Author Topic: How to stop the escalation? Final implosion #59, updates #90, #151  (Read 42468 times)

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LeveeWoman

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #45 on: April 22, 2013, 01:33:12 PM »
Start as you mean to go on.

zyrs

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #46 on: April 22, 2013, 02:38:20 PM »
My take on this is that  LordL needs to stand up to his mother for the both of your sakes.  Notify your family and the wedding party not to accept the invite to the reunion.  Make plans with friends and let LordL go to the reunion by himself.

Marriage is stressful enough to navigate without extended family making it even more stressful.

Kaypeep

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #47 on: April 22, 2013, 03:15:13 PM »
I think the MIL is out of line.  It's a family reunion, and not about OP and her FDH.  For her MIL to send out any invites/announcements revolving around them offends me on behalf of the whole family.  What about the seriously ill family members who may not be around next year?  What about the new babies/graduates/anniversary couples, etc???  There are many milestones that can be shared and celebrated at this event but MIL is making it about OP and her son, which really (based on other stories from OP) is about making it about MIL.  If I were OP, I'd tell DH I'm not comfortable going to an event that is possibly going to be hijacked on your behalf.  MIL is taking away from the nature of the event, plus has a history of steamrolling people to get her own way.  You won't participate in that, no matter how much of a compromise she may seem to have made.  I think you were perfectly fine accepting a toast in your honor at the event, but why does a toast require an invitation?  Something is fishy and I don't trust MIL at all.  Plus, I don't like the idea of stealing the spotlight at a family event by declaring such on the invite.  It's just not right.

bopper

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #48 on: April 22, 2013, 03:51:57 PM »
More thoughts:

Yes, bridal showers are traditional (in the USA).
However, I suspect their origin is to help young couples establish a brand new household.
I suspect that is not the case for you...you do not need that financial help.

It is also traditional to have a wedding where people can celebrate your wedding. You are planning to have one.

I suspect where MIL is having issues is that you may not be inviting everyone she would want to the wedding.  By having a shower at the reunion, then she gets to have "her side" involved SOMEHOW in your wedding. But by saying NO SHOWER, she has turned to a TOAST.  She still wants to make it known that HER SON is getting married and gosh darn it she will make sure her people know it, and know it when she gets a chance to be in the spotlight.

LordL is probably looking at this "as is"..."A toast would be okay!"  and you are looking at it as "Give an inch, take a mile/Set boundaries".
A normal person might have been disappointed about the shower, but then at the reunion raised a glass to you, and to whoever had anniversaries, and whomever had a birthday.

lowspark

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #49 on: April 22, 2013, 04:20:30 PM »
Hi everyone. Thanks for the feedback. This is definitely a difficult case because I agree with all of you that LordL is habituated to his mother's behavior. He said to me, "Well the rest of the family just lies down and takes it when she does this stuff to them. I at least pushed back on her a lot." To him, this is progress, and I agree to an extent. But if you push back and *still* get steamrolled it teaches you that you need to change tactics.

What is really hard is that because he sees this behavior as more normal than I do, he has trouble understanding my reaction and strong feelings about it. He said it felt like he was being put in the middle between me and his mother. I told him we're supposed to be on the same team, so there is not a "middle," and that he is my primary family now. I put priority on our relationship above that with my parents, siblings, etc. - his happiness is more important to me, and I expect my happiness to be more important than pleasing his mother. I don't think he quite sees that when he chooses his mother's way over what we agreed upon, he is not following that contract.

At this point I am perfectly willing to call MIL myself and lay it all out on the line - NO SHOWER. Politely but firmly. In the past I have insisted all communication go through LordL but I am willing to make an exception - thoughts on whether this is a good or  bad idea?

Also, it is possible he could go alone, but it is 4 hours away so I would have to either stay home or make alternate plans with friends in that area (both are doable). If the situation continues to stall out that is what I plan on doing. I know it will hurt LordL a bit (he'd like me there because reacquainting with his relatives is a bit emotionally fraught for him), but honestly this situation hurts me too and if he can't admit that there is no way to please everyone, someone's going to get hurt - me, him, or MIL - and I have personally completely had it with being mistreated by MIL, so it's not going to be me.

I know that the conventional wisdom is that it's his mother so he should be the one to tell her whenever something is bothering you (his wife/fiancee) or you (both). But as a mother-in-law myself I would much rather have the offended person speak directly to me. So if my DIL has a problem with something I've said or done, I don't want her to go tell my son who in turn will tell me. It feels like I'm being handled IYKWIM. Sure, I'm his mother so he has that rapport with me. But if DIL and I want to grow the bond between us, we need to be able to communicate directly instead of using my son/her husband as a go-between.

Of course, it helps that my goal is to have as great a rel@tionship with both of them as possible and though admittedly, I do have my own agenda (don't we all?) I am trying not to step on toes or create any animosity.

But really, I just don't see it as a bad thing for you to just speak directly to her. This will take the feeling of being in the middle off of LordL and it will also give you and FMIL a chance to nurture your own association. I can understand LordL's distress at being the one to always have to tell his mother that you (both) aren't happy with something she's done. It does sort of put him in the (perceived) position of always being the "bad guy".

If I were the mom in this case, I'd really appreciate it if you approached me directly with your conerns and we worked things out together. Of course, I can't speak for your actual MIL so I don't know if this will work or backfire in your case, but at this point, it might be a good idea to at least give it a shot.

Sophia

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #50 on: April 22, 2013, 05:06:24 PM »
One thing that would bug me is that I suspect this isn't really about you, LordL or the wedding.  It is about your MIL wanting to be in the spotlight. 

This would be my plan.  Do like whats-her-face did on Green Acres.  Remember when the slimy salesguy would raise the price on her?  She would lower it.  When he complained.  She lowered it more.  Every time she tries to add something in, you subtract something. 

In this case, even though you were OK with a toast at the reunion (that a compromise you were willing to live with)  She insisted on pushing it a little bit more and wants to send out invitations.  Really?  Invitations to a toast at a Reunion?  That does not pass the smell test.  You don't need to prepare for a toast.  You just do it during the toasting time with whomever is there already.  So, now I would say to FMIL, "You know, I was OK with the toast.  But, now with these invitations... it is looking more and more like a shower.  I no longer comfortable with even a toast"

She will soon learn to not push your boundaries.  If she says she'll do a toast anyway, then visit friends in town.

TootsNYC

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #51 on: April 22, 2013, 05:22:43 PM »
I think especially because this is "bridal shower" territory, which is traditionally a female territory, that you can directly speak to his mom on this issue.

And make it be not about her and the boundaries, but about you and how her plan would put you in such an uncomfortable spot. Make it personal--make it something she is doing out of consideration for you.

It'll be more powerful.

blarg314

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #52 on: April 22, 2013, 08:39:41 PM »

At this point I am perfectly willing to call MIL myself and lay it all out on the line - NO SHOWER. Politely but firmly. In the past I have insisted all communication go through LordL but I am willing to make an exception - thoughts on whether this is a good or  bad idea?


I'm not sure it will be an effective idea, unfortunately. My bet will be that if you show up to the reunion, there will be a shower, or a shower equivalent dressed up in slightly different wording.


As hard as it is to put LordL in a difficult emotional position, he can't have it both ways.  He can't ignore your needs/boundaries to placate his mother and then expect you to be there to support him while he visits relatives who make him nervous and protect him from the stress MIL causes.


This is a very good point. You can't put your wife through the ringer with your family and not back her up properly, and then expect her to happily act as a shield to make interactions with your family less painful. There's likely a very good reason his relationships with his family are tense - having his wife there to soothe/protect him isn't going to make those reasons disappear.

On another note - I see the new working as definitely being a shower, because these are invitations to a family reunion, that are being sent to non-family members, solely to invite them to celebrate a forthcoming wedding.  You can call it a shower, or an engagement party, but it's not a family reunion at that point.

If your MIL were a normally reasonable person who really, really wanted to have a family shower, then I'd say going along with it would be okay for family happiness. By the sounds of it, this is one in a long string of incidents where your MIL tries to do something unreasonable, you object, she does it anyways, and your fiance is  puzzled about why you're so upset, because after all, you did stand up to her by saying no. That's not just an etiquette nightmare, it's marriage dysfunction in the making.

And quite frankly - it's better to make a stink over an unwanted bridal shower than to have to make a stink actually at your wedding when she pulls something else (unwanted guests, maybe?).


LadyL

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #53 on: April 22, 2013, 09:18:50 PM »
So LordL and I talked things over again and I think we're much closer to being on the same page. He is going to call them and explain that we do not want the event to be about us, we don't want to be the guests of honor. They can send out invites to "the annual family reunion" and mention "at x o'clock there will be a toast in honor of Lady and Lord L's upcoming wedding." He will lay out that there will be no wedding themed decor, games, cakes, etc. He also agreed to stay in touch with them and reinforce these boundaries so they don't try to secretly make it a shower. If we suspect they are we will remind them that we will not attend a shower. If we show up and it is one, we will tell the other guests we are ill and leave. Because at that point I would actually be ill >:D.

NyaChan

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #54 on: April 22, 2013, 10:36:10 PM »
Good plan!

Pen^2

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #55 on: April 22, 2013, 11:14:10 PM »
Great update! Just keep on reminding yourselves (maybe LordL a little more than yourself) that you are not interested in compromises. You want to do nothing, MIL wants to do something. By doing a little bit of something, MIL still gets her way and you get nothing. Good luck!

LifeOnPluto

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #56 on: April 22, 2013, 11:30:39 PM »
So LordL and I talked things over again and I think we're much closer to being on the same page. He is going to call them and explain that we do not want the event to be about us, we don't want to be the guests of honor. They can send out invites to "the annual family reunion" and mention "at x o'clock there will be a toast in honor of Lady and Lord L's upcoming wedding." He will lay out that there will be no wedding themed decor, games, cakes, etc. He also agreed to stay in touch with them and reinforce these boundaries so they don't try to secretly make it a shower. If we suspect they are we will remind them that we will not attend a shower. If we show up and it is one, we will tell the other guests we are ill and leave. Because at that point I would actually be ill >:D.

Great plan! Hope it all goes well. I assume that your MIL won't be inviting the Bridal Party and your family? (because I don't think they need to be there if it's truly just going to be a family reunion).

Eden

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #57 on: April 23, 2013, 09:52:12 AM »
That sounds like a decent plan, LadyL. Best of luck and let us know how it goes. I know this stuff is really difficult and I feel for both you and LordL. You're doing well by keeping the communication open between the two of you.

Snooks

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #58 on: April 23, 2013, 10:07:16 AM »
Unfortunately I would put money on Lord L not backing you up if you get there and find it's a shower. I think the best thing for you is to not go, Lord L can go alone if he wants to.

LadyL

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Re: How to stop the escalation? Frustrating update #15.
« Reply #59 on: April 23, 2013, 10:10:09 AM »
Well, THAT did not go according to plan.

I will give LordL credit for completely coming around on this one. Unfortunately he didn't have much of a choice.  :'(

On Sunday he spoke with his mother and asked her to not sent the invitations yet (the ones that say "let's celebrate Lord and Lady L" instead of calling it a family reunion). She agreed to hold off. Yesterday he spoke to her about our proposed changes to the invite and to clarify the nature of the event. She played along for a while but then finally let it slip that she already mailed the invitations. :o

Yep, she just blatantly ignored our request and sent a bunch of them out to his relatives (not to the bridal party or my family, thankfully). LordL got really angry with her. He held it together and was polite but you could hear the anger in his voice. He eventually cut off the conversation entirely.

All of this was just a bridge too far for him. He felt lied to and manipulated, and was very upset. I think that all the suspicion and anger I was feeling in increments crashed down on him all at once. He agreed there is no way we can attend the event now - it's too likely that MIL will just do what she wants and make it a shower. She irrevocably "poisoned the well" as he put it.

I can see now why avoidance and denial are his tactics of choice usually - facing the facts on this one brought up a lot of emotional baggage. There was a lot of fighting in his family growing up and I think he thought he could control it as an adult by giving in on pretty much anything that wasn't life or death. Realizing that his family is what it is, and that we will probably always have to keep them at arms length, is a hard thing to stomach.

I am trying to reassure him that we can visit his relatives another time - he is really sad he will have to miss out on that because of his mother's nonsense. I am sad about the whole situation. For a while I just wanted us to both not go to the event but now that we feel like we have no choice it's a totally empty victory. Not a victory at all.

Hugs for LordL please? This dredged up a LOT of stuff and it's going to take him a while to work through. And believe it or not today is his birthday.