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To think this is not such a good idea to blame me for DH's decision with PIL?

(233 Posts)
logosthecat Mon 01-Aug-16 09:28:54

Ok some background.

PIL are difficult - DH and I both agree wholeheartedly on this, there is no argument (fwiw, BIL and his partner also agree!). However, DH loves his folks and does want to maintain some kind of relationship. Long history of domineering/bullying behaviour, DH has had counselling to deal with it. They live at the opposite end of the country.

They have been retired since their 40s (inheritance), and they don't really remember what it's like to deal with the stresses of the working week. I think they don't really understand the difference between 'rest' and 'relaxation' - that, if you're absolutely exhausted by work, the things that you might normally find relaxing, like going to nice places, can become a chore.

DH has a VERY demanding job. Long hours, lots of responsibility, lots of aggro. And it's just got worse as he's been promoted. We tend to use the weekends for rest and recuperation. However, when we visit them, it is a cacophony of noise and activity for day after day - we are literally marched around visiting places from first thing thing in the morning to last thing at night. DH is harassed and stressed and upset by this (they are also terribly insensitive, which doesn't help). He frequently becomes ill during or after the visit, and we then hobble through the following week with him going to work and returning to collapse with exhaustion in the evenings, because he hasn't had the downtime he needs. It really bites into our quality of life.

For this reason, we are trying to have shorter visits with PIL. We used to do 4-5 days 4 times a year. We are trying to see them for 1-1.5 days more frequently, every couple of months.

So here's the issue.

We are due to visit their home in August, and DH outlined to them that we'd only be spending one night (2 days). (This has been clear from the start, but they have been conveniently ignoring it to now). All hell broke loose. FIL went into full emotional blackmail mode: 'This is TERRIBLE, your mother will be terribly disappointed, she's been so excited with all the days she's got planned, we're not getting any younger' etc etc etc. We hosted them for a long weekend last month, and we also saw them at a beer festival the month before!!

DH kept his cool but framed the decision that it was pressure from me. 'I need to spend some time with my wife, I've only been staring at screens the last few weekends, and she says she wants some time for just the two of us'. This is not actually true. We agreed together that we didn't want to do the long visits, and I have not, in fact, asked for more of his time! The issue is simply with the way that they are stressful to deal with and both of us reach our limit of tolerance (beyond which we are simply gritting our teeth) at about 24 hours in their company.

AIBU to think that this is likely to lead them to dislike and blame me for the changes? And that there might be better ways of handling it, like being more honest about the actual state of affairs? (I don't mind being told I AM being unreasonable if it is a good plan, I am just not sure we are handling this as well as we could).

JudyCoolibar Mon 01-Aug-16 09:33:39

YANBU. He needs to tell them the truth. He needs at least to try to get through to them that it is their behaviour that is driving both of you away, and it really is not fair to suggest this is all coming from you.

Familyof3or4 Mon 01-Aug-16 09:37:32

Hmmmm,difficult one.
I think that yanbu but I can understand how he felt backed into saying this if they are so controlling he's needed counselling to deal with issues created by then. Also he may be expressing his feelings- he wants more time with you but it came out as from you
I would explain how you feel to him, I'm sure when he thinks about it hell realise it was unfair.

MrsBobDylan Mon 01-Aug-16 09:38:11

Yanbu. But it sounds like whatever you do pil will be awkward, pushy and demanding more than you can give. Dh shouldn't drag you into it though and I speak as someone with a not dissimilar situation to him.

You do see them a lot which they should feel grateful for. They won't but they should.

Just decide what you are both comfortable to offer, draw the boundary line and grit your teeth through the tantruming that ensues.

BillyNotQuiteNoMates Mon 01-Aug-16 09:41:44

YANBU to wish he hadn't said it, but in your shoes I (and I'm not you) would willingly shoulder the blame (can't stand my ILs anyway) if it meant my DH was happier.

logosthecat Mon 01-Aug-16 09:42:36

Thanks both!

We did already have a chat about it. Just to clarify: I am not angry with him and I don't blame him for saying it - they really, really bullied him into a corner, and I think he feels more comfortable saying 'My wife needs some time' than expressing his own needs to them, because it's not just saying 'I need some rest', because they would always come back with 'Well, you can rest with us'. But we can't! (In fact, they deliberately get us up so we can start on their demanding itinerary for the day). However, to go down that route, he would have to explain to them that he doesn't actually find the visits restful or relaxing, which would open a can of worms and potentially hurt their feelings.

Honestly, sensitive and socially skilled people would just pick up the reluctance and STOP PUSHING, but they are not sensitive. At all. Which makes me think we might have to go down that route of brutal honesty, and try to cushion the message as best we can???

Rosae Mon 01-Aug-16 09:58:14

I get what you mean and don't think yabu exactly. Except that it is hard to stand up to family. If my hubby is struggling to do that for whatever reason then I am happy to be used as an excuse in order to give him some peace for him as they can't argue so much with 'Ros says we need this weekend together' when we've spent 4 in a row with them as sometimes happens. I have also used hubby as a reason why we can't stay so long with family - we need to get home so he has a couple days at home before going back to work. It's a way we support each other when dealing with difficult family situations.

WarwickDavisAsPlates Mon 01-Aug-16 09:59:38

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WarwickDavisAsPlates Mon 01-Aug-16 10:01:42

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pictish Mon 01-Aug-16 10:10:53

Hell no yanbu. I can understand why he wimped out and used you as an excuse but that doesn't make it right or likely to resolve anything in the longer term...in fact it is possible they will start seeing you as the villain of the piece and ramp up their controlling behaviour in response.

he needs to sit down with them an explain as nicely as possible what the problem actually is. Only then are you likely to see any hope of a resolution.

logosthecat Mon 01-Aug-16 10:14:22

See, I think these posts are outlining my dilemma.

There are those like rosie who say 'eat it up, it's a good excuse and it keeps them off his back'. I am honestly fine with doing this, I don't mind being the 'bad guy' for peace and quiet!

But then there are those like pictish who say 'actually, this is likely to increase the control as they will see it as a battle between you and them, and being honest may be better long term'. And I can see the logic of that too!

I do not know what 'LKKill' means?

Missgraeme Mon 01-Aug-16 10:26:43

He has told them he is putting his marriage before their plans. Personally I would be chuffed!!

toadgirl Mon 01-Aug-16 10:29:47

What a dilemma.

Sounds like your DH may need an assertiveness course. It's really hard to stand up to people like this and when its your parents, all the harder sometimes. The course would probably help him in his work too, as he gets promoted and takes on more responsibilities, possibly managing people in the workplace.

Maybe you could let this occasion go and work on something better to say for next time? At least your DH has made a start on not caving to PILs desires. He can build on that in the future.

Your PILs shouldn't see you as unreasonable even if what he said were true. A wife wanting to see more of her DH isn't at all unreasonable. They may think it is, but that will be their problem.

I understand your frustration, but I think I'd honestly let it go on this occasion. Your DH sounds very stressed indeed and he doesn't need more stress about how he tried to limit the stress caused by your PILs on this occasion.

Hope all that makes sense and good luck!

mrsfuzzy Mon 01-Aug-16 10:30:42

tbh i would cut the visits to a couple of times a year and stay in a hotel !! [runs away and hides behind the sofa before the fall out from op's inlaws for suggesting such a thing] [ grin]

mrsfuzzy Mon 01-Aug-16 10:31:40

my emojies have hidden too ! grin

coconutpie Mon 01-Aug-16 10:47:10

Perhaps this is one of those situations where you need to tell your PIL why the visits must be like this and you should be telling them the real reason why. Your son is so exhausted after the working week and he just finds the constant traipsing here there and everywhere when we visit you way too exhausting, to such a point that he actually gets ill. We can no longer keep up these crazy visits jam-packed with itinerary. When we visit, we want to visit you and spend time with you, not go off on exhausting adventures. If you cannot just sit and relax at home with us and go for a nice meal together some evening then why do you want us to visit at all?

SonicSpotlight Mon 01-Aug-16 11:03:28

My ILs are similarly full on and my DH needs his weekends to recover from work. Seeing his parents makes him physically ill. He ends up with a migraine that hangs around for days and leaves him drained.

Over time I've accepted that I will be blamed by them for the infrequency of contact but that's an acceptable price for having a healthier, happier DH. Mine are incapable of relaxing and don't understand that we would rather pay someone to do maintenance on our house and have the time together. They can't just play with the GC or sit in the garden chatting. They have to be doing something and apparently so do we. They won't take no for an answer and push back harder.

Even if my DH sat them down and tried to explain exactly why he doesn't see them more I don't think they're capable of understanding.

BillyNotQuiteNoMates Mon 01-Aug-16 11:06:37

My alternative suggestion is to tell them how much you appreciate them making such exciting plans for your DCs, while you get to appreciate a long lie in/ spend some quiet time together with out the DCs. You know how much your DCs love seeing DGPs

Atinybittiredandsad Mon 01-Aug-16 11:19:26

You need to stand together and do what suits you. Your dh stress is more serious than their upset at you not visiting. Personally I wouldn't care of my dh used me as an excuse as they sound nasty whatever he says

logosthecat Mon 01-Aug-16 11:25:39

mrsfuzzy - I laughed at your dash behind the sofa and hiding emojis!

coconutpie - I like your wording, and I have saved it on my computer in the (fairly likely) event that they don't accept our decision and insist on a longer stay. I am almost expecting a passive-aggressive email from MIL at some point today.

toadgirl - The thing is, DH works at a very high level indeed, managing a lot of people, making big decisions - and he breezes it. So he can do assertiveness (though his leadership is very much more about diplomacy/negotiation than aggression). I think the problem is that his parents absolutely refuse to understand social cues that don't play into the narrative they want to hear. You can be assertive, and they just ignore it - it's almost like they are forcing us into a very uncomfortable position where we HAVE to be more aggressive than either of us would like.

So, for example, we will outline our plans and say 'We are tired, we really need some time to rest this weekend, work has been manic etc etc etc' and most normal people would just back off and say 'Oh, well it'll be lovely to see you on Thursday then'. They don't - they just keep insisting on a 5-day visit, even when we've told them we are too knackered and it's not doable. There is none of the finesse and nuance of social relations: the part where you suggest something tentatively, and give someone else space to think and to come back with a yea or nay or a counter-suggestion. There is just What They Want, and that's that. It becomes truly ridiculous at Christmas, because they are completely unable to understand that we have TWO families that both need to be visited.

sonic - oh my goodness, are you my long-lost sister-in-law? Exact. Same. Thing. Here. It helps to hear your story and know we are not alone. I really, really hear you on the 'unable to understand' part. Mine are exactly like that - it is a kind of selective deafness where they will not hear or acknowledge anything that would force them to be less self-centred.

billy - sadly, we are unable to have DCs sad so we don't have that excuse!

logosthecat Mon 01-Aug-16 11:29:25

I guess I'm reformulating my question now! It's 'In the likely event that they come back to us and insist that we do a longer visit, how should we handle the situation?' Should we

a. Use the broken record technique and give no further explanation?
b. Keep on putting the blame on me and my need to have a break?
c. Try to explain why we find longer visits difficult in non-personal, general terms that apply to everyone?
d. Try to explain why we find them personally more challenging than anyone else we know?
e. Cancel the visit and go to Berlin for a weekend instead (just kidding).

LockedOutOfMN Mon 01-Aug-16 11:49:50

c. Try to explain why we find longer visits difficult in non-personal, general terms that apply to everyone?

This. Otherwise the problem will continue indefinitely.

toadgirl Mon 01-Aug-16 11:49:56

They sound like a pair of bulldozers!

Wow. I just don't know what to suggest. I would run away by moving far, far away. Not helpful of me, I know!

It seems they don't respect their son as a person in his own right, just an extension of them.

Optimist1 Mon 01-Aug-16 11:50:19

Is it possible that you could talk to your MIL along the lines of "DH has been working all the hours God sends for months now and it's really taking a toll. We're looking forward to seeing you later this month but what would be best for him is a couple of days with you doing nothing at all."

Likely results :
a) She says that's fine - job done!
b) She says that's fine but stay longer than 2 days
c) She objects to the plan

Only you and DH can decide what response you make to b) and c) - you should discuss between you before you make the call!

This way, you're making it clear that any previous objections on your part have been for your DH's benefit, and you're appealing to her good nature as his mother to accommodate the plan you and DH are jointly proposing.

Bathsheba Mon 01-Aug-16 11:52:13

To be honest I think you are approaching it from the wrong side and blaming the wrong people...

A youngish. fit family guy - I'm assumming your husband has no actual health problems - should be able, 4-5 times a year to have a weekend visiting family - no matter how noisy it is - without being in a medical state of collapse. Days out sight seeing, meals out, beer festival trips - its hardly like his parents are making you perform ultra marathons...

If your DH is so exhausted from a week's work that he cannot conduct a normal family life at the weekends/on long weekends - then he needs to speak to his boss/HR because something is very very wrong with the working practises going on there.

A normal, fit, working man shouldn't need to sleep away every weekend in silence.

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