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Anxiety interacting with spouse's family / over their visits

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This topic contains 22 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  anita 5 days, 12 hours ago.

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  • #295707

    Hello,

    I am married happily to my husband of 11 years and have 2 children. But I share little / no relationship with his parents and his 2 sisters. He comes from a very traditional family with entirely different set of expectations from which I was raised in. My sisters in law though are from my generation, they are very traditional too and have tried time and again to meddle in our relationship with their (husband’s) parents and preaching about our responsibility towards the parents and taking care of them, inviting them over and having them stay with us blah blah blah . In fact, one of my SIL brought up this issue on her visit to our house and we had a fight over it & our relationship with her almost broke. I have since tried to mend our relation by apologizing to her and inviting her over (for few days) to visit us again. I have since even tried to give my relationship with in laws a fresh chance and have started talking to them more than before. Though I have never seen any effort from my spouse’s family’s side to have a good relationship with me.

    My problem is I experience deep anxiety of talking to in laws or sisters in law days before an expected phone call on a birthday or a festival or anniversary. So much so that it makes me restless and nervous. This happens every time and I am so tired of it. This is because I don’t share good relations with them and talk / wish them only out of politeness / family responsibility. In fact, my in laws will be visiting us for 2 months (they are coming from another country) soon. And I am dreading the stay as my sisters in law are expected to call my in laws at the time frequently and I am super uncomfortable talking often to them. And if I don’t talk, it won’t be nice on my part.

    How do I overcome this anxiety ? I just don’t get along with these people due to our personalty differences but I am trying too hard to change the relationship dynamic to something tolerable / normal, as they are family.

    Is it really necessary to make things work, talk, interact with your spouse’s family when you just don’t like them and when you know things will go wrong no matter what ?

    Thanks!

     

     

     

    #295747

    anita
    Participant

    Dear curiousknowledgeseeker:

    “Is it really necessary to make things work, talk, interact with your spouse’s family when you just don’t like them and when you know things will go wrong no matter what?”

    My answer: no, it is not necessary. I already gave you all my reasons why it is not necessary in your previous thread and you are welcome to re-read those. If you click on your name under the buddha face, and then click “Topics Started” you will get the record of your previous threads.

    I will add: I don’t think you can help how you feel about your husband’s parents and his sisters. You suffer when in contact with them and when not in contact, anticipating future contact. How can you not suffer?

    Do you have any idea how to not suffer when anticipating contact with them or having it?

    anita

     

     

    #295797

    Karina
    Participant

    I’ve been in this situation and it’s painful. I’ve finally hit a point where I value the relationships between my in-laws and my children, but I’ve stopped putting forth effort to progress the relationships. Especially my sister in law. It is what it is and other than small talk, I don’t engage with them too much and I leave the room when I can.

    #297565

    Thanks Anita! Sorry been frustrated and dealing with another family issue . Turns out my sil who who lives in another state , who we wished my laws would visit separately wants to come to our place to meet them. Apparently, she has her parents in law issues which prevent her from inviting her parents to her place. Ironically, she is the same sil (I have 2) that I earlier wrote about who on her previous visit to our house fought with me about how we should be inviting her parents here & blah blah blah. Interestingly, even my mil made a case for her to visit us instead of they visiting her as my mil doesn’t want to talk to my SiL’s mother in law (as they explain that her mil is nasty & my sil has too many problems).  What a mess!!! Oh Anita, I am so tired of my husband’s family, sometimes I wish I wasn’t married to my husband.

    Now my husband & I clearly explained to my in laws & my sil that it would be best for her to come on a separate time, so we can host each of them well. But they came back asking us to reconsider as mil doesn’t want to see my sil’s mother in law. We are kinda stuck at this moment & haven’t made a decision. Would love your inputs on this . Thanks.. sorry, another issue is a focus now & that my life is a mess!

    #297567

    Anita, Just added ‘reply to’ to your response to make sure you get notified.

    #297573

    anita
    Participant

    Dear curiousknowledgeseeker:

    “I am so tired of my husband’s family, sometimes I wish I wasn’t married  to my husband”-

    – what if… what if you do separate from your husband, if this is the only way for you to not deal with his family…

    I am not suggesting that you separate from him, I am  bringing it up as a possibility because you brought it up. You can dismiss it of course, but look at it for a moment, think about it, and let me know your thoughts, will you?

    anita

    • This reply was modified 6 months ago by  anita.
    #297909

    Anita, I do love my husband and have few things that just the 2 of us have problems with. At the same time, the problems with his family have become a focus of our lives since the time I have been attempting to change the relationship dynamics with his family, with little success. It has only increased our fights, disharmony and caused anxiety in me. The best solution to this would be to totally shut down to his family & have no interaction with them . But when I try to do that, I feel guilty for not talking or interacting. And if I do , it causes problems and anxiety. It’s a  tiger and cliff situation. Either way you go, you are in trouble. Hence, unable to think of a way out of this frustration, I occasionally wish we were not married at all. But, it also doesn’t seem practical to break my family & ties with my husband based on just this reason. Hence the dilemma.

     

     

     

    #297915

    anita
    Participant

    Dear curiousknowledgeseeker:

    I will read and reply to your recent post (and anything you may want to add to it) when I am back to the computer in about 12 hours.

    anita

    #297917

    Ok Anita, thanks for letting me know.

    #297955

    JayJay
    Participant

    Hi, Curiousknowledgeseeker,

    Oh it’s so tough when you have this situation in families. ((((hugs))))

    Comfort yourself with the knowledge that you are not the only one!

    You are never going to get on with certain people, no matter how hard you try. It sounds to me like you’ve given it a fair try.

    At the same time, the problems with his family have become a focus of our lives since the time I have been attempting to change the relationship dynamics with his family, with little success. It has only increased our fights, disharmony and caused anxiety in me.

    So stop trying? Admit to yourself and possibly those family members that you are never going to get on, you are never going to see eye-to-eye and give up trying. Try not to feel guilty because it sounds to me like you have done your very best to get on with them. And this is at the expense of your immediate family and your relationship with your husband.

    Take a step back, away from them, in your mind, and disassociate yourself on that deeper level you are trying to achieve with them. Try to simply treat them as occasional friends, people that you catch up with occasionally.

    I think you’re trying too hard to treat them as you would your own family, when that isn’t going to work.

    Who knows, if you can detach and stop trying so hard, maybe they will make more effort to be nice to you. It’s a two way thing. You might be doing your best to get along with them, but it goes both ways. They should be making some attempt at getting along with you. At the moment, they don’t really have to make any effort, do they?

    The above suggestions are just something you might like to think about.

    Now my husband & I clearly explained to my in laws & my sil that it would be best for her to come on a separate time, so we can host each of them well. But they came back asking us to reconsider as mil doesn’t want to see my sil’s mother in law. We are kinda stuck at this moment & haven’t made a decision. Would love your inputs on this . Thanks.. sorry, another issue is a focus now & that my life is a mess!

    Stick to your original decision, my friend. It’s not your problem that your mil doesn’t want to see sil’s mil. That’s their problem, not yours. They are forcing you to take sides, to put yourself to considerable trouble and all to accommodate their own wishes. I find this incredibly selfish of them and I think you are doing well to even consider doing something like this.

     

    with best wishes,

    Jay

    #297973

    anita
    Participant

    Dear curiousknowledgeseeker:

    I went back to your previous threads in hopes of understanding better. First I will summarize what you shared there, with quotes, then my thoughts.

    Summary: long ago, young curiousknowledgeseeker was a “really free, independent, badass woman who didn’t ever care about anything and did what I thought was right.. so free and happy !!!”.

    “I came from a very different upbringing (from your husband’s), modern culture of neutral family & was very successful & financially independent at a young age”.

    After  11 years of marriage and two children, the same woman feels guilty when she attempts to do the right thing, that is to assert herself with husband’s family, and anxious and frustrated (“over-dwell on small issues, over analyze the issue and am often stuck on one matter for days”) when she does the wrong thing which is to compromise her well being so to accommodate his family: “It’s a tiger and cliff situation. Either way you go, you are in trouble”.

    You and your husband live in the US, his parents, that is, your parents in law live in another country where one of your two sisters in law also lives (let’s refer to her as SIL1). The second sister in law, SIL2, lives in another state in the US.

    “Both my SILs thought my husband & I are not doing enough for their parents -my in laws. They are traditional & think that they should be co-living with us… preaching about our responsibility toward the parents and taking care of them, inviting them over and having them stay with us”.

    January this year you shared that you were pregnant, due shortly, and you invited SIL1 (with whom you “don’t share such a smooth relationship”) and her family to visit you for 15 days when you have your baby. She thanked you and asked: “why not for more than 15 days?”. You answered her that you will be busy with a new baby, etc., but felt guilty for “not yielding to her demand for a longer stay”.

    March you shared that you were due in two weeks, and that you invited your parents in law to visit you when the baby is two months. Your problem was that your parents in law would want to see their daughter, SIL2, who “created too many problems for us in her last visit at our home.. ruined our relationship with in laws… behaved very immaturely and meddled… we don’t want her messing anything between us & in laws this time”. They were traveling to the US and that is where their daughter lives.

    So you and your husband agreed to send your parents in law to SIL2’s home after they visit your home. But you didn’t know how to explain it to the parents in law who would likely prefer for SIL2 to stay with them in your home. Also, long term, you didn’t want to “set a trend where we invite her here at our home every time when in laws are here”.

    May you shared that your in laws will be visiting you for two months soon, and that SIL2 will not have her parents visit her home because of <i>her issues with her parents in law</i>, she and your mother in law want SIL2 to stay in your home together with your parents in law during their visit so to not have your parents in law interact with SIL2’s parents in law.

    You wrote: “I experience deep anxiety of talking to in laws or sisters in law days before an expected phone call… So much so that it makes me restless and nervous. This happens every time and I am so tired of it… I am dreading the stay”.

    And now, my input: your parents raised you to be a “really free, independent, badass woman”, who did what she thought was right, a woman who was “so free and happy !!!” and “very successful & financially independent at a young age”-

    – what if you shift your loyalty, or sense of obligation, to your parents? After all, they raised you to  be happy and successful?

    If you owe any set of parents anything, isn’t it to your parents?

    To destroy your parents’ successful efforts of bringing about a happy and successful person into the world, that is insulting to their work. And then, to continue to make yourself miserable, and pass on this misery to your own children, what a disservice it is to your own parents’ work and legacy !

    What do you think about what I just wrote here?

    anita

    #297975

    JayJay
    Participant

    What Anita says. 🙂

    Try suggesting that none of the in laws come to your house as it just causes dissension and upset. They could always stay at an hotel or in a self catering apartment close by for their visits!  What have you got to house them for? Especially for so long. That’s asking too much of anyone, and taking advantage of a good-natured person in the process, regardless of whether it causes that person distress or not. IMHO.

    And when they start moaning on the phone, just say, That’s not my problem, don’t make it my problem.’ and let them sort themselves out.

    #298525

    Thanks Jay Jay !

    On the active situation, I clearly communicated to my husband’s family that we would want them to visit separately from the time of my sil’s visit. I did mention that me & my husband both thought that she addressing sensitive family issues with me last time in my husband’s absence was quite inappropriate. Also that my husband makes all family decisions, so such issues should be best addressed to him. Also, that her last trip caused too much relationship damage between me & my husband. So we think that it’s best that they all come separately. His family has yet to respond, so we will see how that goes.

    Yes, and I agree with everything else you said too.

     

     

     

    #298527

    Jay , wish I could ask them to stay in hotel, life would be so much easier. Unfortunately, the country I come from has a different culture (and so wrong at that) and also different expectations. And my parents did not bring me up to follow culture/ traditions blindly . But my husband’s family is extremely traditional, that they almost think it’s their right to enforce / dump their expectations upon us.

    #298529

    Anita, thanks for the effort on linking all that up.

    Agree 100% that I should owe my loyalties to my parents who brought me up with such fantastic values .

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