Wedding Woes

Do you want to be friends with them or maintain the 'family only' relationship?

Dear Prudence,

Settle a spousal debate. We live in the same small town as my wife’s sister (“Mary”), her husband (“James”), and their kids. Although we spend time with them at biweekly family functions where our kids play with theirs, the relationship ends there. Mary and James have dinner parties and don’t invite us, they recently bought a boat and have yet to take us on it, and they once rented a lake house for a week and never invited us over. On occasion, we support them (checking on houses while we’re away, taking kids to practices or camps, etc.) and they do the same for us. My wife talks to Mary every day, but James and I don’t have much in common, and I have never been out socially with him. My position is that we’re not actually friends with them, just family, but my wife disagrees. Who’s right?

— Family, Not Friends

Re: Do you want to be friends with them or maintain the 'family only' relationship?

  • Mary and James are weird.  However you define your relationship I think they're clear on the boundaries that exist.  Why does it matter what you call each other?  They clearly are keeping you at family only arms length stuff and you should accept that for whatever definition you want to call it.
    mrsconn23short+sassy
  • Friends or family, I feel like LW thinks status means you're entitled to invites to things ...
    VarunaTT
  • mrsconn23mrsconn23 member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited November 18
    I kind of get this, but I think LW needs to stop making it an issue.  I think LW picking the phone calls is ridic.  But clearly LW has a feeling of being 'left out' or something even though they don't seem to care for James and Mary. 

      
    I wonder how long they've been married/together.  I have clear boundaries for myself with my sisters.  We have a great relationship, but I am not a person who considers my siblings my friends.  I can say one thing and have both of them get it in an instant, I can be annoyed to the point I'm cussing them and in the next second be making plans for our next get together, there's things I don't tell them sometimes because I don't want it to come back around in the future to be used in a way that is meant to cut and annoy at the same time but only comes from a place of concern.

    I don't share friends with my sisters.  I like my sister's friends, but they are their friends and my friends are my friends.  We joke about how the women we've been friends with the longest are the 4th 'sister', but I'd never reach out to one of their BFF's to just hang out or something (which would be weird since all our BFF's live out of town, but I digress). 

    My sisters have never been on our boat and don't seem to be interested.  Now when we get a pontoon eventually vs. our current speedboat, it will be easier to invite my sisters, nephews, and dad out for a boating day which would be more the speed for our dynamic. I've vacationed with friends and never thought to invite my sisters along.  

    So LW, you need to live with this dynamic.  Your wife seems OK with it.  It sounds like the kids get along and what you do for them is reciprocated.  It is what it is. 


    short+sassylevioosa
  • flantasticflantastic The Midwest member
    Eighth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Who care, LW
  • Friends or family, I feel like LW thinks status means you're entitled to invites to things ...
    I think LW is looking for a reason not to like them or do things.  

    Accept the relationship for what it is rather than trying to define it.  Unless it's a totally one-sided situation where LW and his wife are constantly doing the pickup of kids and they never are, what does he want to do?  
    MissKittyDangermrsconn23STARMOON44
  • banana468 said:
    Friends or family, I feel like LW thinks status means you're entitled to invites to things ...
    I think LW is looking for a reason not to like them or do things.  

    Accept the relationship for what it is rather than trying to define it.  Unless it's a totally one-sided situation where LW and his wife are constantly doing the pickup of kids and they never are, what does he want to do?  
    I feel like LW half want the "define the relationship" conversation, but doesn't want to ruin what relationship they do have also
    mrsconn23short+sassy
  • banana468 said:
    Friends or family, I feel like LW thinks status means you're entitled to invites to things ...
    I think LW is looking for a reason not to like them or do things.  

    Accept the relationship for what it is rather than trying to define it.  Unless it's a totally one-sided situation where LW and his wife are constantly doing the pickup of kids and they never are, what does he want to do?  
    I feel like LW half want the "define the relationship" conversation, but doesn't want to ruin what relationship they do have also
    I agree that LW seems to want to further define the relationship, but to what end?  There's seemingly clearly defined boundaries here for James and Mary.  

    Also the more I think about it, if I had biweekly family shit where we're seeing either my family or DH's family that much I would view my other time as 'mine' and for my friends or to do what I want to without family.  I see my family all together about once a month.  Dad a little more.  FIL is about once a week.  Depending on what's going on, I may see my sisters more often. SIL and BIL's families are OOT, so it's whenever we make plans to see each other. 
    STARMOON44MissKittyDanger
  • I don’t know why the label matters so much but clearly it does to LW. 

    I have a closer relationship with my sister than my H does with her husband. We all get along but I go there/ she comes here WAY more than the husbands get together, and that’s fine. We don’t need to have the same “level” of relationship as they do. 
    short+sassy
  • Sounds like LW and their wife are friends with their family but not Best Friends. Like I have plenty of friends who plants I would water and who I would have lunch with but they aren't necessarily the same ones I invite on vacation.
    short+sassymrsconn23
  • LW, I hope this doesn't come as a shock.  But you can both be right.

    You think of your IL's as family only.  Your wife thinks of them as also her friends.

    It sounds like the relationship you all have with them is clearly defined, other than this issue.  It's working for everyone, so a specific definition is not something that needs to be argued about.

    Well, working for everyone except you're jealous of their boat and want to be invited on it!
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    mrsconn23VarunaTT
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited November 18
    If I had to define it, I'd say it sounds to me like wife and Mary are friends, but the rest are family. It's not because they don't go on the boat or whatever, it's because they don't really have a bond.

    I can't imagine talking to anyone every day, but thinking of friends that I talk to and see frequently, they are my friends. H might come along and have a nice time when there are couples' events, but friendship is more than making polite conversation at dinner when your spouses bring you along. 
    charlotte989875
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