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To not want to do alternate Christmases?

(39 Posts)
JoansPenNecklace Fri 16-Sep-16 09:34:07

DH's parents were often really unpleasant to him growing up, have caused both of us a lot of pain by being nasty to me and controlling and cruel towards him and they have no friends, with good reason. DH is frightened to confront them about their behaviour and things are OK now but only with us trying to hold them at a distance and I find seeing them very difficult. DH also doesn't enjoy seeing them. Growing up, DH didn't do alternate Christmases as his parents fell out with family and didn't want to see them. My family pretty much did alternate Christmases with the occasional one just us. I feel that given the circumstances we shouldn't feel obliged to do alternate Christmases with his parents as neither of us want to spend the day with them and I don't see why we should dread Christmas every other year. DH doesn't either but I think he feels that saying we aren't going to see them when they will think it is their turn, will cause an argument. AIBU to think we shouldn't have to do alternate Christmases with people who make us so unhappy and that there must be a diplomatic way round this?

DerekSprechenZeDick Fri 16-Sep-16 09:35:38

If you don't want to go then don't go.

Toocold Fri 16-Sep-16 09:37:41

You have one life, they chose the way they were to you and your husband, they'll just have to reap what they sow, life is too short to waste on people who have been mean to either of up you. I do understand it is more complex than that, as your husband particularly probably feels a sense of duty, but think how relaxed and lovely your life could be without mean people in it.

onemorecupofcoffeefortheroad Fri 16-Sep-16 09:39:32

From what you've said I wouldn't bother being diplomatic - I'd be honest and tell them that they make you and your DH unhappy so you don't want to spend Christmas with them.
What's the worst that can happen? They break contact? Sounds like that might be a bonus. Or they continue being unpleasant to you - in which case, you break contact - either way you get to spend Christmas with who you choose.

HandbagCrazy Fri 16-Sep-16 09:40:46

YANBU. the most straightforward way of doing this is to simply make plans to spend Christmas how you want and when it's mentioned, state your plans as fact.
Eg PIL "what time will you be coming on Christmas Day?"
You "oh we're staying home this year."
If they kick off, don't explain why you don't want to go, don't get sucked into an argument, just keep calmly repeating "we are staying home this year." If you stay calm, their reactions will ether stay calm too or look ridiculous.

Or book to go away for Christmas to break the cycle. Not sure how you feel about that, but. Have spend Christmas in both Prague and Reykjavik - both were lovely.

TendonQueen Fri 16-Sep-16 09:41:54

Tell them you really want to spend Christmas by yourselves in your own home having a quiet and peaceful time. Don't discuss anything you do in alternate years with them at all (ie going to your family).

Do they ask you to go? And do they live in your town? If they don't then it's all easier.

Ragwort Fri 16-Sep-16 09:43:33

There must be a diplomatic way round this?

^^ Seriously, don't fall into the habit of doing alternative Christmasses. Be original, do different things at Christmas.

We have made 'policy' of not having a 'set way' of doing Christmas, sometimes we visit my parents, sometimes they come to us, we used to visit ILs or they came to us (now deceased), we have been away on holiday, we have volunteered, we have worked Christmas Day or just stayed home alone.

I appreciate it might be slightly awkward if you are an only child and have one elderly parent left alone but I think the 'routine' of doing the same thing year in year out can be very tedious.

My parents (late 80s but very fit and healthy) have now actually said to me they are more than happy to have Christmas alone in their own home but for years felt obliged to accept invitations from their grown up children grin.

Birdsgottafly Fri 16-Sep-16 09:45:08

You need to support him to get to a place, were he can challenge them and put bounderies in place. The links on the Relationship board are good.

Other than that, you aren't obliged to spend Christmas with anyone.

Tiggeryoubastard Fri 16-Sep-16 09:45:17

You're adults. You choose what to do. We never went away, we did our own Christmas.

M0nstersinthecl0set Fri 16-Sep-16 09:45:30

Make plans now. Tell them you already have plans, post their cards and presents. Wish them a peaceful day.

Oblomov16 Fri 16-Sep-16 09:46:39

Dh and I always spend Christmas on our own. We see all our family at the Christmas party the week before. We spend the day with my mum one day and his lovely mum another day- both our mums are truely fabulous.
Why can't you? Just say, we want to spend it on our own. Then visit your own mum on say Boxing Day? Dh's mum for a 'very' short visit, winkone of the other days. Or not at all. Be decisive.

SlatternIsTrying Fri 16-Sep-16 09:50:15

The 'laws' of Christmas are not set in stone, do what suits you.

Personally I think that getting married and/or having children is a great opportunity to set new rules that suit you as the next generation family unit.

I understand that sometimes a person has to do a family duty type visit that is dreaded, but every other Christmas - no way!

sentia Fri 16-Sep-16 09:50:28

The more significant problem is the fact that he wants to give in to avoid an argument. It doesn't sound like it's possible to avoid unpleasantness, your DH needs to think about what the path of least pain really is...

Huldra Fri 16-Sep-16 09:50:42

I would do as suggested above. Say you have other plans, state it as a fact and don't enter into a discussion about it.

I like my inlaws but wouldn't want to get into any set routine around Christmas. We spend some with siblings, some with parents, or inlaws, some on our own, some on holiday.

alleypalley Fri 16-Sep-16 09:53:46

Have they actually said they want you to go to theirs? I've been married 10 years and never been to my in laws for Christmas; they've never asked and we've not especially wanted to. We've been to my parents maybe 4 or 5 times, 1 abroad and the rest at home. I wouldn't go somewhere out of obligation.

0pti0na1 Fri 16-Sep-16 09:58:48

YANBU. Meet them on your own terms in your own time.

FoxesOnSocks Fri 16-Sep-16 09:59:19

Diplomacy with unpleasant people, is pointless: your DH's parents will be unpleasant and cause unhappiness whatever you do and however you do it (would that be fair to say?).

Tell them your not going if they mention it - straight out 'we're staying put this Christmas' - no need to explain past 'it's what we want'.

If they don't mention it, then you don't mention it, and you just don't go.

In other words feck 'em. He owes them nothing.

TisConfusion Fri 16-Sep-16 09:59:40

Do what you and DP WANT to do. Don't worry about pleasing others.
I get on fine with DPs parents and DP gets on fine with mine but when we moved in together we decided that we always wanted to spend Christmas day in our own place. I didn't want to get in to alternating Christmasses. We usually see his parents on Christmas Eve and mine on Boxing day but it's not set in stone or anything.

princesspineapple Fri 16-Sep-16 10:12:59

I agree with Ragwort about doing different things every year, then nobody can have any expectations of you to get offended over.
DP's family (10 adults over 3 generations) Did the same thing for christmas every single year for 23 years. The year we decided we wanted our own Christmas in our first house, it was like WW3! We've done different things for 5 years, and both our families grudgingly respect that.
It's your Christmas, put your own family first.

diddl Fri 16-Sep-16 10:15:39

"AIBU to think we shouldn't have to do alternate Christmases with people who make us so unhappy and that there must be a diplomatic way round this?"

Doubt that there's a diplomatic way to do it.

If you are already keeping them at a distance, why do they even know what you do at Christmas?

They just need to know that "seeing them doesn't work" imo.

ImperialBlether Fri 16-Sep-16 10:16:50

Do they live nearby? Would they know where you were if you didn't tell them?

I wouldn't spend Christmas with them. They spent it with who they wanted when they were younger - now it's your turn to do that.

JoansPenNecklace Fri 16-Sep-16 10:16:56

They asked us last year but only after we had already told them we were going to my parents! Literally "we are going to Joan's family." Grunts and looks annoyed: "Do you want to come to ours?" "Well no because we are already going to Joan's family". We live in the same city as ILs.
Both ILs are classic narcissists and just have no clue really. We do put in place some boundaries and they don't acknowledge them it's just met with complete silence. But does work for a while at least.
My ideal scenario would be just a tacit understanding that they have hurt us and been unsupportive destructive parents to DH and as a result will not be close to our family but without confrontation. I.e. they reflect on why we aren't close and realise they are to blame and that this is also why so many other people avoid them. DH says they never think they are in the wrong. Because we live in the same city and DH has other lovely family he doesn't want to upset the whole family by explaining why we don't trust ILs with DCs alone or want to see them much as he doesn't want it to mean there can't be family gatherings with all of us. His wider family have some idea of the problem but don't know half of it. They are supportive of our unspoken coolness with his parents but if we were direct and came out and said to ILs how we felt they may well be less supportive as they would then be put under a strain as the only people who the ILs could unload on, and because at present we can all still spend time together and pretend things are OK!

PeppaIsMyHero Fri 16-Sep-16 10:17:36

Had a similar issue and we broke the cycle by going abroad one Christmas and then never resuming the previous routine. Life is just too short to spend a short xmas break on motorways going places you don't want, but we didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings either. We just quietly moved the format on...

reallyanotherone Fri 16-Sep-16 10:19:47


Is there some law you have to spend christmas with parents?

Never even occurred to me. We make our on plans, and accept/extend invites for the following few days.

bibbitybobbityyhat Fri 16-Sep-16 10:22:38

I'm not sure what you are asking here.

You don't like your dh's parents and it is not just a Christmas thing.

But you don't want to "set your stall out" so how is anything ever going to change?

What do you want Mumsnet to say to you?

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