Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: Socialworkinjune on March 15, 2013, 08:26:06 AM

Title: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: Socialworkinjune on March 15, 2013, 08:26:06 AM
Hello everyone! First time posting, long time reader.

I have an upcoming event I would appreciate some perspective and advice on handling.

First some background - I will try to keep it brief as I feel this could get lengthy. As with most families and dynamics, it goes much deeper than this and I will explain as necessary if needed.

DH was born and raised in a small town (less than 2500 residents) in a rural area. As to be expected, he has extensive family from both his mother's and father's sides. He is also an only child. DH and I met and married while he was in the military and moved to his Hometown after he was discharged. We lived in Hometown for several years (during the time I didn't acclimate well) before having the opportunity to move to Awesome state. We lived in Awesome state for many, many years when my DH had the opportunity to buy his uncle's (FIL side) business and last year we moved back. My MIL and FIL live right.behind us and we are codependent on each other - FIL works for DH for little pay, MIL keeps DS - 4 years old for us for free, so I am the only one that works that receives consistent pay.
MILs side of the family is extremely manipulative and has made passive agressive an art form. The self described matriarch of this side is MILs sister, Mary Fay. Mary Fay is 10 years older than MIL and th best way I can describe their relationship is imagine Mary Fay is the most popular kid in school and MIL is the unpopular girl she has decided to pay attention to - think all those cliche movies to get an idea.
Mary Fay's granddaughter is getting married tomorrow. This is to be a big event in a chuch (not my religion) with a reception at a hall. Our anniversary is today (becomes important). End BG.
Everything began three weeks ago. MIL told me she was going to take DS4 home after the ceremony. (We also have three other daughters - DD18, DD15, and DD13). I thanked her for the offer but explained to her I thought it was time for him to become exposed to this kind of situation so be could learn how to handle himself. She again pushed, I again thanked her but turned down her offer. After some hemming and hawing she admitted that she was expected to serve food at the reception (???)and with her agoraphobia (which she doesn't really have but uses to get out of things she doesn't want to do - she's embarrassed about her living situation and doesn't want people asking her about it) she could never do it. I told her I was sorry they were expecting her to serve but be was going and if he needs to leave I will handle it.
After putting some thought into this, I am really against it as I feel I will be - if I haven't already - "volunteered" to take her place. Ain't gonna happen and I will politely refuse all suggestions I serve food.
She has also used our anniversary as an out for tonight as a reason she could t be "volunteered" to help with last minute decorations, even though we already have DD18 keeping DS4 so we can go out.
Ah, but this is not all (this is etiquette hell after all). A week ago (note - 1 week before wedding) my DH tells me he and his dad were just asked to make (special local dish) for the reception. This would require them to miss the ceremony and work cooking during reception. I asked how he replied to his mother when she asked, he told me he said he wasn't sure because he didn't think I'd want to sit in the ceremony with the kids by myself. I suspected he really said yes - he has no spine- and told me this so I would feel bad and tell him to do it. I didn't - I responded telling him to do what he felt best, figuring he's already agreed. I also believe while his mother may have asked him, knowing this side of the family he had been "volunteered" by Aunt Mary Fay and his mother was counting on him not having a spine to say no.
The more and more I think about this and try to look at it objectively, the angrier I become. If my DH does cook, I will sit through a service I am not familiar with (remember I'm a different faith) by myself as DDs will probably sit with their friends (they mostly go to that church) and MIL will sit with Mary FAy and her entourage. I will be very uncomfortable to say the least. And, I am angry that this family is not paying for help (they have the means and I am sure this is just a way for Mary Fay to save money so she can brag later on how much she saved) and expecting family to serve for friends and towns folk.  I am this.close to not even going.

Any advice?

And please let me know if I can clarify anything as I know this type of family is hard to describe in writing - many things are subtle and you have to be there for).

There are many more tales of the other side of the family - FIL, but those are for another time.

Thanks for reading this far!
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: Zizi-K on March 15, 2013, 08:42:26 AM
If I can boil down your question, it is (as I understand it): should I be annoyed/angry that my husband agreed to do some work (that I don't think he should be doing) that would cause him to miss the ceremony, thereby not keeping me company?

My perspective on this would be: he's a grown man, and he should be able to ascertain for himself whether he wants to volunteer some work or not. It sounds like a nice thing for him to do, but if he didn't want to, he should have said no.

For you: why don't you sit with your MIL in the ceremony then? Or with somebody you know from church? During the ceremony, there will probably not be a lot of talking in any case, so sitting "with" someone is probably not strictly necessary. I would advise following along as best as you can (stand and sit when other people do, etc), and wait it out. How long can it be, one hour tops? If you had infant triplets, I could see your needing help, but it sounds like your kids are old enough to mind themselves in this situation with the exception of one son, who you can give your attention to if need be.


Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: LeveeWoman on March 15, 2013, 08:45:02 AM
As much as I dislike toxic relatives, I think your husband should go through with his chore. because the wedding is tomorrow.  He should've spoken up a week ago so that the mother of the bride could've found another patsy.

 Going forward, he should take steps to install a spine.
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: rose red on March 15, 2013, 08:46:32 AM
I'm not sure what advice you are asking for.  How to get DH not to cook?  If you should go or not?  How to not attend without any fallout?  Is the problem that you will be sitting alone?

The only thing I can say is that a lot of people have attended ceremonies where they are not familiar with the religion or culture.  The simplest thing is just sit and observe. 
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: JenJay on March 15, 2013, 08:58:32 AM
I think you handled your MIL well with regard to your son. It does sound like she planned to tell her sister "I can't help serve because swij needs me to take DS home." While possibly offering you up as her replacement. If your son was invited to the wedding and reception he should be allowed to go and enjoy them. Like you said, you can take him home if necessary.

As for your DH, it was good that you put the decision back on him instead of telling him to go ahead and cook but I think it also would have been awesome if you'd said "That was so thoughtful of you to worry about me, honey! You're right, I would be uncomfortable by myself. Thank you for telling them no." As it is, he's obligated himself so he should follow through. If you didn't want him to cook it would have been better to be honest. At this point you can't really get upset with him because you told him to do what he felt was best.  :-\

As for advice I think you should go to the wedding and politely decline any last minute pleas for help with "I'm sorry but I need to stay with DS." If someone counters with "Oh I'll watch him for you." you say "No thank you, excuse me." as you head in the opposite direction.
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: Luci on March 15, 2013, 09:11:54 AM
I'm kind of wondering if there is a dynamic in a small, tight town and a large family that you are missing.

In my experience, both of these types of groups usually do their own wedding prep and receptions and it is just expected that family and close friends do it. They don't fall for all the cater this, pay a planner, everything professional for that type of wedding I read so much about but have only attended two of. They haven't saved forever or gone into debt to pay for one day, but still come off with lovely, comfortable,  sometimes large weddings.

So much of your post fits in with what I am thinking here.

I'm am sorry that your MIL is using you for excuses to get out of things but think it it great that you are standing up to her.

As for feeling alone during the ceremony, that makes me sad. Lots of people go to unfamiliar ceremonies and just go with the flow, if only seeing it as an opportunity to learn and adjust. I'm hoping you can find it within yourself to relax and look for new opportunities to be part of the community during the whole day.

I'm even kind of wondering if you would feel better it you did serve the dinner in MIL's place as long as DS4 is taken care of. You'll feel more a part of it and have something to do.

Most large families have a Mary Fay and an MIL or aunt like your MIL. The best way to deal with them is just be polite, try to fit in, and maintain the spine when needed.

(I can't think of how to look up any studies of socialogical papers about the differences in small towns and cities, so that is why I bolded "in my experience".)

And ------------------ Happy Anniversary and many more!
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: Zilla on March 15, 2013, 09:35:04 AM
It's a family affair and family help each other.  While it sounds a bit last minute etc, but I really don't see the issue.  Mil asked if she could take your DS home and explained why.  You refused.  That's fine.  She wasn't rude for asking or clarifying and you weren't rude for declining.  Furthermore if you are asked to serve food, this isn't rude.  And again you declining isn't rude.


As for your dh cooking.  He agreed to it.  If you are to be angry at anyone, it would be him.  He should have known you would be very upset at him helping his family and not sitting with you.  It's misplaced to blame anyone else.  Again asking isn't rude.


As for the crux of this, Mary Kay asking family members to help to save costs.  Again this isn't rude and very common.  It sounds like you are saying in the manner it was asked, it's rude due to other circumstances.  But in the grand scheme of things, you all could have refused and everyone else with the exception of you didn't refuse.  I think you need to take a step back and really look at it and place blame precisely where it lies.  At your husband's feet.  No one else.  If you don't want to help his family and want him to stand up to them and say no as well, then this is a discussion to have with him.


ETA As for the ceremony itself, didn't you say that you were keeping your DS with you and to gauge how he would do?  Would he not sit with you as well?
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: citadelle on March 15, 2013, 09:38:56 AM
Hello everyone! First time posting, long time reader.

I have an upcoming event I would appreciate some perspective and advice on handling.

First some background - I will try to keep it brief as I feel this could get lengthy. As with most families and dynamics, it goes much deeper than this and I will explain as necessary if needed.

DH was born and raised in a small town (less than 2500 residents) in a rural area. As to be expected, he has extensive family from both his mother's and father's sides. He is also an only child. DH and I met and married while he was in the military and moved to his Hometown after he was discharged. We lived in Hometown for several years (during the time I didn't acclimate well) before having the opportunity to move to Awesome state. We lived in Awesome state for many, many years when my DH had the opportunity to buy his uncle's (FIL side) business and last year we moved back. My MIL and FIL live right.behind us and we are codependent on each other - FIL works for DH for little pay, MIL keeps DS - 4 years old for us for free, so I am the only one that works that receives consistent pay.
MILs side of the family is extremely manipulative and has made passive agressive an art form. The self described matriarch of this side is MILs sister, Mary Fay. Mary Fay is 10 years older than MIL and th best way I can describe their relationship is imagine Mary Fay is the most popular kid in school and MIL is the unpopular girl she has decided to pay attention to - think all those cliche movies to get an idea.
Mary Fay's granddaughter is getting married tomorrow. This is to be a big event in a chuch (not my religion) with a reception at a hall. Our anniversary is today (becomes important). End BG.
Everything began three weeks ago. MIL told me she was going to take DS4 home after the ceremony. (We also have three other daughters - DD18, DD15, and DD13). I thanked her for the offer but explained to her I thought it was time for him to become exposed to this kind of situation so be could learn how to handle himself. She again pushed, I again thanked her but turned down her offer. After some hemming and hawing she admitted that she was expected to serve food at the reception (???)and with her agoraphobia (which she doesn't really have but uses to get out of things she doesn't want to do - she's embarrassed about her living situation and doesn't want people asking her about it) she could never do it. I told her I was sorry they were expecting her to serve but be was going and if he needs to leave I will handle it.
After putting some thought into this, I am really against it as I feel I will be - if I haven't already - "volunteered" to take her place. Ain't gonna happen and I will politely refuse all suggestions I serve food.
She has also used our anniversary as an out for tonight as a reason she could t be "volunteered" to help with last minute decorations, even though we already have DD18 keeping DS4 so we can go out.
Ah, but this is not all (this is etiquette hell after all). A week ago (note - 1 week before wedding) my DH tells me he and his dad were just asked to make (special local dish) for the reception. This would require them to miss the ceremony and work cooking during reception. I asked how he replied to his mother when she asked, he told me he said he wasn't sure because he didn't think I'd want to sit in the ceremony with the kids by myself. I suspected he really said yes - he has no spine- and told me this so I would feel bad and tell him to do it. I didn't - I responded telling him to do what he felt best, figuring he's already agreed. I also believe while his mother may have asked him, knowing this side of the family he had been "volunteered" by Aunt Mary Fay and his mother was counting on him not having a spine to say no.
The more and more I think about this and try to look at it objectively, the angrier I become. If my DH does cook, I will sit through a service I am not familiar with (remember I'm a different faith) by myself as DDs will probably sit with their friends (they mostly go to that church) and MIL will sit with Mary FAy and her entourage. I will be very uncomfortable to say the least. And, I am angry that this family is not paying for help (they have the means and I am sure this is just a way for Mary Fay to save money so she can brag later on how much she saved) and expecting family to serve for friends and towns folk.  I am this.close to not even going.

Any advice?

And please let me know if I can clarify anything as I know this type of family is hard to describe in writing - many things are subtle and you have to be there for).

There are many more tales of the other side of the family - FIL, but those are for another time.

Thanks for reading this far!

I think you should ask your daughters to sit with you. Alternately, you could sit with them and their friends. However, since you don't want to sit alone, I think it would be appropriate for you to insist that they sit with you.
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: LeveeWoman on March 15, 2013, 09:47:37 AM
It's a family affair and family help each other.  While it sounds a bit last minute etc, but I really don't see the issue.  Mil asked if she could take your DS home and explained why.  You refused.  That's fine.  She wasn't rude for asking or clarifying and you weren't rude for declining.  Furthermore if you are asked to serve food, this isn't rude.  And again you declining isn't rude.


As for your dh cooking.  He agreed to it.  If you are to be angry at anyone, it would be him.  He should have known you would be very upset at him helping his family and not sitting with you.  It's misplaced to blame anyone else.   Again asking isn't rude.


As for the crux of this, Mary Kay asking family members to help to save costs.  Again this isn't rude and very common.  It sounds like you are saying in the manner it was asked, it's rude due to other circumstances.  But in the grand scheme of things, you all could have refused and everyone else with the exception of you didn't refuse.  I think you need to take a step back and really look at it and place blame precisely where it lies.  At your husband's feet.  No one else.  If you don't want to help his family and want him to stand up to them and say no as well, then this is a discussion to have with him.

It sounds as if socialworkinjune's husband has been trained to put his FOO first, ahead of his wife and children. He didn't think to refuse his aunt because he couldn't even begin to think of doing so. I wouldn't be mad at him, but I'd expect him to catch a clue and start considering his wife and children first.
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: bah12 on March 15, 2013, 09:51:47 AM
So far, I think everything here is ok.  You were fine to refuse your MIL's insistance that she take your DS home after the wedding and so far it doesn't sound like she's going to continue to push the issue.  If she does, just continue to say "no."

As for your DH, while I certainly understand that you'd prefer him not to cook and sit with you instead, he needs to decide this for himself.  He told you he hasn't said "yes" yet, and I think you should believe him.  That being said, this close to the wedding, I think he should go ahead and do it.  It sounds like the family asked this of him pretty late, which I do think is rude, but I imagine that family helping out with things like this is the norm.  I would personally be ok with sitting alone during a wedding ceremony in exchange for not causing last minute drama just before a wedding (if your DH desires to help, that is). 
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: Zilla on March 15, 2013, 10:01:37 AM

It's a family affair and family help each other.  While it sounds a bit last minute etc, but I really don't see the issue.  Mil asked if she could take your DS home and explained why.  You refused.  That's fine.  She wasn't rude for asking or clarifying and you weren't rude for declining.  Furthermore if you are asked to serve food, this isn't rude.  And again you declining isn't rude.


As for your dh cooking.  He agreed to it.  If you are to be angry at anyone, it would be him.  He should have known you would be very upset at him helping his family and not sitting with you.  It's misplaced to blame anyone else.   Again asking isn't rude.


As for the crux of this, Mary Kay asking family members to help to save costs.  Again this isn't rude and very common.  It sounds like you are saying in the manner it was asked, it's rude due to other circumstances.  But in the grand scheme of things, you all could have refused and everyone else with the exception of you didn't refuse.  I think you need to take a step back and really look at it and place blame precisely where it lies.  At your husband's feet.  No one else.  If you don't want to help his family and want him to stand up to them and say no as well, then this is a discussion to have with him.


It sounds as if socialworkinjune's husband has been trained to put his FOO first, ahead of his wife and children. He didn't think to refuse his aunt because he couldn't even begin to think of doing so. I wouldn't be mad at him, but I'd expect him to catch a clue and start considering his wife and children first.
Quote



his mother was counting on him not having a spine to say no.
The more and more I think about this and try to look at it objectively, the angrier I become.



Above is a snipped part of her OP.  She states she is getting angrier.  I merely said that she needs to direct that anger at the right person and not at the family.  Like you said, he needs to get a clue and put his immediate family first.  By showing him that anger she admits herself having, he will get that clue.





Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: LeveeWoman on March 15, 2013, 10:03:40 AM

It's a family affair and family help each other.  While it sounds a bit last minute etc, but I really don't see the issue.  Mil asked if she could take your DS home and explained why.  You refused.  That's fine.  She wasn't rude for asking or clarifying and you weren't rude for declining.  Furthermore if you are asked to serve food, this isn't rude.  And again you declining isn't rude.


As for your dh cooking.  He agreed to it.  If you are to be angry at anyone, it would be him.  He should have known you would be very upset at him helping his family and not sitting with you.  It's misplaced to blame anyone else.   Again asking isn't rude.


As for the crux of this, Mary Kay asking family members to help to save costs.  Again this isn't rude and very common.  It sounds like you are saying in the manner it was asked, it's rude due to other circumstances.  But in the grand scheme of things, you all could have refused and everyone else with the exception of you didn't refuse.  I think you need to take a step back and really look at it and place blame precisely where it lies.  At your husband's feet.  No one else.  If you don't want to help his family and want him to stand up to them and say no as well, then this is a discussion to have with him.


It sounds as if socialworkinjune's husband has been trained to put his FOO first, ahead of his wife and children. He didn't think to refuse his aunt because he couldn't even begin to think of doing so. I wouldn't be mad at him, but I'd expect him to catch a clue and start considering his wife and children first.
Quote



his mother was counting on him not having a spine to say no.
The more and more I think about this and try to look at it objectively, the angrier I become.



Above is a snipped part of her OP.  She states she is getting angrier.  I merely said that she needs to direct that anger at the right person and not at the family.  Like you said, he needs to get a clue and put his immediate family first.  By showing him that anger she admits herself having, he will get that clue.







Yep. And then she must tell him to grow up and act more like a husband and father than he has so far.
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: ccnumber4 on March 15, 2013, 10:18:59 AM
I am reading this right? 



DH was born and raised in a small town (less than 2500 residents) in a rural area. As to be expected, he has extensive family from both his mother's and father's sides. He is also an only child. DH and I met and married while he was in the military and moved to his Hometown after he was discharged. We lived in Hometown for several years (during the time I didn't acclimate well) before having the opportunity to move to Awesome state. We lived in Awesome state for many, many years when my DH had the opportunity to buy his uncle's (FIL side) business and last year we moved back. My MIL and FIL live right.behind us and we are codependent on each other - FIL works for DH for little pay, MIL keeps DS - 4 years old for us for free, so I am the only one that works that receives consistent pay.
..........he didn't think I'd want to sit in the ceremony with the kids by myself. I suspected he really said yes - he has no spine- and told me this so I would feel bad and tell him to do it. I didn't - I responded telling him to do what he felt best, figuring he's already agreed. I also believe while his mother may have asked him, knowing this side of the family he had been "volunteered" by Aunt Mary Fay and his mother was counting on him not having a spine to say no.
The more and more I think about this and try to look at it objectively, the angrier I become. If my DH does cook, I will sit through a service I am not familiar with (remember I'm a different faith) by myself as DDs will probably sit with their friends (they mostly go to that church) and MIL will sit with Mary FAy and her entourage. I will be very uncomfortable to say the least. And, I am angry that this family is not paying for help (they have the means and I am sure this is just a way for Mary Fay to save money so she can brag later on how much she saved) and expecting family to serve for friends and towns folk. I am this.close to not even going.



You can't complain about your in-laws working for free and then not pay them when they work for you. 

Overall, my basic opinion is that you are making someone else's wedding entirely too much about yourself.  If you can go and be happy, do so.  If you cannot or cannot fake it, then stay home. 

Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: Socialworkinjune on March 15, 2013, 10:22:31 AM
Sorry if this double posts - I am having computer issues.

First of all, I appreciate everyone replies and views.

I apologize if things were not properly explained; it is challenging to put in writing everything that is occurring and I may have left holes.

JenJay pretty much hit it on the head with what I was trying to ask.

To clarify a few things: while my husband was "asked" to cook, knowing the way this family works he was volunteered before he ever agreed as the family believes everyone is available and willing to help out for any reason.

There was a comment about the way small towns do weddings - this is usually how they are done and I have had no problem with helping out - either me or DH as it is very informal, no one misses out on anything, and it seems everyone congregates around the food. However in this case, the bride wants a fairybook wedding (rumor is she has glass slippers) and wants a catered affair. Mary Fay probably doesn't want to spend the money (which I can assure you she has) and so begins this business of assuming family will pitch in to help. I have nothing against the bride, she is a lovely, sweet girl But is a little clueless and I am sure has been the victim of her grandmothers scheming. However, I also don't think she has the spine to stand up to her.

As to DH, this has been a common theme in our marriage if his wanting to be there for everyone and help out at any expense. I could tell him I want him to stay with me, but that causes other problems in itself of rumors starting that I "wear the pants" and he isn't able to make his own choices. Even though we are even in our marriage, small town dynamics come into play and they love anything to gossip about.
As for the service, I could suck it up and attend sitting with just DS. I can't sit with MIL and Mary Fay's entourage because it takes more energy that I'm willing to expend - they sit around gossiping about everyone and overly complimenting each other while turning to gossip about that person.

I feel I have painted the picture of me versus small town residents. This is not the case. I get along very well with FILs family and this would be a non-issue with them because theirs would be the ceremony described above. AND, they are very direct people with no manipulation or back stabbing involved.
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: Socialworkinjune on March 15, 2013, 10:27:30 AM
@ccnumber4 - I was referring to Mary Fay and parents of the hc being able to afford the wedding - not my MIL and FIL.

Thank you for your concern for the rest of your comments.
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: LeveeWoman on March 15, 2013, 10:32:34 AM
Sorry if this double posts - I am having computer issues.

First of all, I appreciate everyone replies and views.

I apologize if things were not properly explained; it is challenging to put in writing everything that is occurring and I may have left holes.

JenJay pretty much hit it on the head with what I was trying to ask.

To clarify a few things: while my husband was "asked" to cook, knowing the way this family works he was volunteered before he ever agreed as the family believes everyone is available and willing to help out for any reason.

There was a comment about the way small towns do weddings - this is usually how they are done and I have had no problem with helping out - either me or DH as it is very informal, no one misses out on anything, and it seems everyone congregates around the food. However in this case, the bride wants a fairybook wedding (rumor is she has glass slippers) and wants a catered affair. Mary Fay probably doesn't want to spend the money (which I can assure you she has) and so begins this business of assuming family will pitch in to help. I have nothing against the bride, she is a lovely, sweet girl But is a little clueless and I am sure has been the victim of her grandmothers scheming. However, I also don't think she has the spine to stand up to her.

As to DH, this has been a common theme in our marriage if his wanting to be there for everyone and help out at any expense. I could tell him I want him to stay with me, but that causes other problems in itself of rumors starting that I "wear the pants" and he isn't able to make his own choices. Even though we are even in our marriage, small town dynamics come into play and they love anything to gossip about.
As for the service, I could suck it up and attend sitting with just DS. I can't sit with MIL and Mary Fay's entourage because it takes more energy that I'm willing to expend - they sit around gossiping about everyone and overly complimenting each other while turning to gossip about that person.

I feel I have painted the picture of me versus small town residents. This is not the case. I get along very well with FILs family and this would be a non-issue with them because theirs would be the ceremony described above. AND, they are very direct people with no manipulation or back stabbing involved.

So, let them gossip!
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: ccnumber4 on March 15, 2013, 10:38:05 AM
You are missing my point.  Apparently, the fact that your parents in law work for you for free or for very little pay is relevant, since you brought it up.  Why does it not bother you for them to work for you for free but you get irritated that they might possibly work at this wedding for free?  And if they do, that's not really your business. 

The financial standing of Mary Fay and her family is not your business, either. 
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: TootsNYC on March 15, 2013, 10:50:30 AM
Quote
I will sit through a service I am not familiar with (remember I'm a different faith) by myself as DDs will probably sit with their friends (they mostly go to that church) and MIL will sit with Mary FAy and her entourage. I will be very uncomfortable to say the least.


I'm sorry to say that I don't really have a lot of sympathy with this point.
You just sit there. You stand up when other people stand up, and you sit when they sit. And if there's singing or responses, and you can figure out what's going on, then you participate or not as you wish.

It's going to come out cold when I say it, so I'll try to say it as encouragingly as I can.

Etiquette requires us to suffer through situations in which we are uncomfortable.

Growing, as a human being, requires us to *learn* through situations in which we are uncomfortable. Want to get better muscles? You have to work out, thereby actually *stressing* those muscles; in the process of repairing all those little injuries (micro-tearing of the muscle fibers), the muscle becomes stronger.

Being uncomfortable is something that we all just have to put up with. It's not the end of the world. Nobody's going to bleed; nobody's going to suffer physical pain or even extreme emotional trauma. It's just a wedding. That's all.

You aren't even required to participate in the worship service. You just sit there and watch--that's all wedding guests are expected to do. At weddings far more than at other church services, you just sit there quietly and witness. Even at Catholic wedding ceremonies, you can just sit there. You don't take communion if you're not a member, and you don't have to say all the responses, etc., if you don't know them. You aren't invited in order to worship--you're invited in order to witness.

There will be people at that wedding that you know--that you are related to by marriage. You will not be isolated and stranded and ostracized. Maybe these aren't your closest friends and relatives; maybe your relationship with your DH's family is sort of strained. They'll be perfectly friendly.

And you have a 4yo, and you're a VERY experienced mother (witness the ages of your older children), so I wouldn't expect you to really need your DH's help in terms of childcare. 4yo's are really pretty well behaved, and you'll be occupied explaining things to him, or conversing quietly with him before, etc.

I think you just don't like the bride's mother, aren't a fan of the family dynamic, and so you're coming up with all these other things to justify the idea that you have a right to be angry with them.
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: Socialworkinjune on March 15, 2013, 10:52:32 AM
I see where you are coming from.

The point about my MiL and FIL was brought up to put background to my MILs trying to get out of helping so she doesn't have to explain her current living situation of pretty much living off my income. Because we live rurally, their house is behind ours. The utilities are shared and we pay for them and the mortgage, taxes, etc. Because she has shared this fact, it is now common knowledge and she doesn't like people trying to make her feel inferior because of it. I tried to explain that we are codependent on each other - them on us for my income and us on them for their free help.

As for Mary Fay, I do not have business knowing her assets, however I am trying to show that she can afford the wedding her granddaughter wants.

I am also not against families providing free labor for events - as long as each member has a choice and no one misses out on festivities because they are the "help". In this case, families are being told to be "the help" and will miss out on both the ceremony and reception as they will be in the kitchen working.
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: TootsNYC on March 15, 2013, 11:02:06 AM

As to DH, this has been a common theme in our marriage if his wanting to be there for everyone and help out at any expense. I could tell him I want him to stay with me, but that causes other problems in itself of rumors starting that I "wear the pants" and he isn't able to make his own choices. Even though we are even in our marriage, small town dynamics come into play and they love anything to gossip about.

First, how are people figuring out that you're the one holding DH back from over-involvement? They may just decide that's true because you're the "new" component in the equation. But you and DH maybe need to discuss this. If the gossip causes you distress or has repercussions in terms of how people interact with you, then he has a serious responsibility to counter that. And he needs to be extra-sure that he's not saying, "my wife doesn't want me to" and instead say, "I don't really want to."

Also, I'd suggest you and DH talk a little bit about the assumptions you have made about him. I see at ton of communication problems between the two of you, just in your posts here.

*You've assumed he's already said yes, even though he told you he didn't.  Are you correct, or not? It matters.

*If he did say yes already, why didn't he tell you the truth?

*Why can't he say to you, "I don't really want to, but I feel like I have to"? Does he *want* you to give him an excuse to say no? (if so, why can't he tell you that directly)

You and he need to talk honestly, without pressure or criticism or resentment from you, and without defensiveness or criticism or resentment from him. You need to explore what ONE ANOTHER wants, with no regard to what the family wants. Maybe your DH wants to have smooth waters in the family, or maybe he wants out from under all the pressure. But you neither one of you know what the other wants.

Heck, you may not even know what you YOURSELVES want. Time to talk about that.


I think you just don't like Mary Fay. And you have your own resentments here that are influencing you.

(Just because Mary Fay can afford the wedding her granddaughter wants doesn't mean that she's wrong to want to not spend it. Or wrong to tap into family and friends to help.)

Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: TootsNYC on March 15, 2013, 11:07:29 AM
Quote
Quote
To clarify a few things: while my husband was "asked" to cook, knowing the way this family works he was volunteered before he ever agreed as the family believes everyone is available and willing to help out for any reason.


Are you sure? My therapist told me recently that the believe is, most of our thoughts and assumptions are wrong.

Maybe you're right--but you really should verify before you make this assumption.

And if you and your DH think he should have been asked, then you should completely act as though he WAS asked. And say yes or no based on what he'd like to do.

What *would* your DH like to do? Be sure he has full info when he makes this decision, like if you'd like him with you, say so; if you feel bad he'll miss the ceremony, say so; if you've seen him fume w/ resentment later in similar situations and think he'll do so again with this, say so; if you think saying yes will set up or encourage a bad dynamic for your family, say so.

But leave room also for the idea that a part of his self-identity may be that he's a family member and that he does things as part of this larger family that occasionally inconvenience his nuclear family. That's actually appropriate. You can live through a little inconvenience.

Then if he says he'd like to say no, back him up. Point out that saying no is best done right away, before they've made lots of plans around his assistance.

And maybe he doesn't either have to be cooking through the ceremony--challenge those sorts of assumptions as well.
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: TurtleDove on March 15, 2013, 11:10:39 AM
she doesn't like people trying to make her feel inferior because of it

Does SHE feel inferior because of it?  She can't change gossipy townspeople and relatives. 

This entire situation seems yucky to me.  I know I would be constantly irritated if I lived in a place as you described.  But, it I decided to live there, I would know that I am the one who would have to adapt and expecting the town and family to adapt to what is comfortable for me is futile. 

In short, as another poster said, if you can happily attend the wedding, do that.  If you cannot, don't, but know that there will be consequences.  I am not saying you are wrong to be upset - I am saying that your being upset is not likely to change anything aside from having you be upset.
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: Poppea on March 15, 2013, 11:15:46 AM
Sorry if this double posts - I am having computer issues.

First of all, I appreciate everyone replies and views.

I apologize if things were not properly explained; it is challenging to put in writing everything that is occurring and I may have left holes.

JenJay pretty much hit it on the head with what I was trying to ask.

To clarify a few things: while my husband was "asked" to cook, knowing the way this family works he was volunteered before he ever agreed as the family believes everyone is available and willing to help out for any reason.

There was a comment about the way small towns do weddings - this is usually how they are done and I have had no problem with helping out - either me or DH as it is very informal, no one misses out on anything, and it seems everyone congregates around the food. However in this case, the bride wants a fairybook wedding (rumor is she has glass slippers) and wants a catered affair. Mary Fay probably doesn't want to spend the money (which I can assure you she has) and so begins this business of assuming family will pitch in to help. I have nothing against the bride, she is a lovely, sweet girl But is a little clueless and I am sure has been the victim of her grandmothers scheming. However, I also don't think she has the spine to stand up to her.

As to DH, this has been a common theme in our marriage if his wanting to be there for everyone and help out at any expense. I could tell him I want him to stay with me, but that causes other problems in itself of rumors starting that I "wear the pants" and he isn't able to make his own choices. Even though we are even in our marriage, small town dynamics come into play and they love anything to gossip about.
As for the service, I could suck it up and attend sitting with just DS. I can't sit with MIL and Mary Fay's entourage because it takes more energy that I'm willing to expend - they sit around gossiping about everyone and overly complimenting each other while turning to gossip about that person.

I feel I have painted the picture of me versus small town residents. This is not the case. I get along very well with FILs family and this would be a non-issue with them because theirs would be the ceremony described above. AND, they are very direct people with no manipulation or back stabbing involved.

The problem as I see it is that your husband made a commitment to be your escort to a wedding and reception and then accepted another obligation later that conflicted with his obligation to you.

I would have told him no.

If he hasn't yet developed the spine to say no your choices are to accept it or say no yourself.

In this situation I think you are stuck.
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: ladyknight1 on March 15, 2013, 11:22:40 AM
I think you are stuck for this particular event. I also agree with PP that you should refuse to serve in lieu of caring for your DS.

After this, I believe you and your DH need to work on being more open with communication and expectations. Because he and your FIL are missing work time to help with the wedding food, is your business suffering?
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: CrazyDaffodilLady on March 15, 2013, 11:41:22 AM
You’re not going to be able to fix this situation to your liking.  I suggest something that has worked for me a hundred times – basically an attitude change.  Decide that you’re going to do whatever you can to make this a great wedding for the HC.  Put a big smile on your face, look for the goodness in your in-laws, and help out when possible.  I’ve found that when I make an effort to ensure others have a good time, I wind up having a great time.

Sit with your MIL’s group and put your young son between you and her.  Focus on keeping your son entertained and happy.  Smile, smile, smile. 

I also suggest that you and DH have a discussion with his parents and formally agree that their work and baby sitting are being paid for with a small salary, plus housing and utilities.  Scrap the notion that they’re mooching off of you. If you paid FIL a real salary and paid MIL the going rate for childcare, they could probably at least pay their own utilities. 
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: nuit93 on March 15, 2013, 11:41:56 AM
I think you are stuck for this particular event. I also agree with PP that you should refuse to serve in lieu of caring for your DS.

After this, I believe you and your DH need to work on being more open with communication and expectations. Because he and your FIL are missing work time to help with the wedding food, is your business suffering?

I agree with the bolded--it sounds like some major miscommunications and assumptions are at play here.
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: postalslave on March 15, 2013, 11:43:24 AM
To the OP - you haven't been getting much sympathy here but you have mine *hug*

I also agree with JenJay. Stick with your son and don't let serving get passed to you.

Be really friendly and smiley and play good wife if that's what's required of you in this social dynamic (assumption based on your concern about who's wearing the pants).

Also pleeeeeeeeaaaaase update us on the wedding, it sounds like it could be a good read ;)
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: LeveeWoman on March 15, 2013, 12:01:57 PM
To the OP - you haven't been getting much sympathy here but you have mine *hug*

I also agree with JenJay. Stick with your son and don't let serving get passed to you.

Be really friendly and smiley and play good wife if that's what's required of you in this social dynamic (assumption based on your concern about who's wearing the pants).

Also pleeeeeeeeaaaaase update us on the wedding, it sounds like it could be a good read ;)

I can only speak for myself, but I have a great deal of sympathy for her. She's in for a battle, and in order to win it, she and her husband need to find their spines.
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: Socialworkinjune on March 15, 2013, 12:07:32 PM
Thank you for your kind words postal slave  :).

I am a therapist/social worker and try look at things from all sides. I had some internal debate about posting and opening myself up to be vulnerable. Some comments are valid points, some are far off. This I understand because these posters are not here in my shoes.

I do not feel that my in-laws are "mooching" off me, I reap many rewards by having them so close and all of their help. Without their help, my DH would be unable to run his business and I wouldn't be able to do the job I love. MIL has made comments that she worried of what others say about her. I attempt to help her, but she is very concerned with appearances and gets upset when gossip gets back to her.
I don't mind gossip about me, it's human nature. But, it upsets DH. I try to avoid all situations of gossiping, so I will not be sitting with MIL, et al.

It was observed that I do not care for Mary Fay. This is very accurate. I have been "burned" emotionally by her manipulation on three occasions - while it is too personal to go into detail, it is much deeper than just town gossip. The first two times I was unaware that she had malicious intentions, by the third I suspected and it was confirmed.

Even through my dislike I have tried to remain objective and seeing the manipulation for what it's worth - that is what is making me angry.
As for my DH, the reasons he is so accommodating to being spineless to his family is the same core reason he is such a good husband/father.   Hard to explain, but he is kind, loving, and gentle and wants the best out of everyone. It's me who is usually calling people out. I would live to encourage him to grow a spine, but he resists the change and you can't change those that aren't willing. When we met (many, many years ago), I was headed down a bad path in life. DH encourage me to turn my life around and follow my dreams. It is because of him I now have a masters degree and do a job I love. I am now supporting him in his dreams of being self employed. (I felt he was being portrayed as this evil person when he is not).  As for my assumptions on his being asked - the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior and boy is there a past here! He is known as a nice guy in his family, is well liked, and always known to be there to help. I feel he was taken advantage of in this situation because they KNEW he would agree.
He and FIL don't usually work weekends unless its the busy season (which ironically is now). He has readjusted his schedule to not lose any work.

Again, thank you everyone for reading and for taking the time to reply. Some posts are causing an internal examination of myself.

I believe I will go - with a smile on my face and will do my best to get through it unscathed. I agree that the HC deserve as much - they are both good people. I will post the craziness that will occur, though I will warn you that based on her past behavior, Mary Fay will have a starring role.
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: TootsNYC on March 15, 2013, 12:17:37 PM
Quote
I believe I will go - with a smile on my face and will do my best to get through it unscathed. I agree that the HC deserve as much - they are both good people. I will post the craziness that will occur, though I will warn you that based on her past behavior, Mary Fay will have a starring role.


Think what it must be like to be more directly linked to her! Poor kids.

(as a therapist, perhaps you've seen that you have a great deal of control about "getting through it unscathed"--especially when you're not even a principal in the event, just an onlooker. I worry that you're still making it "all about you" when it isn't, really. Your *life* is all about you, but this event is just not. This should be a minor, minor, minor blip)
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: ladyknight1 on March 15, 2013, 12:20:59 PM
Good for you, OP.

I hope you enjoy yourself.

My DH is also known in his family (on both sides) as being dependable and hardworking, and used to be taken advantage of frequently. He now discusses all requests with me, and we have to check our already busy schedules before he will agree to do anything that requires time off work or travel.
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: cutejellybeen on March 15, 2013, 12:59:35 PM
OP I'm glad you've decided to go to the wedding, and jsut sit through it. I totally understand how familial relationships can cloud how we feel about certain things.

I'm wondering where the happy couples parents are in all of this? that they are fine with a grandmother taking over the wedding?
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: Socialworkinjune on March 15, 2013, 01:11:02 PM
The brides mother is Mary Fay's daughter. From last things that have been said/happened, I believe their relationship is strained but is presented as "everything's good".  Brides father has always played the "stay out of wife's and her mother's meddlings and problems" attitude. In the early planning phases of the wedding planning, he and his son (brides brother) wanted to cook and skip service, the brides mother said they needed to be involved for the ceremony. This all came out at the bridal shower a couple of months ago. I heard nothing else about it until everything last week.

I know from comments Mary Fay and MIL have made that Mary Fay and her husband are paying for the wedding. 

The groom comes from a split family (parents divorced/remarried/divorced again/another marriage) - my observation from the bridal shower (only time I've ever met them) is that they are happy to take a back seat to let Mary Fay pay for everything. They very nice people that seem to have bad some bad things happen to them recently.
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: TootsNYC on March 15, 2013, 01:24:39 PM
It can be so hard to have a Mary Fay in your life—the resentment is not an overreaction, but if you actually DO allow the reaction to show, it creates all sorts of trouble.

Fortunately, you have tons of other wonderful things you can dwell on, mentally and emotionally:

You have a great MIL and a great arrangement in which you are all very happy—it sounds like a wonderful arrangement.
Quote
I believe I will go - with a smile on my face and will do my best to get through it unscathed. I agree that the HC deserve as much - they are both good people. I will post the craziness that will occur, though I will warn you that based on her past behavior, Mary Fay will have a starring role.


and
Quote
I reap many rewards by having them so close and all of their help. Without their help, my DH would be unable to run his business and I wouldn't be able to do the job I love.

And your DH sounds like a wonderful, wonderful guy. When his supposed “spinelessness” annoys you, remember this:
Quote
As for my DH, the reasons he is so accommodating to being spineless to his family is the same core reason he is such a good husband/father.   Hard to explain, but he is kind, loving, and gentle and wants the best out of everyone.

And your DH has given you a lot—in your words:
Quote
DH encourage me to turn my life around and follow my dreams. It is because of him I now have a masters degree and do a job I love. I am now supporting him in his dreams of being self employed.

Maybe you can support him in his dealings with his extended family. By not simmering in resentment but instead being an open-hearted supported of HIM (not of them, of him), you are giving him a huge level of support. If he can count on you to be on his side (whatever it is that he decides is his side, even if that is cooking during his cousin’s wedding ceremony and reception), you support him in ways you may not even imagine.

And in fact, you wrote:
Quote
He is known as a nice guy in his family, is well liked, and always known to be there to help.

How much of that is something that he greatly values? Maybe this is an important thing for him, and maybe that’s why he doesn’t “grow a spine”—because maybe he doesn’t really WANT to.

And maybe he sees cooking for this wedding as a gift to the bride’s father and son, to remove the tension or make it easier for them to be at the ceremony. If so, that’s a tremendously honorable thing.

There are so many good things you can focus on (and you don’t even have to rewrite reality to turn Mary Fay into “a wonderful person”). Dwell on those, and not on the negatives.

You’ll be happier.

Good luck with it all!
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: JoyinVirginia on March 15, 2013, 02:11:22 PM
My Aunt May was a Mary Fay. Unless someone had experienced one of these small town matriarchs,.it is Vertu hard to understand just how disruptive they can be.
OP, you have my sincere sympathy. The best way I found to deal with Aunt Mary was to move away and limit information to people who would be her gossip conduits.
MUCH easier said than done.
Going to the event with a smile plastered in your face, and saying ” yes, did you know dh and his father are saving Mary Fay $3000” (or whatever)  to other guests commenting on just why are your dh and fil missing the ceremony and festivities will be honest, direct, and win the gossip game this round.
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: TootsNYC on March 15, 2013, 03:36:25 PM
I haven't dealt with one, but I'd think the best way to deal w/Mary Fay or Aunt May is not to PLAY the gossip game.

To just not care what they think. To not worry about it when other people say things about what she's said. To gently and mildly scoff at any drama.

And to find a way to stop thinking about it. Difficult, I know--but the best way might be the one that Paul of Tarsus suggested: "If there is anything honorable, lovely, excellent, deserving of praise, think on these things." (paraphrase) That will hopefully crowd out all the negatives.
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: zyrs on March 15, 2013, 04:12:11 PM
OP, at least they asked your husband and FIL rather than just waiting until they got to the wedding to pull them aside.  At one wedding I know of, all the women on the groom's side of the family were told they had to wash the dishes after the reception just as the reception ended.

The best thing you can do at this short notice is to plaster on a huge smile, give the happy couple your heartfelt congratulations and use taking care of your son to fend off the people that try to get you to take over some duty at the wedding.

Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: kherbert05 on March 15, 2013, 04:52:51 PM
I think you should talk to your daughters and explain that you would appreciate them helping you through the ceramony. They know you don't attend services there.

Deal with your son at the the reception. If they push to hard - leave taking all your kids and explaining to your daughters why it is inappropriate for their Aunt to be turning them into unpaid help. (Also leave if you find they trying to pressure your DD's into helping).

Later after sit down and have a conversation with your husband about why Aunt's behavior is out of line. Not just this but everything she does and how she treats his Mom.  That basically your stock answer to Aunt should be No, because she is a school yard bully. That he should never commit to helping her without checking with you - and you will do the same with him.
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: doodlemor on March 15, 2013, 07:10:13 PM
(Also leave if you find they trying to pressure your DD's into helping).

I think that it is likely that Mary Fay has plans for using your daughters, also.  I think that you should think about this, decide how you feel about it, and plan what you would say.

I know what small towns are like, OP, and can only imagine the culture shock when you moved back.  Perhaps things will be easier as time goes by and people get accustomed to your boundaries. 

Joy's advice made me laugh.  I don't usually look to gossip either, but in this case I think that you could tell MIL how much $ DH's cooking will save Mary Fay, and maybe she will tell this to someone.  It would only have to be told to one person and the word would spread.

 

Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: snappylt on March 15, 2013, 09:30:08 PM
My very first reaction when I read your OP was to think to myself that if the thought of attending was bothering you a whole whole lot, maybe you could  arrange to develop a very bad sinus headache tomorrow in time to stay home.  (If you did that, I guess you'd need to fall all over yourself apologizing for missing the ceremony and reception.)

But as I read the various comments, I started wondering if maybe it would better to go ahead and go anyway, even if you don't particularly want to go.  Maybe you could sit with your daughters and their friends (as others have suggested) if sitting alone is unpleasant.  (If you asked your daughters to let you sit with them and their friends just this one time as a special favor for you, surely they'd help you out, wouldn't they?)

Sometimes I ask myself how I think I'd feel about it 5 years from now if I do X today.  How would you feel down the road if you stayed home tomorrow, or if you sat alone or even sat with MIL?
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: TootsNYC on March 16, 2013, 08:30:50 AM
Re: daughters sitting with friends at a wedding or church service that their parent is also attending:

In my world, this doesn't happen. Kids of ANY age sit with their parents, period.

The time for socializing with friends is not during the ceremony.
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: cheyne on March 16, 2013, 05:39:52 PM
One thing that really helped my DH to not get taken advantage of by his FOO:  Every time a "favor" is asked he says, "I have to talk it over with Cheyne, we'll get back to you."  We discuss it, he tells me his true feelings about the favor, and if the answer is "yes" Dh calls the requester back.  If the answer is "no" I call back.  When DH tries to answer "no" he ends-up JADE-ing and getting guilt tripped so he caves.

I know most posters here think that each spouse should deal with their own side of the family, but doing it this way works for us.

ETA: Edited because I do know the difference between "this" and "that".
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: snappylt on March 17, 2013, 12:12:41 PM
One thing that really helped my DH to not get taken advantage of by his FOO:  Every time a "favor" is asked he says, "I have to talk it over with Cheyne, we'll get back to you."  We discuss it, he tells me his true feelings about the favor, and if the answer is "yes" Dh calls the requester back.  If the answer is "no" I call back.  When DH tries to answer "no" he ends-up JADE-ing and getting guilt tripped so he caves.

I know most posters here think that each spouse should deal with their own side of the family, but doing it this way works for us.

ETA: Edited because I do know the difference between "this" and "that".

This is a very good suggestion, I think.

For the first fifteen years or so of our marriage, whenever my wife's relatives would call her and invite us to do something with them (usually on only 24 or 48 hours notice), my wife would almost always accept their invitations immediately (without checking with me), even if she and I had already made other plans together.  Then I could choose to stay home by myself or go to my wife's family's activity with my wife.

I saw that behavior as my wife declaring that whatever her family suggested was far more important than whatever she had already agreed to do with her husband.  My wife, on the other hand thought that since she lived with me every day and only got to see her relatives three or four times a month, she was already paying far more attention to me than to her relatives.  She felt like she had to say yes to their invitations.

One time I actually overheard a phone call where she was starting to agree that we'd all attend a cousin's child's birthday party the very next afternoon.  I know I was rude to interrupt her, but that very same next afternoon we were supposed to attend a cub scout field trip with our own son - a field trip where my wife had insisted the cub scouts change the date so my wife could attend, too.  My wife was so focused on having to say yes to her family... I interrupted her and said excuse me, but you got the cub scouts to change the date of the field trip to accommodate you, so I think it would be very wrong of you to not attend the cub scout trip tomorrow.  That one time my wife said no to her cousin. 

Finally, after about fifteen years of this, my wife agreed to make one change in her behavior.  She agreed to start responding to their last-minute invitations by saying, "That sounds nice, but I need to talk with Snappy first and then I'll call you right back."  That gave me a chance to remind her of things we had already planned to do, and sometimes she would actually call her relatives back and tell them, "I'm sorry, but Snappy reminded me that I'd already promised to do ___ with him tomorrow, so I can't come to your house then."

Guess how her relatives responded to her change in behavior - they started calling her a week or two in advance, instead of a day or two ahead of time.  I certainly was a lot happier.

So, I suggest that you see if your husband will agree to start saying, "I'll talk with my wife and get back to you." to his relatives.

Good luck!
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: snappylt on March 17, 2013, 12:16:48 PM
Say, I just realized that the day of the wedding has passed now.

OP, how did it go?
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: Lynda_34 on March 17, 2013, 12:22:09 PM
I was just wondering the same thing.
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: ladyknight1 on March 17, 2013, 06:41:18 PM
One thing that really helped my DH to not get taken advantage of by his FOO:  Every time a "favor" is asked he says, "I have to talk it over with Cheyne, we'll get back to you."  We discuss it, he tells me his true feelings about the favor, and if the answer is "yes" Dh calls the requester back.  If the answer is "no" I call back.  When DH tries to answer "no" he ends-up JADE-ing and getting guilt tripped so he caves.

I know most posters here think that each spouse should deal with their own side of the family, but doing it this way works for us.

ETA: Edited because I do know the difference between "this" and "that".

This is a very good suggestion, I think.

For the first fifteen years or so of our marriage, whenever my wife's relatives would call her and invite us to do something with them (usually on only 24 or 48 hours notice), my wife would almost always accept their invitations immediately (without checking with me), even if she and I had already made other plans together.  Then I could choose to stay home by myself or go to my wife's family's activity with my wife.

I saw that behavior as my wife declaring that whatever her family suggested was far more important than whatever she had already agreed to do with her husband.  My wife, on the other hand thought that since she lived with me every day and only got to see her relatives three or four times a month, she was already paying far more attention to me than to her relatives.  She felt like she had to say yes to their invitations.

One time I actually overheard a phone call where she was starting to agree that we'd all attend a cousin's child's birthday party the very next afternoon.  I know I was rude to interrupt her, but that very same next afternoon we were supposed to attend a cub scout field trip with our own son - a field trip where my wife had insisted the cub scouts change the date so my wife could attend, too.  My wife was so focused on having to say yes to her family... I interrupted her and said excuse me, but you got the cub scouts to change the date of the field trip to accommodate you, so I think it would be very wrong of you to not attend the cub scout trip tomorrow.  That one time my wife said no to her cousin. 

Finally, after about fifteen years of this, my wife agreed to make one change in her behavior.  She agreed to start responding to their last-minute invitations by saying, "That sounds nice, but I need to talk with Snappy first and then I'll call you right back."  That gave me a chance to remind her of things we had already planned to do, and sometimes she would actually call her relatives back and tell them, "I'm sorry, but Snappy reminded me that I'd already promised to do ___ with him tomorrow, so I can't come to your house then."

Guess how her relatives responded to her change in behavior - they started calling her a week or two in advance, instead of a day or two ahead of time.  I certainly was a lot happier.

So, I suggest that you see if your husband will agree to start saying, "I'll talk with my wife and get back to you." to his relatives.

Good luck!

I was just wanting to point out that it can be difficult for someone used to flexing when family says "boo", but I got to the point of saying "I/We have other plans" without justification.
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: fluffy on March 17, 2013, 08:17:16 PM
My husband's coworkers are so used to him running off-hours work by me that now they say "Can you ask fluffy if you're available to work on Sunday?"

:D
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: TootsNYC on March 17, 2013, 09:22:14 PM
If someone is worried that they might look like their spouse "runs them" or "wears the pants," they can say, "Spouse keeps the calendar" instead of "I have to check w/ Spouse."

Or just say, "I need to check my calendar." Feel free to add, "I can never remember on the spot."
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: kudeebee on March 18, 2013, 12:04:25 AM
If someone is worried that they might look like their spouse "runs them" or "wears the pants," they can say, "Spouse keeps the calendar" instead of "I have to check w/ Spouse."

Or just say, "I need to check my our calendar." Feel free to add, "I can never remember on the spot."

This is what dh and I always say.  Gives us time to talk things over if needed before we give an answer.
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: TootsNYC on March 19, 2013, 06:26:03 PM
You're right--"our" calendar. (that is actually what I say in real life--my bad! thanks for fixing)

I actually believe that anytime you are in a relationship w/ someone else, this is absolutely what you should say right away every time you receive an invitation. Period. Required.
Title: Re: In Laws and Family Event
Post by: Minmom3 on March 19, 2013, 08:20:09 PM
If you want that consideration given to you by your partner, then you (generically speaking!) need to do the same for your partner.  No unilateral decisions...  At least, not big ones.