn’t be a relaxing vacation for me. It would be a stressful time that I would regret. I know this from experience since my ex used to commit us to extravagant vacations without consulting me and then I was left to figure out how to pay for any emergencies that came up during the rest of the year.

    I say that if the OP and spouse aren’t comfortable spending this much money regardless of the reason, they should decline and stay firm! No one has the right to tell you how to spend your money or how you should feel about it. As for this being MIL’s dream, dreams aren’t supposed to be at someone else’s expense. She has no right to make her dream into a hardship for you. If she wants to spend her 20th on a tropical island, she can do that. If she wants to spend her 20th surrounded by her entire family, she can do that. But, she can’t do both.

    But, the OP should let her spouse be the one to deliver the news. I would explain my reasons one time and then say that I’m not going to discuss this or listen to any more arguments about it, and I would stick to it.

    • Ernie August 26, 2015, 1:40 pm

      Yes, everything you said here is what I was thinking.

      My own mom, about a year ago, told my Fiance and I that we should save up for a trip to Hawaii with her, my dad, and all of my sister’s very, um, active kids. The phrase “why would I want to do that?” came to mind, but I didn’t say it. What I did say was “no, thank you”. She then went into, “well, if you save this much a month…”, and I had to shut her down with “Mom, money isn’t the problem. I just really don’t want to do that. ”

      The truth is (and I’m thankful for this) that I could actually pay for a trip like that next week if I wanted to. BUT, I don’t want to. Budget isn’t the issue. Time is an issue, not wanting to take a vacation to an island with my nieces and nephews is an issue, and the concerns of my partner are an issue. What I really wanted to do was look her in the eyes and ask: Would you have wanted to go on vacation with your inlaws and nieces and nephews when you were a young professional?

  • Anna August 26, 2015, 9:26 am

    We are running into something similar to this situation. My parents will be celebrating 50 years in about 2 years. My mother has a vision of her, my father, the 3 kids, their spouses, and the 3 grandkids all taking a week long cruise together. The problem being she would expect the cruise for her and my father to be paid for by her kids, but only 2 of us are in a position to do this. We would be lucky if my brother and his wife could pay for themselves, much less my nephew. So in order for this to happen my sister and I would each have to pay for our own family of three and then split the cost of my parents and nephew to get everyone on the boat. Add that to the fact that my father, brother, and BIL are all people who are a pain to vacation with and somehow DH and I are not interested. So my sister and I have told my mother it isn’t happening, though we will do a local dinner cruise and invite family and friends to join us for a night of dinner and dancing to celebrate. My mother is disappointed, but she will learn to live with our destination, and we may do a girls trip with my mom, sister, SIL, niece, daughter and I in the next few years.

    • kingsrings August 26, 2015, 12:12 pm

      To expect others to pay for your expenses is the height of tackiness.

    • Cat August 26, 2015, 2:10 pm

      Or the kids could chip in to send mom and dad on the cruise (Second Honeymoon sans kids) and then have a family party when they return.

      • NostalgicGal August 28, 2015, 8:34 pm

        Or just have a family party when they return. They want the cruise they can pay for it. The rest of the family can have a party when they get back.

      • wren August 29, 2015, 9:06 am

        This is a very sensible suggestion. Good alternative.

  • ThatGirl August 26, 2015, 9:33 am

    I am lucky – my in-laws are well-off but not epically clueless. My FIL is turning 60 next year and they want to celebrate — so they are paying for the entire weeklong cruise for their three sons, a wife and a girlfriend. We have to spring for our own plane tickets to Orlando, and everything else is covered. We make comfortable enough livings but a weeklong Disney cruise would be quite expensive and since it was their idea, and they can afford it, they are happy to help us afford it.

  • Cat August 26, 2015, 9:48 am

    When someone else has a dream than includes spending my savings, I have to ask myself if I share this dream to the extent of investing my money in it.
    This is a first cousin to a destination wedding. If the bride and groom feel that it was what they want, I shall be happy to attend if it is a place I have always wanted to visit and if I have the funds available. If the answer to either of those things is no, then I shall send my regrets and a nice gift that I can afford.
    There is no need to make an issue of it. Once you are officially invited, simply send your regrets that you will be not attending and send an affordable gift to the happy couple.

  • NostalgicGal August 26, 2015, 10:00 am

    First, nobody gets to spend my money for me. I have lots of that to report in my family, a few that think they can spend everyone else’s money, or make/made vastly grand plans and totally expected and demanded others pay for it NOW.

    That said, the resort thing sounds wonderful but it also sounds like it’s massively out of reach and even with two to five years run-in; there may be other things that come up that are more important or otherwise crop up, and it just won’t be financially possible. Unless the planner foots the entire bill it may never be possible, and even if it was managed it might financially cripple you for years, and/or what if someone gets sick during it? (I’ve had my plans torpedoed many times, this is experience)

    I see nothing wrong with the OP declining and declining early. Maybe if half (since there’s four siblings) decline early, the planner will get the hint. Offer an alternative that would be possible. If that is refused, then go on your way.

    I admit I have champagne tastes and a koolaid budget most of the time. I at least live with it. The MIL sounds like she has a good heart, but maybe the reality check bounced. Love her anyways, decline early, offer an alternative that would be affordable, and continue onwards.

    • Ernie August 26, 2015, 1:46 pm

      “The reality check bounced”…hahaha, I like that, thank you.

    • Daphne August 26, 2015, 1:57 pm

      “the reality check bounced” : Brilliant! 🙂

      • NostalgicGal August 28, 2015, 8:42 pm

        I got that from a book a friend wrote ‘Love is in the Earth – Reality Checque’ and she more talks about life in that one and talks about what happens when yours or another’s reality check ‘bounces’, several little life stories. The cover art is a cartoon depicting her sliding down a slide that is made from a check.

  • stacey August 26, 2015, 10:06 am

    I’m kind of torn on this one. I can see wanting the family to do something “fabulous” together. The only way it would make sense is for MIL to cushion the financial impact to the extent that she can. So “FIL and I would love to have this trip with each of you! We are saving like mad and plan to pay airfare and ($$specific amount$$) per person towards the overall cost.”. That would still be a bit controlling, but it would allow you to consider whether you could, in fact “meet them in the middle”. Sorry you are caught in this situation- it must be frustrating to be told (through repeated instances of poor planning) that your lifestyle doesn’t “count” since its income is insufficient to meet the standards of your in-laws…

  • Suzanne August 26, 2015, 10:07 am

    My family gets together every other summer for a reunion. I have 5 siblings, all of whom are married with children. Some have more money than we do, some less. The location is always within driving distance for all of them (they all live in the western US), and we have to fly. We live in Europe.

    So, their $1000 family reunion trip is our $10,000 family reunion trip. Yes, we’re a bit bitter that none of them will come see us (too expensive!), but we don’t want to deny our children a chance to know their cousins and grandparents, and we enjoy my family’s company as well. We always have a great time.

    It’s two years between each reunion, so we budget for it. It’s still painful to buy the plane tickets, but it’s not rude to be invited.

    • Gabriele August 26, 2015, 11:00 pm

      I wouldn’t usually post a suggestion about a possible choice of airlines but I do know travellers can save using it.
      It is a non-scheduled airline—they handle charter flights, mainly for tour groups (they’re owned, I by a major tour/travel company, Thomas Cook). They sell blocks of tickets but there are often unsold seats which are then offered at much lower prices. The amenities aren’t great but the savings are.
      I used a company in 2003 from LAX to Paris…regular scheduled flights started at close to $1000…I got a round trip, all inclusive for $299. It made the rest of the trip affordable.
      The company I know about know is Condor. Most of their European flights start in Frankfurt but they can arrange flights from other cities…but fliers can find better deals themselves…
      Because I used to go to France every year I looked for the best deals and now I contribute to a travel forum. I’m not saying the previous poster should take this airline but I just like to let people know they have options…
      I like to say ‘you might want to consider’ or ‘may I suggest’ rather than telling someone ‘you should’…and if this doesn’t fit in with Etiquette Hell’s guidelines, I apologize.

  • Devin August 26, 2015, 10:10 am

    I’m thinking its more clueless than rude. She understands that some of the family is on a budget and she thinks that a few years of savings will be plenty of time for everyone. That was considerate of her, but clueless. As you stated the other family is saving for a vacation of their choosing, and you are probably saving for something yourself. If you are close with your MIL then a simple “We wish we could plan for this, but you know we are saving for…(going back to school, mortgage, children, etc.).” When the time gets closer it would be nice for you to arrange a small celebration in their honor, maybe get together with the other family on a budget to keep it an affordable affair. If you are not exceptionally close (someone else mentioned this is probably not the biological parent since there are 4 grown children and only their 20 year anniversary) then the stock “I’m sorry that wont be possible” should suffice.

  • Anonymous August 26, 2015, 10:12 am

    Has anyone else objected? Already, you say that SIL doesn’t want to go on your mother’s dream trip, because she wants to take her kids to Disney instead. If SIL or someone else declines first, or better yet, if a lot of people do, you’re in the clear, because the plan (tropical vacation with the extended family) would be no more. If you have to be the first to say no, think of it as doing everyone else a favour. They don’t want to go either, for various reasons, and they’d probably be happy if you spoke up first.

  • kingsrings August 26, 2015, 10:47 am

    I realize that it’s nobody’s business that someone can’t afford to go to an event or destination, but in this case I would worry that the family took it personally as a knock against them. I think just stating that they can’t go because of finances and leave it at that would reassure them that it’s nothing personal without pouring out their private financial life to the family members.

  • Harley Granny August 26, 2015, 10:51 am

    I’m thinking that since she’s given a two years notice that it’s not rude of self-centered. She’s celebrating a milestone and wants her children there.

    Rude and self centered would be a 6 month notice and a demand for their presence.

    When my family gets together it takes at LEAST a year in advance to plan.

  • Goldie August 26, 2015, 11:09 am

    What the what?! My 2 cents as a parent of more or less grown kids…

    1) If I want my kids to come visit, and know that they do not have the means, I offer to cover their airfare.
    2) If my dream is a family gathering on a tropical island, then it’s on me to make my dream happen. If I cannot fly the whole family to the island, then maybe I need to scale my dream down to, say, a family gathering in my town and then a tropical vacation for two with my husband of 20 years some time later.
    3) Not in my wildest dreams would I tell my family members to “start saving for” a party I’m throwing for them. That is way over the line.

    “That won’t be possible” is indeed the only answer.

  • acr August 26, 2015, 11:57 am

    I think your spouse needs to address this, since it’s his/her mom. “Mom, do you realize that we’d need to save $x amount to afford plane tickets and accommodations for our family?” Give her the proverbial slap in the face with the cold fish.

    Reminds me a bit of my grandmother – she moved away, and we’d make a grueling 2 day drive every summer to see her – where she’d throw this lavish party with 200+ guests so her friends could see her grand babies. How about paying airfare for those grandbabies and saving their parents 4 days on the road?

  • Jocelyn August 26, 2015, 12:08 pm

    Something similar happened in my family. One of the cousins proposed that we have the family reunion at Mouseland, instead of gathering at a hotel. He kept explaining how there was so much more to do, until another cousin said, ‘We could do that…or we could do a hotel reunion AND recarpet the house. Frankly, I’d rather have new carpet than go to Mouseland.’

    It sounds like in this family, there’s a similar divide. Cousin was truly stunned to realize that the rest of us were having to make choices like Mouseland or carpet. It was as if he couldn’t comprehend that there were people between ‘desperately poor’ and ‘plenty of money’, and since we weren’t desperately poor, we must all have finances similiar to his family…even though he had a job that is well-known for making people millionaires, and the rest of us are schoolteachers and nurses and run small businesses.

    • EchoGirl August 26, 2015, 2:25 pm

      Exactly this. Actually, this sounds a lot like my family — my mother is the least well-off of her family (we’re still comfortably middle-class, but her brothers, especially the older one, very clearly have a lot more than we do). Her father and brothers seem to get the difference in income, even if they don’t understand the reasons behind it (my mother chooses to make about a third of what she could probably make with her degree because she wants to help people more than she wants to be rich) but the younger members of the family have taken awhile to wrap their heads around the idea that we can’t afford some of the luxuries (expensive vacations, huge houses, designer clothes) that they take for granted.

  • Tex Carol August 26, 2015, 12:41 pm

    Don’t feel you have to apologize for your lifestyle choices. Many of us have opted to work as much for joy as for money! Just tell MIL you and your family won’t be able to attend and leave it at that. I was invited to a relative’s destination wedding a few years ago and could not afford to go. It was all OK, only I did find that afterward I really got tired of hearing the stories about how much fun everyone had had when we got together for more casual family parties that happened after the big event! But that was MY problem!

  • WillyNilly August 26, 2015, 12:49 pm

    My MIL loves the sun, and the beach. Her idea of a great vacation is sitting and reading while sunbathing. My husband and I love the woods or cities, and our idea of a great vacation is hiking or walking around exploring neighborhoods. She and her husband are very, very picky eaters. My husband and I enjoy trying new and exotic cuisines.
    My MIL has some crazy ideas that we will vacation with her and her husband. Honestly even if she was offering to host – which she is not – we aren’t interested. Even for free we simply do not want to spend our time doing the things they want to do. We certainly don’t want to pay for it.
    It’s rude and presumptuous to tell someone to start saving for an extravagant trip they have not expressed an interest in going on. OP, if this trip is not your idea of fun (due to costs, location, timing or any combination) say “no” with confidence.

  • Ashley August 26, 2015, 12:50 pm

    I’m inclined to agree that this is just cluelessness, not rudeness. It would turn into rudeness if when you said no she threw some kind of hissy fit and started DEMANDING you go.

    I’ve been in a somewhat similar situation with my father, and while ultimately he realizes we’re not going, he does try to argue with me about it first.

    You see, my parents have discovered they enjoy going on cruises. My husband and I meanwhile have literally NO desire to go on a cruise. It doesn’t include the activities we enjoy, my husband turns green even THINKING of a boat, and neither of us are particularly fond of any of the tropical destinations my parents want to visit (we’re more into mountains and forests and castles). We’ve done the math, and even with taking the cheapest cabin on the boats my parents want to go on, and the cheapest flights (We are NOT within a comfortable driving distance of any of the ports these ships leave from), we’d wind up paying double what our usual vacation costs us. We’d have to give up two vacations we know we will enjoy to pay for one vacation we won’t like.

    When we attempt to explain this to my parents, my mother gets it. Yes she’s bummed because she wants to spend time with us, but she’s the one who throws the offer out there, then lets us decide. My dad meanwhile will try to say “Well you get this and this on a cruise, do you get that on your vacation?” and we respond that either yes we get it (If it’s some hotel feature) or no we don’t but it’s not something we wanted anyway.

    The next cruise they want to take is several years away and I’m not looking forward to that conversation. My dad is amazing in literally every other way except this. It’s frustrating.

    • NostalgicGal August 26, 2015, 4:24 pm

      I would level with there isn’t enough Dramamine and anesthesia on earth to get one of you within viewing distance of the boat. So the idea of a cruise is out. Always out.

      Counter suggest about maybe coming to a stateside port city to stay and be with them for a few days before or after their cruise and spend time with them then. Either before or after that, while they are on the cruise part of THEIR vacation, you go on your part of the vacation to do the stuff you want to.

  • Miss-E August 26, 2015, 12:53 pm

    If this was a regular vacation I’d be inclined to agree with the OP but since it is their anniversary I think they have to right to pick a destination and ask people to join them. They can’t force you and shouldn’t get upset when you refuse but this is a celebration of THEM and they have the right to go wherever they want.

    She also seems to be coming down a bit hard on her MIL for trying to organize family events. It’s not a crime for a mother to want her children around her, even if they don’t get along.

    • Mary August 27, 2015, 6:21 am

      But I think she could pick a more economic destination due to the fact that she and her husband aren’t picking up the tab. If the in-laws are willing to pay for the trip, then MIL can pick as exotic as she wants!

  • Daphne August 26, 2015, 2:07 pm

    I think anytime you give someone a way out on something like it’s not rude at all! My in-laws are well off and assume just because they are paying for it everyone HAS to come–no excuses. We are very busy and travel for work so the last thing we want to do with time off is lug a ton of luggage and ourselves through airports and hotel rooms. I just feel like saying to her “our time is not for sale!”
    If I were you I would consider myself lucky that they are giving me a gracious way to turn this trip down. Trust me, it could be worse. 😉

  • Margaret August 26, 2015, 5:04 pm

    I suppose I am a party pooper. I think a wedding anniversary is something that the couple celebrates. I don’t think any couple is even owed a Happy Anniversary card. It’s the couple’s marriage, let them organize AND PAY FOR any celebration that they wish to have.

    I don’t think the kids owe them their savings. They have their own wedding anniversaries to celebrate.

  • JO August 26, 2015, 5:23 pm

    Few things irritate me as much as others assuming that they know anything about my personal financial situation, so I completely see where OP is coming from. I’ve had people propose expensive trips to me, and when I decline for financial reasons, the response is usually something like “but it’s such a good deal!” or “its worth it!” I don’t care how good a deal it is, if I don’t and won’t have the money, I just can’t do it! And frankly, even if the OP had gobs of money, it’s tacky of the MIL to try to dictate how she spends it.

  • Aria August 26, 2015, 7:33 pm

    Wow. I have a dream too… I want to take all my family, like 9 people, to Disneyland. I’m saving up 50 dollars a month and given that the newest child isn’t born yet and I don’t want to go until she’s at least 6, this will be quite a lot of money. I might be able to pay the airfare for everyone and we can rent a house.

    If Grandma wants this to happen, maybe she should save for it too.

  • FunkyMunky August 27, 2015, 1:09 am

    I can’t imagine any reason where it would be logical to ask people to save money for two years to attend an anniversary party. Anniversaries are minor events for anyone but the couple, and if I saved for two years for a trip, I would expect to have a significant say in what style of trip I took. Your money, her decision making? No way.

  • Semperviren August 27, 2015, 1:53 am

    Something about the notion that giving two years’ notice “so you can save up” is gracious and generous, bothers me. Does the MIL grasp what it means to ask someone to commit two years’ hard-won savings (!!!) -to HER dream vacation?

  • NicoleK August 27, 2015, 2:53 am

    In my family this happens a lot, both sides. We will be summoned to some lovely spot or other. Sometimes we go, sometimes we say no, sometimes the parents chip in.

    The hardest time to say no is when the parents have offered to pay for part of it, but we still can’t afford it or just don’t want to go, because they think we are hitting them up for more money, or are offended.

    What can you do. Beats the alternative of them NOT wanting to see you!

  • Elisabeth August 27, 2015, 8:47 am

    I am sorry, but I fail to see how MIL is being rude. She has made a request for a special occasion to be celebrated in a certain way – not just a random weekend or “oh, let’s go to Hawaii just because!”. She has allowed you a long time to save some money for the trip, instead of just springing it on you a couple of months in advance. She has offered to pay for your dinner once you get there. And you yourself said she is not directly rude about her finances versus yours. It seems to me like you’re getting a bit snooty because you believe your husband and you have chosen lifestyles that are better than your relatives’ and do not like anyone thinking otherwise. At least put some effort into saving some extra money to go on this trip that means a lot to MIL. Even if you can’t go, don’t look down on her as rude just because she wants her family to have a luxurious time.

  • DGS August 27, 2015, 8:52 am

    Your financial situation is none of your MIL’s business, any more than her or your other in-laws’ financial situations are any of yours. Simply state, “this will not be possible”.

  • Lerah99 August 27, 2015, 9:27 am

    This sort of request seems to be an extension of the:
    “Everyone meet me at this restaurant to celebrate my birthday!” where the birthday person expects everyone to pay for their own meal.

    While it’s not ok from an etiquette standpoint, it is becoming more and more commonplace.

    Now instead of just paying your own way at the birthday dinner, people are finding all sorts of events to help you spend your hard earned money.

    I have a very dear and close friend from high school. I’ll call her Jennifer.
    Jennifer wants us all (7 friends from high school, plus various significant others, plus both of her brothers and their wives) to go to Ireland for a week and France for a week to celebrate her 30th birthday next year. She’s already found the houses she wants to rent each week. She already has the whole itinerary planned.

    Jennifer keeps sending messages on Facebook along the lines of:
    “Hey, I need at least 15 people to commit to next year’s grand birthday trip! With 15 of us splitting costs, it should be right around $3K – $4K each for the two weeks. But if we don’t have enough people, the costs are going to be a LOT higher for the people who do go. Remember, no gifts needed for the birthday girl! I just want to be surrounded by the people I love in places I’ve always dreamed of seeing!”

    • Goldie August 28, 2015, 10:45 am

      Oh god yes, I had to turn down a well-intentioned invite from someone I liked and wanted to “help them celebrate their birthday”. She didn’t pick the location until the day before – until then the invite said “location TBD”. And, when I looked it up, I was… ugh. $30+ main dishes, $15 apps, $10+ drinks. I could’ve easily left a hundred at that place, more than that if I wanted to buy the birthday girl a drink. Or else I could’ve sat there with one app and one drink all night, inconveniencing the hell out of everybody, and I still would’ve been 30-40 dollars out with the tips. Nope nope nope. I felt bad about canceling last-minute, but I also felt like I didn’t have a choice! Weird part is that this was in a city with a good food scene, where it was easy enough to pick a nice, trendy place within a reasonable budget.

    • NostalgicGal August 29, 2015, 11:35 am

      So has anybody replied yet? Has she gotten any positives? I’m betting she hasn’t gotten either… if I was you I’d reply early with the NOT (sounds like you’re not interested enough to fork over $4k from your posting) and as I read, there’s 18 she’s inviting, herself, so 19, dunno if she has a SO. 20 at the outside and if she gets at least 5 nots early on it just MIGHT give her a reality check. Might. Good luck.

  • VoteGilligan August 27, 2015, 10:13 am

    It isn’t just the money–the OP and her husband are a Soldier and a Teacher (no assumptions on which is which). They not only make less money than the MIL, but also have strict vacation schedules.

    • another Laura August 28, 2015, 4:11 am

      I’m not sure where you got that OP or spouse is a soldier. OP said ministry. I would interpret that as either clergyperson or government position (in Minstry of education, defense…).

  • ally August 27, 2015, 10:40 am

    For the people who have no problem with this, let w pose a question. If it’s rude to do this for a birthday party, or a bachelorette party, what makes it ok for an anniversary?

    I’d be incensed to be told to save up for 2 years, fly somewhere hours away, and stay at at expensive place in order to celebrate a bachelorette. We’d all be talking about what a bridezilla she is

    I know this was not hinted at in the OP, but would the kids still have to give an anniversary present? They are traditionally gift giving occasions.

    • Angel August 29, 2015, 1:11 pm

      That is exactly my feeling! This is no different than a destination wedding. You either pay for everything to have people join you–or you don’t get to be upset when they cannot come.

      I think for milestone anniversaries at least a small gift is appropriate.

  • Angel August 27, 2015, 2:36 pm

    I think that if you are expecting your family to drop everything and go on vacation with you, you should be prepared to foot the bill. This is like planning a party at a restaurant and making people pay their own way–on a much larger scale. If the MIL wants to go there for her anniversary, that’s fine–but she has no right to be disappointed or upset when the rest of the family is not able to join them–for whatever reason.

  • Rosie B. August 27, 2015, 2:42 pm

    Several years ago, my parents planned a three-week trip to Europe. (My parents are not wealthy–this was a big splurge and they only plan a vacation like that every ten years or so.) Maybe a year and a half before the trip, they sent out an email to a bunch of their friends asking if they’d like to come along. They knew going into it that some people were going to say no, but they told everyone early enough that anyone who was interested would have plenty of time to decide whether or not they really wanted to go, and then save up the money. They also made it clear that they understood that this was a huge commitment, and there were absolutely no hard feelings if anyone wasn’t able to go. It turned out that everyone had to decline the invitation and it just ended up being my parents and me, but the three of us still had a wonderful time.

    If the MIL framed her request that way, then I see nothing wrong with what she did. However, it does seem as though she assumed everyone was going to come, and probably wouldn’t be okay with it if people didn’t want/weren’t able to. In my opinion, it’s perfectly fine to invite people to things like this–you just don’t get a say in whether or not people actually take you up on it.

    • Devin August 28, 2015, 9:33 am

      I was thinking this too. Perhaps in the past the more well to-do family members have planned little (but expensive) weekend getaways and invited the OP, but have always been told they wish they could but money is an issue? By inviting them so early they could, if they wanted too, have the time to save for the trip. Otherwise it might seem like MIL didn’t want them along because she ‘knew’ they couldn’t afford a last minute vacation, purposely planning the trip without time for OP to save.
      I have some friends who make double what I do and they love planning last minute weekend getaways to NYC, or New Orleans, or Sanoma, which I can not afford to do. They always act shocked when I decline the invites for these ‘little’ getaways, but don’t have a problem planning for an international trip 6 months in advance. No, I don’t have $500 to spend on one weekend, but I do have $2000 to spend on a week long trip 6 months from now.

  • acr August 28, 2015, 1:36 pm

    My feeling on why MiL is rude and insensitive here:

    She recognizes it will take 2 years for people to save up. MiL expects others to save up for 2 years to go on her “dream trip” to celebrate her. That is incredibly selfish and rude.

    This wasn’t a no pressure, “Your father and I are going on a tropical vacation in two years for our anniversary – we’d love it if you can make it,” situation. That would constitute a no pressure invitation and not be rude. “She called everyone with this idea and asked that we start saving so we could afford to come. “It’s her dream”, she told us.” That is incredibly entitled and rude.

  • just4kicks August 29, 2015, 2:31 am

    My dad suffers from MS, and he condition worsens year to year, as expected, unfortunately.
    My mom’s dream was to “travel extensively” once my dad retired.
    They love cruises, and have been on at least four, with one coming up in a few months.
    My dad is to the point of barely being able to get around the house, and sadly, weekly falls are becoming common place.
    My folks missed my daughter’s first dance recital and their grandsons grad party this year because of my dad not feeling well.
    Of course, I do NOT blame him, at all for not being able to leave the house……
    However….they went to a concert this year, and even though my dad cannot make a short walk down the hall to the bathroom these days, my mom insists “oh….we are GOING on this cruise!!!”
    Um….Mom, you’ve called 911 six times this summer…..how on earth is this man going to handle two weeks on a ROCKING BOAT!!!!!

  • just4kicks August 29, 2015, 8:32 am

    ……And sorry, the “concert” in my above post was, while I do not begrudge my folks a happy and fulfilling life, that concert was an overnight stay in another city…….a lot of stress on my Dad.
    But my mom insisted she wasn’t going to miss it.
    A 20 minute drive to attend a dance recital my daughter spent a whole year preparing for, and a grad party for their oldest grandson was “too much stress” on my ailing dad.
    My son was devastated they didn’t show up, as was my daughter on the day of her recital.

  • Twik August 31, 2015, 1:19 pm

    I’m rather astonished that several posters feel the original LW was being a sort of reverse snob by not immediately declaring she would happily put her family on a regimen of ramen and cold water for the next two years just so she could have the wonderful experience of travelling with her in-laws on *their* dream trip. There seems to be a sense of “well, everyone could afford luxurious travel if they just made an effort.”

    No, that’s not true. Most people, in today’s economy, are happy if by the end of the year they’re not in debt, and they’ve managed to put a little away for retirement/school/emergencies. Should this “trip of a lifetime” be financed by emptying the retirement account? The children’s college fund? Going into credit card debt, so when a car breaks down or the roof fails, they have no reserves to fall back on? All for a trip that maybe they aren’t all that interested in?

    Seems that there is some snobbery here, and not of the reverse kind.

  • starstruck September 1, 2015, 8:48 am

    Personally I dont think the mother in law was rude at all. I’m of the believe that you should have your wedding/anniversary/birthday wherever you want. You can invite whoever you want, knowing not everyone will be able to attend. The ONLY way mom in law would be rude is if she made op and her husband feel bad about not affording the trip. That’s their business. But its also her business where she has her celebration. And the fact that she gave them a couple of years to prepare? I think that’s cool. Op may I suggest going for her party but while your there making it a family vacation for your family? Go off and do something with out your in laws? That would be fun. But if you just cant afford the trip I would just tell her and not let her make me feel bad about it.

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