Author Topic: A potentially sticky in-law situation...what can I do?  (Read 2694 times)

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maryofdoom

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A potentially sticky in-law situation...what can I do?
« on: December 26, 2012, 08:58:30 AM »
Hello, friends,

I hope that you've all had a lovely winter holiday, whichever one you happen to celebrate. I have a question for you today - what can I do in this situation?

My father-in-law, Jack, is a smoker. This is not generally a problem for me - even though he smokes in his house, he is careful not to blow the smoke on or near non-smokers (like me and my husband Spencer) - and the greatest consequence that we have to deal with is that every time we visit, the clothes we have worn need to go immediately in the wash upon arriving home. (They usually need to be washed anyway, as Jack and Spencer's mother Kate have two large, friendly dogs.) Additionally, whenever Jack visits our house, he is careful to always smoke on the porch. I really do appreciate his courtesy in this matter. And besides, he's smoked all his life. He knows it's bad for him, and it's not my place to tell him what he can and cannot do when he's in his own home.

However, Spencer's sister Baylor and her husband Mark do not have the same highly developed sense of propriety. Mark, in particular, is a chain smoker, and when we're all at Jack and Kate's for family gatherings, when Mark isn't eating, he's smoking. And blowing the smoke wherever he pleases. Baylor is almost as thoughtless with her smoking, too.

Friends, I have really bad sinuses. I get sinus headaches when the weather changes and at least a couple of sinus infections each year. It's only getting worse as I get older. Apparently one of the other things to which I have to look forward is an increased sensitivity to cigarette smoke. We left Jack and Kate's twelve hours ago and I'm still stuffed up, with a sore throat and a headache. (I actually spent an incredibly unpleasant night in bed and started composing this post when I couldn't sleep at 4 AM.) My symptoms started after about two and a half hours of exposure to Baylor and Mark's smoking.

Is there anything that I can do? Aside from not going to visit Spencer's parents when Baylor and Mark are going to be there (which isn't really an acceptable solution), I don't know what to do.

Unfortunately, we are unable to host Baylor and Mark at our house because they are recovering drug addicts who have stolen money and items from Spencer's family in the past. As a result, Spencer does not want them to know where we live - to the extent that they were not invited to our wedding ceremony (which took place in our backyard).

I feel that it's really not my place to tell Baylor and Mark what they can and can't do at Jack and Kate's house. Especially since I married into the family. I love Spencer, and I get along great with his family. I don't want to cause a rift or look like a spoiled diva, but my health is important to me, and I don't want to be incapacitated for a while after every time we see everyone together.

Thanks for your input. I really appreciate the help.

Barb3000

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Re: A potentially sticky in-law situation...what can I do?
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2012, 09:08:57 AM »
This is your health we are talking about. You are NOT being a spoiled diva. I would opt for not visiting, and tell them why.

katycoo

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Re: A potentially sticky in-law situation...what can I do?
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2012, 09:20:25 AM »
While you can't tell them what they can and can't do, you're well within the bounds of etiquette to explin your health issues and request that they smoke away from you if possible.  Until you ask, you have no idea whether they will be ameniable to the suggestion.  They probably have no idea how much it bothers you.

WillyNilly

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Re: A potentially sticky in-law situation...what can I do?
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2012, 09:25:11 AM »
I would start with asking them to be more mindful.  I would also speak to the parents and let them know the issue.  Then plan to arrive a bit earlier then Baylor & Mark and plan to leave earlier - that way you still get as much time with your PILs but less time with Baylor & Mark.  So if dinner is at 6, with Baylor & Mark showing up at 5 and everyone sitting around chatting until 10, you show up at 3 and chat before dinner then leave at about 7, leaving Baylor & Mark time to chat with PILs.

Then if Baylor and Mark don't change at all, consider bringing a face mask.  Yeah you'll look odd and everyone might be a bit uncomfortable at first, but your breathing will be less affected plus its a great visual reminder that this is a real issue.

cicero

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Re: A potentially sticky in-law situation...what can I do?
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2012, 09:26:31 AM »
This is your health we are talking about. You are NOT being a spoiled diva. I would opt for not visiting, and tell them why.
I agree

and you don't have to wait till it gets that bad before standing up for yourself.

I *don't* get sinus attacks from being near smokers but i don't want that smoke near me anyway - it's not healthy and i can't stand it- hate the smell, hate that lingering smoky smell in my hair and clothing.  I walk away from people smoking at bus stops - and there is no way i would spend a holiday meal or event surrounded by smokers

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maryofdoom

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Re: A potentially sticky in-law situation...what can I do?
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2012, 09:35:35 AM »
Thank you for your input, everyone. You're all right - I do need to stand up more for myself.

Baylor and Mark have spectacularly bad perception of how their actions affect other people. I don't know if it's a function of their years of drug use, or an inherent character flaw, but they are shockingly inconsiderate in a lot of ways, both big and small.

Mark is also especially impossible to talk to. I have never even actually had a conversation with him that lasted longer than about a minute. I fear that asking them not to blow their smoke around me would not be a one-time thing, but would be something I have to repeat again and again.

Additionally, they have only a brief relationship with the concept of punctuality. For example, dinner yesterday was scheduled for 3:30. Spencer and I arrived at 2:45, while Baylor and Mark rolled in around 4:30. They stayed until 6 or so, while Spencer and I stayed until 8:30. So they're already leaving gatherings early, and honestly, I have never been this affected by the smoke before.

I may have Spencer talk to Baylor about this issue. She may be more open to suggestion if it comes from her brother.

Isisnin

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Re: A potentially sticky in-law situation...what can I do?
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2012, 09:36:13 AM »
Been there.  My mother was a chain smoker.  After my parents divorced and she moved into an apartment on her own, i spent a 3 day weekend with her and came home with a cough that lasted weeks.  When I went to the Dr, he said it was definitely due to spending 3 days with a chain smoker in an enclosed space.

Due to many other reasons, I opted not to say anything to my mother, but from then on spent no more than one night there.

In your case, a few days before the family gathering, you, or maybe better, your husband, should call the parents and explain that you're looking forward to the gathering but...  Then explain that you wanted them to know ahead of time that it will be a short visit and why.  You don't want them to be offended.  then it is up to them to make and enforce any smoking rules.

Ideally, they would just make smoking rules (like only on the porch), stick to their guns,  and not tell siblings-in-law why.

Good luck
« Last Edit: December 26, 2012, 01:17:37 PM by Isisnin »

Winterlight

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Re: A potentially sticky in-law situation...what can I do?
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2012, 11:17:24 AM »
I think Spencer needs to be the one to call his parents and explain the situation.
If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,
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To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.
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Mikayla

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Re: A potentially sticky in-law situation...what can I do?
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2012, 02:38:08 PM »
I think Spencer needs to be the one to call his parents and explain the situation.

I agree with this.  I don't see anything wrong with him asking them to designate smoking zones when Baylor and Mark are invited.  (That last part matters, because I'd think OP would want to make it clear it's not a problem when it's just Jack, who is a thoughtful smoker).  And this isn't really telling Jack what to do in his own house.  It's more asking for an accommodation based on the behavior of others.

But it should come from his son.

JenJay

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Re: A potentially sticky in-law situation...what can I do?
« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2012, 02:49:58 PM »
I would ask Spenser to explain to his mom that the chain smoking wreaks havoc on your sinuses and, for medical reasons, you can't be around your SIL & her BF while they smoke. If it's important to your in-laws to have all the kids together they can either announce a new "smoking outside only" rule or meet up at restaurants.