Author Topic: Need Spine Polish for upcoming visit  (Read 6762 times)

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twiggy

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Need Spine Polish for upcoming visit
« on: February 20, 2013, 03:39:52 AM »
I am trying to keep this as short as possible and to avoid turning this post into a rant about SIL, who is actually a good person in general, with many admirable traits. The problem is that SIL moved across country several years ago, still keeps in contact with her old friends here in HomeState, usually visits during holidays/special events, and typically has a very full social schedule when she's in town. She has a Good Friend who SIL continues to invite to family gatherings. The problem I have with this is that I am the one hosting, cooking, and paying for these gatherings. I find it irritating to have a random woman sitting at my table eating Christmas Dinner (even if it's served closer to New Year's, that's when we are celebrating the holiday as an extended family), not to mention the rudeness of SIL either ignoring the family to chat with her friend, or ignoring her guest who knows no one else at the house to talk to family members. But I have never been able to bring myself to turn someone away from my door at the holidays. I've also had problems addressing it with SIL, preferring to hope that she won't do it again.

Last summer, DH graduated from college, and I held a party that ended up being at a park. Good Friend turned up, and I literally didn't recognize her when I saw her in the street.

Christmas of 2010 I tried a very passive approach to talking to SIL. I mentioned that I ended up eating a cold dinner because I was scrambling to throw together extra side dishes because of the unexpected guests. That's when I found out that Good Friend lives only a few miles from my house and SIL hadn't been able to arrange any other time to get together with her.

After the graduation party, SIL was complaining that Good Friend hadn't even spent much time with her. GF's son kept running off to other parts of the park and kept trying to join another birthday party. GF was constantly either running after him, or taking care of her baby. I told SIL that I didn't know why GF was even there. SIL made some noises about not thinking I would mind. My tone got a bit cold and I told her I did. Later MIL was telling me how sad and depressed SIL was that Good Friend had ignored her, and I said I didn't really want to hear about it. MIL scolded a bit (not in a mean, bad way, it's just that sometimes she forgets that I'm not her actual child, and that I'm not a teenager for her to correct ::) though she did a lot more raising of me back in my teen years than my mother did) and told me that SIL only has a limited amount of time in Home State, and it's hard for her to make time for everyone. My response was that SIL could choose to spend her time any way she wanted, but if hanging out with her friend was more important than DH's celebration, I wished they would just go to lunch and save me the hassle of feeding everyone. It's like neither of them got that having Good Friend at the party, and socializing with her there meant that SIL was NOT socializing or celebrating with DH. Nor was she socializing with the rest of the extended family: aunts/uncles, cousins, grandparents, kiddos.

The whole family is coming out for Easter weekend. BIL #1 has been looking for a job in HomeState, and has been working at an internship for the past month. He will still be out here for Easter, and their kids have Good Friday off from school, so SIL decided that was a good time to visit. MIL had been planning a trip for Feb, but decided to delay and travel with SIL + kids. FIL couldn't have come in Feb, but work will be slowing down, so he will be able to make it out for Easter. Taking all the scheduling into consideration, DH and I decided to postpone having our Baby Blessed in our church so that MIL/FIL could be here.

So, I will be hosting Easter dinner, and it will be a combination Easter Dinner/Blessing luncheon. There will be lots of family, and I'm worried that SIL will invite Good Friend again. Should I preemptively assume that SIL will invite GF and tell her before they even get on the plane that GF is not invited? I don't see how to work that into a conversation, and it seems off (or maybe just terrifying) to call SIL up out of the blue specifically to tell her that she is NOT to invite GF to my house.

If SIL does invite GF anyway, how do I turn her away?  I can't imagine simply shutting the door in the face of someone who was improperly invited. It seems like punishing the innocent bystander. After all, she doesn't know that her presence is irritating me. For all I know, she's asked SIL if I'm ok with her being there, and SIL has assured her that it is fine. Should I just think of her as collateral damage to SIL's actions?
In the United States today, there is a pervasive tendency to treat children as adults, and adults as children.  The options of children are thus steadily expanded, while those of adults are progressively constricted.  The result is unruly children and childish adults.  ~Thomas Szasz

secretrebel

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Re: Need Spine Polish for upcoming visit
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2013, 06:18:07 AM »
Okay, first I think you need to work out what the source of the problem is for you.

Is it that SIL invites people to your house without asking?
Is it that SIL doesn't make more time to see you and your husband?
Is it that you actually dislike the good friend?

I am wondering if the third is playing more of a factor. You describe her as a "random woman" who you "didn't recognise when [you] saw her in the street". But this is someone who shares holiday meals with you often and comes to your parties. I don't understand why you don't know her better. You say that she doesn't know anyone at your family events except SIL but shouldn't the hosts be introducing her to the rest of the family and facilitating conversation. Have you tried talking to her yourself? Did you try but dislike the result? Or are you ignoring her because you think she's not really a guest because SIL invited her?

My advice to you would be either to tell SIL politely that you understand she wants to catch up with GF but you don't want to invite her to your home OR to make an effort to get to know this woman and make her welcome in the spirit of the holidays.

cicero

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Re: Need Spine Polish for upcoming visit
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2013, 06:56:14 AM »


So, I will be hosting Easter dinner, and it will be a combination Easter Dinner/Blessing luncheon. There will be lots of family, and I'm worried that SIL will invite Good Friend again. Should I preemptively assume that SIL will invite GF and tell her before they even get on the plane that GF is not invited? I don't see how to work that into a conversation, and it seems off (or maybe just terrifying) to call SIL up out of the blue specifically to tell her that she is NOT to invite GF to my house.

If SIL does invite GF anyway, how do I turn her away?  I can't imagine simply shutting the door in the face of someone who was improperly invited. It seems like punishing the innocent bystander. After all, she doesn't know that her presence is irritating me. For all I know, she's asked SIL if I'm ok with her being there, and SIL has assured her that it is fine. Should I just think of her as collateral damage to SIL's actions?
yes you need to be proactive and deal with this *before* easter, way before.

*now* that plans are being finalized, call/email your SIL and tell her - "SIL in the last few years you've invited GF to our house for events. I don't know if you were planning to do so for easter but we will have to ask you not to do so. We will not be able to host her at our events any more"

If she whines and kvetches just tell her "SIL, *you* are of course more than welcome but we cannot accommodate your friend any more". if she chooses to go to friend and not to your event, that is her loss (but be prepared that she will threaten/do just this)

We have (and i'm sure many of us have) some *close family friends* who are included in family events - but they are close family friends. not some person i knew a long time ago who ignores me at a family dinner...

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buvezdevin

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Re: Need Spine Polish for upcoming visit
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2013, 07:47:50 AM »
While I agree that it would be best to address this in advance, I also think it would make a difference if SIL had been routinely inviting her friend(s) to family events prior to your hosting, and the practice became the norm for that family.  While you don't know SIL's friend well, is she known to the rest of the family?  The fact that your MIL seems to have felt it was entirely fine for SIL to invite the friend to your DH's graduation celebration suggests that either your DH's family is used to being accepting of SIL's including one or more friends in family events, or that MIL sympathizes with SIL not having time to see all her friends during her visits to home town more than MIL cares to have celebrations limited to "family only."

At any rate, in your shoes, I think I would speak with MIL first and explain *your* feelings.  Better to understand her views, and know if you are changing a long-standing practice/approach of their family before you address the matter with SIL.  Then speak with SIL.
Never refuse to do a kindness unless the act would work great injury to yourself, and never refuse to take a drink -- under any circumstances.
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*inviteseller

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Re: Need Spine Polish for upcoming visit
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2013, 08:19:41 AM »
I think you should calmly tell SIL (with your DH's backing) that this is going to be family only.  If she starts whinging on about not getting alot of time to socialize, point out that because of the distance you live from one another, you also don't get to see her alot and would love a family gathering to be just that, family.  And you are the hostess, not your SIL, so she doesn't get to do random invites, and correct me if I am wrong, but does she even tell you this woman is coming?  That is rude and you are ok, IMO by telling her no guests.  And if her or your MIL try to whine and try to get you to give in, tell them if they would like to host the family at a restaurant, and invite who they want, you will gladly hand over the hostess title.
You say that she doesn't know anyone at your family events except SIL but shouldn't the hosts be introducing her to the rest of the family and facilitating conversation. Have you tried talking to her yourself? Did you try but dislike the result? Or are you ignoring her because you think she's not really a guest because SIL invited her?


I don't think it's OP's place to become friends with this woman because she just keeps showing up at the gatherings, and it doesn't sound like the friend has gone out of the way to get to know the family that she keeps coming to dinner with.  She doesn't attempt to socialize with the family, just with the SIL and that makes her rude.  Why should a hostess go out of her way to make an uninvited guest feel more at ease, when she is also busy trying to find more food so as guest will at least get a meal?

Kaypeep

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Re: Need Spine Polish for upcoming visit
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2013, 08:19:41 AM »
I think you should contact the SIL and say something to her when you invite her to the dinner/celebration.  I'd say "Here are the details for Easter Dinner/Baby Blessing.   Also, I wanted to let you know what DH and I prefer to keep this event limited to our family and friends, so we'd appreciate it if you would not invite any of your local friends over for socializing during this time.  I hope you understand and I thank you for your cooperation on this."  I think your DH also needs to take a stand and speak to sis and reiterate this.  He can say "Look, we've said nothing when you invited her to xmas, graduation, etc.  but we're putting our foot down.  We host and pay for these events, and we don't appreciate having extra guests there that weren't even invited by us.  If you want to see GF, then by all means do so. But not on our time and not on our dime."  I disagree with the PP who said to consult with MIL.  Talk to your DH and see what HE thinks.  These are YOUR parties and you do have a say.

YummyMummy66

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Re: Need Spine Polish for upcoming visit
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2013, 10:09:02 AM »
Is this your SIl through your brother or your dh's brother?  If this is the latter, than your DH needs to address this with his sister.   Hey, sis, just wanted to let you know that since we are gathering to celebrate not only Easter, but baby's baptism, this will be a family only event.  No one else is invited outside of our immediate family. 

If not through your dh, than you can state the above in your version.

twiggy

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Re: Need Spine Polish for upcoming visit
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2013, 10:48:50 AM »
SecretRebel
It's not that I dislike Good Friend. I nothing her. I only see her for a few hours per year, when I have a house full of people. I open the door, she greets me, I realize who she is, then I welcome her inside, offer her a drink, and make small talk, usually asking how the kids/husband are doing. I think I remember what her DH does for a living and how many kids they have, but I honestly don't know her. She seems nice, but a family gathering with 20 + people who are spread across 4 different states isn't exactly conducive to getting to know someone better.

buvezdevin
I'm not sure if Friend has always come to family functions. Around the time DH and I got married, MIL/FIL moved out of state, so I don't know if Friend has always been around. I think that Good Friend was a college roommate, or went to school with SIL, or they worked together right out of school. So MIL knows GF, from that time period, and because SIL keeps up with her and keeps MIL in the loop (SIL is currently living with MIL). I do know that when we go to extended family functions hosted by DH's Aunts/Uncles SIL doesn't invite GF. Also, when MIL/FIL are in town, we typically have everyone (3 families in Home State, plus whoever came from Other State) meet up for dinner at a restaurant least once. Friend has never come to the restaurant dinners either.
Now that I think about it, I don't remember seeing her in SIL's home when they still lived here and DH and I spent a lot of time with them. She might have been at Nephew's First Birthday party, but I don't remember seeing her any other time.

Kaypeep
DH doesn't really care. He is upset because he sees that I am upset. But he doesn't understand how much time/effort goes on behind the scenes.

I guess I have to call SIL. I am not looking forward to that conversation. I'm much better at being firm with my own family than with the in-laws.
In the United States today, there is a pervasive tendency to treat children as adults, and adults as children.  The options of children are thus steadily expanded, while those of adults are progressively constricted.  The result is unruly children and childish adults.  ~Thomas Szasz

deadbody

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Re: Need Spine Polish for upcoming visit
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2013, 10:59:34 AM »
Would it be easier to just assume she is coming and prepare the food for that?

It doesn't sound like you dislike her, you don't love that she just shows up having been invited by someone else, but you are polite and work with it.

Why not plan for it, and if friend doesn't show up you have a bit more leftovers.

AnnaJ

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Re: Need Spine Polish for upcoming visit
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2013, 11:00:38 AM »
Later MIL was telling me how sad and depressed SIL was that Good Friend had ignored her, and I said I didn't really want to hear about it. MIL scolded a bit (not in a mean, bad way, it's just that sometimes she forgets that I'm not her actual child, and that I'm not a teenager for her to correct ::) though she did a lot more raising of me back in my teen years than my mother did) and told me that SIL only has a limited amount of time in Home State, and it's hard for her to make time for everyone. My response was that SIL could choose to spend her time any way she wanted, but if hanging out with her friend was more important than DH's celebration, I wished they would just go to lunch and save me the hassle of feeding everyone. It's like neither of them got that having Good Friend at the party, and socializing with her there meant that SIL was NOT socializing or celebrating with DH. Nor was she socializing with the rest of the extended family: aunts/uncles, cousins, grandparents, kiddos.


The bolded is what jumped out at me in the story, it sounds as though you spent a lot of time as a teenager with your future inlaws.  If so, there may be a pattern of the family believing that friends are welcome at family gatherings.  Given that your MIL doesn't agree with your assessment of SIL, it sounds like a difference of expectation.  Maybe it would help to ask yourself if you, as a friend of your future husband, would have been welcome at family graduation parties or baby blessings when you weren't family yourself.  That doesn't mean you need to invite your SIL's friend, but if such an invitation is the family norm you need to be prepared for some fallout.

*inviteseller

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Re: Need Spine Polish for upcoming visit
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2013, 11:21:54 AM »

[/quote]

The bolded is what jumped out at me in the story, it sounds as though you spent a lot of time as a teenager with your future inlaws.  If so, there may be a pattern of the family believing that friends are welcome at family gatherings.  Given that your MIL doesn't agree with your assessment of SIL, it sounds like a difference of expectation.  Maybe it would help to ask yourself if you, as a friend of your future husband, would have been welcome at family graduation parties or baby blessings when you weren't family yourself.  That doesn't mean you need to invite your SIL's friend, but if such an invitation is the family norm you need to be prepared for some fallout.
[/quote]

If I am reading the OP correctly though (and correct me if I am wrong), OP spent a lot of time with her in laws family as a recognized SO and was invited by the family.  This woman is being invited by SIL for the expressed purpose of them catching up and visiting with each other, not the whole family.  And that is IMO rude, because this is not a casual bar b que with friends and family, this is a hosted holiday/special event meal that the hostess invited people to.  And, with the update, this woman is not going to any other family events hosted in others homes, just the OP, so that seems to show lack of respect by both SIL and friend for the OP and her hospitality.  When I lived out of state and my then DH and I would come home for a long weekend, we tried to cram in as much as possible, but sometimes some friends just didn't get seen that visit because we made more time for our families and those events, and I would never have invited anyone into a relatives home just because I wanted to see my friend.  It is just rude and disrespectful

NyaChan

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Re: Need Spine Polish for upcoming visit
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2013, 11:28:15 AM »
I think this could be solved with some clear communication - tell SIL ahead of time that Good Friend is not invited, that this is invite only and she is not on the guest list.  Hold firm, and don't get taken in by any I-only-have-one-day-to-see-people excuses.  Prior to now, it seems that the only time you've really protested to her presence was after a party, and even then it was only in response to SIL bringing it up.  Your response did not clearly state that your events are invite-only and it seems that your SIL is not the type of person to take a hint unless it pleases her to do so  ::) 

Eden

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Re: Need Spine Polish for upcoming visit
« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2013, 11:38:35 AM »
While I agree with others that SIL was rude to invite Good Friend in the first place without ever asking OP, were I in the OP's situation, I would seriously consider if it was really worth it to me to address this. Here's my thinking:
1. This has clearly been a practice for awhile and gone unaddressed making it a bit of a tradition.
2. This is one person. The same person. It's not like SIL invites whomever she wants whenever she wants. I don't see that it requires much if any extra effort on the OP's part.

Because this has been happening for some time, it seems to me the potential fallout is pretty certain and probably not going to be minor. To me, it wouldn't be worth addressing at this point. But that is for the OP to decide.

OP, if you want to put a stop to this and are okay with whatever fallout may follow, I'd proactively contact SIL and say you'd like to keep Easter family only and would appreciate if she checks with you before inviting Good Friend to future gatherings.

AnnaJ

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Re: Need Spine Polish for upcoming visit
« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2013, 11:54:15 AM »


The bolded is what jumped out at me in the story, it sounds as though you spent a lot of time as a teenager with your future inlaws.  If so, there may be a pattern of the family believing that friends are welcome at family gatherings.  Given that your MIL doesn't agree with your assessment of SIL, it sounds like a difference of expectation.  Maybe it would help to ask yourself if you, as a friend of your future husband, would have been welcome at family graduation parties or baby blessings when you weren't family yourself.  That doesn't mean you need to invite your SIL's friend, but if such an invitation is the family norm you need to be prepared for some fallout.
[/quote]

If I am reading the OP correctly though (and correct me if I am wrong), OP spent a lot of time with her in laws family as a recognized SO and was invited by the family.  This woman is being invited by SIL for the expressed purpose of them catching up and visiting with each other, not the whole family.  And that is IMO rude, because this is not a casual bar b que with friends and family, this is a hosted holiday/special event meal that the hostess invited people to.  And, with the update, this woman is not going to any other family events hosted in others homes, just the OP, so that seems to show lack of respect by both SIL and friend for the OP and her hospitality.  When I lived out of state and my then DH and I would come home for a long weekend, we tried to cram in as much as possible, but sometimes some friends just didn't get seen that visit because we made more time for our families and those events, and I would never have invited anyone into a relatives home just because I wanted to see my friend.  It is just rude and disrespectful
[/quote]

I read it differently, probably because the OP said "She has a Good Friend who SIL continues to invite to family gatherings." which made me think that this friend had always been welcome at family events, so this would be a change in that attitude.  I also don't see a lot of difference between boyfriend/girlfriend and friends being welcomed by a family - but then I tend to think of a SO in terms of adults, so wouldn't apply it to teens.

Deetee

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Re: Need Spine Polish for upcoming visit
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2013, 12:42:44 PM »
The rule is that, as the host, you can decide who you want to invite and you are free to turn away anyone. In a case like this where the good friend has come to all the other events, I would consider that she has a "standing invite" and therefor you must make clear BEFORE she shows up that she is not invited. It would be cruel to someone who has come to numerous family events to turn them away at the door.

If you don't want her there you tell SIL in so  many words. You do not passive agressively talk about your cold meal because you had to make food for her uninvited guests. (I am confused as to whether SIL brought so many people without warning that you didn't have enough food. That is a different problem)

The other thing to consider is that when you are hosting a family dinner, there is a relaxing of the rules of invites. There is a difference between a dinner party where you invite specific people and a holiday dinner where someone will host and the guest list is already set by the family (not the hosts to the same extent). I'm saying anyone needs to invite a horrible, abusive guest just because they always have been there, but boring cousin Chad or cranky aunt May get Christmas invites regardless of the host (even if they don't get invites the rest of the year).

A final rule is that you either make the lack of invite clear OR you host ungrudgingly. Once someone is a guest, they are a full, welcome guest.

So, if you don't want the guest there, you call SIL right now and tell her that. You also must own that lack of invite and realise that some people who may be used to seeing her there and enjoy her company may find your actions unhospitible (as someone whose "family dinners" have often included close friends or distant relatives of other guests, I would find the sudden exclusion of a guest strange and a bit cold-It is totally, totally your right, as it is your house, your money, your effort, but I will admit that I don't understand your reasoning).