Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: shygirl on June 18, 2013, 01:31:12 PM

Title: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: shygirl on June 18, 2013, 01:31:12 PM
My mother-in-law is visiting.  She lives in a different country, and is here for a couple of months.  She's not staying us the whole time, since she also has a daughter who lives about 8 hours away from us.

Anyway, my husband wants me to take MIL out for shopping.  I don't want to.  I'm going to anyway, but I don't want to start taking her with me everytime I do errands.  It's bad enough that I have to take my toddler with me everytime I go somewhere (that's not work). 

One reason that I don't want to go shopping with MIL might be petty.  But, when my mom comes to visit, I don't try to foist my mom onto my husband to keep her busy.  In fact, my husband usually makes himself scarce when my mom is here visiting.  So, I feel like this is HIS mom.  He should be going places with her, doing errands with her, etc.

Am I being mean about this?  Is there any nice to explain to my husband that I'm not planning to take MIL with me everywhere I go?

(Also, in case anyone suggests using MIL as a babysitter so I can go out alone, this is not an option right now.)
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: Shoo on June 18, 2013, 01:39:23 PM
You are not being mean at all.  It's HIS mother, he should take her shopping.  I totally get where you're coming from on this and I agree with you. 

Sit him down and tell him just what you wrote here.  Tell him you are happy to do things as a family with his mom, and that means WITH HIM too, but you don't want to be the one to keep busy all the time, especially since he doesn't feel it necessary to do the same with YOUR mom when she's there. 
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: gramma dishes on June 18, 2013, 01:41:15 PM
My mother-in-law is visiting.  She lives in a different country, and is here for a couple of months.  She's not staying us the whole time, since she also has a daughter who lives about 8 hours away from us.

Anyway, my husband wants me to take MIL out for shopping.  I don't want to.  I'm going to anyway, but I don't want to start taking her with me every time I do errands. It's bad enough that I have to take my toddler with me everytime I go somewhere (that's not work). 

One reason that I don't want to go shopping with MIL might be petty.  But, when my mom comes to visit, I don't try to foist my mom onto my husband to keep her busy.  In fact, my husband usually makes himself scarce when my mom is here visiting.  So, I feel like this is HIS mom.  He should be going places with her, doing errands with her, etc.

Am I being mean about this?  Is there any nice to explain to my husband that I'm not planning to take MIL with me everywhere I go?

(Also, in case anyone suggests using MIL as a babysitter so I can go out alone, this is not an option right now.)

I'm not absolutely sure you and your husband are on the same page here.  Are you sure he actually wants and expects you to take his mother with you every time you leave your house for any reason?

He may just think it would be nice if once or twice during her stay you'd take her to the mall or something so she can do a little shopping for herself.   Since she lives in a different country, he may think something like this would be a treat for her.

If he really did mean dragging her to the grocery store, the pharmacy, the bakery, the laundromat, etc. (in other words every place you go) then I think he'd probably understand that not only do you not want to do that, but even SHE might not want to do that.   You could also ask him if he plans to do anything special with her while she is here.
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: delabela on June 18, 2013, 01:47:41 PM
I think this is a tough one.  How long is she actually staying with you?  I agree that in general, the person who's relative it is is usually on the hook for the entertainment.  But it does seem hospitable to offer a long term guest some opportunities to get out of the house.  I assume if she's staying for like a month, neither you nor your husband will be off of work the whole time, so there are necessarily times when he just isn't going to be available to hang out with her.  Now, I'm not saying you need to entertain her every minute of every day, but it would be nice to see if she wants to get out every once in a while. 
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: lowspark on June 18, 2013, 01:49:37 PM
I think there's a lot of missing information (aside from what gramma dishes is asking).

How long is she going to be here? Do you both work outside the home? Is DH taking off any vacation time to spend with her? Assuming the scenario of you taking her with you every time you leave the house, what will she do with her time if you don't? And what will she do with her time when you're not taking her somewhere? Aside from shopping (and obviously, spending time with her son and grandchild) is there anything else on her agenda that she wishes to do while visiting?

Was any of this discussed or even considered before she planned her trip?

I agree that I would not want the dynamic to be such that he doesn't have to spend any time with my relatives when they come to visit but I have to spend all of my time with his when they visit. But I would think that this discussion should have taken place before the visit was planned so that everyone was on the same page. And my attitude about this would depend on what was expected of me, what my husband was doing, how long she was going to be here, how well I get along with her, and what other things are on my agenda.
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: AvidReader on June 18, 2013, 01:52:02 PM
No. You are not being petty.  Just state to your DH what you stated here.  POD to what Shoo said about pointing out his behavior when your mom visits.  Your DH needs to be available (time off from work?) to help entertain his mother.  And you need to schedule some private time away so that he can visit with her.  Your private time can be a few hours at the library, out to see a movie, visit with a friend. 
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: NyaChan on June 18, 2013, 01:55:43 PM
Are you the only one home during the day or is he asking you to take her during times that he would be free? 

I get your frustration completely, however, if you are home all day and he is at work, it is kind of inhospitable to just leave her stranded at home while you go out and about.  At the same time, you are right that it is unfair for him to make himself scarce when your mom is visiting, yet expect you to entertain his own mom when she visits. 

I would talk to him about this and explain how you feel this is unfair to you, why it is unfair, and how you want things to change.  Would you be ok with entertaining MIL if he spends more time with your mom when she visits?  Would you prefer that he take time off of work to entertain MIL himself or accept that his mom is going to sit at home until he comes to take her out, and then he is absolved of any responsibility when your own mom visits? 

For now, I think you are wise to agree to take her out at least once, maybe twice because she is your MIL and a guest in your home and its the nice thing to do.  I don't think you have any obligation whether he spent time with your mom or not to take her everywhere you go though - everyone needs some alone time! 
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: WillyNilly on June 18, 2013, 01:57:44 PM
Where are the dads in this picture? You talk about your mom visiting and his mom visiting - are there no dads? I ask because is this maybe a gender role thing? Like your DH thinks the 'women-folk' socialize with the women-folk doing woman stuff (cooking, shopping, taking care of kids) and the men-folk hang with the men-folk doing man stuff? It might not even occur to your DH he should be taking his mom out, since he is a he.
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: TootsNYC on June 18, 2013, 02:04:02 PM
I would expect my husband to take my visiting dad with him if he went to the "traditional guy" places (hardware store; bookstore), and even more so if I knew that it was in any way something my dad was interested in. (like, bookstore, games store, hardware store)

And if my MIL were visiting from out of town, I'd be expected (by me and by my DH and by my MIL and by my own mom) to take her with me to the grocery store, or maybe clothes shopping. I could decide to NOT take her to some of those if I wanted to.

But I'd absolutely take her some of the places I went. She is after all here to visit me as well as my DH. She's not just "his mother"; she's *my* mother-in-law. She's my children's grandmother.

Spending time with us is what the whole visit is for. Sitting alone at home is no fun; and shopping together can be "something to do" and "something to talk about." It's also the way you build a relationship--by creating shared memories.

I had the best time grocery shopping with a friend once; i probably wouldn't have the same "great time" w/ a visiting relative (aunt, MIL, whatever), but it would be *A* "time," and we'd have to make it enjoyable.
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: shygirl on June 18, 2013, 02:12:03 PM
I think there's a lot of missing information (aside from what gramma dishes is asking).

How long is she going to be here? Do you both work outside the home? Is DH taking off any vacation time to spend with her? Assuming the scenario of you taking her with you every time you leave the house, what will she do with her time if you don't? And what will she do with her time when you're not taking her somewhere? Aside from shopping (and obviously, spending time with her son and grandchild) is there anything else on her agenda that she wishes to do while visiting?

Was any of this discussed or even considered before she planned her trip?

I agree that I would not want the dynamic to be such that he doesn't have to spend any time with my relatives when they come to visit but I have to spend all of my time with his when they visit. But I would think that this discussion should have taken place before the visit was planned so that everyone was on the same page. And my attitude about this would depend on what was expected of me, what my husband was doing, how long she was going to be here, how well I get along with her, and what other things are on my agenda.

I don't know exactly how long she is going to stay with us, but she's going back to her home country in a few months,  probably Oct-Nov time frame.  My husband and I both work outside the home, but opposite shifts so we don't have to pay for daycare.  He is taking this week off, but he can't afford to do that the whole time she is visiting.

Nothing was discussed beforehand because my husband can't plan his way out of a paper bag.  He is the absolute worst planner in the whole world.  I'm a planner, but things that go on with his family are a nightmare to plan.  His sister actually is the one who arranged the trip for MIL, and I'm sure talked to my husband about it.  But the actual expectatations of what's going to happen during her trip, my husband can't plan that stuff.  He just likes to "see how things are going, and then decide want to do".

If I didn't take her with me, she would just have to hang out at home by herself.  I do get along with her fine, but we're not terribly close and I find it difficult to talk to her.   I don't want to inhospitable, but I also don't want to hang out with MIL every day when I get home from work.

Where are the dads in this picture? You talk about your mom visiting and his mom visiting - are there no dads? I ask because is this maybe a gender role thing? Like your DH thinks the 'women-folk' socialize with the women-folk doing woman stuff (cooking, shopping, taking care of kids) and the men-folk hang with the men-folk doing man stuff? It might not even occur to your DH he should be taking his mom out, since he is a he.

My husband's dad passed away a long time ago.  My own dad has only come to visit about 3 times, and his visits are very short.  I do think you are right though, that because I'm the "daughter", I am expected to hang out with MIL. 
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: TootsNYC on June 18, 2013, 02:14:06 PM
Quote
If I didn't take her with me, she would just have to hang out at home by herself.  I do get along with her fine, but we're not terribly close and I find it difficult to talk to her.   I don't want to inhospitable, but I also don't want to hang out with MIL every day when I get home from work.


Consider this: If you go to the grocery store together, you will have something completely neutral to talk about--the grocery store, the food, etc. You may find it much easier to talk to her there and afterward.
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: WillyNilly on June 18, 2013, 02:23:39 PM
Where are the dads in this picture? You talk about your mom visiting and his mom visiting - are there no dads? I ask because is this maybe a gender role thing? Like your DH thinks the 'women-folk' socialize with the women-folk doing woman stuff (cooking, shopping, taking care of kids) and the men-folk hang with the men-folk doing man stuff? It might not even occur to your DH he should be taking his mom out, since he is a he.

My husband's dad passed away a long time ago.  My own dad has only come to visit about 3 times, and his visits are very short.  I do think you are right though, that because I'm the "daughter", I am expected to hang out with MIL.

I think Toots did a great job of better explaining gender roles in relationships in post #8. To a certain extent this is simply part of the traditional role of a wife. And I say that as someone from a family that isn't too hardcore into gender roles - both my grandmothers worked outside the home at real careers (one grandmother, born in the 19-teens, even had her masters degree), my mom worked, my grandfather taught me, a female plumbing and electrical stuff, etc - but there were some roles, more social ones, that really did fall along gender lines. Women would all help out with cooking and serving meals and tending to one anothers kids, men would help with moving stuff or yard work.

I think you are pretty much stuck with the situation for now. Your husband might not be a planner but you let this lack-of-planning visit happen, so now you have to deal with it. You have to hang out with her because she is your house guest!

One thing to remember though is that something like grocery shopping while a menial boring task usually, is a very interesting, sorta cool task in a foreign country. I know whenever I travel I make sure to visit a grocery store - even in not so weird places (I live in NYC, but say visiting London) the products and culture of the stores are different. Heck California grocery stores are a trip for me with the liquor! Food is a way people bond too, so it really might be fun for you MIL - and maybe seeing the experience through her eyes would make it more fun for you.
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: TootsNYC on June 18, 2013, 02:32:51 PM
If I were visiting my daughter-in-law in Des Moines, a city I've traveled to many times, I'd still expect to tag along when she went to the grocery store.
(I don't have a DIL--I'm projecting.)

Or, since I love hardware stores, I'd expect to tag along w/ my SIL when he went to the hardware store. I'm going to visit them, and I would expect to go do whatever sorts of things with them that they were already going to do. Because doing those things together is a way to get to know one another.

My mother would have expected to be invited along to the bookstore by my husband. My dad went dress shopping w/ me and my mom, because what else was he going to do--sit in my apartment? He found it fun, and he was really helpful. It's one of my favorite memories now.

It gives us something to talk about. Both "in the moment" and much later.

I think that in gender roles, there is a greater expectation of common ground. But in general, whoever is going somewhere, I think, should *much of the time* (not always, of course) invite the visiting parent to come along.
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: Lynn2000 on June 18, 2013, 02:38:01 PM
Yeah, it's tough when you can pin anyone down about their expectations and plans.  :-\  Just trying to picture what happens here--you need to go grocery shopping, DH is at work, you have to take your toddler because MIL doesn't babysit. So the question is, do you leave MIL at home alone, or offer to let her come with you? One question I have is, what does she do when she's home alone? Is she the type to enjoy the downtime and get some reading done, or would she boredly watch TV for a while then start snooping in your closets?

Obviously if she can't be trusted at home alone, that's bad, and you would pretty much have to take her with you every time just so you don't worry about what she's getting up to. But if it's just a matter of her being bored, I don't think it's rude to let her stay home sometimes. I think it's reasonable to expect that adults can entertain themselves alone on occasion, especially if she's staying with you a long time. (If she was only staying three days, I think it would be weird to leave her home alone, but multiple weeks is different.)

So I think you could say, "Toddler and I are going to the store, we'll be back in about two hours. Help yourself to the XYZ!" and then bustle out the door. Not every time, but maybe every other time. Maybe you could even say something like, "MIL, I feel bad dragging you along to these boring errands with me and Toddler. Have I shown you how the magic Netflix box works? Could I run you to the library to check out some books?" In other words giving her suggestions about stuff she can do at home alone, while you're getting the normal chores of living done.

Also, is she capable of getting out on her own to do things by herself? Are there places she will want to go on her own, or special places you can all go as a family? If you think she'll do it, you could come up with some suggestions of places nearby she could go on her own, and encourage her to do so--like, "The museum exhibit is open at these times, you can take the Blue bus to get there, I'll drop you at the bus station on my way to the grocery store..." Or, if she won't go alone, you could plan some all-family outings (you, MIL, Toddler, and DH), and get your "togetherness" then, so that when you leave her home alone while you grocery shop, no one will be able to say you didn't spend any time with her.

Regarding your DH's general expectations about spending time with her--that's a tricky one. Maybe you could proactively plan (and tell him about) blocks of time when you will make yourself scarce, "so that he can spend time with his mom." As long as they're in his general "free time," shouldn't be a problem, right? And then you get some time away from her, even if you have to leave the house to get it.
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: bah12 on June 18, 2013, 02:46:38 PM
First, I think there's a difference between "taking your MIL shopping" and "dragging her around while you run errands."  If your DH asked you to take her shopping, did he mean take her with you to do your day-to-day stuff or take her out shopping because it's an activity that she enjoys and one you may enjoy doing together? 

I understand that she's visiting for a long time and entertaining her 24/7 is a bit much.  But, at the same time, she is coming to visit you right?  I think that some effort needs to be given to actually spend time with her.  Nothing says "I'm not into this visit" more than going about your life as if you had no guest.   Not to say that you can't run errands alone, or can't go to work if you need to, etc, but some time to say "let's do something together" or show her around where you live is hospitable.  And that goes for both you and your DH.  Since he's off this week, is he taking her anywhere? Doing anything with her?

I think it would be nice, if at least once during her visit, you planned on doing something with her outside of your day-to-day routine.  Whether that's shopping, going to a park, for a drive, whatever.  I also think you can invite her along on your errands once or twice so that she has the opportunity to leave the house.  But, no, you're not required to take her out everytime.

And what about weekends?  Is your DH planning (I know he's not a planner) on doing anything with her (or with all of you) when everyone is off work?
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: *inviteseller on June 18, 2013, 02:48:36 PM
OK, so this woman isn't toxic, you do have a friendly relationship with her..so what is wrong with planning some activities with her.  You know your DH can't plan anything (my ex was like that too and you have my sympathies), so take the bull by the horns.  I know on the boards people advocate letting spouses deal with their own parents, but IMO unless there is a toxic situation, it would make life easier if everyone could sit down and work out plans for the respective families..lot less aggravation and hard feelings.  My MIL despised me, I despised her, but we also figured out early on, if she wanted us at any activity or us have her at something, her and I had better put the plans together. 

Yes, this is your DH's mother, but I can't see any reason for you not to make her feel welcome (within reason due to your schedule) when she is there.  It seems your DH asked you to take her shopping..sounds like a girls day out thing he is asking for.  If you choose, for no other reason than 'you don't want to' to help make the mother of the man you married, feel welcome in your home and then that seems a bit selfish. 

Can you call your SIL, see what expectations your MIL has for her visit and work with your husband and your schedules to plan some activities that will work for everyone? 
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: lowspark on June 18, 2013, 02:56:18 PM
Quote
(If she was only staying three days, I think it would be weird to leave her home alone, but multiple weeks is different.)

I agree with this. I guess what I would do would be to try to establish what kind of routiine she was after and how much interaction your DH will have with her when he's home and you're at work. So this is where you and DH need to really work this out. Planner or not, he needs to be made to understand that although you're willing to have her tag along to some of your errands, he needs to be her primary source of entertainment during the time you are at work.

If she's staying at your house for that long of a time, I wonder how much she will contribute to the household duties. Will she just sit and expect to be served and catered to and to tag along everywhere? Or will she go in the kitchen and offer to cook up some of DH's childhood favorites? Will she play with toddler and entertain him or is she not the cuddly grandma type? Because that would also play into how much I'd be willing to tote her around with me.

You know, the "I don't plan anything in advance and we'll just see how it goes" is a classic ploy to get you to take up the responsibility that he is dodging. I'm not sure how much you can enforce it since you are home at alternate times, but I would definitely encourage MIL and DH to plan at least one day in advance, for things they will be doing while you are at work, even if you have to sort of get involved enough with this to make sure they at least have some kind of plan. This should help alleviate some of the burden on you to keep her entertained.
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: shygirl on June 18, 2013, 03:18:20 PM
Quote
(If she was only staying three days, I think it would be weird to leave her home alone, but multiple weeks is different.)

I agree with this. I guess what I would do would be to try to establish what kind of routiine she was after and how much interaction your DH will have with her when he's home and you're at work. So this is where you and DH need to really work this out. Planner or not, he needs to be made to understand that although you're willing to have her tag along to some of your errands, he needs to be her primary source of entertainment during the time you are at work.

If she's staying at your house for that long of a time, I wonder how much she will contribute to the household duties. Will she just sit and expect to be served and catered to and to tag along everywhere? Or will she go in the kitchen and offer to cook up some of DH's childhood favorites? Will she play with toddler and entertain him or is she not the cuddly grandma type? Because that would also play into how much I'd be willing to tote her around with me.

You know, the "I don't plan anything in advance and we'll just see how it goes" is a classic ploy to get you to take up the responsibility that he is dodging. I'm not sure how much you can enforce it since you are home at alternate times, but I would definitely encourage MIL and DH to plan at least one day in advance, for things they will be doing while you are at work, even if you have to sort of get involved enough with this to make sure they at least have some kind of plan. This should help alleviate some of the burden on you to keep her entertained.

MIL has only been here with us since Sunday, but she has offered to wash dishes which I told her wasn't necessary since we have a dishwasher.  Other household chores, I'm not really sure about.  I wouldn't expect her to or even want her to clean the bathroom or sweep/vacuum, or things of that nature.

I don't know about cooking.  My husband did try to get ME to cook yesterday because apparently that is what was expected of a daughter-in-law.  I just looked at him until he went back to stirring the pot.  (He was the one who started cooking dinner yesterday.)

And she does WANT to play with the toddler, but the toddler doesn't want to.  Well, it seems that he played with her just fine when I was at work yesterday.  But I was trying to work from home this morning, and he refused to play with his grandmother.  So, that's not helpful for me.

I won't mind having her tag along some of the times, but it's definitely going to wear on me a lot if there is an expectation that every time I go out, she's coming with me.  Like I said before, it's bad enough I have to take the toddler with me everywhere.
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: AnnaJ on June 18, 2013, 03:31:10 PM
You've mentioned a couple of times that you already have to drag a toddler along on errands, so I am wondering if there's a problem with how your MIL behaves when you're out so that you feel she's the same sort of responsibility as your child? 

If she fine, then maybe you could do a trade off - bring her with you for errands she enjoys (my mom loved grocery stores  ::) ) and perhaps she'd watch your child when you did other errands - that would give her some out of house time, some time with grandchild, and you some alone time...is that workable?
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: shygirl on June 18, 2013, 03:37:48 PM
There's no problem with how she acts, but it's not an option right now to have her babysit.
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: gramma dishes on June 18, 2013, 03:42:15 PM
You've mentioned a couple of times that you already have to drag a toddler along on errands, so I am wondering if there's a problem with how your MIL behaves when you're out so that you feel she's the same sort of responsibility as your child? 

If she fine, then maybe you could do a trade off - bring her with you for errands she enjoys (my mom loved grocery stores  ::) ) and perhaps she'd watch your child when you did other errands - that would give her some out of house time, some time with grandchild, and you some alone time...is that workable?

And you might also find that your toddler will like 'playing with Grandma' better when you're not there!  (That's assuming, of course, that Grandma can be trusted to play appropriately with your child and would actually LIKE some time alone with him/her.)
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: mime on June 18, 2013, 04:02:21 PM
Are you an introvert by any chance? When I read your OP, I feel like I know just what you mean, and it stems from my being an introvert. I get 'drained' being around people, and desperately need a certain amount of time to myself to feel normal again. Running errands, driving to work, etc. are some of those precious away-times for me.

The thought of having a visitor go along with me everywhere I went, or even to half of the places I went, is stressful.

If that's the case, letting DH know of a need to get alone-time for your own well-being could be helpful.

Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: veronaz on June 18, 2013, 04:37:59 PM
Quote
but it's definitely going to wear on me a lot if there is an expectation that every time I go out, she's coming with me.  Like I said before, it's bad enough I have to take the toddler with me everywhere.

I think there's some information missing, but...
OP, upthread someone asked if your DH said anything about taking MIL with you EVERY time you go someplace, and you didn’t answer.

So you don’t want MIL to tag along everytime and you don’t want your toddler to be with you everytime.

You need to sit down and talk to your DH about getting some alone time for yourself.

Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: Sophia on June 18, 2013, 04:48:13 PM
I think you need to have a talk with your DH.  The visit is obviously stressful on you.  (I think I recognize a fellow introvert).  He seems to behave differently when you guys have your mothers visiting. 


One thing I would expect from my husband is for him to assist in my getting completely alone time.  Even if it is going to library for a few hours.Alone.

I would also expect him to do extra around the house.

For your part, I wouldn't work from home unless you had to. 

Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: Lynn2000 on June 18, 2013, 04:53:09 PM
The problem with non-planners--which I'm sure you're already aware of--is that their last-minute decisions might involve you when you don't want to be involved, or they might not have the initiative to actually do anything, so that even though "DH is spending time with his mom," they're actually just sitting around your living room, and you're not able to get anything done on your own.

So, you might try being a bit proactive, just out of self-preservation. Like, sit down with DH and go through each day that MIL will be there (or might be there) and decide who "gets" her for each block of free time. Like, "Okay, I'm going to run some errands on Wednesday afternoon, and she can come with me on those if she wants. But, Thursday afternoon I need to clean, so you need to take her out of the house. I don't care what you guys do, but you need to be out of the house from 1pm to 5pm, and feed yourselves dinner." And then keep talking about it a lot, like, "MIL, you must be looking forward to Thursday afternoon, getting to spend some time with DH out and about!" So that it just becomes natural and expected for them to leave the house together that afternoon, and you can get stuff done. That way you're not really "planning stuff" for them, but you're setting up expectations that will help you.

Kind of like you would, I presume, with meal schedules, sleep arrangements, etc.. Just think of it like that--you're all probably assuming MIL will sleep on the fold-out couch (or whatever), right? That's not really a formal "plan," but you would be really surprised if she came over and tried to take over your bed, or expected you to find room for a huge air mattress, or something. So maybe something like, "You'll be on the fold-out couch in the den, we eat dinner at 6pm, on Saturday morning we're all going to the farmers' market together, Tuesday and Thursday you'll get to hang out with DH while I'm running errands, here's where we keep the coffee..."
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: veronaz on June 18, 2013, 04:59:19 PM
There's also the possibility that MIL doesn't want to accompany you EVERY time you leave the house.
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: shygirl on June 18, 2013, 08:39:38 PM
Are you an introvert by any chance? When I read your OP, I feel like I know just what you mean, and it stems from my being an introvert. I get 'drained' being around people, and desperately need a certain amount of time to myself to feel normal again. Running errands, driving to work, etc. are some of those precious away-times for me.

The thought of having a visitor go along with me everywhere I went, or even to half of the places I went, is stressful.

If that's the case, letting DH know of a need to get alone-time for your own well-being could be helpful.

I do really need some alone time, which unfortunately is very rare these days due to my toddler.

Well, when I got from work, I called my husband to say I'm home and that we can go shopping now.  He wasn't planning on coming with, citing that he needed some "fresh air".  That annoyed me to no end because I have been at work all day, and I also wanted to relax, so I told him I wasn't happy with this situation.  See, the problem is that MIL wanted to buy underwear and neither of us wants to do with her.  I'm just NOT close enough to her to help her pick out underwear.

Anyway, my husband ended up coming along on the shopping trip, I think because he realizes the importance of keeping me happy.  He kept the toddler busy while I sucked it up and helped MIL find some underwear.  It wasn't that bad.  After we purchased the underwear, we met up with the rest of the family and found a few other things we needed to get.

I might have worried too much about this because in the past my husband has been overly generous with MY time and energy.  So I get defensive about this sort of stuff, especially now that we have a young child who is demanding and hard to ignore.
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: veronaz on June 18, 2013, 08:48:03 PM
Quote
Anyway, my husband ended up coming along on the shopping trip, I think because he realizes the importance of keeping me happy.

Not sure what this means, but if that's true then he should have no problem doing whatever it takes to see that you get all the alone time you want.
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: shygirl on June 18, 2013, 08:53:19 PM
Quote
Anyway, my husband ended up coming along on the shopping trip, I think because he realizes the importance of keeping me happy.

Not sure what this means, but if that's true then he should have no problem doing whatever it takes to see that you get all the alone time you want.

Do you mean now while his mother is visiting, or just in general?

Either way, it's not practical for me to get all the alone time I want which I understand and can deal with.  I just wasn't happy that as soon as she got here, he wanted me to take her shopping.
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: TootsNYC on June 18, 2013, 09:37:39 PM
See, the problem is that MIL wanted to buy underwear and neither of us wants to do with her.  I'm just NOT close enough to her to help her pick out underwear.


What? Why do you need to help her pick it out? Don't you just point her to that section of the store? Can't she read the back of the package?

Maybe underwear is sized differently in her country, but does she speak the language? Surely she can figure it out--**if you let her**. Just because she's older, and is from another country, doesn't mean she's helpless and needs you to hold her hand or help her that much. Most underwear packages have pictures, even.
  And maybe the metric conversion is a big deal, but a LOT of underwear packages have that as well.
   You just say, "do you know your size?" And if she doesn't, then you say, "Oh, let's go to a department store instead of Target, because there will be a saleslady who can help you." Bingo--you're done.


You know what? remember this, as the days go by:

Quote
It wasn't that bad.

It's all going to be "not that bad," as long as you don't build it up mentally to be bigger than it really is.

And on any of those sorts of trips, build in some "zip off by myself" moments. Clue your DH in on it ahead of time, and then leave him and toddler and Mom, and you can say, "Oh, I want to go check out the shirts in that store." You go, spend 20 mins. trying them on, and then come back empty-handed.
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: TootsNYC on June 18, 2013, 09:38:08 PM
If it's just you and the mom, then you suggest that she wander around some sort of store by herself while you go somewhere else.

Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: guihong on June 18, 2013, 09:49:17 PM
If it's just you and the mom, then you suggest that she wander around some sort of store by herself while you go somewhere else.

I wouldn't do that unless MIL speaks English and won't leave the store (to wander around a mall, for example).  Getting lost or feeling left could be very frightening.
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: veronaz on June 18, 2013, 09:53:19 PM
Quote
Do you mean now while his mother is visiting, or just in general?

It applies to whatever you meant when you said your DH “knows the importance of keeping you happy” (which, btw, sounds kind of ominous).



Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: Slartibartfast on June 18, 2013, 09:59:08 PM
I think you're overdue for a good talk with your DH:

"DH, we need to work out a bit more of a schedule while your mother is here.  I'm happy spending some time with her, but honestly, I'm already "all peopled out" most of the time anyway because I'm always carting the kid around.  I need to get some alone time to relax and unwind, and I can't do that if I'm expected to be hosting your mom whenever I'm not at work and not sleeping.  I'm happy to take her along shopping sometimes, but not every time - can I count on you to come up with some ways she can fill her time that won't involve me?  Take her to the library and get some books or something.  And during the times we're both home, I'd really like you to take a bit more initiative to get her and the kid out of the house on occasion, even without me - go to a park or the museum or something, but just go out and let her spend time with her grandchild while you're there with them."

Then make sure he sticks to it - even a non-planner should be able to come up with some things to amuse his mother for a while so you can have a few minutes to yourself!
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: shygirl on June 18, 2013, 10:50:10 PM
MIL definitely needed help picking out underwear.  I definitely could NOT just let her wander around by herself.

Quote
Do you mean now while his mother is visiting, or just in general?

It applies to whatever you meant when you said your DH “knows the importance of keeping you happy” (which, btw, sounds kind of ominous).

It's not ominous, but he "agreed" to the compromise I offered.  I didn't want to take her shopping at all, but said "okay fine, we can all go".  Then he didn't want to come at all, instead get "fresh air" while I wrangle the toddler and help MIL find underwear.  So...he wanted to relax in private after spending the day with his mom, and he wanted me to take her shopping after I had been working all day.  That's just not fair, and I don't want to set this precedent where I run around like a crazy person because my husband's family are crappy planners.
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: *inviteseller on June 18, 2013, 11:12:08 PM
OP, may I ask if your child has any issues that make it difficult to take the child out or to allow your MIL to watch him?  You have mentioned a few times that it is difficult to wrangle the toddler and that she can't watch him yet, so if there is issues and this visit is a stressor on those issues, you need to have a talk with husband about it.  Otherwise, yes, it is your husbands mother, but think of how you would want to be treated when you become a MIL..the poor woman is going to pick up real quick that you both are finding her to be a burden. 
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: shygirl on June 19, 2013, 06:40:54 AM
OP, may I ask if your child has any issues that make it difficult to take the child out or to allow your MIL to watch him?  You have mentioned a few times that it is difficult to wrangle the toddler and that she can't watch him yet, so if there is issues and this visit is a stressor on those issues, you need to have a talk with husband about it.  Otherwise, yes, it is your husbands mother, but think of how you would want to be treated when you become a MIL..the poor woman is going to pick up real quick that you both are finding her to be a burden.

It's just difficult to go shopping with my son.  You have to know what you want, where it is, and can't spend any time browsing.  It would have been impossible to keep an eye on him to make sure he's not wreaking havoc somewhere while helping MIL pick out what she wants.  Later in the shopping trip, we were all together picking out shoes for MIL, and my son was being difficult then too.  You just really CAN'T browse the stores with him.
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: CakeEater on June 19, 2013, 07:22:37 AM
I don't think the OP meant that MIL is like a toddler - but having someone else with you always complicates shopping trips. Everything takes longer, because you need to walk at the pace of the other person. If they see something they want to look at, you might have to stop and look for a few minutes when you'd really like to be getting home. It's harder to just change your mind and double back because you forgot something three aisles ago, because you have to explain to the other person why you're doing that.
 
And you have to keep up some semblance of conversation, which makes remembering all the things you need to buy more difficult.

It's just all extra work, and as a fellow introvert, and mother of a child who also makes shopping trips difficult, that would be hard work to do for weeks/months.

OP, definitely have a talk about the whole situation with DH. I liked the idea about asking him to take her out somewhere at a particular time while you have a break - have him take DS as well and have a real break!
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: TootsNYC on June 19, 2013, 07:35:03 AM
OP, may I ask if your child has any issues that make it difficult to take the child out or to allow your MIL to watch him?  You have mentioned a few times that it is difficult to wrangle the toddler and that she can't watch him yet, so if there is issues and this visit is a stressor on those issues, you need to have a talk with husband about it.  Otherwise, yes, it is your husbands mother, but think of how you would want to be treated when you become a MIL..the poor woman is going to pick up real quick that you both are finding her to be a burden.

Yeah, I'm feeling stressed already, and I'm not even the MIL.

I can't imagine any experience more lonely or aimless than visiting my grown children in a completely other town for days on end, when they're both at work during the day and wanting to not have me around at night. I'd feel like I was in the way, and I'd feel useless.

I'd probably end up cleaning their entire house just for something to DO, and pissing off my DIL because she thought I was making a judgment, or upsetting her because she thinks I'm a guest or something.

And if I were someone who truly couldn't be trusted to wander around the mall by myself, it would be even worse--I'd feel totally helpless and at their mercy. I'd feel trapped.

And if it were strangers I were visiting, it might actually be easier--they'd probably go MORE out of their way to help me enjoy the time, and there wouldn't be as many landmines. And I wouldn't have that sense of "not belonging" while in the company of my own child! And my grandkids, and my DIL, who is now my family too.

I'm never visiting my grown children for longer than 2 days!
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: *inviteseller on June 19, 2013, 08:07:48 AM
POD Toots!!!!  I would never want to be the burden or take a step out of line. 
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: lowspark on June 19, 2013, 08:20:31 AM
I'm never visiting my grown children for longer than 2 days!

You know, herein lies the whole problem. I agree that if shygirl and her husband feel like the visiting MIL is a burden, that will shine through. But really, it sounds like the husband agreed to host his mother without really including shygirl in the plans or taking her schedule or availability into account. On top of that, she's staying for an extended period of time.

If the husband feels like she's a burden, he shouldn't have agree to host her for so long. I don't think this is shygirl's fault but she is beiing made to deal with it.

So, ok, yeah, try to have a good attitude. But I think if I were in this sitution, I'd:
a) call the sister and discuss with her how long MIL is going to be with me and how long with her.
b) sit had have a talk with DH to discuss expectations for both him and me
c) make some kind of schedule/plan for the remainder of her stay
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: TootsNYC on June 19, 2013, 08:26:48 AM
Actually, I'm w/ DH--I wouldn't want to have to create a schedule/plan for her whole visit!

It's just life. OK, sometimes we should have some specific things to do. but the rest of the time, i want to lvie with a vague philosophy or intent. And then just let life work itself out.

But of course, there is *some* level of a plan behind that--the rough idea that on Friday, when you're out a little early, you'll do something mildly interesting with your mom; on Thursday when I go grocery shopping, I'll take her along.

The thing that often happens with people who "don't like to plan" is that they feel pressured to be highly specific when they know that they can't be, or they feel that once a plan is made it's a failure to not stick to it. So when you say "plan," they think "rigid schedule, etc." instead of "a general philosophy of how we'll handle some of our time.
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: lowspark on June 19, 2013, 08:46:34 AM
Oh, I agree!! I'm not suggesting a detailed itinereary for every minute of her stay. Not at all. That's why I said,
Quote
make some kind of schedule/plan for the remainder of her stay

Just like you're suggesting. A rough idea of the kind of thing you'll be doing (running errands or doing something fun/touristy or taking toddler to the playground or sitting around the house watching movies, etc.); and who will be doing it (shygirl & mil  or dh & Mil & toddler or all four or whatever).

This not only helps shygirl to figure out how this is all going to play out, it also gives MIL at least an idea of what's coming up. If I were her, I'd at least want to have some input in addition to not wanting to go to bed each night not having the slightest idea of what the next day was going to be about.
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: Cricket on June 19, 2013, 08:56:38 AM
Shygirl, I get the impression that you are stressed and tired, even without this visit from MIL.

What do you mean when you say you and DH work opposite shifts? Is it like, you work 9am-5pm, and he works 6pm-2am type thing? So you get up, go to work, come home, send hubby off to work, feed and bathe toddler and wrestle him into bed, do some chores around the house, go to bed exhausted and then get up and do it all over again the next day? Hubby is home during the day looking after toddler, works all evening, gets home in the wee hours of the morning, grabs a few hours sleep before he gets up and does it all over again? If so, I can understand your frustration and lack of enthusiasm for having a long term houseguest.

Do you have a friend who could watch your son for a few hours so you could go shopping/run errands alone once a week? Is there some reason why MIL can't watch your son while you do the groceries. or even take him to the park for a picnic lunch and play so you could have some quiet time on the weekend to get errands done or just relax for an hour or so?

Have either of you asked MIL what she would like to do during her stay? Is there anything special she'd like to do or see while she's with you? I'm in Australia and if I were visiting the USA there's so much I'd like to see and do, and you guys have the cheapest, prettiest quiltig fabrics around. I'd be wanting to hit the stores, too, but wouldn't necessarily want you to accompany me - just point me in the general direction and let me loose! So, maybe ask MIL what her plans are. You don't have to plan every minute of her stay with you. Some initiative has to come from DH and MIL, too.
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: Miss Unleaded on June 19, 2013, 09:10:49 AM
I don't think you're being mean or unreasonable.  I can totally relate to how you feel because I also feel pretty much the same when my in laws visit. We don't speak each other's language very well so I end up exhausted every time we have a conversation.  Both of my parents in law are quite high maintenance and aren't easy going, independent guests.  Like your DH, they aren't planners, and if I try to make plans they will often change things as they go without taking into consideration my preferences or even informing me sometimes.  So I might suggest we go to an antiques show and then notice we're heading in the wrong direction: 'Oh well mum said she wanted to go to the nursery and then have lunch at that cafe.'  Then at the cafe they'll suddenly remember an urgent prescription to fill.  And then at the chemist they'll see a park they want to visit, or a friend who lives in the area, and the day I'd planned in my head will go completely out the window.  It's really very stressful!

What I would suggest is to find out what your MIL likes to do and look for some activities in the area that will accommodate that.  For instance, if she enjoys playing games then maybe there's a board game group at your local library she can join and you can duck out and do the shopping in the meantime.  Or maybe if she enjoys gardening you can check your local nursery to see if there are classes running.  Basically look around for stuff your MIL can do while you take care of your own stuff.  You shouldn't have to spend your every free moment with a guest, especially not one that's staying for an extended visit. 

ETA does your MIL speak the local language?  If not that's going to make things much more complicated for you, but then maybe there's an expat group in the area that organises activities in her native language.
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: Miss Unleaded on June 19, 2013, 09:15:16 AM
You don't have to plan every minute of her stay with you. Some initiative has to come from DH and MIL, too.

Totally!  This is really an important part of being a good guest is coming up with your own ideas to keep yourself occupied and happy so that you're not imposing on your hosts.  Has your MIL given any ideas about how she would like to spend her visit with you or does she expect you to keep her entertained for her every waking moment?
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: Shoo on June 19, 2013, 09:22:46 AM
How old is your MIL?  Is she vibrant or frail?  Does she speak English?  Why CAN'T she be left alone with your child? 

Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: Janice on June 19, 2013, 10:12:07 AM
There's a great saying: "Fish and house guests begin to stink after 3 days."

I can't imagine my MIL visiting for months on end, especially if (as it sounds like from your post) her visit was organized by another person and I wasn't consulted. Being expected to be the designated planner on top of that would cause anyone to blow a fuse. Add to that shift work and a demanding toddler, plus being a more introverted personality and I can definitely see why you would be angry/resentful and not want to go out of your way to play Perfect Hostess. Your DH needs to put on his big boy pants and deal with this situation, since it sounds like he's kind of throwing you and your family's needs under the bus here.

If she's here on a longer visit, your or your DH could gather a whole list of "Things to do in YourCity", print it out and put it in a handy binder for her so she has a list of things to pick from. We used to do this when we hosted foreign students, and they loved it.

Stuff I always included was:

 

Part of the responsibility of being a long term guest is taking some responsibility for your own entertainment.This helps her to do that by giving her a list, so she doesn't sit there like a bump on a log with nothing to do. Then if your DH wants something to entertain MIL, she can pick from the list.

I'd also keep up your own routine. If you usually do X on Monday and Y on Tuesday, don't change that. If MIL want's to tag along a few times, I'd grin and bear it, but I certainly wouldn't rearrange your already stressful life, especially if your DH isn't picking up the slack. Can you negotiate at least 1-2 times a week where you get your alone time, and where DH watched your son and entertains MIL?
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: shygirl on June 19, 2013, 10:48:27 AM
How old is your MIL?  Is she vibrant or frail?  Does she speak English?  Why CAN'T she be left alone with your child?

She's in her 60s.  It's not really an etiquette issue about why we're not asking her to babysit while she's here, so I don't want to give details.  But, the bottom line is that she's not going to babysit right now.

She does speak English, but it's not very good.  In fact, many times she speaks to me in her native language, which I don't understand at all.  She also doesn't seem to understand me that well.  I'm not sure if it's because I don't talk loud enough, or she just doesn't understand what I'm saying.  So, actually I'm a little afraid of what's going to happen once DH goes back to work.  I don't want her to misterpret something I've said and be upset by it.  So far, any misinterpretations, of which there have been several, have been sorted out by DH right away.

Have either of you asked MIL what she would like to do during her stay? Is there anything special she'd like to do or see while she's with you? I'm in Australia and if I were visiting the USA there's so much I'd like to see and do, and you guys have the cheapest, prettiest quiltig fabrics around. I'd be wanting to hit the stores, too, but wouldn't necessarily want you to accompany me - just point me in the general direction and let me loose! So, maybe ask MIL what her plans are. You don't have to plan every minute of her stay with you. Some initiative has to come from DH and MIL, too.

I'll see if I can get DH to ask MIL what she wants to do.  That's a good idea.  I really hope the answer isn't "go everywhere with shygirl when she goes out".

I don't know what she likes to do.  She came here for a visit many years ago, before we were married.  I can't think of anything she really wanted to do, except for some shopping for things to take back home.  And when we went to visit her in her country, she didn't join us for any outings.  As far as I could tell, she stayed home or went to church.  She did have a lot of visitors at her home though, because we were visiting, and DH's old friends would come to the house to see him.

Shygirl, I get the impression that you are stressed and tired, even without this visit from MIL.

What do you mean when you say you and DH work opposite shifts? Is it like, you work 9am-5pm, and he works 6pm-2am type thing? So you get up, go to work, come home, send hubby off to work, feed and bathe toddler and wrestle him into bed, do some chores around the house, go to bed exhausted and then get up and do it all over again the next day? Hubby is home during the day looking after toddler, works all evening, gets home in the wee hours of the morning, grabs a few hours sleep before he gets up and does it all over again? If so, I can understand your frustration and lack of enthusiasm for having a long term houseguest.

This is pretty much all true.

Quote
Do you have a friend who could watch your son for a few hours so you could go shopping/run errands alone once a week? Is there some reason why MIL can't watch your son while you do the groceries. or even take him to the park for a picnic lunch and play so you could have some quiet time on the weekend to get errands done or just relax for an hour or so?

We don't have a lot of babysitting options, and the options we do have we reserve for emergencies or work issues.  Babysitting is not free either, so it doesn't seem like a good idea to use up our limited babysitting options so I can relax, when we do have true conflicts on occasion and need an emergency babysitter.  But, none of this really an etiquette question, it's really more of a parenting decision we've made.
Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: NyaChan on June 19, 2013, 10:56:51 AM
I've had to endure this style of houseguest many times (doing it right now with my grandma).  They are often either older and therefore can't drive, or from another country and therefore can't drive  :-\  Which means that they are just hanging around the house unless you take them out and when you take them out you can't leave them alone because that would be rude (in our culture at least) even if they do speak the language.  It is incredibly stressful because you have to incorporate them into your every day life rather than just adjust for the short term, but they are still guests and so get certain privileges that are irritating to give for long periods of time in your own home. 

I would maybe train MIL to think of your husband being home as being going out time, because normally she wouldn't expect to be out and about all day and evening right?  It just so happens that you are home in the day and DH is home in the evening.  So daytime, "I'm sorry MIL, but this the time where I get housework done and run quick errands, but this way DH can take you out when he is back for the evening.  Is there anything specific you want to do with him/us? I can help plan it out ahead of time so that you/we can go as soon as you/we are ready."

Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: AnnaJ on June 19, 2013, 11:27:15 AM
Quote
There's a great saying: "Fish and house guests begin to stink after 3 days."

I've felt that way about guests, too, and think that generally it a good rule.  The problem here, though, is that mom doesn't live close - I don't know where she lives vs the OP and husband, but it sound like a fair distance.  Given the price of travel and how wearing it can be, I understand that MIL doesn't want to go through that trouble and expense for a few days of visiting.

OP, does MIL speak the language of your country?  If so, maybe you could take her with you on some of these errands and let her look around the store while you get what you need - that way you only need to interact on the trip to and from the store.  Also could your child could stay with your husband while you run these errands?  I'm sure you all have worked out a schedule, but having company does call for some compromises.

Sorry OP, by the time this posted you'd answered these questions.

Title: Re: I don't want to take your mom shopping
Post by: Lynn2000 on June 19, 2013, 11:40:38 AM
I've had to endure this style of houseguest many times (doing it right now with my grandma).  They are often either older and therefore can't drive, or from another country and therefore can't drive  :-\  Which means that they are just hanging around the house unless you take them out and when you take them out you can't leave them alone because that would be rude (in our culture at least) even if they do speak the language.  It is incredibly stressful because you have to incorporate them into your every day life rather than just adjust for the short term, but they are still guests and so get certain privileges that are irritating to give for long periods of time in your own home. 

I would maybe train MIL to think of your husband being home as being going out time, because normally she wouldn't expect to be out and about all day and evening right?  It just so happens that you are home in the day and DH is home in the evening.  So daytime, "I'm sorry MIL, but this the time where I get housework done and run quick errands, but this way DH can take you out when he is back for the evening.  Is there anything specific you want to do with him/us? I can help plan it out ahead of time so that you/we can go as soon as you/we are ready."

I think this is a good idea. Not that you would completely ignore MIL when it's just the two of you (plus toddler), but maybe set up the expectation (with DH) that her social going-out time will be when DH is around (which sometimes you will join, and sometimes you won't). If you were going to clean the house, clean the house; if you are going out to the grocery store, maybe offer to take her with you every second or third time, but not every time.

I POD the idea of asking DH what some of her hobbies are--if you could get her set up with the TV, or find some books in her native language, or some craft supplies, she could keep herself occupied while you get your normal chores done or relax alone/with Toddler. Yeah, certainly every day you should have some socializing with her, but it doesn't have to be every moment that you're both in the house together. Maybe you could encourage her to walk around the block, or across the street to the park, when she wants some fresh air--in other words someplace close enough that it would be really hard for her to get lost or in much trouble, especially if you went with her the first time.

As far as misinterpretations of the language go, I think your DH just has to tell her, clearly, that you and she aren't fluent in the same language and mistakes are going to happen, but you are going to give her the benefit of the doubt, and she should give you the benefit of the doubt, and not assume you're deliberately saying something offensive to her. Maybe you could find an online/paper dictionary for her language, or a kids' picture dictionary, and use that with each other to clarify specific words; or try writing things down, sometimes people are better at interpreting foreign languages written than verbal. No, you're not going to have long, deep conversations with each other, but you should at least be able to get around each other without someone getting upset.