Inlaw Holiday Conflict - FamilyEducation
Inlaw Holiday Conflict
10/24/2009 at 15:15 PM

I'm going to start this with a little background. I have been married for 2-1/2 years. My husbands parents have been married for 31 years. They have 4 kids - 3 boys and 1 girl. All of their sons are married and live in the area. There daughter is still at home....she came along 7 years after the youngest boy. The youngest son and his wife have 2 children (ages 1 and 3)My relationship with my inlaws has been somewhat of a bumpy road for me. I understand that this has been an adjustment for well as me. This is normal. However, for different reasons I have just struggled feeling like part of this family. Just as an example: Within a couple months of getting married my husband had a birthday. My mother in law dropped in one night while we had company. She came by to deliver my husbands b-day card. The card was a nice card...but NOT one that you would give to your MARRIED son. The card was entitled "The bond between a mother and a son". The card read things like "You and I go through problems together" and so on. She had underlined the words all through the card. Then, to top it off, it was signed by HER. Her husband (Michael's dad) was not included at all. She also included cash. I felt like she was attempting to take my job over as MY husband's wife. Now, I understand that she was having a difficult time letting him go. He was her last son to get married. Even though he had lived out of state for years...she was still his #1 - or at least she felt that way. She knew it was inappropriate. This is just one example of me feeling like I am not being accepted. Since then, I have had a conversation with her about the card. I simply want to feel loved like one of her kids. I want my own relationship with my in laws. Although it is kind of hard, because my mother in law is a very self-centered person. I try to do special things for them. When it is there b-day or mother's day I write a note and sign there card for husband does this for my parents as well. I want them to know that I appreciate them...not just my husband.
We have had some problems with my husband's youngest brother (we'll just call him Dan) and sister-in-law within the 1-1/2 years. They have been married for 8 years. The problems between our families have been because they don't respect boundaries...they feel like they have a right to question our decisions within our marriage - that DO NOT involve or concern them. We have communicated to them that these are boundaries and they have the mindset that as family they are aloud to do and say anything...that is just "who they are". And we are expected to love them for "them". These kinds of things have caused division - unfortunately.
So, here it is October and the holiday season is well on its way. Last evening I received a phone call from Dan, my husband's youngest brother(whom we have no desire to be around)telling us that they are having a combined Thanksgiving dinner at their house with his inlaws and my husband's family.
I am struggling with this. If Dan wants to spend time with his inlaws..let him do it. There are 2 other kids w/spouses. Does it seem like Dan is the priority here?? Dan needs to realize he is not the only kid here. Please comment.

Just a thought about Thanksgiving. The first Thanksgiving included people who weren't even related by marriage. That was the point.

You may never be loved like one of your m-i-l's children. You are not her child. She did not give birth to you. This is an unrealistic expectation. When you have your own children and have a daughter and/or son-in-law, you will see this. The card as you describe it was not inappropriate. I give my son cards like that and my daughter-in-law thinks it is nice and respects our bond and mother son relationship. She did not always feel this way. For the first few years of their marriage she also felt as you do. As she matured she gradually changed her mindset. Then, 10 days ago she gave birth to my grandson. When I visited last week, she apologised to me for how she had behaved. She told me that now that she has her own son she feels the strength of that bond. Let your relationship with your in-laws develop naturally. You cannot force it and will make yourself miserable trying. Step back and let them have their special realtionship and you have yours with your husband. Do not make this into a contest. You say you want to be part of your husband's family. Go to Thankgiving dinner. Be gracious and prove that you want the close relationship as you state. Everyone will be happier as a result of your efforts.

Great advice.

Great advice given. Of course don't try to contest with your inlaws. But before any one gets married they should realize you marry the entire family when the husband and wife to be and family members do not understand the newly married will be starting their own family. Once married their bloodline family now becomes extended family and so are to both leave and cleave to one another till death. Marriage is a covenant (agreed by both parties) between husband and wife for life. This excludes the other family members. I find when this is understood on all sides everyone knows their place and they should therefore stay in their place. A Mother if shes done a good job of rearing her son should know that once they leave the nest they are to build their own nest. Visiting the old nest is not a homecoming they no longer live there. It is simply a visit. The mother and son bond will always be but caring does not mean clinging. Parents as well as the children must learn to let go and let people live their own lives.