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I want a good Christmas this year!

(16 Posts)
Buttonsofthechockind Fri 21-Nov-14 22:33:46

Have n/c for this incase it outs me. Sorry if this is long.

It's my baby's first Christmas this year and I am ridiculously excited. Even though he won't really remember it or even really know what's going on, having a child this year has totally rekindled the 'Christmas spirit' for me, and I really want to enjoy this one and look back on it with fond memories.

Only trouble is, DH and I flipped a coin to see who we would spend Christmas with this year (his family or mine) as we are then going to alternate it each year so it's fair to both sides. Turns out we are going to my ILs this time...and our relationship is not the greatest.

Don't get me wrong, they are not as horrible as some of the toxic in-laws I read stories about on here! They just sometimes don't think and say whatever comes to mind without realising how hurtful/mean/bossy it sounds...and they also still think DH is about 12 (he's 30) and are very domineering/speak down to the pair of us a lot like we're stupid.

I realise that as they are hosting us and we're all going to be together for 3 days it would be a good idea for us all to get along, and I am grateful to them for having us/will contribute wine and cheese etc. I will also make sure I try to embrace their traditions even if they're different to my own family's, because I want to be a good DIL.
I really don't know what to do with regards to being assertive on certain things, or just letting them go because ~it's Christmasss~ and I shouldn't let anything cloud the festive spirit.

For example, MIL is very domineering/matriarchal and will insist, not ask, insist on doing things, and will demand jobs done, and generally speak in an imperious headmistress-like tone. It gets my back up no end. As I will be wanting to deal with DS and enjoy my day with him (as I think xmas is about the kids, personally...) I really don't want a regimented schedule of 'right, we're going to go for a walk at 12, then when we get back I want you on to the vegetables for dinner, then you can put DS for his nap at 2, then we all eats at 4...etc etc.' Because she is a lot like that....every half hour of life has to be diarised and adhered to in her eyes! In the past when I have said I don't want to do something I am accused of being difficult.

Do I just do it to please her and have an easy xmas with no bad feelings (ie just be a doormat and float through it all with my mouth shut and just focus on ds) or, do I stand up for myself and say "I'd rather do this - It's my christmas too, and my first one with DS to boot?"

Not sure if I am being a cow, or am justified in wanting to have a relaxing day that goes with the flow...? I'm not sure if I'm making sense here.
I am perfectly happy to help with dinner prep and cleaning up and will contribute to the day, for the a nutshell, I just don't know whether to do what I want as it's my first xmas with DS instead of being regimented, OR just go along with MIL to save any tension.

thank you for your help...will elaborate on things if it will explain anything?x

cestlavielife Fri 21-Nov-14 22:37:05

Go to them on Boxing Day. For 24 hours only.
Spend Xmas day at home .

Buttonsofthechockind Fri 21-Nov-14 22:44:34

DH is insistent that we go and it has already been arranged. I did accept that I would be having to go either this year or next to the ILs for Xmas (and like I say they're not horrible or mean, I just want to know the best approach to take with regards to being assertive about doing what I want/what I think's best with DS so he gets the most enjoyment)

1981 Fri 21-Nov-14 22:47:44

I suggest you consider not just this Xmas but future ones too.

One year at your in laws, the next at yours - if that's life for the next decade or two, when do you and DH get to enjoy a family Christmas together?

I would strongly urge you not to make it a tradition that you alternate Christmas day so regimentedly. Think of the future. Could you do it ad hoc? Or every 3rd year at the in-laws? Some other comprimise?

I know that doesn't help with your immediate concern about this year (cestlavielife has some good suggestions), but trust me, this year's small fry compared to facing this same issue for many years to come! Just look at the number of threads on MN regarding Christmas obligations and "duties" making it miserable when DCs start to grow up and you/they want a bit more flexibility!

1981 Fri 21-Nov-14 22:51:51

"DH is insistent that we go and it has already been arranged"

Presumably you mean it was agreed and now he insists you follow up as agreed - in which case that's reasonable.

Because if you mean the opposite (your DH insisted that 1 out of every 2 Xmas is spent at his parents house, then you flipped the coin) your battle starts with your DH.

It's not just your problem to deal with - you need to get him on side and then figure out a tactic for setting the right expectations (even if it's little things like mention in June that you may go away on holiday for Christmas for a short break even if you've no intention of going - just so everyone knows it's not regimented that you go every year!).

Once your DH and you are in total agreement, then he needs to work and support you in spreading the message on what you've agreed.

Otherwise you're going to be cast as the party pooper / stick in the mud! (in his eyes,in the in-laws eyes)

Buttonsofthechockind Fri 21-Nov-14 22:56:20

You're right. I just want to please everyone I guess! Perhaps we should go to ILs this year, my family the next, and then after that say we are having our own xmas traditions and will be spending it at my house. (My home is not big enough to host lots of people but I do hope that people would come to us one year too). <3 thank you for your replies

I'm really after suggestions for the upcoming xmas if that's at all this is my DS's first xmas and the first year I have DC, I just want happy memories and want to look back and not have pent-up anger! Not sure of the best approach to take...grit my teeth and just do things how MIL wants to as its her house, or say "no" if I don't think me or DS would enjoy something? x

cestlavielife Fri 21-Nov-14 23:48:12

I don't think you can organise a Christmas your way in someone else ' s hpuse. Impossible. You have to go along with their house their rules. So suggest to h you go a day later and you do your own Xmas day or. Morning at home. Set the scene for the future when dc is older .

littleleftie Sat 22-Nov-14 09:31:37

I agree with PP, whatever made you think you had to go to your parents or ILS?

Say to PILS you will be spending Christmas Day at home and will be up Boxing Day - "really looking forward to it"

When you are there just don't let them bully you. You make yourself sound a bit pathetic tbh -sorry! If someone told me we were all going for a walk at x time and I didn't want to, I would just say so,let them all go off and I would get the chance to chill.

It does all sound very regimented at MILS so just say that now you have DS you cannot work that way, she will have to accept you as you are. If she plays up just act all disappointed and "Oh dear, what a shame, we won't be able to come over as much if it's going to upset you us having DS and needing to do things differently/our way." See how she likes that!

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 22-Nov-14 10:18:34

I would absolutely curtail the visit to no more than 1 day (and not Christmas day either). Visit them on Boxing Day instead if you really have to. Three days of those two will frankly ruin your first Christmas with your child and you could well resent your DH for going along with it so blindly.

Your DH is also part of the problem here because he also seems unable to assert his own wishes. Unsurprising really given what you've written about his mother and father (who is likely to be the quieter one of the two and be a bystander to boot). You find that hard to do as well because you're a people pleaser and you've likely come from a family of origin who are actually emotionally healthy so this is also hard to try to at all comprehend.

These ILs may not be as extreme as some of them you read about on here but that does not mean to say that they are not without their own issues which they are happy to project onto yourselves as a couple. They are really both horrid and mean to you both and demand that you visit them. They do not really see you both as two adults with a child, she in particular still thinks she can (and does) boss your DH about because she thinks he is not capable. Controlling behaviour like this is not healthy at all.

Make your own family traditions instead at home and do not get caught up in the "your parents this year, mine the following year" for the next goodness knows how many years at your expense.

I would also think that your DH is very much in a state of fear, obligation and guilt with regards to his parents. The very fact that his mother is so regimented and talks to him like he is still a child is akin to that fact as well. He is unlikely and perhaps even unwilling to try and go against his parents wishes.

Stripyhoglets Sat 22-Nov-14 11:48:48

Next year will be more fun from you baby's pov as they will know what's going on, although I agree the first Christmas is special. And yes to keeping a year at home in the rotation, and tell them this year that's what you will be doing. We don't have a particular arrangement but do try and make sure everyone is happy and now my kids are older they just want to stay at home so that's where we stay and people visit if they want (family all quite far away so day trips not really possible).

Fattyfattyyumyum Mon 24-Nov-14 09:39:12

To answer your actual question, your priority has to be making sure DS is fed & napped appropriately. How old is he?

Having mil sort a more regimented day might actually help because if you know when the walk, dinner etc are going to happen u can plan DSs day accordingly. Eg if he's 11 months & able to partake in dinner then make sure he naps just before. If he's 3 months then prob best to let him nap while you all eat!

holeinmyheart Mon 24-Nov-14 17:14:41

I hate reading Attila's post when they relate to PIL, Mil. She must have had such a horrible experience with her in laws. First of all I have no axe to grind in favour of in laws as my Mil told me she didn't want me to marry her son and she is barking. It makes me laugh now but at the time I was devastated
My DH never supported me.
However being a MIL is not like having one. Now I am a MIL I have more understanding of the dynamics.
To relate well to anyone you need to have an understanding of where each of you are coming from and try not to react personally. We forgive our friends and our own family a lot, but when it comes to MILs, the harshest treatment, apart from straying husbands is reserved for them on MN.

I applaud you going to your in Laws this year. You will not be comfortable but your husband will as it it is his Mum and Dad and his old home. Next year you will go to your Mums and he will not be as comfortable. It is called give and take. You both come from a different place and trying to accept that you do, is part of forming a good relationship.

Scary as your MIL seems to you she is only human. If she knew how apprehensive you are, I bet she would be appalled as you say they are NOT horrible ( take note Meerka)
There are ways of telling someone whats what, that is not aggressive. She has every right to organise her Christmas in her own home however she likes. You also have RIGHTS. You have the right to say, ' thanks for the invitation to go out for a walk etc but I think I need to relax as I didn't get enough sleep last night ' etc etc. if you think you have rights to free speech then so does your MIl doesn't she?
She has a right to say whatever she likes and you also have a right not to listen or act upon a word she says. Also not to feel guilty, despite anyone's best efforts. Trying to make you feel guilty is there problem not yours.

You need to find the means to relax as you are already getting your knickers in a twist, before anything has happened. If She says anything that you consider bossy or that you don't like, you have a choice, get really upset, mull over her words for days, complain about her to everyone who will listen or consider that what she has said is her opinion. Then think about whether it is your opinion and if it isn't, DONT let it upset you or bother you. There are millions of people in the world who have differing opinions to yours. SO what?
It is amazing that we can't speak to our MILs honestly and openly. I wish I had been able to consult MN when my MIL said what she said to me.

However now I am a MIl I don't want to be someone my DILs are frightened of. If there was an issue I would want to know about it so that I could put it right.
Stick to what you think you want to do within reason, don't sulk and don't take any notice of any one who tries to make you do something you don't want to do. They have a right to ask you and you have a right to say NO.

Believe me it is hard for my mother of grown up sons and daughters to consider them to be adults because we have seen them do daft and irresponsible things. It will dawn on her eventually , like it dawned on me that I had to let go. Gosh it it hard though to see another woman take the main position that you once held in the little darlings life. All mothers of sons I know say the same.

If you can get on with your MIL it will be an achievement. Just try and relax and enjoy your Christmas. At least you don't have to think about buying food and entertaining people for three days. Your MIL will be stressed, in fact everyone will be.
I have got everyone coming this year as I have the biggest house. I am loving and dreading the idea at the same time but I am determined to relax and enjoy what comes. You are not one of my DILs are you?
Someone is going to be offended though as it is inevitable. Happy Christmas xx

Walkacrossthesand Mon 24-Nov-14 19:53:34

I always feel that households with young children in, need to plan days around the needs of the young children. You won't be able to 'make' your baby take a nap when you (or MIL) declare he should - even if he has a routine at home, that might all be shot to pieces by the unfamiliar house, bustle, etc. the best you can offer MIL is that you will try to work around her planned day - but if baby's needs don't fit in, then you will be aligning yourself to baby, not trying to make baby fit her plans - that's a recipe for a fractious, overtired baby and a nightmare all round. It might be too much, for example, for him to be at the table throughout Xmas dinner - better if he has a baby lunch at the right time for him, sits or not at table as naps etc dictate (I'm sure he'll suck happily on a piece of turkey even if he's alreafy had lunch!) and he can enjoy his Xmas dinner helping mashed up at teatime! Sounds great!

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 24-Nov-14 20:13:56


There is a fundamental difference here between the likes of your good self now as a MIL and the OPs MIL. You are at heart emotionally healthy and reasonable, the OPs MIL is clearly not. You let go of your son, this woman has not properly done that and still treats him as a recalcitrant child, they do not like resinding control. She does not think that either of these two people are actually capable adults. Such people take and never give. This relationship is also not a two way one; its mainly on MILs terms and she has far more power here than the OP.

It is all very well advising the OP to try and get along with her MIL but this has already been tried; OP has been very accommodating here and has remained silent when perhaps she should have said something. MIL would probably also state that her DIL is "overreacting" and is "too sensitive". I also wonder whether her DH will feel actually comfortable at all given the fact they are both talked down to by his mother. I also think he is very much afraid of her and still wants her approval.

If someone can talk down to both her son and his wife in such a manner then clearly these are not the actions of a reasonable person. Its her way or no way as far as they are concerned hence also her regimented approach to doing things. Any dissent is not tolerated; this was made apparent in OPs initial post (OP was accused by MIL of being difficult).

Christmas with such difficult people is fraught with unwritten difficulties. Such is not always apparent at all to people whose families are emotionally healthy.

Hasle157 Mon 24-Nov-14 23:33:06

Your situation with your MIL is so similar to mine (read my post I don't want to spend my maternity leave with MIL further down.) We too have to succumb to the inlaw tradition of Christmas together and I'm dreading it. Every put down, every 'subtle' suggestion. We're spending half the day here, half the day there, can you not do the same?
Ive decided that although I need to be polite as I'm in her house, it gives her absolutely no right to not be polite to me. The same goes to you . It's my baby's first christmas too and although I want it to be a magical, amazing day, I wont be a doormat for MILs ego because I wont be enjoying myself inside anyway.
we plan on keeping DDs routine exactly the same and MIL will have to work around us, if she doesnt like it then we'll be coming home.
Put you and your baby's needs first

holeinmyheart Wed 26-Nov-14 09:12:15

Well meerka I don't know whether you are a MIL, but I suspect you are not. It isn't an easy role but thanks for your kind words. I felt tearful when you said that I was healthy emotionally as I come from a Toxic family background. I find compliments difficult to hear.
Because of my experience with my MIL I have tried so hard, ( with nobs on )to get on with the girls who have come into my life, via my boys. And I think that even if you are a saint, because of their own fears, preconceptions etc they are going to find something that they don't like. We are all different ( why is that so hard to grasp)
I can't put a wise head on young shoulders but I do think that realising that you have rights and so do other people, is fundamental to a healthy emotional life. Trying to make you feel guilty is also other peoples problem, not yours.

The post is only going to see her PIL for a short time. They are not going to have much of an impact on the life of the post or her DH's, for the rest of the time. If she gives way on some things but not others it is called being tolerant and flexible.

As she and her DH continue to live together, her part in his life will get bigger and his mothers role get smaller. She owes it so herself to be happy but also think about what makes her bloke happy. He loves his Mum and feels comfortable there and he wants to go.
She appreciates that they are not evil.
She is frightened of her MIL as I was. I never challenged her as I was young and hadn't got the tools or MNet to guide me.
Because I couldn't be assertive, and i was angry with myself because i couldn't be, I used my influence on my DH to see as little of her as poss.
I feel a failure as a DIL because I would have liked to have done better. I am sorry now that I made my DH sad by moaning about his DM.

I want the post to tell her MIl how she feels because then at least it gives the MIL the chance to mull it over and think Mmm, yes , she is right and then alter her behaviour. She may well splutter at first. At least she has been told. If her behaviour does not alter then she will get what she deserves. At least she was given a chance though.
Also perhaps the post may need to look at her own insecurity and even possibly jealousy of her MIL. I was jealous of my MIL. When she and my DH discussed things that I wasn't part of it annoyed me. ( shamefaced look)
I know my DHs prefixing any conversation with ' my Mother ' says, immediately made my eyes go dark red and sparks come out of the top of my head.
She wasn't evil and tried to be nice in later years but it was too late. We both had too many issues. Sad really as we both love her son. She is GA Ga now.
So that is my advice. Sort out what is important to you Button and the stuff you are not going to give way on, and stick to your guns. Refuse to feel guilty as you have the RIGHT to refuse others requests. Write a script and speak to your MIL always using the 'I' word. Try and relax and not take anything your MILs says personally. Try to keep things in perspective and realise that you are all going to be stressed. Also your MIL may well be frightened of you. Then after the visit confine your moaning about your PILs to your dearest friends not your DH. Or post on MNET so we can read how you got in.

I knew In the end I would always win in any contest as I had sex with her son.( so will you Button ) After we visited his mum I always made sure it was the greatest hot sex as well. At least he liked sex better than her cooking. Childish ( I know, I know) no ones perfect.

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