Wedding Woes

You need to ignore your SIL, and stop excusing your husband.

Dear Prudence,

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

Re: You need to ignore your SIL, and stop excusing your husband.

  • Obviously not. Your husband manages to function in his high power job. He can set up a calendar alert. Refuse to engage on this at all. 
    charlotte989875short+sassy
  • cupcait927cupcait927 Western NY wine country member
    Eighth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    Keep on, keeping on, LW!  This is still 100% an H problem.  If he's hurting the relationship with his family because he can't keep track of things.  That's his problem, don't make it yours.  Especially since it sounds like it isn't that close of a relationship anyway.

    I'm also not buying that someone who has a "high-performance" job is an airhead who doesn't know how to set up alerts and can't keep track of details.  I bet he keeps track of stuff for his job just fine or he wouldn't be in a high-performance job.

    He just doesn't have the motivation to extend that to his personal life because the LW enables him.
    This is a fight I have with my H over and over again. I know that he has the capability to be extremely detail-oriented and organized - he has to be for his job. But when it comes to anything household related (making appointments, remembering birthdays & anniversaries, etc), he makes excuses about not being able to remember. So I continue to enable him because otherwise the dogs wouldn't get groomed, the baby wouldn't make it to doctor's appointments, and his parents wouldn't get cards or gifts (all examples). For me, it's not worth ruining relationships with my in-laws because H can't remember stuff like birthdays, but I get where LW is coming from. Her H needs to get it together and put that shit in his phone if he has that much of a problem. 
    short+sassycharlotte989875levioosaMNNEBride
  • I have a “high performance job”. Sort of. I set calendar reminders for birthdays and important dates. Sometimes gifts are late. 

    But also the H should deal with this with his sister and LW should just nope right out of the whole deal. 
  • VarunaTT said:
    Well, high performance, high stress job doesn't mean that he has to remember a lot of details.  He also probably has a "wife" at work who also keeps a calendar and all that crap for him too.

    LW just needs to stay out of it.  He's causing the issue with his family, not her.  She just needs to make very clear this is one thing she's not managing (I feel like she's told him this before) and if it leads to a break, that's his problem, not hers.

    IDK how LW isn't damn tired of this life.
    The only thing I'll say is that when it's nieces and nephews if they call LW "auntie" then there's a targeted unified gripe of "they forgot my birthday"!  It's total BS that she gets the blame and maybe it's the "you're born feeling guilt" in me but I'd also feel bad if I forgot the birthdays of DH's brother's kids. 
    charlotte989875VarunaTT
  • VarunaTT said:
    Well, high performance, high stress job doesn't mean that he has to remember a lot of details.  He also probably has a "wife" at work who also keeps a calendar and all that crap for him too.

    LW just needs to stay out of it.  He's causing the issue with his family, not her.  She just needs to make very clear this is one thing she's not managing (I feel like she's told him this before) and if it leads to a break, that's his problem, not hers.

    IDK how LW isn't damn tired of this life.
    I had a hilarious conversation with a former boss, similar to this idea.

    I was working for a defense contractor, at the time.  And my boss was getting a new boss.  A powerful man who had just retired from the Navy as a 3-star admiral.  I'll call him A.

    As the day is drawing near when boss's boss is about to start, my boss calls me into his office to discuss how to handle A.  He gives me a 1-minute summary of this person's impressive resume and background.  So I'm expecting a serious and reverent conversation.

    Only to be shocked it was just the opposite, lol.  He told me something like this, "What you need to understand is that A hasn't even made his own golf reservation in 10 years.  So you need to keep things very simple for him.  He was basically hired for the contacts he has." 
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    MNNEBrideVarunaTT
  • I can honestly say I use a written calendar for bdays because most of M's family, I don't know and M isn't great with bdays.
    I write everything down there.

    SIL should not be expecting a gift though. A call yes sure. Shows acknowledgement. Card? Maybe. Gift? Fuck that. Except for BabyKitten, M and my mum, I don't give bday gifts. {Although I may for a friend of mine this year - but that's not typical}
    For LW's sake, her and her H should go at the beginning of each year and write down important dates - bdays, anniversaries, etc. I even write when certain recycling is on my calendar! {and notes *follow up with x place* kinda deal}
    charlotte989875
  • I can honestly say I use a written calendar for bdays because most of M's family, I don't know and M isn't great with bdays.
    I write everything down there.

    SIL should not be expecting a gift though. A call yes sure. Shows acknowledgement. Card? Maybe. Gift? Fuck that. Except for BabyKitten, M and my mum, I don't give bday gifts. {Although I may for a friend of mine this year - but that's not typical}
    For LW's sake, her and her H should go at the beginning of each year and write down important dates - bdays, anniversaries, etc. I even write when certain recycling is on my calendar! {and notes *follow up with x place* kinda deal}
    I think this is part of a family discussion then.

    Example - DH and I have two kids and his brother and brother's wife have 3 on earth and 2 in heaven.  We send each other birthday gifts.   It's a mutual understanding we have with this agreement that when it's Chiquito's birthday we will see the boxes from Amazon and maybe a card and when their son's birthday rolls around in 2 weeks we'll have stuff delivered.  

    If we suddenly stopped sending our niece and nephews birthday gifts with zero notice after doing it for years I'd call it a dick move as I would say to BIL and SIL if they suddenly stopped without discussing this for our kids.

    If LW  has kids getting gifts and she makes no effort to say to her H that the kids of his sibling have birthdays then they're both going to be yelled at when it's the H that isn't fulfilling his obligation.    

    In our home among DH's "tasks" are setting up the bill pay for the mortgage, car payment and utility bills and taking the garbage cans in and out.  If a bill does not get paid, WE receive the criticism and then that's going to be tossed immediately from me to DH because HE failed to take care of that and I'm going to tell him that was HIS job.  


    charlotte989875STARMOON44ILoveBeachMusicMissKittyDanger
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited September 2020
    I hate this enabling men BS. I get why LW is irritated, and I think she just needs to let the chips fall where they may. Most people can't remember birthdays. If you care, you put it on a calendar somewhere.

    My H is like this with birthdays. When we were dating, I suggested he and his sister get together and make a google calendar for family birthdays. He said it was a good idea and never followed though. He misses the majority of his family's birthdays and forgets to send them stuff for holidays. Not my problem. If anyone wants to get pissy at me for not micromanaging my husband, they can kick dirt.

    I dare my MIL to say it's my fault her son didn't call her on her birthday. If he doesn't call her, it's because she raised him that way. It is not my responsibility to continue raising her child. (She doesn't get mad. She knows he's a grown man and that I'm not responsible for him.)
    VarunaTTSTARMOON44charlotte989875Casadena
  • I hate this enabling men BS. I get why LW is irritated, and I think she just needs to let the chips fall where they may. Most people can't remember birthdays. If you care, you put it on a calendar somewhere.

    My H is like this with birthdays. When we were dating, I suggested he and his sister get together and make a google calendar for family birthdays. He said it was a good idea and never followed though. He misses the majority of his family's birthdays and forgets to send them stuff for holidays. Not my problem. If anyone wants to get pissy at me for not micromanaging my husband, they can kick dirt.

    I dare my MIL to say it's my fault her son didn't call her on her birthday. If he doesn't call her, it's because she raised him that way. It is not my responsibility to continue raising her child. (She doesn't get mad. She knows he's a grown man and that I'm not responsible for him.)
    My H, who I have been with for almost 20 years, remembers my birthday is in November (though our first few years together he would sometimes second guess himself and wondered if it was in October).  However, he often doesn't remember the date.  I have accepted that and just think it's funny.  BUT he makes sure to ask me the date as November is starting.  Sometimes he asks me multiple times in November (sigh), but he doesn't forget it on the day of.

    What he usually does is guess the date he thinks it is and then verify it with me.  He's right about half the time, lol.

    About 10 years ago, he confessed that he had peeked at my driver's license so he didn't have to ask me that year, lol.  As an aside, I've given him carte blanche to rummage through my purse or wallet if he needs something.   
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    charlotte989875MyNameIsNot
  • banana468 said:
    I can honestly say I use a written calendar for bdays because most of M's family, I don't know and M isn't great with bdays.
    I write everything down there.

    SIL should not be expecting a gift though. A call yes sure. Shows acknowledgement. Card? Maybe. Gift? Fuck that. Except for BabyKitten, M and my mum, I don't give bday gifts. {Although I may for a friend of mine this year - but that's not typical}
    For LW's sake, her and her H should go at the beginning of each year and write down important dates - bdays, anniversaries, etc. I even write when certain recycling is on my calendar! {and notes *follow up with x place* kinda deal}
    I think this is part of a family discussion then.

    Example - DH and I have two kids and his brother and brother's wife have 3 on earth and 2 in heaven.  We send each other birthday gifts.   It's a mutual understanding we have with this agreement that when it's Chiquito's birthday we will see the boxes from Amazon and maybe a card and when their son's birthday rolls around in 2 weeks we'll have stuff delivered.  

    If we suddenly stopped sending our niece and nephews birthday gifts with zero notice after doing it for years I'd call it a dick move as I would say to BIL and SIL if they suddenly stopped without discussing this for our kids.

    If LW  has kids getting gifts and she makes no effort to say to her H that the kids of his sibling have birthdays then they're both going to be yelled at when it's the H that isn't fulfilling his obligation.    

    In our home among DH's "tasks" are setting up the bill pay for the mortgage, car payment and utility bills and taking the garbage cans in and out.  If a bill does not get paid, WE receive the criticism and then that's going to be tossed immediately from me to DH because HE failed to take care of that and I'm going to tell him that was HIS job.  


    I agree with all of this. We have a division of labor but if one of our things doesn’t get done & we both hear about it but the person whose “thing” it was takes care of it. 

    We also do presents for our nieces and nephews and while it’s never expected I’d feel bad not doing it (because I like giving gifts they’ll like!) and if we just stopped I’m sure our families would wonder what’s up. 
  • banana468 said:
    I can honestly say I use a written calendar for bdays because most of M's family, I don't know and M isn't great with bdays.
    I write everything down there.

    SIL should not be expecting a gift though. A call yes sure. Shows acknowledgement. Card? Maybe. Gift? Fuck that. Except for BabyKitten, M and my mum, I don't give bday gifts. {Although I may for a friend of mine this year - but that's not typical}
    For LW's sake, her and her H should go at the beginning of each year and write down important dates - bdays, anniversaries, etc. I even write when certain recycling is on my calendar! {and notes *follow up with x place* kinda deal}
    I think this is part of a family discussion then.

    Example - DH and I have two kids and his brother and brother's wife have 3 on earth and 2 in heaven.  We send each other birthday gifts.   It's a mutual understanding we have with this agreement that when it's Chiquito's birthday we will see the boxes from Amazon and maybe a card and when their son's birthday rolls around in 2 weeks we'll have stuff delivered.  

    If we suddenly stopped sending our niece and nephews birthday gifts with zero notice after doing it for years I'd call it a dick move as I would say to BIL and SIL if they suddenly stopped without discussing this for our kids.

    If LW  has kids getting gifts and she makes no effort to say to her H that the kids of his sibling have birthdays then they're both going to be yelled at when it's the H that isn't fulfilling his obligation.    

    In our home among DH's "tasks" are setting up the bill pay for the mortgage, car payment and utility bills and taking the garbage cans in and out.  If a bill does not get paid, WE receive the criticism and then that's going to be tossed immediately from me to DH because HE failed to take care of that and I'm going to tell him that was HIS job.  
    I think it's different if both sides have nieces/nephews like yourself. Since BabyKitten is solo it definitely changes things.
    Do I expect BIL & SIL {like LW here} who are childless to send a bday gift? Nope. It'd be different if/when then have kid(s) so we could make a rule for holidays in general.

    Regarding bills - same deal. I do the budget and yes I'll remind M saying "hey you got paid today - make sure you do your bills" but if he forgets to pay WE get dinged but M is the one to blame because I did my due diligence to let him know
  • banana468 said:
    I can honestly say I use a written calendar for bdays because most of M's family, I don't know and M isn't great with bdays.
    I write everything down there.

    SIL should not be expecting a gift though. A call yes sure. Shows acknowledgement. Card? Maybe. Gift? Fuck that. Except for BabyKitten, M and my mum, I don't give bday gifts. {Although I may for a friend of mine this year - but that's not typical}
    For LW's sake, her and her H should go at the beginning of each year and write down important dates - bdays, anniversaries, etc. I even write when certain recycling is on my calendar! {and notes *follow up with x place* kinda deal}
    I think this is part of a family discussion then.

    Example - DH and I have two kids and his brother and brother's wife have 3 on earth and 2 in heaven.  We send each other birthday gifts.   It's a mutual understanding we have with this agreement that when it's Chiquito's birthday we will see the boxes from Amazon and maybe a card and when their son's birthday rolls around in 2 weeks we'll have stuff delivered.  

    If we suddenly stopped sending our niece and nephews birthday gifts with zero notice after doing it for years I'd call it a dick move as I would say to BIL and SIL if they suddenly stopped without discussing this for our kids.

    If LW  has kids getting gifts and she makes no effort to say to her H that the kids of his sibling have birthdays then they're both going to be yelled at when it's the H that isn't fulfilling his obligation.    

    In our home among DH's "tasks" are setting up the bill pay for the mortgage, car payment and utility bills and taking the garbage cans in and out.  If a bill does not get paid, WE receive the criticism and then that's going to be tossed immediately from me to DH because HE failed to take care of that and I'm going to tell him that was HIS job.  
    I think it's different if both sides have nieces/nephews like yourself. Since BabyKitten is solo it definitely changes things.
    Do I expect BIL & SIL {like LW here} who are childless to send a bday gift? Nope. It'd be different if/when then have kid(s) so we could make a rule for holidays in general.

    Regarding bills - same deal. I do the budget and yes I'll remind M saying "hey you got paid today - make sure you do your bills" but if he forgets to pay WE get dinged but M is the one to blame because I did my due diligence to let him know
    That's exactly my point.

    If the LW and her ILs are in a reciprocal arrangement then it doesn't matter if it's "not a big deal" to her if her children are the benefits of the generosity of their aunt and uncle.   However, she needs to push her H to own that this is his item to do because when HE fails to do it, his inaction reflects poorly on BOTH of them and she's not there to swoop in and fix it. 

    Ditto for the bills.   If DH missed a mortgage payment for our house he's arranged it but it's reflecting on both of our credit reports.  In the end, my mortgage company and Experian don't give a hoot that it was DH's miss.  We are both to blame.    And in the LW's scenario the H needs to feel the heat and repercussions that failures as an uncle are hurting their nieces and nephews and the reflection is on both of them.   

    LW also needs to be far more abrupt with him.  I sense a wishy washy sentiment of "well they aren't a big deal so I don't know why they make this deal of it".  The birthdays of the children of your husband's siblings aren't a big deal TO YOU.   They ARE a big deal TO THEM.  And you can't talk out of both sides of your mouth here.   They are either important enough that your H needs to get his ish together to send them gifts OR they aren't a big deal to you at all.   But don't go half in and then be upset that your H doesn't do something when you played it off as NBD. 
    short+sassy
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