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Had a row with DH about his family anyone offer any advice

(18 Posts)
nikkisherri Sat 14-May-05 21:00:25

Does anybody here feel that they are so different from their dh families that they can no longer tolerate any family gatherings? Or even wonder how compatible they are with their dh?

My dh is adopted, his family although very nice are so much older (his parents in 70's) and his sisters and their husbands are nice 'proper grown ups' extremely well mannered, very kind to me when I am there but so so different to myself and my own family who are quite open and relaxed and maybe a little noisy with each other at times.

My academic level is not on par of that of my dh's family but I definitely am not stupid.

My dh's sisters and their partners are school teachers/headmasters/policemen (his parents also were teachers) my dh's sister's way they raise their kids seems faultless and their kids are very intelligent.

My daughter on the other hand is like a fairy a little dreamy at times, she's not been so good on certain subjects but is so clever when it comes to knowing every wild animal, ocean fish etc. or some obscure fact about the planet. She is good at designing and drawing, she's even recently had a poem published in a playground anthology book
but I know that my dh's family look down on her and dont feel that she is on par with their own children. They make many comments about her reading skills never in a nasty way only in a very 'concerned' way. Their own children who are the same age walk marathons are fantastic at sport and receive top grades.

When we go round to my dh's parents house with his entire family for a gathering. I feel like I am propelled into an Ivory Merchant movie. We sit around in the living room all facing one another having tea and biscuits and cucumber sandwiches everyone is extremely polite. They ask me questions like how is your mother doing etc. then they just talk about 'proper' stuff like collecting for jumble sales to help the blind etc.

They just make me feel so stupid around them so inferior so pointless such a rubbish mother.

When we are around there I see my dh change before my eyes into one of them. I actually cannot stand him when he his around them. He also seems to abandon me when we are there too. Leaving me feeling vry out of depth.

I just cant stand it. I hate going there I always come away feeling self loathing.

My dh and I were just on way to see them and I have just made my dh drop me back home before we reached there as I just couldn't bear to put myself through hours of feeling like crap anymore.

My dh and I argued on the way home and I seriously questioned if I had anything in common with not just his family but him as I see him striving so much to be like that himself because he is adopted I feel he very much has need to fit in with them to feel he belongs. I understand that.

but lately he works endless hours and I barely see him anymore and I know that at the root of it is a need to impress his family. He is working in theatre and its impressive to them and they are delighted in how well he has done for himself none of them taking into account that I am left at home hours and hours on end by myself whilst he tours with shows.

I feel really fed up and quite miserable and really wondering if I am with the wrong man.

ambrosia Sat 14-May-05 21:04:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AngelCakeUmm Sat 14-May-05 21:05:37

nikkisherri Sat 14-May-05 21:12:50

Thats exactly what I have been doing which is causing the problems ambrosia , how does your partner feel about it though when you dont want to go ?

ambrosia Sat 14-May-05 21:56:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SofiaAmes Sat 14-May-05 23:20:17

nikkisherri, it sounds to me like his family aren't really all that bad. Many mumsnetters have described far worse. Could it be that some amount of your discomfort is from your own issues like not feeling confident about yourself. I'm sure it's horrible to feel that your child is being negatively compared to her cousins, but maybe they just don't know any other way to talk about children. Everytime I talk to my aunt in california she always goes on and on and on about how clever and amazing her grandchildren are and I start thinking that maybe my children are really as clever and amazing as I thought they were. And then everytime I go to visit them, I get reminded that although her kids are clever, they are ill-mannered and ugly and probably not any cleverer than my kids, but even if they are, who cares. My aunt doesn't really mean to make me feel bad about my kids, she just doesn't know how to measure her value for her grandchildren in any other way but to talk about their cleverness. Could it be that your in-laws are sort of the same.

And is it really all that bad that your dh strives to be like his family. They don't sound too bad to me, just a little boring. My dh's family are a bunch of drunks and he still tries to fit in when we go to visit them. I usually give him a day or two after a visit to come back to our world (and he's usually happy to do so). But I don't think it does him any good to remind him how awful his family is. Or in your case to remind your dh how boring his family is.

It sounds like the big problem is that he's working away from home too much and it's putting a strain on your marriage. I suspect that blaming it on his family probably isn't going to be terribly productive as even if he is trying to impress them, it's not really their fault. Perhaps you could put your energy into have a good discussion with him about how he could either reduce his hours, bring you along on tour, or maybe find some other alternative to keep you busy during the touring periods. A marriage counselor might be useful to help you with this.

swedishmum Sun 15-May-05 01:10:18

I too have nothing in common with in-laws. However have learnt after 22 years to fake an interest in soap operas, haircuts of people I don't know etc. I'm a grown up - I just play their game. Dull but it works.
One word of warning - don't do as I once did and have too much wine and tell a few too many home truths. It's not worth it!!

compo Sun 15-May-05 09:05:18

I'm afraid I disagree with Ambrosia. I think once you get married and have a family you do have a duty to your dh's family. I hate going to my in-laws but I do it for dh's sake and because it want ds to see all his family getting along.

assumedname Sun 15-May-05 10:38:01

Is it possible for you to go along, but make the visits much shorter? I would go bananas spending hours at my mother's house, so we don't. Can you see his parents on a drop-in basis, without the rest of the family?

I don't think his family is actively trying to put you down, or your dd. It sounds like she is a very creative little girl and perhaps you could show you are proud of that. My dd3 has a high reading level for her age, but she can't draw. Drawing is a talent that not everyone has.

What really needs to happen is that your dh cuts back on his hours so you get more time to spend together as your own, special family.

jampots Sun 15-May-05 11:01:46

nickisherry - i feel the same about my inlaws but not because they're intelligent . They're just plain odd. Admittedly dh doesnt have brothers or sisters so its jsut him and his parents (FIL has one sister still alive and her dh and their ds which makes up his side of the family). They live in Spain (yahoo!)and visit yearly for a couple of months. They are back at the moment for a month and go back next Wednesday - we have seen them twice (brill for me - crap for dh). Dh wants to go visit them this afternoon and I really dont because we will just be sitting in their mobile home thing and the tv will be blaring and they will be reading newspapers or FIL will be ranting on about cars etc and how much money he gives dh or failing that will be boring us all with how to make jam or cook aloo sag! But we will go because they are his parents and its not his fault they've made no effort.

passtheprozac Sun 15-May-05 11:11:00

i actually have no contact with my in-laws at all. neither does my dh.when you get married you become a whole seperate family and spouses should always come before parents.imo he should tell parents to back off.

cupcakes Sun 15-May-05 11:22:38

I do sympathise and yet at the same time don't really think they sound that bad. At least they are proud of your dh and show interest in your dd.
And (as I have had to come to accept myself) you do marry into a family, not just the man.
I used to have a manager who said that one of the reasons she married her husband was because she got on so well with his mother (and yes, she did have a happy marriage). At the time I thought she was mad - my dh (then boyfriend)'s parents were just that - his. But since having children they are now inextricably linked with us and I can't avoid them. They're not even that bad - just not exactly my soul mates! I do often resent time with them but know I'll probably be the same when I'm a grandmother - annoying the life out of my children in law!

cupcakes Sun 15-May-05 11:23:47

sorry but I don't think he should tell them to back off - it's not a crime to want to be involved. How would you feel if your children acted like that with you in 20 years?

passtheprozac Sun 15-May-05 11:28:25

yes. probably a bit harsh but you would understand if you knew my inlaws.

munz Sun 15-May-05 11:31:37

well my in laws r the opposite to my family as well, normally I grin and bear it with my in laws as does DH with my family, we like being on our own. my family sounds like us his is different all together, the point is thou we don't critize our respective families to each other as I don't think that's fair.

from your daughters point of view, here's another one to look out for, my dad's family is like ur husbands, mum's like urs, with our mum's side me and my DB our the eldest GC, and all GC are treated the same (except two but that's another story) we all have our strenghts which is acepted within the family and played up to and the weaknesses - well they don't matter really as long as u try as someone else will be able to help u in the family as tha's they're strenght iucwim. my dad's side however, is the total opposite, I have 3 older cousins (we're all within 2 years of each other 5 of us in all) anyhow, the eldest GS went to uni, got all a and A*'s in his exams, a 1st at uni and works in london in the banking industry doing somehting or other, the eldest GD did the same she went to uni and got the same qualifications, my brother (the 'overlooked' GS because he wasn't the first to do anything) is basically not v good with acedemics - in fact he's lousey at it, BUT, he's a plaster and v v pratical - he has his C&G's and worked damn hard to get it, however he's not realy as 'god' cos he didn't go to uni, my other girl cousin went to college got average grades but did it and she's also a 'good' and dettled member of the fmaily. I on the other hand went to college and dropped out so did it the long way and am now training for qualifications, anyhow, my point is, my brother and I always felt (by my GP's) that we were not worthy, we were not as good as the eldest boy and girl, it hit my DB v v hard, however the balance from my mothers side kept him on track. my DB is not close at all to my dad's parents naturally we're plesant and cvial but DB doesn't go out of his way to make the effort like with mum's. my point is, focus on ur daughters strenghts,and make sure she doesn't feel inferior, i'm so sad for DB for what he's put up with, and after 25 yrs he's still viewed the same all because he's not accedemic. our mum like u blamed her self, until she had enough and basically said no he's my boy and he's good at other stuff if u took the time out to see u'd know that.

anyhow hope that story helps u get some idea of what DD might feel like in years to come.

WideWebWitch Sun 15-May-05 11:36:17

I think there's a fine line here. I'm not wild about my dp's mother but she is his mother and she loves him and he loves her, which is exactly as it should be. I am friendly to her, polite, interested (and I'm not really interested in some of the things she is but I do the right thing and act interested) and it's all fine. If she pushes it and makes rude remarks (it has happened) I tell her, in no uncertain terms, that her behaviour is unacceptable. She doesn't really do it now, we've established our boundaries. I think I owe it to my dp to make an effort and to get along with his mother. I agree with everyone that your ILS really don't sound that bad, just different to you, that's all. And I agree, this probably is about a) how you feel about yourself and b) that your dh spends too much time working. Can you negotiate to not go to as many family gatherings? You don't say how often this is, is it excessive? Or, if you do go, can you cut them a bit shorter? Or maybe meet them somewhere that's neutral or your territory? Or somewhere with distractions? Your girl sounds a sweetie!

nikkisherri Sat 21-May-05 13:50:29

Thankyou all for kind words and advise. Sorry didnt realise anybody had replied!

I am much better now, was feeling a little sorry for myself that day , do feel a bit stupid for making such a fuss about it now but seemed a good idea at the time!

I guess it very much does stem down to my own insecurities that gets me worked up about these things. silly me

Gillian76 Sat 21-May-05 14:20:00

I had trouble feeling at ease with my DHs family for a long time. Still do. Like you say, they are different and it's hard to feel like you have anything in common with them.

But 2 years ago, my MIL died very suddenly aged 60. Sorry, not trying to be sensationalist, but you have to think how much longer are they going to be around?

It's easy to feel like your daughter is being compared to the cousins, and probably she is. All families compare each other on some level whether they are willing to admit it or not. If you and your dh are proud of her, who cares what anyone else thinks. It's having that confidence to say "to hell with everyone else's opinion" that makes the difference.

The thing you have in common is your dh and if I were you, I'd do my best to go along with the visits, most of the time! Perhaps sometimes dh and dd can go and you can go with them on other occasions.

I've been a bit long winded, but I just wanted to say life is too short!

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