In-Law Grievances

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-02-2013
In-Law Grievances
Mon, 12-02-2013 - 10:01am

I have wonderful in-laws who have given me so much love and respect since I married my husband over 4 years ago. I have never felt like our relationship was anything more that being "in-laws"... if that makes any sense! I don't feel particulary close to my mother in law, father in law, or sister in law. It has often bothered me, but it's hard to move away from that. One thing that has always bothered me about them is how they always talk about their daughter, and rarely about their son (my husband). Examples of such are at family dinners when all we hear about is her day, weekend, life... never really asked about his or ours. It always feels like her life is far more important and/or interesting than ours and I often feel left out, but more so I feel bad for my husband who has to fight for some air time. What makes the situation even more... bothersome is my sister in law is newly engaged. I have no issue hearing about the wedding planning, but it's what is coming along with that bothers me. Some may say I'm jealous... or bitter... but I do not agree with either, there is no argument there. Today I find out that my in-laws would like to celebrate Christmas dinner with my sister-in-law's fiance and his entire family. For the fact that I'm Jewish, Christmas has never been huge for me, but I have always partaked in the festivities for my husband. To find out this year I need to celerbate with people I don't know... just makes me annoyed. Am I being crazy silly here? Perhaps there is slight jealousy for the fact that my family has never done anything like this with my in-laws. Perhaps there is a some feeling that my in-laws favor the fiance's family more than mine...

Ughhh I don't know. But I had to vent to some hopefully unbiased people.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Mon, 12-02-2013 - 11:27am

I was with you until I got to the part about you not wanting to celebrate Christmas with people you don't know.  I think if you took the attitude "the more the merrier" you might enjoy meeting new people.  Last night I was at a family birthday party for my uncle and I sat next to my cousin's MIL and SFIL--these were people that I didn't know until my cousin got married only about 6 yrs ago but now I know them & they are nice people.  The family keeps expanding as more people get married and bringing new people into it.  Have you ever invited both your parents & your in-laws together at your house?

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2009
Mon, 12-02-2013 - 11:34am

In this day and age of religious inter-marriages, and racial inter-marriages, your situation isn't that unusual.  And often parents will have a favorite child........and another child is kind of ignored.  Also, at the time of an up coming marriage, of course everything revolves around the child getting married.  I was married to the "orphan child" in his family.  My MIL totally destroyed my husband's self esteem as a child, and continued to do it when he was a grown man.  In fact, she messed him up so badly that we ended up getting divorced because he became an alcoholic and a cheater.....all to numb his feelings!  His Mother was very cold, never hugged or kissed him, all because his older brother was "perfect"!  He sat on the porch and read books, he built model airplanes, and NEVER gave her a problem.  Then she had my husband, and he actually was a "normal" boy, who played in the dirt, got dirty, tore his clothes, got a car at 16 and got a couple of speeding get the picture.  His brother married young, had several children, and was a "saint". His family was Italian, my family was Irish/German, and I solved all the problems by inviting ALL of them for holiday dinners to MY house, and we all got along fine.  And they were Catholic, and I was Protestant.  But I went to Midnight Mass with them.  You may not love them dearly, but you tolerate them in their intolerance and/or ignorance....IF you want to keep the peace. 

As far as Christmas is concerned, you've been with his family for Christmas dinner and celebrations, so what difference if it's with additional people.  What if they'd just invited some family friends for Christmas dinner?  In your case, and more than likely in theirs too, it's JUST a good reason to get together with family and sometimes friends for a nice dinner.....nothing more.  What about your Jewish family?  Have they ever invited your husband's family to dinner or to visit them?  Does his family even know anything about the Jewish religion or holidays?  Many non-Jews know NOTHING about the religion or the rituals and holidays.  I have a friend who is Italian Catholic and she married a Jewish guy.  They celebrate BOTH religions, Hannukah and Christmas (with a Christmas tree next to the Menorah) and BOTH families are included in all the festivities.  If their ignoring their son is an on-going thing, all you can do is make up for it by building up his ego yourself.  Don't diss his parents to him either........he may not "like" them, but they're his parents and he loves them anyway.  Marriage includes the families and friends of both parties.  You're the "younger generation" and it's up to you to bring the older generation together.  Too soon they'll be gone, and you'll wish you had!  Enjoy them while you have them.

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Mon, 12-02-2013 - 2:04pm

I could never figure out why people think their inlaws need to fall in love with them.  Your spouse married you--they didn't. You have your OWN parents and siblings.   As long as his parents treat you politely and with respect, what is your gripe? I also think it's a little silly for a grown man to "fight for air time".  Why does he need his parents to talk about him--especially when it is just the family, and he is sitting right there?  Your SIL probably talks to her parents often, so they know what has been going on in her life, and relay it to you when you all are together.  And nothing happens in a vaccum.  How often does your husband call his parents?  Or visit one on one with them?  Perhaps his relationship with them is not as close as his sister's is.

As for Christmas, since you do not celebrate Christmas, it's not like you would be hosting the extended family at YOUR house.  When people enter a permanent relationship, it's common for the families to look for ways to make sure everyone gets to see everyone on the holidays, without having to travel to all over the planet in one day, and eat a half dozen different meals.  You SIL's inlaws are trying to accommodate everyone.  They may have the biggest, or most centrally located house.  They may have a big family of their own, while your husbands family sounds very small.  You are being very shallow, for sure.  If you don't want to be bothered being sociable, stay home and let your husband and kids go.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Mon, 12-02-2013 - 8:20pm

I could barely tolerate my in-laws since they were just so different from my family.  It wasn't anything to do with nationality or religion (same religion) just I guess the fact that maybe they were kind of poor when my exH grew up, had 6 kids, so they just got in the habit of doing things a certain way and never changed even though by the time the kids were out of the house or at least grown, I would have called them more middle class.  But my FIL was very intolerant of people who were different, would constantly watch TV even during dinner, smoke his cigars in the living room and be sitting there in his robe and PJs (or if we were really unlucky, his robe over his underwear).  I hardly ever saw my own father in his PJs--he was like fully dressed in a suit when he got up, except maybe on weekends.  I think my parents just had more social skills and nicer entertaining, even though we were middle class too--it would be important to have good food on holidays, have the table set nicely, etc.--at MIL's house you were lucky if you got enough food--you better grab it the first time cause there might not be seconds.  But as you said, you just go along because you are kind of stuck with the in-laws and you want to make your spouse happy.  

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-12-2013
Sun, 12-22-2013 - 2:23am

You mentioned that your inlaws are nice people, who give you love and respect. Only issue seems to be that, you and your spouse are not getting enough attention from them. It is natural to be jealous since your inlaws are nice people and you would want more attention from them.

But who knows, in your absence, when they are with your sister's family, they discuss more about you. Reason they never invited your parents at Christmas dos is because they might not be that familiar or friendly with them or even they could be considerate towards your parent's Jewish heritage. Have your parents invited your inlaws during Hanukkah festivities?

If you were to take my advice, I would say that we do not live in a perfect world, make the most of what you have got. You have a great spouse, non interfering inlaws, so go ahead and be a part of Christmas festivities.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-13-2005
Mon, 03-17-2014 - 8:01pm

I guess I'm lucky that I have very kind in-laws, but I don't spend much time with them.  I kind of like it that way, to be honest.  I married my husband; I didn't marry his parents.  If you and your in-laws are on good terms, why not just leave it at that and focus on the good?  Christmas isn't the only holiday; maybe you can invite them over for a Fourth of July party or host Thanksgiving for everyone.  Whenever you blend families together, you have to compromise on holidays and who spends time with whom.  I hope you're able to stay on good terms with your in-laws.  They're probably just very excited about their daughter's wedding and that's fine, is it not?