Am I the only person that is shocked that a MIL is no longer immediate family once you marry? I know my daughter would look at her husband as if he had two heads if he ever suggested that, and vice versa with his parents.
Might your son actually prefer to stay elsewhere? Lots of people do. It doesn’t sound like he objected to last year’s arrangement. Maybe he actually liked it (especially if the alternative was an air mattress in the living room).
Definitely do not consider my mother to be my immediate family. Have not done so since I got married. For those of you who do you stay as house guests in other peoples homes do you enjoy it? Do you do it simply because it’s cheaper or more convenient? To me it’s just a small form of torture. Did it when I was young and then said never again.
Thanks for all the replies.
It has always been the case that we have stayed with the in-laws and they have stayed with us in our respective homes. We just used to have a much bigger home! I would have been much happier staying at a hotel and having a place to retreat when we visited them - particularly when fil was alive. But, that is their family culture. After being married 30 years now, that would be hard to change.
Dh’s sister is only 45 minutes away from mil. She brought up Thanksgiving to us only a couple of days after fil died. Thanksgiving is sil’s husband’s big family holiday to be together. She basically said, “You’ve got to take mil for Thanksgiving.” So we did - it was only three months after fil had died last year. I honestly was surprised that ds wanted to and was able to come for Thanksgiving last year and that he plans to come again this year. He is on the opposite coast, TG is such a crap time to travel, etc. However, he always has tons of airline miles from his job, and he does not have a SO at this point. Most of his friends are local and go spend time with their families. I am GLAD he wants to be here for TG! But, mil is definitely coming then - and probably again at another time - she’s already mentioned coming in February for her birthday.
I don’t really think ds minds being “trumped” by his grandmother. I am the one who minds. And, I kinda mind that dh doesn’t see why this bothers me. Ds probably DOES appreciate having somewhere else to retreat. There really and truly is not room for an air mattress in our condo. Our coffee table is heavy with a glass top - not easy to move. I can’t stand the idea of his sleeping on an air mattress in the kitchen. That just seems icky. Plus, I want ds to WANT to come, so I want him to be comfortable. Honestly, he gets the better end of the deal because we only have a sleeper sofa in our second bedroom (thought it’s not as bad as it sounds - it is some fancy kind - does not have a bar in it and is reported to be quite comfortable), and ds will get a “real” bed whether he stays at our friends’ place or we rent something for him.
Maybe what is bugging me is that it apparently hasn’t crossed mil’s mind that we might prefer ds to be here with us instead of her. She had “booked” with us first last year before we knew if ds could/would come. He wound up working remotely two of the days he was here (so that also made it nice that he could retreat to our friends’ place). I feel like we are going to be “stuck” with this situation as long is mil can travel. That sounds pretty mean, doesn’t it? We do hope to buy a larger condo eventually, but that is probably four Thanksgivings away.
I’m not sure of the answer on how to define “immediate family.” My parents both died before dh and I married, and I have no siblings. I think if I am being honest that at my core I struggle with our always having had to spend holidays with dh’s family and always having to “share” ds after he came along. Pretty selfish, eh? And, whether rightly or wrongly, I think daughters typically stay closer to their family of origin than do sons. That is a BROAD generalization, I know.
@Marian - I really don’t know what his preference is. It doesn’t really matter at this point since we are going to have to farm him out if he comes. An air mattress was never an alternative - no room. We were uncertain at one point last year if our friends were going to depart before ds arrived. Dh said we could put ds on the couch. I reeled at this idea and said, “No way,” even though it would have only been for one night. The timing worked out perfectly with our friends last year, but I would have insisted we get ds a place somewhere else - even for one night. It’s one thing to make a 12-year-old (or even a college kid) sleep on a couch. I’m not doing that to my young adult ds.
I know each family is different, but my girls wouldn’t think twice about sleeping on the couch so grandma could have a bed. We all love to be together so we make due in our small space. It sounds like the solution for you is for your S to stay elsewhere. My guess is that it will bother you more than him.
When I’m not on CC I spend a lot of time on a site for people with dysfunctional inlaw relationships so I’m coming at your issue from that side. It sounds like you and your husband aren’t on the same page right now. It was understandable last year when he had just lost his dad and your MIL had just lost her husband that you would prioritize her visit for Thanksgiving, but that doesn’t mean that that sets the precedent for the rest of her life. I’m a bit surprised to hear that you’ve spend every holiday with your husband’s family… you didn’t ever have a holiday that was just the 3 of you? Would you have wanted that or were you happy enough to have the bigger group even though it wasn’t your extended family? Our family of 5 started doing Christmas just the 5 of us sometimes a few years ago (after usually doing it with my parents since they are in the US or occasionally with hubby’s family) and we discovered that we all really like it that way.
So I have a couple of ideas for you going forward. One is that maybe you and your hubby should consider talking about this issue with the help of a counselor… someone who can be neutral and help your husband understand your concerns. Another thought is that if you enjoy your MIL’s company and want to keep doing Thanksgiving together, what about renting a larger house just for Thanksgiving weekend so you can all be together then? Either in your own city or (in future years) meeting up in another city altogether.
There’s a famous story of an anthropologist visiting Japan who stayed long-term at a hotel and was moved from room to room during his visit. He was confused, and thought it might be a “dis” because he was Western. It turned out that, as a long-term guest and a nice human being, the hotel management considered him “family” and felt comfortable moving him to accommodate “outsiders.”
Which, I guess, means that asking my kids to sleep on the floor in order to accommodate older guests makes me Japanese?
At the same time, I prefer to stay in a hotel rather than with friends/family, partially because I’m an introvert and partially because I don’t want to be a bother.
I’m on week 3 of company. Different groups of people, but Sunday night we all said no more company for awhile after the in laws can leave. Unfortunately mil and fil are here recuperating after being in a car accident.
I hate sleeping at other people’s houses, but that is our family norm. I have 20 something people sleeping here for Thanksgiving! I have a pool house and I have a few beds and a bunch of cots and sleeping bags and the kids find their own space.
My mom once stayed a few weeks recuperating after my dad died and she had surgery. Mostly people just stay a few days. My d just had college friends come from Wednesday to Saturday night. Hubby and I decided to beat it out of here Friday and stayed at a hotel.
I understand your resentment completely. I’d ask your son his thoughts about it, but I’d also want my son in that room. What’s frustrating is your mil lack of consideration and probably your feeling your husband choosing his mom over his son. I’m sorry you lost your parents so young. That had to be very difficult.
If I were in your situation, I would say grandma gets the bedroom, because she’s old and I’m assuming would be less comfortable than son sleeping on the sofa or whatever. I would have no problem putting one or multiple of our “adult” children on the sofa(s) or think about renting a place where everyone could be together. Are you comfortable asking your son how he feels about this? I know in many large families it’s just not a big deal at all to have even adult couples on sleep sofas in the open space. They make do. While visiting my husband’s family we sometimes had 16 people in a 4br house. Each set of “parents” got a bedroom, and “kids” either slept on floors of parents rooms, or in the family room or basement. This went on for up to 4 nights. As an only child,I was probably the least comfortable with it, but we all made it work.
Can’t MIL somehow come earlier or later and you can sort of have a second Thanksgiving? So that the two of them overlap only a night or two? My son wouldn’t think twice about sleeping on the couch - he does it all the time (and I’d do it myself for a couple of nights). I’d be a little perturbed that MIL isn’t being cognizant that this might be an issue - the both of them in your place at the same time.
" we only have a sleeper sofa in our second bedroom (thought it’s not as bad as it sounds - it is some fancy kind - does not have a bar in it and is reported to be quite comfortable), and ds will get a “real” bed whether he stays at our friends’ place or we rent something for him."
I’m in my 50s and I just don’t do sofa beds/ sleeper sofas. For your MIL who is older, I think you’d be actually doing her a favor by booking a hotel room for her. She can move back to the guest room when your son leaves.
“Mom, we are getting you a hotel room as we don’t have space for everyone and we think you’ll be more comfortable sleeping there on a great bed while son is here.”
But the MIL has already slept on the sleeper sofa, and clearly, it didn’t bother her.
@Hoggirl is there a couch in your living room? Can your son sleep on that?
So SIL prioritizes her husband’s family over her own mother. I assume she travels away so can’t have mother stay with her?
In your situation, I would probably go off to a hotel with DS and ask DH what time he and his mother were serving Thanksgiving dinner.
You’re correct that this is a problem that has to be nipped in the bud, but that may be difficult to do. It sounds like your husband will refuse to either insist his sister adjust, or send his mother to a hotel if your son has already planned to visit. DH and I had a lot of relationship difficulty because he admittedly prioritized his mother over me. He recognized it was a problem but would not bend. The situation really didn’t resolve until she passed away - at age 97.
The default seems to be that you and your son are the only ones who have to make adjustments; everyone else gets what they prefer.
Book a hotel room for MIL and present it as a given rather than a subject to be discussed.
@washugrad - solid advice for sure. To be fair from age four until ds graduated from high school, we spent Christmas proper just the three of us - we visited the in-laws either the weekend before or after to have the “family” Christmas. I guess a couple of years we were there on Christmas if it fell on a weekend. So, that worked fine. Time off is more limited for ds now that he is a fully functioning adult with a demanding job. We are on opposite coasts with mil in the middle.
Dh doesn’t see the Thanksgiving thing as a big deal. When we sold our bigger home, I expressed concerns about holidays, and we had actually talked about the need to rent a larger place if and when ds ever married and had children. But doing that NOW is a good idea - as long as we could cancel in case ds doesn’t come.
@eyemamom - that sounds exhausting! I can’t imagine hosting that many people no matter how much space I had! It’s the constant feeding!!! We have had a LOT of company since moving to Florida! I do love having company stay with me, but I prefer three or four nights only. I appreciate your understanding where I’m coming from. I’m sorry for your in-laws’ accident and hope they are healed/well/whole soon. You are an excellent daughter-in-law!
@1214mom - I have sort of asked ds. I really do believe it’s my issue alone. I’m an only, and ds is an only. After a certain age, I just wouldn’t want to sleep on a floor - period!
It’s a good time to bring this up with your H and your son before this new pattern becomes embedded. I like doschicos’ idea of offering a more comfortable hotel room for your MIL. Hopefully, that will work.
If not, is there some kind of neighborhood list serve or condo newsletter that you can ask about available rooms in? Someone might be traveling and not mind making a little extra money if your friends are staying home for the holiday. Young people tend to be not so bothered by these casual arrangements.
I’m sorry that you are seeing your son less than your MIL and so much of the time is overlapped and not as satisfying since he can’t stay with you. I hate the holiday rush of traveling too and fantasize about visiting people in early January when nothing is going on. Maybe your son could do more of that? Eventually he may have his own nuclear family and things always seem to be pulled in so many directions, don’t they? It’s good to talk about these issues with your son and husband and have everyone remain flexible. Maybe your H can go visit his Mom alone for some quality time? They are both going through a transition after losing your FIL, and I know that you worked so hard to make your FIL comfortable that you need a break yourself.
A year ago last spring, my S and his gf (now fiancee) were coming to visit us. We had two guest bedrooms with an extra bathroom upstairs, and my plan was to let them have the entire upstairs. Then my in-laws decided to visit at the exact same time. My H was uncomfortable with having our S and his gf share a room while his parents were here (they don’t live together and won’t until they are married) so the gf got one guest bedroom and my in-laws got the other, and poor S got an air mattress in the dining room (we didn’t have a dining room table so the room was empty). I’m sure my S wasn’t thrilled, but he was happy to see his grandparents.
If your son has a lot of airline point, just get a hotel for him. He’s a lot more able to move around, drive himself places, be independent. If he wants to come at thanksgiving, Grandma is there.
You aren’t displacing him from his room since it is not his room (and never was). He’ll probably be happier in a hotel and if it is free (with points) even better.
@doschicos - I agree she would be more comfortable. Dh says that would hurt her feelings. My prediction? We have to rent something for ds, and she’s jealous when she sees it!
@thumper1 - yes, we have a sofa. It’s actually a sectional, but not very wide - more sized for “apartment” living.
@Marilyn - it’s not like that at all with sil. She is there, on the ground with mil. Has handled all kinds of things since fil’s death because she is close by. She deserves a break. Sil has said mil is welcome to come to her husband’s family gatherin, but mil has no interest in that. Brother-in-law is only five years younger than mil. Has three children from his first marriage. Mil doesn’t reallly know/care for his first family much (sil and bil have one daughter together). I can’t book a hotel and present it as a given to mil - dh doesn’t want to do that. It’s not a cross for me to die on. I just wish it were different. I didn’t anticipate space issues until ds had some grandchildren for me! We have couples stay with us (even on the sleeper sofa) all the time. Part of the issue is that ds doens’t/can’t plan to come until much closer to TG itself. His ability to come will depend on his work. So, it’s not like she plans to come after he has already said he is coming for sure. Dh doesn’t prioritize his mother over me. I just think he thinks it’s no big deal for ds to stay somewhere else. But, I do hear what you are saying. I have a friend who is worried we are “creating a monster” in mil by being so accommodating.
@greenwitch - we live at the beach. There are literally hundreds of places we can get. But, it’s not really supposed to work like that at our condo. Minimum monthly rental. Guests are fine. I suppose ds could be a “guest” of someone other than our friends, but it’s supposed to be “free” because you’re a guest!
H is fil’s executor, so he stayed on an additional two weeks after I returned home after the funeral. He also went to see his mom in early March last year to do her tax return for her. We are going again in September to visit her.
Ds loves his grandmother, and we enjoy spending time together. This is truly the only situation where I miss our large home. Otherwise, we love living small!
@abasket - she probably could but that might increase the cost of her plane ticket. And she wants to see ds, too. We had one night last year with just the three of us. Fortunately, we had a nice long stretch in between Christmas and New Year’s with just our nuclear family.
I do think she’s cognizant because she keeps asking if ds is coming. We keep telling her we don’t know and won’t know until closer to time.