Monday, November 26, 2012

Conflict with the In-Laws

About a week or so before Thanksgiving, my husband informed me that he had invited his parents to stay at our/my house Thanksgiving night.  My husband and I were planning on attending my sister's party and my in-laws would be at my husband's aunt's celebration.  I was not happy my husband had not consulted me before extending the invitation to his parents.  I mean, I look at our house as my house at this point.  Shouldn't I be the one doing the inviting since I'm the one doing the hosting?

Cleaning the guest bedroom and bathroom was not exactly taxing.  But I take great pride in my skills as a housekeeper and I want my guests to be impressed by the state of things.  While I complained to my husband, he told me it was just one day out of the year so I could handle it.  That was his dictate to me.  I accept these things more often than not.

I made an appetizer and a side dish Thursday morning and to my husband's credit, he helped out a lot with the prep and cleaning the dishes.  He, however, found time to head out to his aunt's to shoot the sh*t with his cousins and give his parents a house key.  I told him to be back by 12:20 so we could leave our house at 1:00pm.  He did.

We got home that night a bit after nine o'clock.  I was tired.  Since this is my house, I'm the only one that carries a key.  My husband does not.  I get to the door and it's locked.  Like my in-laws thought some bad person would just walk in.  I knock.  My MIL calls our names out to check our identity.  I'm carrying stuff in both hands.  Please open the door!!!

My FIL is sitting in my living room, reclining in my chair, reading a National Geographic magazine that I keep on my coffee table.  He's made himself right at home.  I don't remember either of them asking if we needed help getting stuff out of the car.  So, we're all gathering in the kitchen to watch me put containers and unused bottles of wine away.  My MIL saw the brand new food processor I bought to make the food I brought for Thanksgiving.  She giggles as she asks how I liked using it. (I had never used a food processor before.  And I'm 35.)  I said the cauliflower smash was delicious and she should try a little bit.  I think I just said to taste it.  She waves her hand and says she'd already brushed her teeth.  I didn't bother to check to oral status of my FIL. 

So, I go into my bedroom to change my clothes into my house clothes: a cotton tank top, a long cotton boyfriend cardigan, and velour sweat pants.  When I reemerge in the living room, my husband is now in the recliner, and my in-laws are on the couch.  My MIL tells me I look more comfortable.  She must have meant more physically comfortable because emotionally, I was no where close to being comfortable.

I was putting around the kitchen.  My MIL was in the back bedroom.  My FIL was asking my husband what time he got home last night (Wednesday.)  He asked what time we got up that morning.  My husband said we got out of bed around 7:00am but we didn't sleep so well.  This set me off.  I'm not proud of my reaction but here's what I said to my FIL.  "My husband is tired because I woke him up at 3:00am to have sex with him." 

I went back to my bedroom for a few minutes and go back out to the living room.  I took a seat in the chair opposite my husband.  So, it's me on one side and everybody else on the other.  They are talking about what they always talk about, other people and commodity prices.  They'll sometimes talk about how much they hate Oba.m.a but it didn't come up.  I sit quietly because they are talking about people I don't even know and I'm tired of making light fun of them.  I've joked in the past that my MIL should write a book about who's fat, gay, and an alcoholic in their town. 

The amount of time they spend talking about the personal problems of other people is disturbing.  Their favorite topic is what women they know that are now fat.  And they have no mercy for their own relatives.  My huband's cousin's daughter is a favorite target.  I don't know if I ever told the story here but on Easter this year, in line in the family buffet, my FIL came up to me totally unprovoked and said, "Don't eat so much.  You'll get fat."  You don't say that to people.  My sister's a (former) an.orexi.c.   

As the time Thursday night approached 10:30 (past my bedtime), my FIL announces that they'll go to bed because I LOOK TIRED.  They'll go to bed because I look tired?????  What kind of logic is that?  They ask what time we get up.  I said, "whenever we get up.  It might be 7:00, 7:30, 8:00."  Who knows? 

In the morning, my husband got up about a half-hour before me.  So, I got into the kitchen about 7:30.  We have no coffee maker because my husband took it with him.  And I don't keep anything in the house for breakfast except cereal.  My husband asked if they wanted to got out for breakfast.  My FIL's reaction?  "After yesterday, I'm not hungry at all for breakfast.  You're hungry?"  Now that was directed at my husband but frankly, I was hungry and not ashamed to admit it. 

They were gone by 8:00am.  They didn't thank me as they walked out the door.  A few hours later, I told me husband that they didn't thank us for staying at our house.  He said, "Oh, yeah they did.  When I walked them out to their car, they thanked me."

You're probably asking yourself right now (if you've read this far) why I'm so touchy about the subject of sleep.  That's because I never was before I got married.  I like to sleep between nine to ten hours a night.  That's ideal.  I can function just fine with less.  I prefer not to.  If I can get to sleep by 10pm, I will likely sleep until 7:30 or 8:00, depending on the time of sunrise. 

My husband hates that.  Literally hates it.  For the first year of our marriage, he would mercilessly annoy me about my sleep habits.  He would wake me up early just to bother me.  When we went through Retrouvaille, you work on conflict resolution skills.  The topic he picked out of the entire list of problems within a marriage was MY SLEEP HABITS.

And why does he care so much about sleep.  Because his parents do.  This is an inherited opinion.  His parents relate the amount of sleep a person gets per night with their overall personal productivity rate and their moral status.  The less you sleep, the better worker you are.  I was not raised that way.  Nobody in my house growing up cared about how much you slept.  And that's because we were all high achieving people (please forgive any spelling errors :))  So, who gives a damn about whether you wake up at 7:00 or 7:00, we all got to school and work on time.

But what this really comes down to, and my husband and I talked about it last night before he left to go back to his parents is this: I don't want my husband living on his parent's property.  I didn't want it before he left and I don't want it now.  But he tells me he won't do anything else.  And why?  Because he doesn't want to spend any money he doesn't feel he has to.  He believes he can live in the guest house rent free because he worked for his family business for no pay for many years. 

I am now intimately tied to a very painful and complicated family problem that is not my own.  The ironic thing is that why my husband defended his parents to me the entire holiday weekend, just before he left, he said he would tell his father some day that my husband might not have accomplished as my work as his father but that he had more fun that his father.  I told my husband not to sell himself short.  He's accomplished a great deal.  I asked him if his father is harassing him.  He said no.  But this statement about speaking truth to the old man came out of nowhere so I suspect something happened.

This situation is not normal.  A man should not live three hours from his wife and 100 meters from his parents.  I'm not sure how this is going to be resolved or when but it's a doozy. 


  1. How weird that they care so much about your sleep. And even weirder that your husband did! It sounds like you eventually worked that out between the two of you, which is good. And, underlying all this - it sounds like you simply really dislike his parents. And they're oblivious...?

  2. I agree w/ the misfit that it is so weird they care about your sleep! In laws are so tricky, I wonder how it will be at Christmas.

  3. I have a FIL that will thank my dh for dinner that technically came out of both of our pockets...we put our incomes together and when we treat family to dinner...WE treat them. I think that is rude.