Tag Archives: in-laws

Ah, weddings.

My best friend is getting married at the end of June and I’m the maid of honor. She lives an airplane ride away so we do A LOT of talking on the phone. I just had to increase my minutes! These calls are not of blissful anxiety or excitement. She is stressed, sleep deprived, and making me a little nutty. It’s the in-laws, who I agree after meeting them are not the greatest. The mother-in-law thinks she is losing her little boy and very resentful. The sister-in-law, well, I’m not sure I even I have a comment. The man she is going to marry is wonderful and 40. His side of the family has not even RSVP’d for the wedding.

I am running out of sympathy and comfort. What should I say now as the remaining weeks linger?
PS. I am not married nor to I want to be at this time.

This is what you say:

“Get a freaking grip, Judy! The problem with your in-laws isn’t going to go away once the wedding is over. It’s going to get worse. Much, much worse, because they’re going to get comfortable and take liberties you never imagined they would. So it’s best to learn how to deal with these people now, or else you’re going to have a lifetime of misery. I can’t afford to keep this up forever, so start keeping a journal and call me every Saturday evening from 6-8 and read me your entire week’s worth of complaints.

Also, Judy, try talking to your husband about these issues instead of me. And by the way, I don’t look good in purple sequins, so can we talk about the bridesmaid dress when you get a minute?”

(You could also just not answer your phone.)

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How to not make friends and not influence anybody.

My wife’s brother’s wife is a [insert offensive name for the female anatomy]. I hate her.  Never liked her.  She and I are in similar business, so I called and asked if she could introduce me to her boss.  She said she would talk to him about it. Days went by and she didn’t get back to me.  I sent her an email that said, “Maybe you could just give me his name, and I will go about it myself by sending him an email.”

She wrote back saying that her boss said “No [insert f-bomb] way do i want to talk to anyone.”  Professional people do not say this about someone that they do not know.  He does not know me at all, has never heard of me, and has no reason to think ill of me.  That said:

1.  I don’t believe she spoke to him.
2.  If she did, I am completely sure she didn’t do my story justice at all because she is mildly [insert offensive name for developmentally disabled people].

So I asked again if I could just get his name and I would find a way to just call him myself.  She wrote back that she is completely uncomfortable with that because she knows her boss hates solicitation.   Of course, I could get the name off the company website, but she said that she would help… how would I know she would go psycho.

So I replied, “Thanks.  I will remember this when you ask me for something.” Now of course, everyone in the family is mad at me. They know she is a fruitcake, but think I should massage her to keep the peace.  I am tired of being the peace keeper.  If someone is an asshole, can’t I just say, “You are an asshole?” Seriously, do I have to be nice to someone who is going out of the way to be an asshole?  My wife says to be nice because she’s family.

You asked a favor of someone you hate, and have never liked. Based on your sweet letter, I’m sure you’re a wonderful person, but my excellent intuition tells me she’s not such a fan of yours, either.

She skirted around doing the favor and tried, gracefully, to not do it for you, but you kept asking. This made her feel (if she is lying) like she had to keep making up excuses. Finally, she just said no, and then, wait…who went psycho?

That brings us to your next question…no, you don’t have to be nice to someone who is going out of their way to be unpleasant. But for whatever reason, your sister-in-law was trying.

And your wife is right. Especially because it’s her family, not yours. Terrorize your own family all you want, but try to make things easier for your poor wife.

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I’m sick of family functions.

We live near my husband’s family in the town where he grew up. His family is huge, and it seems like every weekend there’s an event to attend or a birthday to celebrate. Not attending these gatherings inevitably hurts the host family’s feelings, and then there’s bitterness and recrimination to follow, including accusations of liking other cousins better or not liking a particular brother-in-law or something else ridiculous like that. My husband doesn’t mind going to all these parties, and likes to avoid the drama. I don’t like having our weekends planned for us and I want to be able to skip some of these events without pissing off my husband and 90 other people.

Oh my God, you have to move.

If you really can’t move, I suggest divorce.

But if you like your husband a lot and want to keep him, here’s a good strategy: ignore them and their forced merriment. Make plans as if there weren’t a hungry pack of wolves waiting to devour every second of your precious free time. This way, when you’re invited the christening of your husband’s mother’s second-cousin-twice-removed’s fifteenth kid, you can say, “Oh, I’m so sorry. We’d love to come, but we have plans.” Don’t engage in the high-drama aftermath. Stay strong. It’s more important to make yourself happy than a large group of people who, I suspect, are always ready and willing to find something to be upset about.

You can’t skip all the shindigs, you know; I’m sure you knew when you got married that his family was like this. I think once you stop attending everything, though, you’ll enjoy much more the gatherings you do attend. Also, see if you can get an ally somewhere in your husband’s family and convince her to get everyone to agree to one big combination birthday party every other month.

Lastly, see if you can’t get some of these occasions to involve heavy drinking. That would totally help.

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Surprisingly, another person has an issue with her mother-in-law.

I find my mother-in-law annoyingly needy, insecure and passive-aggressive.  She refers to my husband as “the love of her life” and, this past year, called him up during our Valentine’s Day dinner together and cried on the phone because she didn’t get to see her baby boy on V-day.  Are you kidding me here??? How am I supposed to deal with this lady without harming her?

Okay, I’m sorry, but this is kind of funny. It’s gross, but it’s funny. I bet she also calls him, “my little lover.” It sounds like she lives far enough away that she couldn’t stop by on Valentine’s Day, so you’re lucky on that count.

The problem here isn’t your mother-in-law. She’s obviously a little unhinged, and probably spent so much time on her young son that when he grew up, she was suddenly without an identity. The real problem here is your husband. At best, he’s obtuse, and at worst, he’s totally into all this “love of my life” bullshit.

He shouldn’t have answered the phone during your Valentine’s Day dinner. She behaves this way because he allows her to, and implicitly encouraged it by answering her call during a romantic evening. You would think his mom would be the last thing on his mind when he’s trying to seduce you…and if she isn’t the last thing on his mind, there are issues here that could only be solved by resurrecting Freud.

You’re going to have to talk to him about it. You can’t manage their relationship; you can only hope that your husband understands where you’re coming from and makes a move to manage it himself. He can care for and care about his mom, but not at your expense.

As far as your other issues with her, there’s seriously nothing you can do about her hideous personality. It might help, though, to get together with some girlfriends, drink a bunch of wine, and spend some time bitching about your mother-in-law. I guarantee you, everyone has a story, and someone else’s is bound to be worse than yours.

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Grandma and grandpa might kill me and my kid. Figuratively and literally.

I have the best husband in the world but his (divorced) parents literally make me want to scratch my face off.  His mother is generous and kind but so high strung and totally overbearing with my son.  She thinks she knows best and makes comments that make me feel useless as a mother.  My father-in-law rough plays with my son and I find myself awake at night worrying that he will break his neck.  He has been rude to my family but in such a way that he gets away with it.  He too pretends he is all-knowing about raising a child when he is clearly clueless.  My husband knows these feelings but I want them to know.  How do you recommend I approach this very sensitive topic?  Or should I hold this in forever to keep the peace?

I wouldn’t know anything about mothers-in-law like that, because mine is a perfect angel who thinks everything I do is amazing.

But if I did, say, have a mother-in-law who once gave my son an entire dozen doughnuts “just to see what he would do,” or buys my kids toy guns despite my misgivings because “boys need to be boys,” or innocently forwards me emails and clipped articles from the National Enquirer regarding everything from peanut butter allergies to internet predators, I would tell you this:

You’re lucky.

You said it yourself: she’s generous and kind. She cares enough to be engaged in your lives, and obviously loves your kid. You feel useless as a mother because she’s poking her grandmotherly finger into the part of you that every mom has–that you’re not doing a good job, or you’re not doing the best you can. This is nonsense. You are. Just listen to what she has to say, nod thoughtfully, and then go into the other room and bang your head against the wall or do a shot of tequila or whatever it is that will make you feel better for the moment.

Your father-in-law, however, is a boob. He can’t make him less rude or obnoxious, but your husband needs to tell him to stop the rough play. How he does that is his own business. (Oh, I know how cowardly this seems, but really, a rude jerk-off who thinks its okay to muscle a little kid around under the guise of playing isn’t someone you should have to deal with.) If your husband won’t do it, then just don’t leave your son alone with his grandfather. When the wrestling match starts, pick the kid up and move him elsewhere. Repeat as needed.

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