Wedding Etiquette Forum

Difficult Inlaws! Help! : (

Long time listener, first time caller. . .

I am marrying a wonderful, amazing man in a few months. We've been together 5+ years and are super happy. We are both involved in the others family interactions - my parents live a few states away but make a good effort to be supportive and a part of our lives, and his parents live in the town we do. His parents have a track record of child-like behavorial issues and over the last five years, it seems apparent that they are not as emotionally stable as you would imagine two 60 year old WASPs to be!

As confirmed by my fiance, they have a largely unhappy marriage, although they function within it well. There is a lot of talking poorly about the other and small pettiness, but it's normally contained to just their relationship. However, when something larger and more exciting comes around, they seem to finally get along - and direct their now-joint pettiness towards the new event. Last year, for their other son's wedding, my future mother in law was calling both myself and my future sister in law and saying horrible, nasty things about the other. After a year of not speaking, my future sister in law and I discussed it and found out we were both being egged on to dislike the other. The same thing happened with the groom and my fiance. Unfortunately, my future mother in law fails to see her role in this and has been complaining to quite a few people that we don't like her and never spend time with her.

We are just a few short months away from our wedding, and our goal was to simplify it like crazy! We are buying out an entire restaurant and taking care of all the details without having to bother anyone close to us for extreme manual labor. We are spending much, much more than planned - but we were guilt-tripped by his parents to have a big wedding, and now here we are! His father offered to pay for the rehearsal dinner, and then took it back - citing "calling it even" for a five year old college loan. We planned a small, manageable rehearsal dinner with the wedding party, parents, and a small set of close family friends on each side. Now, his parents are upset that we aren't inviting the entire extended family (76 people!) to the rehearsal dinner. We politely declined, and then were told that they would pay for it. I got a polite email with the request, while my fiance got a phone call saying that if we didn't do it their way, they would un-invite his side of the family to the wedding itself. We declined again.

I am bumming because I try to be a good member of the family - we spend time with his dad at his business a few days a week, I often treat us all to lunch and truly do enjoy my time with him. I do not see his mother as often (fiance works across the county for big chunks of time) - she and I both work nights as a nurse and a restauranteur, respectively. We spent a week in the mid-west with his family for thanksgiving, even though it is a big no-no for me to take off during our restaurants busiest season. Just two weeks ago, I coordinated a 75 person surprise birthday party for her and had her whole family fly in from across the country to celebrate 60 because she was feeling down about it!

I am super stressed! My fiance's coping mechanism with his difficult parents has been to keep his head down and let them do their thing. I, unfortunately, am not so willing to give up anything and everything because someone demanded it. I sent the Save the Dates out and am confused as to how future father in law thinks he will un-invite 50 of his family members?

How do you deal with difficult in laws? I am trying to be polite and do my thing and maintain sanity, but you can't reason with the unreasonable. I am stuck between a rock and a hard place!

Re: Difficult Inlaws! Help! : (

  • vt&dtvt&dt member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its First Comment First Answer
    ^^ everything HisGirl said.

    Also - so sorry that you're stuck navigating through that.  Family dynamics - especially when you're starting to enter a family - can be really tough.

    Focus on doing what you can, and try to let go of what they do that you can't help.  It's hard, but I have a feeling that practicing doing that during wedding planning will pay off when you need to do it later in your married life!
  • There's a Polish proverb that says, 'Not my circus, not my monkeys.' Your in-laws' problems aren't your circus, and they're not your monkeys.

    I love this.  It may become my new favorite saying.

  • You cannot change their actions. You only can change how to react to them.
    Thank you so much! You are so on point, and I love the bean-dip! I think I might start bean-dipping people even when there is no bean-dip around :)

    I agree with everything you said. I sent the Save the Dates out and let everyone know that they had been mailed and that it was no longer up for discussion. I am hoping that it sticks and am crossing my fingers like mad that it ends there!

    I am working hard today on changing my reactions. Such great advice. Thank you so much!
    [Deleted User]
  • vt&dt said:
    Focus on doing what you can, and try to let go of what they do that you can't help.  It's hard, but I have a feeling that practicing doing that during wedding planning will pay off when you need to do it later in your married life!
    Thank you for the support and advice! It is hard finding a balance between caring too much and caring too little, but I think you are right - it's just good practice for later on! :)
  • First off, I am sorry that you are dealing with this! I am lucky that, for the most part, my FILs are awesome. My ex-FIs family, however, was a whole different story! They were just awful people that seemed to not be able to handle other people's happiness.


    My best advice for dealing with them is to let your FI do the driving. You can help navigate, but he really needs to be the face of the problem solving. Just like if my FBIL is getting too nosey, I may tell FI that he is bugging me, but FI will be the one to take the reigns and try to distract.


    Really perfect the art of working as a team and you and FI will sail through tough IL times! Good luck!

    Daisypath Anniversary tickers
  • My best advice (as someone who has dealt with this to an extreme with my MIL) is to make sure that you are your FI are on the same page.  DH spent his life keeping his head down and saying "yes, uh-huh, okay Mom" and then going off and doing what he wanted.  We had to work on it during wedding planning because I had to explain to him that his old way of handling it wouldn't work in those circumstances.  Once we agreed on that, the problems with MIL grew, but there was no longer any doubt that DH and I were on the same page which made our relationship stronger.
  • I have dealt with similar crap from my future in-laws, and all I can say is... I am so sorry.

    The good news is that since you aren't taking their money, you don't have to consult them about the wedding. Stop talking to them about it and you may find that your life gets a lot easier.
    Daisypath Anniversary tickers
  • l9il9i member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its First Comment Name Dropper

    I've dealt with my share of crazy (from my own side) and I know that it was quite a challenge for my FI to learn to navigate.  Thankfully he has and we haven't had too many issues during the planning process. 

    The best advice I received from my dad about dealing with issues was "You have three options.  Change yourself, change the other person, or remove yourself from the situation and the first two won't work.".  Everytime things got rough I simply distanced myself.  As pointed out, you can't reason with unreasonable and I realized this after many years. 

    With me, once I removed myself and left the situation I think it rung a bell that I was not going to tollerate their behavior and they shapped up to realize how rediculous they were.  Even though they can live in crazy town, they realize they'd rather straighten up (eventually) then lose their family member.  My hopes is that if you followed the advice given, and you backed off of the subject and pointed out that if they continue their actions will effect the relationship, they will get their act togather and the risk of losing you will overcome crazy.

  • phiraphira member
    First Anniversary First Comment First Answer 5 Love Its
    Going forward--not just with the wedding, but with life as their daughter-in-law--I'd avoid relying on them for any kind of help, and take everything they say with a grain of salt. They kind of sound like my dad. He's very conditional about things. Oh, you want help? Okay I'll help you ... and now you have to do these things for me. Or, you want help? Well, remember that time that I helped you? You still owe me for that first.

    So, leave them out of wedding stuff. They'll get their invitations to the rehearsal dinner and the wedding and that's it. What, they'll somehow uninvite everyone on their side of the family? But you're sending them invitations! They're still invited, regardless of what your future in-laws say.

    I think that therapy for you, for your fiance, and/or for the two of you together is in order. I've been having similar issues with my partner with regards to one of his family members: it's okay that his coping mechanism has been X for all these years, but X doesn't work for me. I need a different coping mechanism, and we as a couple need a coping mechanism. So when it's just him, he can X. But I can Y, and together we can Z.
    now with ~* INCREASED SASSINESS *~
  • yuo just need to suck it up you soudn winy as hell
  • edited May 2014
    yuo just need to suck it up you soudn winy as hell
    I believe you mean 'whiny'. Your comment isn't advice, so why don't you just mosey on out of here. You think all other people are rude & nasty when they disagree with you, but then you write comments like this.. 


    EDIT: @sarahmarg Sorry that your FILs are giving you a hard time! :-/ 
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