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How do you deal with difficult il's?

(35 Posts)
goodolenc Sat 12-Mar-16 11:14:22

Nc'ed as really I don't want things to get any worse and I need to get this off my chest or I think I'll explode! I'm sorry it does seem long. It is small in the grand scheme of things...

My sil (dh's sister) and her dh live a couple of hours drive away. They don't have dc's, we do. They come over to visit my mil nearly every weekend and I'll get a text on the Saturday from them asking if they can come round 'for a cup of tea' but they end up staying several hours. That means extra shopping, making a more 'adult' meal than I'd normally make if it were just us and all the cleaning up afterwards. I invite mil too as I don't want her to be left out at home although she takes off after a couple of hours as she's invariably busy. She is lovely.

After more than a decade of trying, I've accepted that I don't get on with my sil. We both make an effort, but I feel like I'm walking on eggshells the whole time and can't relax. They don't muck in with helping and spend as little time with my dc's as they think they can get away with can. They tend to plonk themselves down and wait to be offered things and don't help tidy up etc. Last time I watched them glance round my dining room and kitchen taking in the mess etc. and with relief happily trot out the door with nary a backward glance. If I ask them to help they'll shift a couple of plates 3 metres. Will revert back to useless the next time. My dc's miss out on our attention as I'm cooking and dh is chatting so end up spending the afternoon entertaining themselves.

These regular visits are beginning to seriously piss me off. I hate the late notice (they know, but they 'live in the moment'). I think it wouldn't be so bad if I liked sil, but I feel that she looks down on me, so when she makes an effort to chat I feel patronised. She takes offence very easily and I usually put my foot in it (don't mention the war). It's so awkward! We are on completely different wavelengths.

When they do come round I want to be welcoming and a good host, but I feel resentful, so I am not as welcoming as I'd like to be, and then I feel even more resentful! Arhgghg I don't want to put dh in the middle of this. He would do as I ask but I don't want him resenting me, I want him happy too! I can't really talk to him about it as he doesn't really see the problem between me and sil.

What I really want is everyone to be happy, and no-one resentful, and everyone pulling their weight without any confrontation. Happy families. smile

My plan:

Dh can do the shopping and cooking next time. I will spend more time with the dc's and less on entertaining them.

I can occasionally say 'no, sorry, too busy' even though we're just relaxing at home. But actually dh refuses to lie so he'll come out with something like 'goodolenc doesn't want to see you this weekend'. Diplomacy is not in his dictionary.

Dh can go and see them at his mum's. But then we miss him! grrr

Invite ourselves over to mil's place, or even to sil's shock although I think this is rude and would feel guilty. (Yes they do do this to me all the time.)

Any other coping strategies? And how often is reasonable to see in laws? Is it reasonable to say 'not every weekend', or even just once a month? I've lost all perspective.

Thank you for reading.

littleleftie Sat 12-Mar-16 11:32:56

You have a DH problem,not an ILS problem.

The advantage here is they have a routine. So - you need to plan to do something on Saturdays with the DCS that takes you out of the house. If that means you don't see DH for a couple of weeks then that's tough - he isn't really up for backing you is he?

Do you honestly think he will do all the shopping, cooking, entertaining and clearing up ( cos you won't be doing it) more than once? YOu are making this all too easy for them. You may as well have MUG tattooed on your forehead.

When they text, say no, sorry we are busy every Saturday as DC have swimming/football/cinema club.

If my DH said "little doesn't want to see you this weekend" rather than supporting me I would want to strangle him. He needs to be more worried about upsetting you than about upsetting them.

Rubberbandits Sat 12-Mar-16 11:35:55

Maybe next week arrange something for you, DH and DCs to do so you can truthfully say no to your SIL. Then the following week arrange something else as well. Break the pattern. Then maybe the week after you could make yourself available. Manage your SIL's expectations regarding your availability to host her and her DH. Maybe the next time you agree to host her, provide beans on toast and custard creams with a cup of tea. Or soup and a sandwich. Keep her guessing! Will you be in? Will you provide a meal to her liking? Will you suggest meeting in a cafe instead?

Nanny0gg Sat 12-Mar-16 13:10:36

What littleleftie said.

I would definitely plan to go out without him! Kill two birds with one stone...

VoldysGoneMouldy Sat 12-Mar-16 13:16:30

Agree with everything LittleL said - the issue is your H not your ILS. You know he'll make you look bad, so you have to work your arse off for the weekend. That's not fair. You should be allowed to say no without worry about backlash.

goodolenc Sat 12-Mar-16 15:06:14

Good points all.

My dh likes to play a bit of the martyr with his family ie. 'look what i have to put up with my life is so hard' so almost likes to make me the bad guy. I have to be very careful now what I say. I did get upset and say he should be smoothing relations along and have my back, not making me out to be the enemy. He has been better since that conversation but there's still some way to go.

I have plans with the kids all day tomorrow...

Thanks for letting me vent. It does help to write it down.

pinkyredrose Sat 12-Mar-16 16:45:47

Why the hell does your 'DH' want to appear a martyr to his family? He's being ridiculous. Next time SIL invites herself he can entertain and feed her.

RandomMess Sat 12-Mar-16 16:51:13

Yes you have a DH problem for sure!

Why don't you phone SIL up during the week and inform them that the coming weekend you need to chill out with the kids but if they'd like to come the following weekend at 5pm that's fine?

Take back a bit of control...

TwoTwentyGowerRoad Sat 12-Mar-16 17:14:39

Does this happen almost every weekend? Christ I would be suicidal!

goodolenc Sat 12-Mar-16 19:57:03

Recently it's been most weekends, hence why I think I've finally had enough.

The martyr thing is very strange and I think it comes from his mum. She treats him as the man of the house: to be respected. She knows he can be difficult, and she'll stand up to him if she has to, but I think secretly she thinks I should be a more traditional wife. One should serve one's husband. She is not a feminist. I am a feminist. She often forgets that I had a career and a life BC and I'm starting to get it back again, but apparently it's my 'project' not my work. She loves worrying. Everything is a worry. If we won the lottery she'd worry that we'd be targeted by charlatans etc.

I think dh takes the approach that everyone must take responsibility for themselves. If it's too much for me to have them round, I must stand up and say so. If others want to be offended, their problem. They'll deal with it. All well and fine if it's your family, but I find confrontation very difficult and either bottle it or come over too strong and then feel so guilty I bend over backward setting me back to square -432.

I guess I'm going to have to get the hang of it!

RandomMess, I have tried that approach - the nip it in the bud scheme - and that'll work for a couple of weeks but slowly they'll push back to their preferred position. A couple of years ago we only saw them once every 2 months or so. Bliss!

TaintForTheLikesOfWe Sat 12-Mar-16 20:51:49

I think I would be starting a mythical photographic course or somesuch that just happens to coincide with the visits. Be unavailable due to this course for weeks on end just to break the pattern and then when they want to re-start, just say it doesn't work for you any more. They are sucking your life up like a frigging sponge!

Skiptonlass Sat 12-Mar-16 20:59:21

Be busy. For the next few weeks have something arranged.,
When they pop in for a cup of tea, give them a cup of tea. Stop cooking for them!
Or just (I know it's hard) say no. "Ah we're doing billion piece jigsaw/dying the cat pink/covering the living room floor with caltrops, bit busy this week, see you another time!"

They're doing it because they get a free meal and don't have to clean up after themselves- stop with the hospitality.

ridemesideways Sat 12-Mar-16 21:07:12

Aye - why are you rearranging your whole day? Your DH should say brightly "We're afraid we're going to have to chuck you out now as we have to get tea on and the kids need an early night... Lovely to see you (hands out coats)"

redexpat Sat 12-Mar-16 21:09:49

"That doesn't work for us" means you don't have to lie and is not inflammatory.

Stop cooking different meals. If they don't like it they can get takeout on the way home. Not your problem. I think they are only coming to yours for the dinner. Perhaps your cooking skills could regress?

Give DH some standard replies along the lines of 'it's been a busy week and we just need some down time. Another time maybe.' My DH used to say yes to every invitation until I practically had a breakdown. So we decided who we would say yes to, and who we would take as they came, but it was sheer numbers that made him see my problem. We were saying yes to 26 birthdays a year. Half of the weekends were lost to people I didn't even like. We got it down to 13.

Really, you shouldn't feel the need to tread on eggshells in your own home. Your home should be a sanctuary from all that shit.

Chocolatteaddict1 Sat 12-Mar-16 21:13:45

You need to start the kids in an activity bang on the time they normally show up so you are not ther regulary. Your Dh and in laws will soon get fed up of not having you catering for them. They all do it because you allow it.

They are defanatly in a routine now it will be part of their Saturday outings!

OR when you know they are coming round send them a text on route with a list of things you need for lunch and do not pay for it. EVERY TIME.

"Seen as your coming over again - can you grab XYZ for lunch. Cheers !"

2rebecca Sat 12-Mar-16 21:21:34

Agree re that doesn't work for us. If your husband wants to play host tell him he can but you're going out. Take the kids or not as you fancy. At least they text and ask you, you have to start saying no.
I've never had this problem as we've usually had fairly active weekends and my husbands have hated being visited as much as I do.
Occasional visits are great, regular visits by freeloaders you don't like much any way aren't.

zipzap Sat 12-Mar-16 21:32:50

Next time they send a text to say can they come for a cup of tea, how about sending one back that says that would be lovely but you haven't had a chance to go out shopping so don't have anything in as you didn't know they were coming - so how about they bring a take away or nice ready meal that you can stick in the oven without any effort with them, as they've ended up staying for a full meal for the last few months weeks recently anyway.

And you tell them that as you were going to have a nice quiet weekend with no fuss dh can be in charge of sorting the place out for their visit plus when they get there say you've got to finish homework/some project to do that means you don't need to talk to them (even if you're just MNetting from the bedroom) and they can pay for food for a change and dh or ils can cook it...

Hopefully they'll be so horrified that not only are they not getting a free meal but having to pay for the rest of you to eat too that they'll either pass which would be a great result or at least you won't have to pay for food, cook it or tidy up which would also be a pretty good result grin

And start talking to dh about how you are worried about their finances as they always end up eating with you which means they don't need to pay for food and hopefully if he has no diplomatic filter when he talks he might blurt this out to them and make them realise what they are doing.

But yes. Definitely do something to shake up their saturday routine otherwise it's going to get harder and harder to break. Even if you have to have a migraine or nasty bug of some sort late friday night that goes over into saturday so dh can turn the visit down as you're not very well. Then you can recover gently for the rest of the day and be well enough to do stuff, just not have visitors...

2rebecca Sat 12-Mar-16 22:30:42

Or if you don't want them to come just say no it's not convenient and hope they have a lovely weekend.

Mondrian Sun 13-Mar-16 05:49:30

Littleleftie is spot on, except I would wean them off you gradually.

BeStrongAndCourageous Sun 13-Mar-16 06:13:45

You say your DH is big on personal responsibility? Then let him take it for his sister's visit.

Let them come, but stop engaging with them. I'd take myself off for a long soak in the bath, leaving him to run around entertaining them and dealing with the kids, then sit on my bed painting my nails or something whilst watching tv. I'd be perfectly pleasant as I waft past them, but make it clear their visit is nothing to do with me. At dinner time, I'd order myself a takeaway, and if anyone comments I'd say "oh did you want something? Then YOU order it."

I'd wager after a couple of weeks of this, your DH (who may be a lovely bloke normally but is being a wanker about this, sorry) will be quite keen to tell himself that it's not convenient.

goodolenc Sun 13-Mar-16 07:39:44

Wow thanks everyone.

Next time dh is definitely doing the food. That'll put a stop to everything I think - his cooking is diabolical grin

I was expecting someone to say I should host as they are family. I feel this obligation to be welcoming and happy to have them round.

So how often would you have your il's round then?

QuiteLikely5 Sun 13-Mar-16 07:49:13

I think that you should suggest your dh goes round to his mums house with the dc next week and they can all get together there.

You say sil isn't interested in the dc but she does visit them each weekend and her brother........

You don't like her but that's no reason imo to hack into the family dynamics as you haven't said your dc or dh don't like them.

Lives are better with family than without, your situation just needs a little tweaking.

But then I would love it if my family came to visit my dc every weekend

BeStrongAndCourageous Sun 13-Mar-16 08:04:53

I see my SIL every 2-3 months (and they're nearer than yours), and they host us as often as we do them.

goodolenc Sun 13-Mar-16 08:19:30

Yes exactly, QuiteLikely, that is the view I've been taking for the last decade. I think family are very important.

They come to see dh. They speak on the phone during the week too.

Part of it is that we don't really get on. Part of it is that the kids get ignored when it's their home and their family time too. Part of it is they never help or contribute something to the meal.

I think if it wasn't as often and they occasionally brought a contribution and mucked in then I would feel a lot happier about it. And also invited us round more than every 18 months. Ie if it felt like a reciprocal relationship.

I would also love it if my family came round - they're great. But they're not around. sad

VegasIsBest Sun 13-Mar-16 09:14:23

Sounds like a difficult situation. I certainly wouldn't be making dinner (never mind a nicer dinner) for people who call in uninvited and unwelcome.

Why don't you give the kids their dinner and just have a cup of tea with SIL. You and your husband can eat later. That should help to reduce the length of the visit. Don't apologise or even mention the lack of food. And see if that gets them on their way a bit quicker if they do come.

I agree that being unavailable is the best thing though - have a nice family outing somewhere.

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