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