My husband and I work full time in high-stress, high-performance jobs, and have three kids under 4. He has two brothers, one single and one married. The married brother supports his wife, who stays home with their two kids. I am very different from my husband’s relatives, and we live in different states, so I have a polite but separate relationship with them. My husband has never been great at the nitty-gritty. He loses his keys, misses appointments, forgets conversations. It’s annoying, but no one is perfect, and it is what it is. Because of this, I manage most details of our home life. I make grocery lists, make or delegate dinner, manage the kids’ appointments, take the dogs to the vet, etc. I have drawn the line at his extended family.
His sister-in-law is really particular about details and becomes enraged if my husband doesn’t call his niece and nephew on their birthday and have a present waiting for them at their house. You know where this is going. He “can’t” remember to do this. He forgot again this year and just received the inevitable nastygram from SIL. It is putting our relationship with their family at risk. My family isn’t big on birthdays, so I just don’t understand this rage or her expectations. Also, I feel I do enough of the household minutiae. I don’t want this job. Am I maritally obligated to do this to save their relationship? Can we tell them they are being ridiculous and that it isn’t worth losing family over this?
—Not Another Domestic Task, Please