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To speak to MIL about this (Christmas-related family crap)?

(39 Posts)
NewToAllThis11 Mon 01-Dec-14 12:40:45

PIL live 6 hours away from us. My parents live 1.5 hours away. PIL have always been annoyed /jealous about DH and I seeing my parents more than them and this has got much worse since DS (18 months) came along. We go up to visit PIL for a few days probably every three months and they come and stay with us a few times a year too. We probably see my parents once a month or every 6 weeks.

There's always a horrible atmosphere when we visit and MIL in particular often makes catty comments about us seeing my parents, often storms off in tears and is always sullen/ openly hostile on the day we leave.

DH doesn't have a great relationship with them. They aren't really interested in his life and constantly complain to him about what they perceive as unacceptable behaviour on our part, or each other. They almost ruined our wedding by complaining that they weren't allowed to invite their own guests and make decisions on venue etc. and they were pretty dreadful when DS was born in traumatic circumstances - insisting DH took them out for dinners and lunches when DS was in NICU and I was in hospital, storming off without saying goodbye because my brother was coming to visit DS in hospital after them, and being really nasty to DH because my DF had offered to come and paint our new house for us so we wouldn't have to leave DS.

Anyway, last year we spent Christmas with my parents and then met up with PIL a few days later (the journey to their house was too far for DS at that point). This year we assumed we would go to their house for Christmas, so it's fair, but they didn't invite us. DH told them we would like to come to them and they seemed pleased. We are staying four nights and leaving on Boxing Day morning, so we can drive down to my parents' house. My DM is a HCP and is working everyday over Christmas apart from Boxing Day, plus my DB and Dsis will also be there on that day, so it's the only day everyone can be together.
MIL is apparently very unhappy about this and said she always gets 'a bum deal' and that she is clearly 'out of favour'. She hasn't said any of this to me directly; everything is to DH and he has a pretty much zero tolerance approach to any snide comments about me.

Anyway, sorry this is so long but disn't want to drip feed. AIBU to phone MIL to explain situation (again ) to her and basically politely tell her to back off and stop being so catty? I have only once spoken to PIL directly about their behaviour (wedding related) and it did not go well. Tears and storming off (her), aggression and storming off (him). WWYD?

SunshineOutdoors Mon 01-Dec-14 12:45:50

Can see how you're annoyed but tbh I'd leave it to your dh to sort. Just ignore any cattiness if you can. Or speak to your dh and see if he thinks it's a good idea? Just think it could be a lot of wasted energy on your part.

123rd Mon 01-Dec-14 12:45:55

Do you know what, I probably wouldn't even waste my breath. Sounds like they have their own agenda. If you and DH are together on this then let PILs get on with it. I would breeze in at the start of the stay. Do your bit and then breeze right on out of there knowing you will have a lovely time with your family. In laws are the pits hmm

SunshineOutdoors Mon 01-Dec-14 12:47:06

I think responding to a situation like this with calmness and kindness can be more effective.

bonzo77 Mon 01-Dec-14 12:47:21

Leave to your dh. It sounds like he knows the score and is fighting your corner. There's nothing you can do to make your PIL like you or treat you well. Confronting them will just end up as it did last time. Also,the lack of direct witnesses to both sides of the conversation if done by phone leave potential for a lot of "I-said-she-said" etc. Count yourself fortunate they prefer not to deal with you directly!

Madamecastafiore Mon 01-Dec-14 12:47:41

I wouldn't go at all.

Can't abide passive aggressive wankiness.

Call their bluff.

Monathevampire1 Mon 01-Dec-14 12:50:58

Your DH needs to sort this, it's great that he is already supportive but he needs to make it clear that he won't tolerate anymore of this negative behaviour.

parakeet Mon 01-Dec-14 12:51:29

So she's not said anything to you? Then what is the problem?

If your husband tells you stuff she's said and asks for advice, tell him that MN advises the broken record technique.

pommedeterre Mon 01-Dec-14 12:52:32

Great opportunity for you to have your own tears and refusing to go moment?

NeedsAsockamnesty Mon 01-Dec-14 12:53:30

They are upset because you are staying 4 days then going to your mums on Boxing Day?

Would they prefer you to be elsewhere for 4 days and come to them on Boxing Day?

NewToAllThis11 Mon 01-Dec-14 12:55:25

Hmmm, I was all set for calling her this afternoon, but actually I agree with all these points. I really don't want to get involved at all, but I was thinking that I wouldn't put up with this kind of situation in any other aspect of my life, so why should I put up with this?

It's all a bit grim. I think I'm a pretty nice DIL (!) and DH is definitely a good son to them, but they criticise everything. Perhaps I should leave it to DH bonzo. I wish we didnt have to go madame, but that would give them more ammunition and I want DS to have a relationship with them.

Whereisegg Mon 01-Dec-14 12:55:40

I wouldn't travel for 6 hours to spend 4 days trapped with people who were downright rude, unwelcoming and hostile.

Zamboni Mon 01-Dec-14 12:56:14

Oh OP that would give me the RAGE. Your DH sounds great if he calls her on any snide remarks so I would definitely leave things to him to talk to her.

If it were me I would stick to the (fair) plan to try and see both families over the festive period. Don't change your plans due to MIL tantrums, do not "reward" that kind of behaviour. Do not be drawn on comparisons between DPs and PIL. If there are any "bum" deal comments made when you are there then I would point out that you are there on xmas day itself (your MIL sounds like she might care about this).

And whatever you do, do NOT get into alternate years expectations with them.

FWIW, I am in a similar situation. However, no one behaves like this - it is not normal. My DPs are several hours away, PIL are 30 mins away. Both sets of grandparents are senstitive to the other - PIL see the DC v regularly but always offer to change their regular visit if my DPs are on a visit and actively encourage us to go away for a few days to see my DPs. Equally DPs know PIL see the DC more often but never swoop in and expect regular 'slots' with PIL to be cancelled on their behalf.

Whereisegg Mon 01-Dec-14 12:57:51

Why do you want yoyr ds to have a relationship with such awful people though?
So he knows what to expect from them when he's a grown up?
So he learns it's ok to be so rude?
So he learns to back down to emotional abuse?

cheesecakemom Mon 01-Dec-14 12:58:17

So complicated! I Aldo wouldn't go.

QueenofallIsee Mon 01-Dec-14 12:58:28

I wouldn't go at all after that, simples!

I know its not that easy, and even mostly normal people get funny about this whole fairness thing. My much beloved Grandmother was vile to me after I did a reading at DPs Nans funeral, as I had not read at my late Grandfathers and it 'wasn't fair' - never mind the fact that my grief for my Grandfather was so overwhelming that talking wasn't an option.

You have nothing to feel bad about and I really don't think that you should give it much more head space. I would not speak to PIL, just ensure your husband keeps on repeating the same thing 'we are happy with what we are doing and think it is perfectly fine'

Oldraver Mon 01-Dec-14 12:58:35

Cancel on the friggin cow and make sure (your DH) makes it clear catty comments will not be tolerated and now they will forgo your visit

AMumInScotland Mon 01-Dec-14 13:01:26

They are never going to be happy with any set of arrangements. They are never going to be happy with anything you or DH say to them. They are unpleasant people who don't even have the sense to wonder if maybe they actually are out of favour, and maybe that's because they are very unpleasant to be around.

I think you have to leave it to DH, it sounds as if he is capable of holding his own with them. But I would ask him to take it a step further and not repeat her catty remarks to you. He could just say "She's being a pain about it as usual" and leave it at that. You don't need chapter and verse on exactly what she's complaining about now, unless he wants to change the arrangements because of it.

Oh, and maybe think carefully about just why you want your DS to 'have a relationship' with people who can't actually manage a decent one with their own son. You might wish they could have a proper relationship. But is it actually within their capacity to do it? If not, what do you hope to gain, apart from feeling you tried?

Solidur Mon 01-Dec-14 13:15:35

I can only wholeheartedly agree with the excellent advice which people have given me, and what other wise people on here have said already.

Whatever you do, please don't get involved. Your DH sounds like he has things well in hand, and yes: I would seriously contemplate cancelling the visit to these unpleasant people. You're spending four days, including the 25th with them and MIL is still unhappy? Ingrate.

Stay strong, OP. smile

NoLongerJustAShopGirl Mon 01-Dec-14 13:25:37

They probably do feel hard done by... last year you went to the ILs "a few days" after Christmas - not THE day after Christmas which is what she will be going on about.... she sees that as unfair... it is not, it is just the way it works out this year, but she sees it that way.

I would just talk - say you understand she is disappointed you will be leaving the day after Christmas, but that is how it works out this year.

NeedsAsockamnesty Mon 01-Dec-14 13:33:06


That is just ridiculous

ems1910 Mon 01-Dec-14 13:39:27

Urgh. I would leave it to your dh. If it continues then cancel.

Also, avoid the alternative Christmas arrangements as it'll end badly by the sounds of it.

AMumInScotland Mon 01-Dec-14 13:41:40

nolonger - did you miss the bit where this happens all the time, every visit, every conversation? This has absolutely nothing to do with the specific arrangements for this Christmas. The OP could bend over backwards to make the arrangements 'fair' and it would never be enough.

NoLongerJustAShopGirl Mon 01-Dec-14 13:44:08

It really is not ridiculous....

for some people the "special days" are the ones that count.. THE birthday itself, or seasonally - Easter Sunday, Christmas Eve, Christmas day and Boxing day...

I have family like this. They need reminding from time to time that they are not the only family concerned. My mum kept score... I no longer spend much time with her.

Mammanat222 Mon 01-Dec-14 13:44:47

Never mind this current situation I think you have enough ammunition in that one small post to never see these selfish, spoiled, immature, nasty, rude people ever again.

I cannot believe that grown ups behave this way??

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