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to ask for your help drafting an email to MIL?

(127 Posts)
newpaddingtonscaresme Tue 25-Nov-14 00:43:29

Back story is, we moved here from my home country 4 years ago. We live in a different city to my inlaws, mil and stepfather in law, a plane ride or about 10 hours drive away. We see them for a week about 4 times a year.

We have been to them for Christmas twice and they have been to us once.

Last time they came to us was two years ago. From my point of view it was a disaster. I thought they basically felt they were hosting Christmas in my house and I was the guest.

When they arrived they started bringing bags and bags of groceries in, we hadn't asked them to pick anything up and we had already done the grocery shopping. MIL started telling me what we were going to have for Christmas dinner. I said we'd already decided.

They then went back out to the car and into our bedroom, they were in there deciding where to put a new rug they'd brought down....without asking us. They also put rugs & carpets in other area of the house and put away utensils and some other little things they'd bought for our house.

They then proceeded to put up decorations they'd brought down.

They also bought our son presents from them and Santa after we told them Santa presents were only to come from us.

To me, they just walked around and pissed in every corner marking their territory.

My husband was at work at the time and to my shame I didn't say anything, I was stunned at the cheek of them and have been brought up to be polite so felt I'd be rude to say anything. Truthfully, I was a coward as I hate confrontation.

They stayed for two weeks and I was just full of pent up silent resentment and passive aggressive.

We had just moved to the area and I didn't know anyone to escape to have a drink or vent to.

One day I came home and all the pots and pans had been re-arranged and moved to a different cupboard.

My husband didn't get why I was in such a bad mood and catered to their every whim to make up for it.

My husband's defense of all this was:

the food and expectation that they'd dictate what we'd have - well, when he was growing up, his grandmother would come and do that, they didn't want us to spend any extra money on them.

the rugs etc - well, we were just starting out in a new house and they wanted to help us out, rented houses here don't come furnished so they wanted to save us money.

the decorations - well, some of them were from his childhood and since we hadn't spent Christmas with them in so long his mom just got overexcited. (We'd spent the previous Christmas with them)

He says his mom loves us and really wants to be involved and is only ever trying to help.

I already have some issues with his mom and her steeping over boundaries i.e doing something with ds that I've asked not to. Things have gotten better of late, I've stood up for myself more and they've backed off a bit.

DH doesn't think they ever do anything wrong, they're only ever guilty of being over-enthusiastic and I'm too quick to think the worst of them.

Another element to this is, whenever they come, they sit and badmouth every single other person in the family. They reserve most of it for DH's brother, who hasn't been to visit them since they married and moved here 20 years ago.

Soooo, thanks for getting this far. They're coming for two weeks again this year, I'll be 33 weeks pregnant and it's our first Christmas in a house we built.

I'm determined to make this one better...for everyone but it will involve me having to woman up and say what I want instead of hoping they get it and then getting pissed off when they don't.

I'm in an email exchange with MIL at the moment about presents and feel it's my chance to kindly set some boundaries. They've already told us, not asked, when they're coming regardless of any plans we may have and I'm already feeling unreasonably angry about this. I think two weeks is too long. DH of course has said that's all fine, whatever they want is good with us.

They moved DH from his home country, away from his dad and brother, to here when he was 15 and then when he was 18 moved back to the home country while he stayed here before he moved to UK where he met me and stayed for a few years. They moved back here while DH was in UK. Up until 4 years ago they had lived in different countries for 15 years.

I basically want to say, we're looking forward to seeing you, please don't feel you have to bring anything down apart from presents, with the pregnancy we want to have a relaxed few weeks and we are look own family traditions in the new house.....but I want to be a bit more assertive.

Sorry for the long post, I'm quite irritable with this pregnancy and every email I start to them comes across confrontational. They do love ds and are very good grandparents.

Thanks if you've got this far!

Canyouforgiveher Tue 25-Nov-14 00:57:31

I think it is fine to email but I think you need to be both direct and pleasant. So start by saying how much you are looking forward to seeing them and spending time with them. DS is particularly excited. Then say

Please don't bring any xmas decorations or the house. We have plenty and are looking forward to creating our own traditions

Please don't bring any food -my refrigerator is full and we have a lovely xmas dinner planned.

(don't use words like "don't feel you have to" be direct.)

Then say something like I am really hoping though that MIL make her special whatever at some point over the holidays.

To be honest I think you'd be better off saying in a phone call than an email. but if you do email, overdo the we love you bit and also overdo the DO NOT bring santa presents, decorations and food into my house.

And finally be prepared. They may well ignore you. So if they come in with food, say lovely we can use that after christmas. Move it to the freezer if necessary. If they bring santa presents say "No those will be to ds from you - he'll love that" and move them from the santa pile. If they bring carpets or whatever say lovely and move them to a different room. If they rearrange the cupboards smile and say I know you meant well and rearrange them back to the way you want them.

Good luck. What you described would drive me daft.

Discopanda Tue 25-Nov-14 00:58:39

In my experience with difficult MILs, as scary as verbal confrontations are, tone can easily be misconstrued over email or text so write down what you want to say, take a deep breath and call her. She might get on the defensive so you want to remain as diplomatic as possible. Good luck, be firm and stand your ground. Sorry I don't have any advice on the wording itself.

MummyBeerest Tue 25-Nov-14 01:12:00

I agree it's better to call rather than email.

Unless there's a language barrier?

however Tue 25-Nov-14 01:22:09

I can see your point, honestly I can. Rearranging my cupboards and buying soft furnishings would give me rage.

If she's a good cook and is happy to shop and prepare Christmas dinner, I'd consider letting her, given you'll be heavily pregnant. Perhaps that could be your compromise?

Bulbasaur Tue 25-Nov-14 01:42:03

If you're pregnant is it possible to just not do any shopping and let her do all the meal prep? If she's excited about cooking and filling your fridge, take advantage of it.

I'd stick with a phone call. Text comes across as harsh.

I've written plenty of well meaning emails and had people apologizing because they thought I was angry with them. Even if you don't, if she's looking forward to doing this and you pop her bubble, she's going to read any text with a negative tone.

newpaddingtonscaresme Tue 25-Nov-14 01:43:58

Thank you for your suggestions.

I'd rather email as in the past she has 'misunderstood' conversations we've had and then gone to dh saying I've said things I haven't, for example when I mentioned ds was going for a swim with his friend that day, she went to dh and told him that I said they weren't allowed bring ds to was the first I heard anything of their plans to go to the cinema.
Email is better so it can be clear and no 'misunderstandings' occur.

Thanks however but she is not a good cook, they brought groceries that year for what they preferred dh and I make for them.

canyouforgiveher thanks for your suggestions, I will def use some of them.

islandmama Tue 25-Nov-14 01:59:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

IsChippyMintonExDirectory Tue 25-Nov-14 02:02:22

I agree that a lot of what they did sounds frustrating but I think you're being overly picky about this bit - They also bought our son presents from them and Santa after we told them Santa presents were only to come from us.
Why only from you? What harm would a grandparent giving their grandchild a gift from Santa do? Because I'm guessing your son thinks Santa is real and wouldn't know any different?

I think your DH is right in that they are too excitable and enthusiastic - but not bad people, just devoid of any real boundaries.

Be as casual as you can about it, like you're not really trying to lay down ground rules - something like "finally made my food list - there won't be a square inch left in the fridge or freezer, don't bring any food as it will just go to waste, we have plenty here!" .

Also I think it can't hurt to compromise (whilst looking like you're actually doing them a huge favour) - such as "Just finished decorating the tree, there's space left for a couple of more baubles if you want to bring one or two of DHs decorations from when he was a child? Think it would add a nice touch."

They sound like the kind of people who'd be a bit passive aggressive if you go too much down the "thou shalt not" route. You don't want them saying things the whole time like "oh what lovely decorations, it must be so nice to have decorated in your own style" etc. a bit of tiptoeing and bum kissing and you'll have a harmonious week all round!

ChippingInAutumnLover Tue 25-Nov-14 02:13:56

Book a hotel suite. Stay there until they go home. It's the only way I could cope and not put them under the patio.

wine << there isn't enough for this situation sad

If you don't take my advice ^^ then at the very least take this bit of advice. Be clearer in your email. You are going to piss her off so you might as well be clear. Don't say 'you don't need to worry about bringing' say 'Do not bring...'

You poor thing

HowamIgoingtocope Tue 25-Nov-14 02:26:41

Be clear and frank. But always say it would be nice if. Your house is. Fullnpf baby stuff. You don't need her clutter. But ask her if there is any traditionsbshe would like to continue in your house. It's all about negotiation and to be frank it's two week out of two years. Believe me you may need this woman about when the baby comes. You have an excuse when she's there to go and lie down so do it. Be be ready for reprocussions from the email. If you are not firm but fair. She may have thought she was helping last time. Just make it frank what you expect. Don't use negative words or tell her what to do
That is not your place. It is your husbands. And show the email to him. Inknowbid be mighty pissed off if my ex had sent an email to my mum without consulting me first

FixItUpChappie Tue 25-Nov-14 04:31:42

I think can canuforgiveher is spot on

what I would say to your DH is that by failing to consider your feelings and wishes HE is responsible for damaging your relationship with his parents and their relationship with you.

JustMarriedBecca Tue 25-Nov-14 05:04:53

Personally I think your email is rude and would upset me if I was your MIL. I'd take out references to problems last year. And say something like:
Dear MIL

Just a quick email about Christmas. DS can't wait to play with you (and Grandad). Obviously I'll be 33 weeks pregnant so your help will be really invaluable. We're really looking forward to making some new traditions for our small little family and we're really happy you can enjoy them after so many years of having Christmas with your traditions. Oh also, DS has been and bought some new decorations so whilst you bought some last year, just bring yourselves this year. No need to bring your decorations as there won't be room.

I've also been batch cooking for when the baby arrives so if you are planning on bringing food like last year, as there isn't much room in the freezer, would you mind putting it in tipperwear so it'll fit straight in? It would be such a big help. I've already ordered/bought food for Christmas lunch and we are having [insert/pineapple on sticks/something of my choosing].

Present wise , we have bought DS xxxx from Santa. I know there was some confusion last year over whether his presents were from you or Santa so please just label them from you. It makes writing thank you cards so much easier.

Looking forward to seeing you.

Jenny70 Tue 25-Nov-14 05:06:34

I was going to say a positive email directing her to do something you would like is good start....

MIL we are very much looking forward to hosting you for your visit, I have been enoying getting all the food and decorations ready before your arrival. You don't need to bring anything, I have it all sorted. We would be very appreciative is you could babysit/cook one night after Christmas. DS is really looking forward to seeing you, I hope we can enjoy Christmas in a relaxed way, sharing with you our own new traditions in our new house.

Kytti Tue 25-Nov-14 05:45:20

I share your pain. My FIL and his wife have told us they're coming for Christmas. They'll sit on their arses and do nothing but eat and drink everything in sight. I'd quite like him to bring groceries and decent presents, but it'll be crap from the £1.00 shop, and he won't bring food or chip in. At least it's just four days for me.

You definitely should stand your ground. Smile nicely and just say "I like to do this instead." or something. Good luck!

Thumbwitch Tue 25-Nov-14 05:50:29

I'd blind copy your DH in on any email you send, and any replies that might be required. Just so he can see first hand what you have said, and what she replies.

Mrsgrumble Tue 25-Nov-14 06:13:53

Two weeks of that shit would send me over the edge

I think the email is going to stir a lot of trouble, I definitely think a hotel p is your only option

aermingers Tue 25-Nov-14 06:39:11

Whaaaaaaaaaat? So your mother in law comes to visit, brings lots of food, buys your son presents, gives gifts for you and your son, helps with the housework, cooks for you. What a total bitch. That's outrageous.

Seriously though. There are normally posts on here from loads of people complaining that there MIL turns up empty handed, eats them out of house and home then expects to be waited on hand and foot. Really, if this is wrong too MILs can never win can they?

They're trying to help out. If they put the utensils away in the wrong cupboard smile and bear it and wait until they go home and put them back. Ditto the rugs. If you don't like them move them when they're gone. Your pregnant and have a small child. They think they're helping, do you realize how many women who are pregnant and have little child would be hugely grateful for someone to come and cook Christmas dinner for them? They're trying to help.

These people brought up the man you love for 18 years minimum. Can you not try and show a little toleration for a few days?

Perhaps agree with your husband that next year you will spend Christmas alone and only have them alternate years.

But really, I'm reading that and all I seeing is two parents who are desperately trying to be helpful and kind and do the right thing. You're being unnecessarily harsh on them.

aermingers Tue 25-Nov-14 06:39:52


aermingers Tue 25-Nov-14 06:42:08

Kytti don't you see that's the point? You're complaining because your FIL and his wife do nothing but sit on their bums and bring nothing with them. These parents bring stuff and try to help out and they're still getting criticism.

Hazchem Tue 25-Nov-14 06:44:27

what about asking them to bring specific things? Like a christmas eve meal or a boxing day lunch. It's hard to know but the country I come from it would be rude to stay with friends or family for two weeks and not bring contributions. So they might feel the need to.
The same with the decorations. So rather then bring nothing what about I've gone a bit crazy and already brought loads of decoration but OH loved having his childhood X, Y, Z items could you please bring those but leave the other stuff at home.

FlibbertyGibbertyFlo Tue 25-Nov-14 06:47:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Thumbwitch Tue 25-Nov-14 06:48:46

aermingers - MIL doesn't cook for the OP. She brings the food that she wants the OP to cook for her and FIL.

daisychain01 Tue 25-Nov-14 06:57:02

I'd cut yourself some slack and go with the flow. Trying to control their behaviour especially with you being heavily pregnant will probably get you nowhere. Then it will make you even more stressed out when they ignore your email, and your MIL could harp on about how ungrateful you are.

I know it's a pain having your PIL in your home but at least they are contributing. I would just let go.

Sunna Tue 25-Nov-14 06:59:24

Maybe your DH likes his family traditions?

Why so determined to start your own? Our traditions are a mixture of my family's and DH's family's. We blended them together and it works well.

Traditions evolve you can't do something new and say it's a tradition. You can hope it will become one but that's all.

Seems your DH is happy with how things are, you need to talk to him first.

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