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In law problems

(12 Posts)
snowdrop12345 Wed 28-Sep-16 21:27:19

I'm in an awkward situation with one of my in laws who has come to expect regular visits every other weekend. This is under the guises of seeing our two DCs, but in reality it is spent talking exclusively to DH whilst completely excluding me and the DCs apart from 5-10 minutes. The visit lasts around two hours. Conversation topics are picked by the in-law about which I can contribute nothing. I cannot get a word in edgeways even if I wanted to as the volume is very loud. I feel very excluded and like a spare part in my own house.

I'm basically the babysitter for the DCs during these visits. On the last visit, I got so fed up (and so did they) that we went upstairs and played. In the past I have gone out and done something else but the DCs have to stay in because our visitor "wants to see them", "see" being the operative word. There have been comments when I went and did something else along the lines of "is Snowdrop avoiding me..." Well actually, yes. Going out alone isn't the solution because I want to see my children after a week at school.

I feel that I would be better taking the DCs out somewhere and letting DH and the in law talk to each other. However DH tells me this would be "rude". DH has a brother who last saw the in law in April. He doesn't pick up the phone to him or return his calls, and is not taking his share of the visits IMO.

I don't know what to do about this situation. I am aware of loneliness that some older people feel and don't want to be a cause of anything like this, but at the same time these visits are becoming unbearable. DH points out that the in-law is lonely and yes I agree but there has to be something we can do? I feel that I'm about to lose my temper and say something but don't want to cause a family rift. I am a quiet person and do not like conflict and having to handle feelings like this.

Christmas is not a pleasant experience. I want to stay at home with DH and the DCs and not have to have the whole day dominated by one person, but feel I have little choice sad

KramerVSKramer Wed 28-Sep-16 23:57:30

The problem here lies with your partner. Only when they see and accept what is happening, and are willing to make a change, will it actually happen.

The relative sounds manipulative and controlling.

Topseyt Thu 29-Sep-16 00:23:26

I don't think you would be rude to take the children out rather than having to endure these visits.

I think the only rude one is this presumptuous relative who thinks it is OK to dictate to you and make you feel like spare part in your own home.

You don't need their permission to take your own children out.

Next time she asks DH whether you were avoiding her I would be tempted to tell him that yes, you were because of the way the visits make you feel in what is supposed to be your own home.

Cabrinha Thu 29-Sep-16 07:09:16

You haven't said whether your husband actually wants to see this person.
If he does, then I don't think 2 hours a fortnight is a big deal!
You can easily plan around that. Make it a time that suits you and doesn't restrict you - so a time when you would usually be home so kids can say a quick hello, or a time just before you go out, again - quick hello and done.
Your husband needs to be on board to say "yeah, they're off out / gone to play to give us some time to chat without interruptions".

I don't really understand how the choose topics that you can't contribute to? You could try making a point of joining in everything. So if it's a conversation about a place they grew up, ask - what's the nicest part, do you think it has changed, would you like to go back...

2 hours a fortnight is really not a lot, and I think it's fair of the person to ask if they are being avoided, because they are!

As long as that 2 hours isn't 1pm-3pm and totally inflexible and you can never go out!

rollonthesummer Thu 29-Sep-16 07:12:07

I would go out and leave the kids with them.

OhTheRoses Thu 29-Sep-16 07:16:50

Snowdrop, it's two hours, once a fortnight. Just start calling the tune a bit. Arrange soft play with friends, 40 minutes after start of visit (arranged before visit anounced). Arrange family visit to petting farm and invite the relative, invite the relative for lunch (which you will have anyway), 20 mins preparing, 40 mins at table, 15 mins clearing away - that reduces the time you wouldn't be doing to 45 while the relative is there.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 29-Sep-16 07:22:11

What is your DHs view of his parent doing this, can he not see the harm being done here to you?.

You need to raise your own too low boundaries far higher now, your own inherent niceness has let you be walked over by this manipulative inlaw and your DH who has gone along with this probably out of self preservation and want of a quiet life. Don't forget either that he has grown up with them and regards their behaviour as normal.

Leaving the children with this inlaw and your DH is not a great idea, it sends the children mixed messages and the message too that mum is not good enough. DH always sees his mother with me there too, we are part of a package and I do not want my child asking himself why mum is not ever there.

I would tell DH that I would be staying at home with the children rather than have the kids paraded in front of his parent with you as their mother being ignored by both of them.

And if you want to spend Christmas at home this year then do so.

ohfourfoxache Thu 29-Sep-16 10:02:08

It all sounds really draining sad

Could you all go out together somewhere instead of staying in? That way you and the Dc can do something interesting whilst the in law talks

snowdrop12345 Thu 29-Sep-16 12:53:32

Thank you for all the replies.

Kramer you are spot on. DH knows how unhappy I am about the visits but unfortunately is burying his head in the sand. It's gone on for 7 years now. He would come more often than every two weeks but I've put my foot down about that at least.

Topseyt – yes I will say something next time I'm accused of avoidance, along the lines of feeling excluded. We could all go out together but the same thing happens, at least the DCs can go and do something else though. If we go to the park the DCs go and play and I'm left at the side. If we go for a walk with the DCs on bikes, I end up walking on my own. Maybe I should take my bike along.

Cabrinha – DH can tolerate the visits for this amount of time, it's just me and the DCs that can't, but FIL bribes them with pocket money, so they don't mind him as much as I do! Conversation topics include cars, mobile phones, computers, house repairs and really are nothing I can get involved in. I have no problem talking to other relatives.

Attila – DH's parents divorced when he was small and I am not surprised given how FIL is. I'm not sure if DH feels "obliged" to spend this time now because of the divorce and the fact that they didn't see much of each other whilst he was growing up. I honestly don't think FIL has any idea of what to do with children. I like the use of the word "paraded", that is exactly what's happening, maybe there will be a comment along the lines of how much they have grown but that's the end of talking to the DCs for that visit.

I just find that going to someone's house and completely dominating the place is so rude! I know it's only once a fortnight but it's at the expense of doing other more enjoyable things and I do dread the visits I'm afraid.
Perhaps we need to think about going out to other places together but for the next visit I'm going out. I have warned DH that Christmas arrangements are going to have to change this year.

Cabrinha Thu 29-Sep-16 13:13:42

You say your husband is burying his head - yet he's already reduced the time to a mere 2 hours once a fortnight, for his own father!

He isn't dictating that you sit through the two hours, by the sounds of it?

And it doesn't sound like your husband is making your kids perform like seals for the two hours either.

I'm totally with you on longer visits, like Xmas - but if I were you I'd focus on the timing of your FIL's visits, not stopping them.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 29-Sep-16 13:51:07

How did your DH react when you told him that Christmas arrangements this year are going to change?.

Your DH has got his head well and truly in the sand; his own inertia here when it comes to his father is already costing his own family dearly. He seems very much in a fear, obligation and guilt states when it comes to his father and guilt is a powerful (but useless) emotion.

Two hours is a long time when you are ignored by family members Am certain as well the children do not really enjoy such visits either even if they are getting pocket money. They go along with it also because they want their dad's approval.

Re your comment from your initial post:-

"DH has a brother who last saw the in law in April. He doesn't pick up the phone to him or return his calls, and is not taking his share of the visits IMO".

There's good reason why his brother doesn't see his dad, its because his wife and children would be treated in the same manner as you and your children are. Also this man may be seen by his father as the scapegoat of your DH family of origin so he's likely had enough and gave up on his dad years ago. People from dysfunctional families end up playing roles after all.

BTW is the "he" in this second sentence referring to your BIL?.

snowdrop12345 Thu 29-Sep-16 14:45:52

Cabrinha – no I'm not wanting to stop the visits, just somehow make it look more acceptable that I, and sometimes the DC, don't want to be around for all of them. DH thinks it's not polite if I'm not there although I've done it a few times, this is more since the comment by FIL that I was avoiding him.

The DC don't enjoy the visits to be honest, they get fed up of having to do quiet things whilst DH talks to FIL, that's why I took them to play upstairs last time. It's not so bad for them if we go out somewhere though.

Attila - DH is not keen on changing the Christmas arrangements, even thought it wouldn't mean excluding FIL from anything, it would mean excluding ourselves from the normal plan which is to go to MIL's house. He's offered to have a quiet word with FIL but I'm not sure that would solve anything and may make things even more awkward. What I don't like is that DH spends 90% of the day talking to FIL and hardly any time with his own children or me.

I protested about Christmas last year and DH assured me that he'd try to make sure it was different but there was no change. MIL has noticed that FIL 'dominates' DH, but says it should be okay because it's only a day. I used to be more tolerant of it until we had our DCs. MIL would probably be quite offended too if we change what we do.

Yes, the "he" is referring to BIL in the second sentence. You are right that he doesn't want to see his dad. FIL winds everybody up, including DH to be honest, but DH is the only one patient enough to put up with it, and honest enough to not make excuses up to get out of the visits. BIL's wife is completely with me on feeling like a spare part on his visits, but he's never got into the two week pattern with them, I think partly because they don't have children so he can't use the argument that he's missing them growing up. I'm a patient person but feel as though my fuse has been lit.

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