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Socialworkinjune

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

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

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

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

Any advice?

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

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

Thanks for reading this far!

Zizi-K

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Re: In Laws and Family Event
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2013, 08:42:26 AM »
If I can boil down your question, it is (as I understand it): should I be annoyed/angry that my husband agreed to do some work (that I don't think he should be doing) that would cause him to miss the ceremony, thereby not keeping me company?

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

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



LeveeWoman

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Re: In Laws and Family Event
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2013, 08:45:02 AM »
As much as I dislike toxic relatives, I think your husband should go through with his chore. because the wedding is tomorrow.  He should've spoken up a week ago so that the mother of the bride could've found another patsy.

 Going forward, he should take steps to install a spine.

rose red

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Re: In Laws and Family Event
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2013, 08:46:32 AM »
I'm not sure what advice you are asking for.  How to get DH not to cook?  If you should go or not?  How to not attend without any fallout?  Is the problem that you will be sitting alone?

The only thing I can say is that a lot of people have attended ceremonies where they are not familiar with the religion or culture.  The simplest thing is just sit and observe. 

JenJay

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Re: In Laws and Family Event
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2013, 08:58:32 AM »
I think you handled your MIL well with regard to your son. It does sound like she planned to tell her sister "I can't help serve because swij needs me to take DS home." While possibly offering you up as her replacement. If your son was invited to the wedding and reception he should be allowed to go and enjoy them. Like you said, you can take him home if necessary.

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

As for advice I think you should go to the wedding and politely decline any last minute pleas for help with "I'm sorry but I need to stay with DS." If someone counters with "Oh I'll watch him for you." you say "No thank you, excuse me." as you head in the opposite direction.

Luci

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Re: In Laws and Family Event
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2013, 09:11:54 AM »
I'm kind of wondering if there is a dynamic in a small, tight town and a large family that you are missing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And ------------------ Happy Anniversary and many more!

Zilla

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Re: In Laws and Family Event
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2013, 09:35:04 AM »
It's a family affair and family help each other.  While it sounds a bit last minute etc, but I really don't see the issue.  Mil asked if she could take your DS home and explained why.  You refused.  That's fine.  She wasn't rude for asking or clarifying and you weren't rude for declining.  Furthermore if you are asked to serve food, this isn't rude.  And again you declining isn't rude.


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


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


ETA As for the ceremony itself, didn't you say that you were keeping your DS with you and to gauge how he would do?  Would he not sit with you as well?
« Last Edit: March 15, 2013, 09:44:49 AM by Zilla »

citadelle

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Re: In Laws and Family Event
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2013, 09:38:56 AM »
Hello everyone! First time posting, long time reader.

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

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

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

Any advice?

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

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

Thanks for reading this far!

I think you should ask your daughters to sit with you. Alternately, you could sit with them and their friends. However, since you don't want to sit alone, I think it would be appropriate for you to insist that they sit with you.

LeveeWoman

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Re: In Laws and Family Event
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2013, 09:47:37 AM »
It's a family affair and family help each other.  While it sounds a bit last minute etc, but I really don't see the issue.  Mil asked if she could take your DS home and explained why.  You refused.  That's fine.  She wasn't rude for asking or clarifying and you weren't rude for declining.  Furthermore if you are asked to serve food, this isn't rude.  And again you declining isn't rude.


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


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

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

bah12

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Re: In Laws and Family Event
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2013, 09:51:47 AM »
So far, I think everything here is ok.  You were fine to refuse your MIL's insistance that she take your DS home after the wedding and so far it doesn't sound like she's going to continue to push the issue.  If she does, just continue to say "no."

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

Zilla

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Re: In Laws and Family Event
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2013, 10:01:37 AM »

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


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


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


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



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



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






LeveeWoman

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Re: In Laws and Family Event
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2013, 10:03:40 AM »

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


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


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


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



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



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







Yep. And then she must tell him to grow up and act more like a husband and father than he has so far.

ccnumber4

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Re: In Laws and Family Event
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2013, 10:18:59 AM »
I am reading this right? 



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



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

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


Socialworkinjune

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Re: In Laws and Family Event
« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2013, 10:22:31 AM »
Sorry if this double posts - I am having computer issues.

First of all, I appreciate everyone replies and views.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Socialworkinjune

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Re: In Laws and Family Event
« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2013, 10:27:30 AM »
@ccnumber4 - I was referring to Mary Fay and parents of the hc being able to afford the wedding - not my MIL and FIL.

Thank you for your concern for the rest of your comments.