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I'm being a bitch and trying to work out why... (MIL and XMAS all in one thread!)

(27 Posts)
ElizaPickford Thu 06-Nov-14 14:55:06

I know that I'm being a bit...uncharitable?

Basically, I don't have an amazing relationship with my MIL, she's a funny one. (Long thread in itself.) We moved a year ago and she took 6 months to visit us in our new house and hasn't been since. We've been over to see her a few times this year. There isn't a physical/financial problem stopping her coming, she just has other priorities. When she does visit she takes over the tv remote, complains about my cooking, thanks me for nothing and generally makes a big deal about how hard DH works. (We both work full time and have a fair division of labour in the house - she just seems determined to think that I'm a slacker!)

We invite her for Christmas every year but she's only been once. We are never invited there because SIL stays there at Christmas and there's not enough room in the house. This year SIL is going to stay with MIL for a week over Christmas and we have been invited to go over a couple of days after Christmas to see SIL and her DP. Only, they're leaving the day we go, so we'll get to see them for about 3 hours.

I'm aware I sound stroppy (and perhaps it's PMT) but I feel like we're not really considered in any of their plans at all, but we're expected to jump when they summons us for a 3 hour audience. We're invited to stay the night when SIL has left, but to be honest the last time we visited left a bit of a bad taste: MIL would ask DH if he wanted a cup of tea, would make him one then come in and say "oh, did you want one too Eliza?" She spent most of the time in another room, is incredibly uptight (she got arsey when DH dropped a millilitre of wine onto her table cloth), she refuses to give us the wifi code (I know, first world problems) and we end up just sat in her tiny front room bored to death while the kids bounce off the walls.

I know that families are weird and require give and take etc., I just don't feel like there's any effort made to visit us. We've had a stressful couple of months and DH and I both have a good week off work to look forward to at Christmas, and I was looking forward to chilling out with the kids, playing with their new stuff, going for lovely walks on the beach, watching crap telly and generally relaxing. I'm already resenting the thought of having to brave 3 hours of Christmas traffic to go and stay there, when we could be having a lovely lazy chilled out time at home. I don't see why she can't jump on a train and come and visit us after SIL's gone, there's only one of her, while we're four people and a daft dog and a ton of crap to pile in a car.

I probably sound a bit petulant, am I being selfish? Do I just need to suck it up and go along with it? Trying to work this all out in my head before we need to RSVP and want to be clear in my head so that I don't end up having a row with DH about it so all advice welcome....

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 06-Nov-14 15:07:56

No, you are not being selfish here.

DH is key here. What has your DH said about this potential visit?. Do you feel he can stand up to his mother or do you think he is afraid of her and still wants her approval?.

How does he get along with his mother these days?

She is clearly not interested in your own family unit day to day but expects to be visited when you are both summoned to do so. Such people are truly selfish and self absorbed. You've been nice but she has never really reciprocated so why bother trying any more?. Being nice to such people just leaves you open to further criticism. You would not also have tolerated any of this from a friend, family are no different.

I would be raising your own boundaries a lot higher than they currently are. Families are give and take you write. My response to that is that really only applies to families that are anyway emotionally healthy. In dysfunctional emotionally unhealthy families, this ideal goes out the window along with the rule book detailing familial relations. Its all take, take and take some more from his mother and you are also well down on her priority list. I would also think the children cannot readily abide her either.

Make your own traditions at home and spend Christmas there, you do not have to spend hours in a car visiting any ungrateful and uncaring relations.

ElizaPickford Thu 06-Nov-14 15:24:54

Hello Attila You have given me some great advice over the years, and it's always a relief when you get where I'm coming from. grin

DH is generally pretty awesome, in that he knows what a bag she can be and when she comes here he makes a big show of thanking me for each meal (because she literally can't say a good word about anything I cook, it's all too big/exotic/weird etc.) He does know what she's like, but he also doesn't like talking about it generally and gets very defensive if I point something out, which makes me feel like I need to either suck it up in silence or prepare for an argument with him.

He's said that he definitely wants to go over to see his sister (but I'm not sure that he's done the maths and realised that we'll only cross over for a few hours!) and then while we're over there we can go and visit other relatives of mine. I don't see how I can object to going over without it looking like I'm trying to stop him seeing his sister, but I don't want to spend several days of our precious time off sofa surfing and doing the rounds, dragging the kids and dog from pillar to post. Just sounds a bit arsey, doesn't it? sad

We'd actually see more of his sister if we went over for the day on the Saturday/Sunday before Christmas, but the traffic will be horrific (and you never know that weather might not be as well with the Pennines to cross.) I always have these romantic notions of lounging in front of a fire eating mince pies having finished all the Christmas prep (which won't happen but sounds much better than being stationary in traffic losing our tempers with each other on some godforsaken moor three days before Christmas, doesn't it?) wink

FunkyBoldRibena Thu 06-Nov-14 15:27:09

We're invited to stay the night when SIL has left

'No, that doesn't work for us. A long way for all of us to travel for just 3 hours.'

ElizaPickford Thu 06-Nov-14 15:30:33

And this might sound petty - maybe it is, but it just feels like MIL has chosen SIL over DH, so if she goes there for Christmas it automatically means we "can't." I just can't imagine telling one of my children that they can't come to stay because the other is, and certainly not at Christmas, I'd squeeze them all in or at least offer to, even if it was a huge squash, because I'd want to have all my family round me.

ElizaPickford Thu 06-Nov-14 15:31:45

(There are 4 of us, and 2 of them, but still!)

brassbrass Thu 06-Nov-14 15:50:28

erm you seem to get the dreg ends of everything why would you keep accepting that?

Really there's no 50:50 is there?

At the very least she could alternate between SIL and your DH but she chooses SIL every time.

I wouldn't bother. DH could go by himself you could stay home with kids if he's that desperate.

Littlef00t Thu 06-Nov-14 15:51:29

Could you find a family room in a hotel that doesn't break the bank and suck it up for one night when you're SIL is still staying so at least you'd get to see more of them and not have to tiptoe round mil?

MexicanSpringtime Thu 06-Nov-14 15:59:53

The problem is that from what you say, your DH does want to do this.

I presume his sister is coming from overseas. Could you not arrange to meet up for your three hours with her at some intermediate point? Or, even better, invite her to your house?

ElizaPickford Thu 06-Nov-14 16:00:52

I did think about a hotel but I can't imagine we'd get anything under £100 at Christmas and money's a bit tight at the moment. I was wondering about sending DH on the train (we only have one car) but he'd have to wait til the trains started up again on the Saturday...

Holdthepage Thu 06-Nov-14 16:08:35

You get to spend Christmas at home with your family, you only have to see MIL for 1 night after Christmas, you don't really like her, so what's the problem? I could understand if you were expected to go & stay for Christmas Day & Boxing Day but this is only for a few hours. You don't really like her coming to your home because she is not grateful enough & doesn't compliment your cooking but because she doesn't come very often you think she doesn't make enough effort.

BobbyDarin Thu 06-Nov-14 16:19:32

She refuses to give you the wifi code? Seriously? That's extraordinarily petty. Does she let you use the toilet?

Discuss it with your other half, and suggest you don't go over there at Christmas. I don't know if you have family you would want to visit but you could quite reasonably suggest you go there. The only other thing to consider is if you have children as it might be unfair to deny them time and presents from grandparents but since you don't mention any I assume that's not an issue.

But in general I don't see why you should put up with that sort of thing.

BobbyDarin Thu 06-Nov-14 16:26:22

My mistake, you do mention the kids. And I've seen your replies now.

I suppose three hours isn't very long. Perhaps you could talk to some of your relatives then invent a story about how they just happen to only be free during those self-same three hours that your husband will be at his parents' house so you can just drop him off there and pick him up when you're done.

Justwhateverreally Thu 06-Nov-14 16:31:58

There are two issues here: your relationship with your MIL, and the fact that you want to have a low key Christmas at home.

If your DH agrees with the latter then easy peasy, just tell everyone that you're having a quiet one but they'd be welcome to call in (or, if they are far enough away, come for one night).

If he doesn't agree then you're going to need to compromise and split your time between visiting and chilling out, I guess.

ElizaPickford Thu 06-Nov-14 17:09:32

Sorry, just to clarify, we'd only see SIL for 3 hours before she left but we've been invited to stay there that night and the next day. We live too far away to make a day trip very feasible.

Holdthepage I didn't say I don't like her coming here. I always try very hard to make her welcome despite how she behaves, and there has been the odd visit where she's actually been alright, but generally speaking that's a 1 in 4 scenario. I'd love it if it was nice every time she came and I live in hope, but I can only account for my behaviour when she's here and not hers.

We do also have children, they're quite young and it's always a bit tense when we go because MIL doesn't like them to be too noisy or make a mess or do any of the other stuff that young boys tend to do.

ElizaPickford Thu 06-Nov-14 17:13:15

I might suggest that they all come over here for a night instead so that we get to see SIL properly, they're around and off work for a while, whereas we're both working right up until Christmas Eve night. That might be more of a compromise?

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 06-Nov-14 17:18:50

"And this might sound petty - maybe it is, but it just feels like MIL has chosen SIL over DH"

And that is not an unlikely scenario.

She has likely shown favouritism towards your SIL than your DH in the past as well. This is not the first time this has happened has it?. In dysfunctional families as well there is often a favoured golden child/scapegoat dynamic going on.

If your DH wants to see his sister (what is she like btw?) then she perhaps should instead visit you all at home after she leaves from your MILs house.

I would tell them that this is not working for you so such a visit is not possible this year. Even three hours in their company will likely feel like an eternity particularly with your MIL who previously got arsey when your DH accidently split some wine onto her tablecloth. I daresay she is anyway not all that great a grandparent to your children either.

Bakeoffcakes Thu 06-Nov-14 17:24:40

I think asking them to come ot you is a good idea. If they can't then just suggest DH goes.

ChillySundays Thu 06-Nov-14 17:26:44

We found a travelodge for under £40 on Christmas night. Worth checking all the chains out.

MexicanSpringtime Thu 06-Nov-14 17:29:29

Inviting them over sounds like a good idea. Three hours (and possibly more with the weather and traffic jams) each way in a car with small children would be enough to put anyone off that trip.

ElizaPickford Thu 06-Nov-14 17:29:52

Attilla you might be on to something there - I'd never really put it into context, but it's very much that SIL is the golden child and everything she does is amazing, whereas whenever DH does anything (gets a pet, joins a band, moves house) it's greeted with an eyeroll "ohhhh, typical Mr Pickford, how silly". In fact the first time his parents met mine MIL basically ran him down in front of us all, which she would NEVER do about SIL. I hadn't really realised this until now...

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 06-Nov-14 17:36:59

I was afraid of that but have seen such dynamics before now myself. The golden child role is one actually not without price but his sister is not aware of that particular price to be paid.

Your DH sounds like he is still trying and failing to get approval that his mother will never give him. He has never been favoured by her at all.
His mother may well in time start favouring one of your own children as well over the other child, this is also why it is well worth staying well away from such people. It is NOT your fault they are like this and such people do not change.

I would have a look at some of the resources at the start of the "well we took you to Stately Homes" thread as this could well help you and he going forward.

dreamingbohemian Thu 06-Nov-14 17:37:40

I think you're being a little unfair about the squeezing in bit. Sometimes there really isn't enough room, especially if you're bringing two kids and a dog. As much as you want a quiet xmas at home, maybe they don't fancy a xmas with everyone piled on top of each other.

It also sounds like SIL doesn't have kids? So maybe that's the answer to the question really, maybe it's nothing against you personally but they just don't want to have a noisy xmas with kids, they want a more relaxed adult holiday.

But I think you are totally reasonable not to want to go and in your shoes I would be persuading DH to go by himself, if they don't want to come see you.

HolgerDanske Thu 06-Nov-14 17:43:40

I totally agree that your DH should go by himself. You and the littlies and dog can lounge around and enjoy cosiness and comfort rather than travel, tiredness and stress.

ElizaPickford Thu 06-Nov-14 17:49:26

I think you're right dreamingbohemian - that is a bit unfair of me. I just know that whenever there's a situation that we're all over there at the same time, it would be us that had to find somewhere else to stay, not SIL, which just feels a bit unfair.

We'll have a chat about it tonight and see what we can agree. I'm not a total hermit, by the way, I just can't be arsed with long stressy journeys and traffic jams... wink

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