How much time should I be expected to visit with my boyfriend's family?
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|Tue, 05-14-2013 - 4:22pm|
To give some more context, my boyfriend and I both grew up in the same city in another province, and have since relocated to our current city for our careers. My boyfriend's parents, brother, sister-in-law and their 2 children also live in our current city - so my first concern when I met him was that his parents packed up and relocated here after retiring to be closer to their two sons. My majority of my immediate family still lives in my home province - just me and my sister live in my current city.
My boyfriend and I started dating late last year, and his family was very kind in inviting me to join them for Christmas and his SIL's birthday party. At the time, I was also preparing to move into a new house and was in a very stressful job, so had a lot on my plate and really valued my free time. After Christmas, I did tell my boyfriend that I needed to focus on my move and not take up my whole weekend with social events (with family or friends). I also said that moving forward, I felt a family event once a month for me personally was enough, but that he was welcome to spend time with them whenever he wants. His parents fortunately went to the US for about 2 months, so I have not had to spend time with them until this month. I should also note that my parents have visited twice, so he has had limited interactions with them. Being in different cities, there is the obvious imbalance between our two families - but my boyfriend did have the audacity to say he has been doing more things with my family than his own (and stood corrected!).
Pre-move, I was frustrated in feeling that we always had to go to them. His parents live in a suburb about 45 minutes away from me, and like to eat at a specific time to accommodate the two grandkids. For me, it feels very rushed and like I have to pack everything in on my weekends to get out to their house for a 5pm dinner. We have been invited on a few occassions to go out for Sunday dinners, and I have declined as it cuts into my weekend and takes up a lot of time with the drive. My boyfriend and I do not want children and I have no understanding of what it's like to have kids, so I struggle to understand why there can't be some flexibility to accommodate others (ie. Can we not eat at 5:30 or 6pm?) and it feels like there is an assumption that we are always available and have nothing else to do because we don't have kids.
Now that they are back from the US, I immediately have anxiety about the frequency of their requests to spend time with us. Recent example was Mother's Day. I agreed to go to brunch with his family - they left their planning to the last minute, so ended up with (what I thought) was a very early brunch time at a location quite far from my house (I actually live at the opposite end of the city to my boyfriend and his family, but he spends the weekends at my house). What shoud have been a 20-30 minute drive took 40, so we arrived 10 minutes late to find that the rest of the family had already started eating and the excuse of, "You know, there's kids...so we can't wait." The meal was quite frankly disgusting, and the two kids spent most of the meal playing with their food (so I struggle to understand why the need to eat on time when the kids barely eat anything!). When we were leaving, MIL thanked us and said we should come out for dinner next weekend. AND that BIL was having MIL and FIL over for dinner that night. AND come back again for FIL's birthday dinner in two weeks! Once we got in the car, I told my boyfriend that it was one weekend or the other, and that I was not willing to go to family events for 3 weekends in a row. To expect us to drive 40 minutes each way for brunch, go home for 4 hours, and then drive all the way back for dinner is a bit ridiculous. I feel like you give them an inch in accepting one invitation, and they take a mile.
I don't dislike his family, but I also feel like we have limited common interests other than my boyfriend, and I don't like people being forced on me. His mother does slightly annoy me (she is a former special needs teacher, so speaks to everyone like they are special needs children - I'm 33, you can speak to me like an adult!) - but I recognize that at least they are being nice and I could have it a lot worse! At this point, I am trying to figure out how to manage:
- "Weaning" my boyfriend off the family teat so to speak - he brings up his parents on a daily basis and relies on them for what I think are simple tasks (ie. I wanted to help him with some gardening, and was told to wait so he could see if this was something FIL wanted to do. I told him he's 35 years old, and Daddy doesn't need to do his gardening anymore!)
- Establishing appropriate boundaries for the amount of time I am expected to spend with his family.
- How to ask them to accommodate our schedules and be more flexible to meet us in the middle? ie. Being flexible with the times that we meet, and where we meet - neither of us want to spend our weekends driving all over the city. Why can't we occassionally meet in a more central location? I know that even my boyfriend has his own frustrations with this. How can I help him to say No and stand up for himself?
I would welcome any advice! I really do care about this guy and want things to work out for us. I am trying to be respectful of the differences in our families - I guess I am just more independent and not as family-oriented as some people. We have been talking about moving in together at some point later this year, and this really is the only concern I have with him. I don't want to have him move in with me if we aren't clear with each other on what our expectations are of one another when it comes to family.