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  #21  
Old 24.12.2010, 10:52
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Re: Struggling with in-laws

I don't necessarily "blame" her - I "blame" everyone, including myself.

This is my third Christmas here - my third Christmas without my family.

Last year and the year before, m-i-l bought presents for nephew as well but as I said in my original post, I've also bought / brought presents for him as well as small somethings for the adults.

I HAVE explained to hubby that I don't feel comfortable with this, that I don't think she should do that, that I feel that "we" are shirking responsibility to not get something ourselves. You are right, hubby is only too happy to let his mother take care of it - even though he also knows I want to do it myself.

Meanwhile, I do take part of the blame myself as I've never felt comfortable talking to my s-i-l about this particular situation. I make conscious effort NOT to discuss such things with them as I know what it feels like for a wife or husband to be complaining about actions of my mother and my sibling to whom they are married.

So, the problem is now not only that I am not to pick out (in some way, shape or form) presents for my nephew BUT that actually, which I also mentioned in my first post by the way, that when I HAVE bought / brought presents I picked out, it has caused a problem. "They" don't want me doing this. Whether the problem is for m-i-l, whether the problem is with hubby's brother and his family, I don't know - I do know that hubby said quite clearly that it is a problem and I'm not to do it anymore.


Surely, if you were told the same thing by your in-laws (regardless of messenger), you would see this as a rejection as well?
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Old 24.12.2010, 11:01
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Re: Struggling with in-laws

oh Peg....

I am sorry you are feeling so down at the moment. I dont have a Swiss in-law to deal with, so I reallly cant comment there but that MIL of yours sounds like a control freak (I mean buying something for you guys to give to your nephew?? WTF??). My best advice is to pick your battles in order to keep your sanity - and this is one of those that I personally, cant be bothered to fight. Let her. There are really bigger fish to fry.

Its hard, I know - having also being brought up to ALWAYS bring something when invited to someone's house. Personally, I dont think a small bottle of wine or similar token will cause a rift. Whats the worst that can happen? Surely they wont argue with you because you brought a gift - out of the goodness of your heart! Trust me, people regardless of culture, skin colour, language or religion, all appreciate small tokens, so do what you feel is right.

Hang in there. The festive holidays arent doing very much for people away from home, except to magnify how much further your loved ones are.

Sending you good vibes.


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I don't necessarily "blame" her - I "blame" everyone, including myself.
This is my third Christmas here - my third Christmas without my family.

Last year and the year before, m-i-l bought presents for nephew as well but as I said in my original post, I've also bought / brought presents for him as well as small somethings for the adults.

I HAVE explained to hubby that I don't feel comfortable with this, that I don't think she should do that, that I feel that "we" are shirking responsibility to not get something ourselves. You are right, hubby is only too happy to let his mother take care of it - even though he also knows I want to do it myself.

Meanwhile, I do take part of the blame myself as I've never felt comfortable talking to my s-i-l about this particular situation. I make conscious effort NOT to discuss such things with them as I know what it feels like for a wife or husband to be complaining about actions of my mother and my sibling to whom they are married.

So, the problem is now not only that I am not to pick out (in some way, shape or form) presents for my nephew BUT that actually, which I also mentioned in my first post by the way, that when I HAVE bought / brought presents I picked out, it has caused a problem. "They" don't want me doing this. Whether the problem is for m-i-l, whether the problem is with hubby's brother and his family, I don't know - I do know that hubby said quite clearly that it is a problem and I'm not to do it anymore.


Surely, if you were told the same thing by your in-laws (regardless of messenger), you would see this as a rejection as well?
EDIT

Just saw your latest post. If I can be brutally honest, I'll let this go and not let your mind work over-time on it, whether its rejection blah blah blah. If they dont want you to buy gifts - fine. But I will quietly have a word with hubby and ask him "why" its a problem. Tell him that its important that you understand. That I think is the most crucial. He seems to be cruising along to whatever his mum says. Not good.
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  #23  
Old 24.12.2010, 11:02
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Re: Struggling with in-laws

honestly, maybe i'm out of line here, but if it's a problem, they should tell you so that you have a chance to discuss it. i really think if they don't have the cojones to tell you then it's not your problem. you like to do it, then do it, or say i know you all are funny about giving gifts but that's my education and i just couldn't resist.

personally, i don't agree to talk to the sil. i think that could really create further problems, what if you confide in her and she tells her hubby, etc. it could just make a bigger rift. but, maybe it is time you have a holiday with your family. it just doesn't seem like a fair or enjoyable time .

if it gets to you you can always pop on a train to lausanne and celebrate with us
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Old 24.12.2010, 11:06
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Re: Struggling with in-laws

Godness! I am beginning to wonder what my s in l and my d in l think of me! It seems that there are high expectations in place for m in l's and that they are blamed for a lot.

I have bought presents for my 9 month old grandson, but I actually doubt that he would notice or be affected adversely, if I hadn't. It's not a points issue with us (I hope.)

Possibly, the hands off grandparents are actually just showing respect, that they see you as a pair of capable adults and are leaving you to develop your lives as you wish. Don't read too much else into it.

And the ones who take over are probably thinking that they are being helpful. If you say nothing they will continue. If you don't like it, then some communication is needed. hhhmmm, actually..... perhaps I should have tried that advise myself, many moons ago...... :-D
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Old 24.12.2010, 11:15
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Re: Struggling with in-laws

But I am still aghast at the thought of a m in l buying the present you are supposed to give your nephew. (Want me to have an impartial word with her???) He gift buying is your responsibility, not hers. I don't see it as rejection of you though. Hang in there. Xmas will soon be over.

Unless finances are a problem, is there any reason why you can't go back to your own family every second Xmas as a compromise.? OR you be the hostess for your new Swiss family? Or you and your husband go away somewhere romantic for your own Xmas together?
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Old 24.12.2010, 11:22
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Re: Struggling with in-laws

While I can agree a bit with the gist of what irish temptation says, I don't feel sorry for Peg A's MIL.

Peg A, I can relate on many levels to your post, and have been on the verge of posting something along the same lines a few times.
My MIL (German in my case) can be wonderful some days and horrible others, so I never know whether I'm going to feel comfortable or horrified to be around her.

Most of the time, all my actions are watched intently to see if I conform to what's expected -- which of course I can't because not only is my personality not what my MIL would pick for her son, but I'm also from a different culture. At first my man didn't know how to deal with it and just communicated my failures after he was told by the MIL how surprised they were at something I did. And mind you, sometimes it was stupid stuff like the fact that I keep my hands on my lap when not eating at the dinner table (which is the custom where I come from) rather than keeping hands on the table at all times (which is the German custom). And while logically I know I should laugh off the stupidities most of the time, when one feels judged it hurts like hell and just makes one angry.

Our turning point came when I got shown pictures of my husband's ex-girlfriend, with a long explanation of how the ex and my MIL are still close friends and how the ex was my MIL's "favorite" of all her son's girlfriends and has a beautiful son that the MIL wishes to have a grandchild like (we have no kids and have no plans to). Finally I felt like I had a concrete example with which my husband couldn't tell me I was being silly. So we had a very long discussion and now he is supportive (even when he thinks I'm overly sensitive) and tries to keep a balance between my MIL and me. He's told my MIL she can't expect me to act as if I was raised in Germany, and that she must accept our differences and try to accommodate me. And when she's overly critical or upset at some "wrong" I've committed he's even told her a few times that if people want to be upset they'll always find a reason to be upset. That insinuation usually gets her to back down.

So my recommendation is to find a moment when you can have a calm, logical and thorough conversation with your husband about the issue. He might not even realize that he's always taking her side and thus putting you down. If he's anything like my husband, once you can get him to be aware of the situation, he'll be able to help.

I know that in his own subtle way my husband has communicated that if my MIL makes him pick, he'll choose me and she'll lose out. It's not something anyone in the family wants, so she's been nicer to me lately, which makes me more patient and less likely to feel offended at the little things, which in turn makes my husband happier because then I'm more willing to spend more time all together as a family. In the end, I think adjustment has to come from both sides, and if you feel supported by your husband you'll be able to give in a little more for the sake of everyone's sanity.

Good luck to all of us!
(I include myself as I'm now heading out to Germany for 3 days at the MIL's house -- which will surely test all my patience and commitment to get along...)
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Old 24.12.2010, 12:09
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Re: Struggling with in-laws

Peg,

I'm bewildered by this, It is actually a problem to give someone a gift??


There is no WTF pic that is WTF enough to represent the WTF I currently feel with this WTF Situation.


If it makes you feel any better, you can give me presents
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Old 24.12.2010, 13:32
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Re: Struggling with in-laws

Peg, I'm so sorry you are going through this. Families, eh?

Re: the gift...

If your husband doesn't want to rock the boat, he should give the present bought by your MIL to his nephew - from him alone. You should then give the little guy the present you have already bought - from you alone. And damn the torpedos.

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I think when two cultures join together e.g. in marriage, then it ought to be a joining of the traditions where everyone brings their own parts. Surely there ought to be the possibility to compromise somewhere and add a few of your traditions into things at this time of year?
This is the crux of the matter, methinks.

As individuals coming into marriage with our own traditions, values, experiences this can be a stumbling point, even when the spouses come from similar backgrounds. The differences are course exagerated when coming from quite different cultures - but having made the decision to lead lives together, it has to be accepted that now you are creating a third way, a blending of both spouses' traditions and values.

This is a discussion that goes beyond Christmas traditions. Perhaps not one to tackle during the holidays - but it sounds like there needs to be some discussion between the two of you soon-ish.

These are not easy waters to navigate, I know. For now, try to ingnore the MIL, do at least one thing that makes you feel good - for yourself. It's the holidays, after all.

I wish you all the very best, Peg.
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  #29  
Old 24.12.2010, 14:27
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Re: Struggling with in-laws

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Surely, if you were told the same thing by your in-laws (regardless of messenger), you would see this as a rejection as well?
I would be hurt too. Last week I was told that my husband's nieces and nephews don't feel "comfortable" talking to me which is why they will not call the house to thank for a gift. Instead they will call my husband's mobile to thank him for the gift. My in-laws think this is okay because they say the gift is really from my husband.

You can spend years trying to build a relationship with your spouse's family but at some point you draw the conclusion that you are better off having nothing to do with them.

They don't have to be Swiss either. My M-I-L is not.
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Old 24.12.2010, 14:48
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Re: Struggling with in-laws

Gotta be strong PegA. I too think it's weird that you don't have the freedom of choice to give who you want what you want! Next Christmas, you should host the Peg A American Christmas Extravaganza. Your place, your rules.

And for another thing, if your husband is just marching to the beat of his mother and this is causing you problems, you're about the 10th person I've heard in the same situation. You need to have a very stern chat with your husband as it's really his problem, not your or your MiL (he is the link) and it needs to be "your way or the high way".

I think it's time to start kickin' ass etc...
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Old 24.12.2010, 15:20
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Re: Struggling with in-laws

I really don't understand the psychology some people have when it comes to spouses and family. Family are there for you through thick and thin, you can piss them off (within reason) and still they will always be there. But a spouse doesn't have that security, and doesn't have that embedded sense of belonging that comes with blood ties... so I can never understand it when I hear that a poor wifey is feeling sad and alienated due to hubbos MIL or other family being inconsiderate and a pain. If it was my theoretical wife feeling like that i'd feel horrible (I mean seriously, how could you not notice when your other half is so unhappy over something?) and go to massive lengths to make sure that she felt comfortable and happy during such an important time of the year like this where she doesn't have her own blood family around her and needs to feel secure. If you commit to someone by marrying them for supposed life, then you need to put them first in situations like this where they have a legitimate cause for being upset, that's your job (or the way I see it anyway).

Peg A, your husband deserves a slap for being so blind to how upset you are, or at the very least a withdrawal of conjugal rights for a month or two.


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I would be hurt too. Last week I was told that my husband's nieces and nephews don't feel "comfortable" talking to me which is why they will not call the house to thank for a gift. Instead they will call my husband's mobile to thank him for the gift. My in-laws think this is okay because they say the gift is really from my husband.
Unreal... such poor manners, and completely unnecessary behaviour. Must make you feel a bit crappy.
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  #32  
Old 24.12.2010, 15:24
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Re: Struggling with in-laws

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And for another thing, if your husband is just marching to the beat of his mother and this is causing you problems, you're about the 10th person I've heard in the same situation. You need to have a very stern chat with your husband as it's really his problem, not your or your MiL (he is the link) and it needs to be "your way or the high way".

I think it's time to start kickin' ass etc...
Absolutely. Couldn't agree more with this advice. Your husband has to take a stand. The mother/son relationship is a complicated one. Sometimes I think there are mothers who just resent the woman who she perceives has taken her son away. This M-I-L will go out of her way to make her son's life a misery. I just don't get it. Seems if the M-I-L has daughters they add fuel to the fire.

Sometimes I think it is best to live in a neutral place, where neither spouse has family. Many of the expats I know who live this way have built very strong friendships and these friends become like family on the holidays.
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Old 24.12.2010, 15:28
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Re: Struggling with in-laws

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Last week I was told that my husband's nieces and nephews don't feel "comfortable" talking to me which is why they will not call the house to thank for a gift.
I'm really upset to hear this. At very best this is poor etiquette - you should never have heard this. But why don't they feel comfortable talking to you? I do think that there's an unwillingness for expat spouses to use "strength" when dealing with family and it seems they therefore get trodden on. This behaviour of your nieces and nephews (they're yours too, not just your husband's) is fundamentally unacceptable. I know if I acted like that when I was a kid my parents would make sure that I didn't receive any presents for the rest of the year, so it wouldn't be an issue.
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Old 24.12.2010, 15:33
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Re: Struggling with in-laws

in the end of the day, the holidays are about spending time together, enjoying each other, the food, the warmth, etc. i'm sorry you can't have that with all the drama of it all and the disillusion about what your gifts, participation, etc really means. agreed that hubby must have a stern talking to, 3 years of this is too much and accepting it is obviously not whats best for you, my dear. it's hard enough to be away from your own family during the holidays, but it's even harder to have to deal with this instead of having people around who are accepting and inviting. if it feels so strong for you, as if you are really ready to pack it in, i say have a little word with hubby and then mil too. yes, pick your battles, but this doesn't have to be a battle, it can just be a compromise and maybe a new beginning
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Old 24.12.2010, 15:43
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Re: Struggling with in-laws

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Come on. If your landlord said to you: "OK, I have lots of rules but I'm not going to tell you what they are, you just have to live in my place & abide by them or your life will be hell" ..you would laugh, but that is how it can be if you marry into a Swiss family, she knows that. Better to try hard first to please them....then if you don't succeed, don't care at all.
Of course, she could cut to the chase and tell them all to kiss her butt in Macy's window. It would probably save time and have the same result.
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Old 24.12.2010, 15:43
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Re: Struggling with in-laws

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I would be hurt too. Last week I was told that my husband's nieces and nephews don't feel "comfortable" talking to me which is why they will not call the house to thank for a gift. Instead they will call my husband's mobile to thank him for the gift. My in-laws think this is okay because they say the gift is really from my husband.

You can spend years trying to build a relationship with your spouse's family but at some point you draw the conclusion that you are better off having nothing to do with them.

They don't have to be Swiss either. My M-I-L is not.
WTF?!!!

Not wanting to thank someone because they arent comfortable talking to that person? Regardless of how uncomfortable a person makes you, that person actually made a point to buy you a gift!

Thats just poor form and its terribly sad that the in-laws and their parents are reinforcing such lack of manners. Unbelievable.

Dont spend a single rappen on such people next year then Mrs D. If they think the gift is really from the husband, make it 100% accurately so. Its not about being petty, its about spending your time and energy on people who appreciate your efforts that matter. These children dont. I know its the fault of their clueless parents who should whip these ungrateful brats in shape, but let them rot in their own ignorance.

This is another battle that I personally, cant be arsed to fight. We cant explain why some people just dont get along, and why some people dislike each other. You've tried. Thats all that matters.

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Peg A, your husband deserves a slap for being so blind to how upset you are, or at the very least a withdrawal of conjugal rights for a month or two.
Ladies and gentlemen, and over here, we have the male species telling the female species to withhold sex. You've just witnessed that its not just the female species guilty of using this technique - something the males have been accusing them of doing for centuries
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Old 24.12.2010, 15:44
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Re: Struggling with in-laws

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I'm really upset to hear this. At very best this is poor etiquette - you should never have heard this. But why don't they feel comfortable talking to you? I do think that there's an unwillingness for expat spouses to use "strength" when dealing with family and it seems they therefore get trodden on. This behaviour of your nieces and nephews (they're yours too, not just your husband's) is fundamentally unacceptable. I know if I acted like that when I was a kid my parents would make sure that I didn't receive any presents for the rest of the year, so it wouldn't be an issue.
You were obviously raised properly.

Not to worry. Next year they are not getting any gifts. Problem solved.
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Old 24.12.2010, 16:04
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Re: Struggling with in-laws

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Our turning point came when I got shown pictures of my husband's ex-girlfriend, with a long explanation of how the ex and my MIL are still close friends and how the ex was my MIL's "favorite" of all her son's girlfriends and has a beautiful son that the MIL wishes to have a grandchild like (we have no kids and have no plans to).
My MIL did this to me once, I told her that my ex's mother was far nicer and then i showed her the door on Xmas day. It took about 3 weeks of a hostile silence before a peace truce was agreed upon and we are now quite close, not that close that neither of us wouldn't throw the other one out.
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Old 24.12.2010, 16:05
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Re: Struggling with in-laws

Last year I discovered a wonderful bottle of Amarone. We opened the bottle for Christmas and all negative emotions went pretty numb soon after.
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Old 24.12.2010, 18:50
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Re: Struggling with in-laws

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Last year I discovered a wonderful bottle of Amarone. We opened the bottle for Christmas and all negative emotions went pretty numb soon after.
...at last, someone who makes sense with both feet on the ground.
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