I will not let this cycle of stupid behavior continue.
July 6, 2011 5:11 AM Subscribe
Met the parents. They're crazy. Need to develop strategies to cope and set clear and unavoidable bondaries NOW before the cycle of stupid and exploitative behavior continues.
posted by These Birds of a Feather to Human Relations (45 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
This past weekend I traveled to the Midwest to meet my boyfriend's parents for the first time. The trip was great, except that when he told me his folks were crazy and sometimes a little out to lunch, I didn't really believe him till we got there and their demands on him started.
Basically they're a rancorous divorced couple who is much older than the average parent of a 24 year old adult, and though I'm thrilled they like and approve of me, the thought of spending any length of time with them makes me ill.
The main issues are these: I have never had to mediate between two divorced people when they're forced to be in each other's presence (or even when they inexplicably choose to spend time with each other) and their barbs to each other are harsh; and I don't know how to deal with the fact that his mother is histrionic, infantile, and a hoarder (to the point of lunacy despite clearly being brilliant) and makes huge demands of my SO and myself while there.
Worst of all I don't have any experience with supporting a SO in the face of parents like this, and I want to be able to help him cope whenever we go to visit the folks because he a) has a very terrible attitude about his mother that he knows is unhealthy and b) because we want to get married and I don't want to upset things by suddenly handling a situation my way, which would be to hit this head on by setting clear ground rules about the way I am treated and what is asked of me even if I am 1300 miles away and not in their presence. His mother in particular feels entitled to being catered to and made wild demands of us when we visited (ie insisting we set up her TV, sound system, computer and printer when we really only had 20 minutes to spend with her at her house; spending huge amounts of money on antiques but having a huge fuss over her cell phone bill) His father exhibits the same behavior.
I plan to marry this guy. We're in this for the long haul, and honestly we both know that his parents, being so much older, aren't long for this world beyond 10 years. I don't want to change them. I just want a functional relationship right off the bat that does not include either him or me being taken advantage of, and I am in need of help in that way. I am especially likely to try and accommodate their requests immediately and I don't want to get stuck doing so very resentfully.
If you met your in laws to be and discovered that with a firm set of standards their invasive and inappropriate behavior could be mitigated, how would you go about setting those standards without making too many waves? My SO is on board with this and with gentle coaxing will help me set such standards. Not visiting them and/or waiting till they die is not an option.
Tips and tricks for dealing with in laws who mean well but have no idea they're being rude are also appreciated. Bonus points for ideas about how to be a supportive SO and not make my BF feel any worse about his loving but insane parents. His parents are great people minus their bickering, exploitative ways.
If you need more info just ask. There are a few specific behaviors I want to curb through whatever means necessary because they have the potential to explode in severity the next time we visit them.