Do I need to go to this weddings?
March 22, 2011 9:44 PM   Subscribe

My girlfriend's cousin is getting married in Baltimore. My girlfriend wants me to go. I don't want to.

My girlfriend has a very large extended family and is very close with most everyone in it. I have a moderately sized extended family that I am not close with at all.

We live in Chicago. My girlfriend's cousin, who I have met enough times to count on one hand, is getting married in Baltimore in May. Getting to know this extended family, which I have already met on many occasions, is a large part of why my girlfriend wants me to be there.

My girlfriend wants to take a motor home with her parents and her brother on a four day Memorial Day weekend trip. I think this is a completely unreasonable demand due to the time commitment (Friday through Monday), lodging situation (sleeping in the motor home for three nights with her brother), and how little I know the groom. My girlfriend is upset because she thinks I don't value her family and because I'm not honoring her wants. Is either of us off base here? Help!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (62 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Going to the wedding is not asking too much. Four days in a motor home with your girlfriends parents? That's a little much. Can you talk her into the two of you going out there alone? Or you flying out there and meeting them?
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 9:47 PM on March 22, 2011 [12 favorites]

You are off base. You're not going for the cousin, you're going to get to know these people better. The fact that you don't YET know them well is not a reason not to go. Unless you don't plan to continue with your girlfriend.
posted by kestrel251 at 9:49 PM on March 22, 2011 [27 favorites]

You are off base. consider this the first step in a lot of inconvenient togetherness. Relationships are all about familial intermingling.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:52 PM on March 22, 2011 [8 favorites]

It doesn't matter how well you know the groom. You'd be going as your gf's partner, and to get to know her family better. Which it sounds like you don't care to do.
posted by iconomy at 9:54 PM on March 22, 2011 [15 favorites]

It doesn't really sound like the kind of situation your girlfriend would pick as a "first choice" either. Are you dating her for the long-haul? If so, suck it up, support her wishes, and spend time with her an her family.
posted by samthemander at 9:59 PM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

How little you know the groom: Is he the cousin? Or is he marrying the cousin? It's not unusual to not know one of the people getting married if you know the other.

Whether or not you start going to events like this is often a measure of where your own relationship is going, so I can imagine why your gal might see it that way. If you love her, suck it up and go. If the RVing is truly a nightmare, give her a head's up that "next time" you'd rather splurge on a hotel room for the two of you.

You can do this for her, yes? Does she attend social or professional commitments for you?
posted by Knowyournuts at 10:00 PM on March 22, 2011

There's some room for compromise between "let's spend the whole weekend traveling there and back in close quarters with my family" and "no, I don't want to go at all." Is there some reason you can't fly one direction and take the motor home the other, or just fly in and spend a shorter timespan with the family? Why is it 4 days of togetherness or nothing?
posted by gingerest at 10:01 PM on March 22, 2011 [10 favorites]

Motor home with parents and brother for four days is whoa, crazy too much. Fly there and stay in a hotel or with family.

But I don't know where you got the idea that you should be well-acquainted with the bride and groom in order to be someone's date to a wedding. Besides, you contradict yourself. You're all "I barely know the bride, I've only met her [thismanyfingers] times," and then you're like "I've already MET your extended family several times, are we done yet?"
posted by desuetude at 10:05 PM on March 22, 2011 [7 favorites]

You should go! And be the awesome boyfriend who is the life of the party to her family. Or just the boyfriend who is known as dependable and caring. Either way: showing up nets you serious points. Fly if it works, but don't take attending off the table.
posted by beepbeepboopboop at 10:05 PM on March 22, 2011 [5 favorites]

she's asking you to go for her - to support her - to let her show her family that she's in a relationship, that you're a good guy, that she's not a failure even though cousin so&so is getting married. this sounds like a pretty stressful weekend for her. not going to this wedding will send the message that you aren't interested in being with her for very long.
posted by nadawi at 10:10 PM on March 22, 2011 [43 favorites]

Do you think you might possibly someday be part of her family? If that's on the table, go to the wedding. Motorhome trip optional.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:16 PM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

yeah, go along - after you have been married for a few years this is the type of thing you can skip. But right now you are proving to your girlfriend, and her family, that you are worthy of being one of them. It is hard to see now, but this kind of thing is important when it comes to grown-up long-term plans. Besides, if she's cool, chances are they are too. Relax and make it fun. No one is denying it is could be trying, but be grateful for family in your life & take advantage of this opportunity to show your girlfriend's fam how freakin' awesome you are. You're not necessarily being unreasonable, but a 'Friday through Monday' every so often is what being in a relationship *is.*
posted by archivist at 10:19 PM on March 22, 2011

Well...see, here's the thing. If this sort of thing is really something you don't want to do, you may want to find a different girlfriend. One, who like you, is not a "big family all together all the time" kind of person.

My best friend has a family like your girlfriend. I find it exhausting to go to her family events, and generally only do it for her birthday, or her children's birthdays, but politely decline the almost weekly invites to other of her family gatherings. I mean, I love her, and I like her family a lot...but gods, I just can't deal with it more than a few times a year.

But when you *marry* into one of those families, you don't have the option of opting out to stay and home and watch paint dry instead. You really don't.

So; if you're likely to resent doing these sorts of trips every time a cousin gets married, has a baby, graduates from any level of school, learns how to ride a horse, has their first school play....etc., then you may be doing her a disservice by not telling her now that you love her, but you're just not a "group" kinda guy.

If you don't want to go to the wedding under those circumstances, but are willing to make different plans with your girlfriend, then have those plan options at hand when you talk to her. "Hey babe, I'd love to go see Cousin Myrtle get hitched. Let's you and I fly there, and .......before the wedding.

If you just don't want to go...I'm going to disagree with everyone here and say that it's ok to say no. Honesty should be a core in any relationship, and your wants are just as valid as her wants. And I tell you what...I've been married for 14 years, and if my husband suggested piling me and all our inlaws in a trailer and taking off across the country, I would suggest he get his head examined. And I LOVE my inlaws. I do. I love them. But I'd kill someone if I were trapped with that many people who wanted to talk to me all the time.

TLDR; asking you to go to the wedding isn't unreasonable. Neither is politely declining if you don't want to go.

Asking you to take a take a 96 hour road trip and spend three nights sleeping with her brother in a trailer...really unreasonable in my opinion.

posted by dejah420 at 10:29 PM on March 22, 2011 [42 favorites]

It sounds as though "family" is a charged idea for both of you, so irrespective of your decision on this, you might want to have a serious conversation on the topic.

As to whether you should go, well, your going is obviously important to her; not going, at least within the structure she's suggested, seems important to you; so it's up to you to decide on your priorities.

Really, though, this situation sounds like it's part of a much wider-ranging conversation that hasn't yet taken place, but which needs to, sooner or later.
posted by darth_tedious at 10:33 PM on March 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

I get that family time can be annoying, but this is important to your girlfriend. She wants to include you in her life, and clearly her family is a big part of it. Now, I'm assuming that you're in a committed relationship with long-term potential, because if not, then yeah, this whole situation is kind of uncomfortable. But if you think you might possibly might want to be with your girlfriend for the long haul, then either you run the risk of alienating her and her family or you suck it up and deal. If you just take a stand and refuse to go, you basically lose, even if you win, because if you don't go, your girlfriend is upset, her family thinks you're a uncaring jerk, and you end up being the bad guy at every family gathering from that point on. Maybe you don't care if her family doesn't like you, but I'm guessing your girlfriend does, and hopefully you care about your girlfriend, but either way, a serious conversation is probably in order.

Now, in your defense, 4 days in a motor home definitely sounds like a long time, so I would suggest trying to work out a compromise where you're not completely stuck with their travel plans and accommodations. There are ways of graciously getting around this, but it will probably require your girlfriend as a partial intermediary if you want to come out of this with your sterling boyfriend rep intact, so my advice to you is to negotiate fairly, and don't whine or complain about it before or during the wedding. You may think you're doing her a favor, but she's opening up herself and her family to you because she thinks you're worth it.
posted by Diagonalize at 10:34 PM on March 22, 2011

Wait, is the motorhome trip on the way to the wedding (like a caravan to Baltimore)? If yes, go to the wedding and stand by your girlfriend there but you can probably beg off of some or all of the motorhome trip because that's a bit too much for one event.

If the motorhome trip is not part of the wedding, it's a separate "Let's hang out with my family" thing, then you're not going to be able to beg off gracefully. I strongly suspect you'll have to make a bigger decision based on what dejah420 has precisely nailed: big, all encompassing extended families who like to do things together tend to have a huge gravitational pull (I was carefully trying to avoid the word "suck" here, having married into a family like this) that can be difficult to resist as a more solitary-minded in-law. You have to stake out your boundaries early to retain any autonomy at all. Your GF might not like this, it's going to require a lot of honest and heartfelt discussion. Her family definitely won't at first and the key to their coming around is seeing your g/f is OK with it.

(Am I the only one reminded of the motorhome in Meet the Fockers?)
posted by jamaro at 10:47 PM on March 22, 2011

That doesn't sound like any fun to me either. But ... you really should go.

Look up something fun to do in Baltimore. Some sort of outing you want to do. Tell your girlfriend there needs to be some you-time somewhere in that four day weekend, just you and her to get away from the family and relax. Maybe you drive down in the motor home, then after the wedding you split off and have some recharge time away from familypalooza, and then you and she fly back to Chicago. You don't deserve to lose a whole 4 day weekend completely to wedding madness. Make sure there is something fun for you there, and that your girlfriend understands to make your happiness a priority too. Then go and be every inch the gracious, charming boyfriend your girlfriend wants to show off to her family.
posted by griselda at 10:51 PM on March 22, 2011

Meet in the middle. You should go, but like normal people do. In a plane and staying in a hotel. Spending plenty of meals and activities with the family, while you're there.

Spending four days in a motor home sounds like utter torture. I guess it's some people's idea of fun, but not most. Give her a choice. Either motor home adventure with the fam or a weekend in Baltimore with you (and the fam parked in the hotel parking lot and probably checking in after one night when they realize what an awful idea four days in a crowded motor home is).
posted by whoaali at 10:54 PM on March 22, 2011

While I think it is insane to go to B'more in an RV for 4 days with gf's brother and family, I think you should do it for your gf. When I think back on all the unusual situations like this I have been put into, I can honestly say that while many of them sucked, they were all an adventure and learning experience. Go in the RV, have a bottle of Jack available and sit back and let the situation unfold. This is all about having a positive mental attitude.

Or, politely decline and know that you are putting a big wedge into your relationship even if it is not overtly said.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:56 PM on March 22, 2011 [6 favorites]

You should go. It is the Right Thing To Do. You should be cheerful and positive and upbeat about it.

Then, this fall, when, say The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim comes out and you want to spend an entire week doing nothing but playing that sure-to-be-awesome video game and eating Cheetos in your underwear, you will have a big fat bargaining chip to slap down on the table.

And to those who are horrified that that's a coldly calculated transaction I say, bah, one hand washes the other and sometimes you gotta give a little to get a little.

(I say this as a man currently laying the groundwork to do exactly that by making sure my wife's stock of knitting supplies and novels overfloweth because when the new Deus Ex game comes out she ain't gonna touch the TV for like a week.)
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:16 PM on March 22, 2011 [14 favorites]

Go to the wedding. Forego the RV. Four days in captive "get to know you" mode? Torture.
posted by rhizome at 11:30 PM on March 22, 2011

How serious are you about the girlfriend? That's the actual question here.

But when you *marry* into one of those families, you don't have the option of opting out

Because that's what this is really all about. This is you proving to her family that she's chosen an acceptable mate. That's why it means so much to her.

Look up something fun to do in Baltimore. Some sort of outing you want to do.

That would be The National Aquarium.

Then, this fall, when, say The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim comes out and you want to spend an entire week doing nothing but playing that sure-to-be-awesome video game and eating Cheetos in your underwear, you will have a big fat bargaining chip to slap down on the table.

Yeahhhh this kind of girlfriend probably isn't going to accept there's parity.
posted by clarknova at 11:31 PM on March 22, 2011 [4 favorites]

If you're serious about the girlfriend then go. On an airplane. I cannot express how stupid the motor home drive on Memorial Day weekend is. Seven hundred miles of traffic? No thank you.

Combine the trip with something you enjoy. The Orioles are away all weekend, but Nationals are home against San Diego. Maybe you the brother and her dad can catch a game.

That way you aren't against time with the family. You're just not down with the long drive.
posted by 26.2 at 12:33 AM on March 23, 2011

What is this "lodging situation (sleeping in the motor home for three nights with her brother)" all about? Does that mean she and her parents would not be in the motor home -- maybe in a comfortable hotel room? -- and only you and the brother would be relegated to the motor home at night? Or that the sleeping arrangements in the motor home would leave you sharing a bed with the brother rather than your girlfriend? Or just that the brother is the particularly difficult part of the deal?

Anyway, people who are addicted to family cannot fathom someone who does not want to do something like spend a long weekend trundling down the highway in a motor home with ma and pa and granny and the smelly cousin and the scabby old family dog while everyone reminisces about the time they spent a long weekend trundling down the highway in a motor home...

So do it cheerfully or you'll never hear the end of it. They may even see it as some sort of dumbass test of whether you're right for the family (as if you were actually planning on ever spending any time with them), so don't tell the mother to go fuck herself when she says something crazy for the umpteenth time, and don't have sex with any of the other relatives while you're at the wedding.

But make sure she knows she owes you an equally relentless stretch of doing something she really doesn't want to do. Even if you never actually do it, she needs to know the sort of thing you're doing for her. If there's some trip you have been putting off or completely giving up on because you knew the girlfriend wouldn't want to do it, you might want to put it on the table as an example of what she's agreeing to do with you in return. Maybe make her endure being in close quarters (sailing? camping? spelunking?) with your hideous family for four days? Or go to do a long stretch (marathon? convention? retreat? bender?) of some wonderful/stupid thing that you love and she hates? Consider it a test of whether she's right for you and your (invisible, imaginary, alien) family.
posted by pracowity at 1:25 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

But when you *marry* into one of those families, you don't have the option of opting out

Sure you can. I've managed my time with the more, uh, clingy side of my wife's family pretty well for the most part. There's a certain amount of WTF? all around, but there are mid-points that sure as hell don't involve being enslaved by mandatory-fun-constant-togetherness. Those mid-points are the ones that let you enjoy your time with a nice bunch of people, rather than bitterly resenting a bunch of obnoxious clingy no-fun-niks until it erupts into huge marital strife.
posted by rodgerd at 1:37 AM on March 23, 2011

No matter how things turn out with your girlfriend, years from now you could be regaling friends with the tale of your cross-country motorhome Memorial Day excursion with your then-girlfriend and her brother. And the hijinks/nightmare/bonding/schism that ensued.

Or you could take a brief and forgettable plane ride, and have a marginally more convenient weekend.

Live a little.
posted by itstheclamsname at 1:42 AM on March 23, 2011 [14 favorites]

Being in a serious relationship means participating in each other's major life events.

Weddings are major life events.

If you want to be with this girl, this is basically what you signed up for.
posted by valkyryn at 1:42 AM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

I don't think it's unreasonable to say you'll go to the wedding and spend time with the family, but to avoid the motor home trip. I'm quite an introverted person, and the idea of putting on a brave face and Being on my Best Behaviour for four days sounds awful... which is why my partner wouldn't ask me to do it, but would expect me to front up at the wedding and make an effort with the family.

Again, it's all about communication and compromise. Explain the motor home makes you uncomfortable right now, but that you'll definitely go to the wedding and get to know the family. You don't get to back out of both.
posted by nerdfish at 3:08 AM on March 23, 2011

I don't think it's unreasonable to say you'll go to the wedding and spend time with the family, but to avoid the motor home trip.

Except that the family road trip as a whole, not the wedding ceremony and reception, may be the important thing to the girlfriend and her family. They might be looking forward to the drive -- woo! -- and getting a chance to vet the potential future son-in-law and how he reacts to the weird brother's twitches, Dad's farts, Mom's backseat driving, the aggravation of sitting in a traffic jam with one another, etc. They might want to see whether the boyfriend knows which hand to hold a fork in and knows how to pee by the side of the road like one of the boys. If the wedding is just their excuse for a road trip this year, you'd be asking to skip out on the important bit, as if you were asking to go to Baltimore but skip the wedding.
posted by pracowity at 3:32 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

I would almost definitely accede to doing the road trip as a husband. Maybe as a fiance. But for a gf? No way. I think it's way beyond the call to even ask. You pretty much have to do the wedding, but I say "nay" to the extended nightmare of a motor home trip with people you barely know.

(I say this as someone who has limited contact with my own family, but has really learned to love some of the big families of women I've dated. In one case, I'm still in touch with them, sporadically.)
posted by nevercalm at 3:38 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't think it's unreasonable to say you'll go to the wedding and spend time with the family, but to avoid the motor home trip. I'm quite an introverted person, and the idea of putting on a brave face and Being on my Best Behaviour for four days sounds awful... which is why my partner wouldn't ask me to do it, but would expect me to front up at the wedding and make an effort with the family.

I also wanted to echo wife knows my limits (I'm pretty introverted as well), and doesn't do much forcing of me to go above and beyond what I find horrifying. In turn, I try to push my own boundaries, and I feel that I've grown in a positive way as a result, and I do my best not to subject her to family stuff that I know she finds distasteful.
posted by nevercalm at 3:42 AM on March 23, 2011

If you want to stay in the relationship, you should go to the wedding. But you don't need to go in the motor home.
posted by emd3737 at 4:15 AM on March 23, 2011

I feel like the odd one out here but I agree with Rogerd more than anyone. I am a huge believer in doing everything you can for the person you love but i also believe it is important to be who you are. I see this as an important time for you to decide who you plan to be in the relationship and being up front about it gives your gf a chance to decide if who you are is who she wants.
posted by InkaLomax at 4:27 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

If motorhoming about the country for various reasons is something her family "does", and you've been her boyfriend long enough to be thought of as part of the family or a future part of the family, then expecting you to be on board with the idea of that is not totally unreasonable. It's not something she gets to dictate by fiat, either, but you need to at least consider being okay with that aspect of her family life.

If you are absolutely not okay with that, and won't even consider it, then you need to consider whether a relationship between you, and someone who is as close to her family as she is can posibly work. That's not some huge moral failing on your part -- lots of people would be uncomfortable being put in that situation, even after marriage. It just may reflect a basic incompatibility between the two of you as a couple. Some people believe that a couple should forge their own family unit, largely separate from their individual families and other people believe that by marrying, they're bringing another person into their existing family and dynamic. Neither of those perspectives is wrong, but they can make it hella difficult for two people.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:34 AM on March 23, 2011

Going to weddings like this is something partners do. If you don't really think of yourself as a partner, that's a different story.

I think the motor home trip would be...interesting. When are you going to do that again? Heck, you'll drink off the stories for a while, even if they're insane at the time. That being said, there's room for giving there, particularly if you have your own time commitments. You could offer to fly to Baltimore and meet your girlfriend and family there, maybe stay in the parking lot with them, but head back early.

As someone who drives from DC to Michigan to get the baby home to see the elderly relatives who won't travel, I can attest that it's not that bad a drive. And no one from the TSA gets to touch your junk on the way.
posted by stevis23 at 5:05 AM on March 23, 2011

If you are committed to this relationship in the long-term, the wedding is a must, but the motor-home trip is optional.
posted by hworth at 5:26 AM on March 23, 2011

I think the motor home trip would be...interesting. When are you going to do that again?

I think I'd rather spend a long weekend eating live bugs and drinking off the tales of the powerful intestinal cramping that resulted than spend four days cooped up in an RV with people who don't view it as torture.

And it seems to me that the core problem here is that the answer to "When are you going to do that again?" might be, given this family, Labor Day with Cousins X and Y. And again over Thanksgiving with Parents and Brother to go see Grandparents in Arizona. And again for a ski trip in winter. And again in March down to Florida.

I dunno. I really don't mean to be all DTMFA, but if I had a girlfriend who insisted that I do something as obviously horrible as this just because her parents wanted to, it would time to think about the longer-term viability of such a relationship. Even if she's otherwise great, I'm not sure I could stand marrying the whole clan. And can you imagine the nightmare whirlwind of inlaws that would descend upon you if you had a kid?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:43 AM on March 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

If you want to be with her long term, get used to the fact that she has a large family spread out that she plans on spending lots of time with that you, as her SO, will accompany her to.

The motor home is another story.
posted by Brian Puccio at 5:48 AM on March 23, 2011

If my boyfriend wanted me to do something like this, I would fight tooth and nail not to go. No way.
Maybe if we were flying to the city, attending the wedding, spending a night in our own hotel room and then leaving, I would do it.

Can you guys just afford to do this on your own? Fly over there? That would be a perfect compromise.

Man, I feel for you.

There have been plenty of times I had to attend ex's family/friends weddings... only to be left sitting at a table with strangers because they were part of the "wedding party".
Never again.
posted by KogeLiz at 6:01 AM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

There are certain things you do when you love someone, and this is one of them. The idea of the motor home sounds kinda fun to me, but I imagine my husband would be horrified. He'd still DO it, because he's my husband, and that's his job.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:46 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I come from a large family. While I can't speak for everyone who comes from a family of 8 uncles, 7 aunts, and 30 first cousins, I can speak for a lot of people I know who do come from large families of this sort. There are all these things to go to --- birthdays, weddings, baptisms, bar mitzvahs, anniversary celebrations --- and the general tone of the invitations to these events is, "We really want you to come and celebrate with us!" with an underlying tone of, "But we understand if you can't." Not all of these events are obligatory. It can be hard to realize that being a member of a large family doesn't require you to attend everything. I've learned in between going from cynical angsty teenager to a parent myself that what this does indicate is that my presence is valued. My husband was welcomed into my family with open arms. He may not remember everyone's names after nearly 11 years after having met everyone, but he knows, or should know, that any one of them has his back if he ever needs it.

I don't blame you for not wanting to do the road trip part of this. I get that completely. I'd be equally as put off with my own parents about a trip of that sort. But I do think attending the wedding is important. I think it's an indication that your girlfriend is serious about you, and I guarantee you that while you may not know much about her family, her family knows a lot about you. There'll be the uncle whose a fan of your team's rival. There'll be the aunt who wants nothing more than to make you feel welcome. There'll be the cousins who'll invite you out for some beer or a game of golf or to the batting cages or what have you.

Rather than see this as burden, as a thing to be dreaded, think of it of as meeting a hundred people who care about you simply because your girlfriend cares about you. That's how a lot of large families roll. Most of them who know of you already like you just because your girlfriend does.

But if you're not serious about your girlfriend, and if this is a make or break thing for you, then please do her the favor of breaking up with her before the wedding. That way she'll have some time to recover before the wedding so she can have some fun.
posted by zizzle at 6:51 AM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

Slightly different take, from someone who viscerally feels the same way you do:

I think this is a completely unreasonable demand due to the time commitment (Friday through Monday)

I'm not being a smartass here, but do you have something better to do? Will this eat into something else you are planning on doing that weekend? Or just your sense of "the weekend is MINE"?

lodging situation (sleeping in the motor home for three nights with her brother)

Definitely not my idea of a great time, but its not unprecidented. It is camping, but more comfortable.

and how little I know the groom.

Irrelevant. You aren't marrying him, you are going as your g/f's date.

Look, I understand completely. A friend of mine married into one of these families. All they do all day long is plan how their future interactions will go. The sister comes over in the morning for breakfast and they talk about who will ride over to grandma's in whose car and what time they have to leave by in order to meet the caterer for the giant party that afternoon. Then they have the giant party, where they do nothing but plan playdates and other parties, and gossip about whoever isn't there. Then there will be a giant fight that an introvert like me can easily see is caused by spending every waking hour with each other.

Just listening to them exhausts me. But that's how they roll, and the in laws hang on around the fringes and mock them. So, that's what you do. Be the guy who runs out to the store for more ice, or wanders into the other room to silently watch some sporting event with the other introverts, or plays legos with the kids.

If you don't play ball, your relationship is doomed.
posted by gjc at 7:12 AM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

I think it sounds like hell, and whether you have to go depends on what you want out of the relationship and how the parents would react if you begged off (obviously girlfriend is not running interference, but is on board with the idea), etc.

I'd just be careful about how you present your opinion/attitude (e.g. You should go, but like normal people do.) By all means, in either begging off or conceding and talking about it later, explain to your girlfriend why this is stressful for you, but really, there are a lot of people out there who have RVs and use them for stuff like this all the time. Don't go the "your family is nuts" route.
posted by Pax at 7:26 AM on March 23, 2011

I'm going to say two things about "being a couple": first is that you do things together, including going to weddings. You're her date. This is a family event. Are you a boyfriend who's going to be part of the family, or are you "just some guy she knows in Chicago"? Because if you don't show up to the wedding, you're going to be the latter.

The next is that you're a couple who does things together, not an appendage of her parents. In that case, losing your freedom of mobility by being in cramped quarters with them for several days in an RV is worth avoiding. Act like a normal couple: fly to Baltimore, stay in a hotel, and go to the wedding. Maybe take her parents and her brother out for dinner during one of the days you're there.
posted by deanc at 7:28 AM on March 23, 2011

The wedding is a totally reasonable request. The motor home prison with her family is not only a stupid idea, but a completely unfair request. Really, insisting someone subject themselves to that is outrageous- but I'm like you, and I don't consider "un-chosen" family to be the end-all. She obviously considers family to be paramount, which is going to lead to furture absurd demands on you.

Offer to go to the wedding. If she insists on the RV, you should seriously consider if this is the kind of person you can be in a long term relationship with. I certainly couldn't.
posted by spaltavian at 7:29 AM on March 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

If it matters to your girlfriend that you attend the wedding and spend time with her family, you should find a way to do so. However, for someone who doesn't have (or isn't close to) a big extended family, the trip as currently planned would be unpleasant, and she should be willing to accept an alternative plan. You need to find opportunities to spend time with her family without being trapped--RV road trip? No. Weekend visit where you can periodically escape for some alone time? Yes.

My suggestion: "[Girlfriend], I'd be happy to attend the wedding but I'd be pretty miserable sleeping in a motor home for a week: I don't want to be all crabby around your parents and brother. I also can't spare so much time away right now. I'll fly out to Baltimore the day before the wedding and book a return flight for the morning after the wedding. I know I'll be missing out on time with your family, so let's plan to visit them for a long weekend in July--but let's stay in a hotel or at their house, not in an RV, ok?"
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:41 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Anonymous, allow me to be the slender reed you cling to in this Time of Drowning. I say, don't go.
Aside from the whole motor home angle (which sounds like a vision of Hell to me) the person getting married is your girlfriend's cousin...a person of no interest to you. I strongly resist the "oh, suck it up" ethos that gets bandied about Metafilter when the subject turns to weddings, and you should, too.
I'm sure you have other, more pressing activities lined up for that weekend, anyway.
posted by BostonTerrier at 8:29 AM on March 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

The last several times I drove between Chicago and Washington Metro area it was about ten hours at the most, so it's two days in a motorhome to drive. Is this a cost issue (no plane tickets, no hotel room) in addition to a familytime issue? Can you drive with them and get a hotel when you're there? Can you thank the parents for what may be their only way of subsdizing their daughter's trip to a wedding that's important to her but cover the cost of flying and hotel on your own?

Also, how old are you? Are you still young enough that there's some expectation that your girlfriend will accept her parents' planning? How long have you been dating? How often have you been involved in family events? All of that is relevant. If you guys are in your 40's, with 15 years of being together, it's not unreasonable for you to bow out. By then, your girlfriend's family will have had ample time to learn and respect and accept your boundaries. If you're in your 20's and you've been dating only a year or two, well, that's different. If you bow out every single time her family is involved or never spend more than a meal with them, I think, you're sending a message that her relationship with her family is irrelevant to you and/or your relationship with her.

I am, personally, in the camp of "If this is a serious longterm relationship for you, you go along on these family things." Eventually, years down the road, you get to excuse yourself from them sometimes or go for just one weekend of the annual month-long family vacation or draw boundaries that separate you and your partner from her family. At the beginning, though, you're still navigating boundaries, you're still establishing your commitment to your girlfriend, and you are expected to be more generous with your space and your time to demonstrate how important she is to you by the proxy of how important her family's ethos is.

Of course, she is expected to make similar compromises toward you, but that's a different question.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:31 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is one of those things where you are more committed to the event as BF/GF as compared to when you are married. Go...if you want a future with this girl.
posted by teg4rvn at 8:33 AM on March 23, 2011

Ha ha ha, oh man, the road trip presented as a done deal with zero input from you (but you're expected to spend holiday time plus take time off work!) So familiar. I love my in-laws but they come up with this stuff all the time and it sucks that you're obligated but have no ability to suggest anything.

Advice: go to the wedding, but get there however you want. Make it clear to your girlfriend that she needs to run interference for you and can't let her family run roughshod over your desires/needs. Instead she needs to help you present a unified front that is reasonable for you both. If that's "he really needs to work" then so be it.

Nip this in the bud while making your commitment to her clear and making an effort in a way that's comfortable for you.

(I had my in-laws on part of my honeymoon, willingly. They're awesome. They had to be gently reminded, over and over, by my partner that I need input and I can't take time off work randomly just to see them.)
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:54 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

the person getting married is your girlfriend's cousin...a person of no interest to you.

That is so not the point. The person (+ guest) invited to the wedding is the girlfriend, someone of great interest to the OP. If he doesn't want to spend the weekend at a wedding/party with his girlfriend, then both the girlfriend and the OP should perhaps reconsider how much they really want to go through life together.
posted by deanc at 9:01 AM on March 23, 2011

I agree with everyone else - go to the wedding but find alternate transportation. Everyone in a motorhome for hundreds of miles sounds horrific to me, but I'm not a big "group" person, either.

I married into a family sort of like this and 13 years later it's still a difficult adjustment. You have to compromise.
posted by Ostara at 9:39 AM on March 23, 2011

Go to the wedding, and don't do the motor home thing. If you can, use work as an excuse: "I can only fly out Friday night after work, and I really need to be back for Monday's meeting," or similar.

Look, the wedding isn't just about her cousin. She wants you to meet the family, she wants to show you off, she wants to share a family celebration with you, she does NOT want to be the girl without a date getting all the questions about the state of her relationships (which is what single women go through at weddings), etc.

Your going to the wedding is important to her. Being with her family is important to her. So do those things, because you are a couple. But because you are also an individual, it's okay to be uncomfortable with the motor home thing (sounds absolutely horrid to me). Do plan to spend a lot of time with her family at the wedding and all the festivities, and that should make your girlfriend happy.

If she isn't willing to compromise, or you aren't, that's a bad sign for things to come.
posted by misha at 9:55 AM on March 23, 2011

This is a trial run for marriage here. I suspect it might even be kind of a dealbreaker. This is what her family is like, and she likes it. She wants a guy who wants to be as close to the horde as she is. The whole idea of you going to the wedding + motorhome is to see if you fit in with them. A trial run. You are already failing by telling her you don't want to go here.

What this is really going to boil down to is, can you stand doing this for the rest of your life if you marry this girl? If not, then bail on the whole relationship now. If so, then suck it up. If you're not sure, give this 4-days-of-hell on her terms a shot and see if you can stand it. That's what trial runs are for.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:24 AM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think it also matters how long they've been going out. I had been dating this woman for roughly a month or two when she found out that her cousin was getting married. This was a local wedding for us / her. I declined going and she went without me. We've now been together for about 15 years and married for just over 10.
posted by reddot at 1:49 PM on March 23, 2011

Four days is nothing. Suck it up. Unless you don't want to keep this girlfriend around.
posted by elpea at 3:20 PM on March 23, 2011

OMG at some of the comments, lol. Um, I come from a close family and even my mother who's been married to my dad for 32 YEARS wouldn't ask him--or us--to do this. You have to know who you are and your partner has to know who you are. It sounds like this would be a good time for your girlfriend to learn your boundaries--if you all have long-term potential. It's one thing if it was a family reunion or something in which each family travels to a hotel destination on his/her own and gets separate rooms and whatnot. It's another to "demand" someone travel with a group of people, day and night and day and night and day and night. Gimme a break.

Stand your ground, go to the wedding, but do not let this family bully you like that. Know who you are.
posted by GeniPalm at 3:43 PM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

Also, I don't understand this "if you don't take a roadtrip in an RV with your girlfriends family and sleep with her brother and attend some cousin's wedding - you will get dumped"

I find that ridiculous.

I have a MASSIVE family (Irish Catholics and Mexicans) and I would never consider traveling this way nevermind insist that my boyfriend come with me.
There have been times where I go to visit my family or go to family "events" and a boyfriend didn't want to go because they thought they would feel uncomfortable.
I've always accepted that. Maybe it's because I'm pretty introverted and socially awkward myself.
I think my family is awesome and they're pretty much like me - sarcastic, laid back, etc. so my current boyfriend really likes them. So I guess that's a bonus.

Another thing I've noticed - if OP has been arranged to sleep with his girlfriend's brother instead of HER, then that would probably not be a family I'd want to spend stuck in an RV with. That's just my feeling on that issue, though.
posted by KogeLiz at 4:05 PM on March 23, 2011

I have a MASSIVE family (Irish Catholics and Mexicans) and I would never consider traveling this way nevermind insist that my boyfriend come with me.

Yes, but you are not Anonymouse's girlfriend. And she is not only considering it, but insisting on it.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:06 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Assuming you've been a couple for more than a handful of months, it is reasonable to expect you to attend the wedding. The conditions for travel and lodging sound very very stressful.

I really don't think it's fair to bludgeon you with OMG DEALBREAKER YOU HAVE TO DO IT THIS WAY MF OR YOU GET D'ED Already. I would find it extremely stressful to work a full week, travel for four days while sharing a bed the size of an ironing board with my partner's brother (so that I got no respite even when asleep) and then go back and do another full week's work. I would not agree to this because it would most likely be more than I could cope with.

There is no good reason why the conditions of travel and lodging aren't negotiable. If they aren't, well, all I can visualize is a cartoon silhouette running away over the horizon.
posted by tel3path at 5:38 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I agree with tel3path. If you can't gently explain that not wanting to be in an RV for 4 days with her family is not the same as "not valuing her family" and she's unwilling to compromise in any way because "you're not honoring her wants," then this is a big red flag of Inability to Compromise which has zip to do with Having a Big Family. Loving adult relationships are not dictated by fiat.

I come from a tiny family. My wife has a big family and they're always having events, and like many others upthread, we're always welcomed to them... but nobody gives us grief if we decline. Part of being an adult in a relationship is finding ways to solve problems so that you both get most of what you want. It makes it easier that I like her family, even if I'm somewhat of a (likeable) oddity to them, so I'm more than happy to go see people, sometimes more than she is (she's more introverted than I am.)

Other possibilities - you fly most of the way there and spend a night in the RV caravan. Or rent a car and meet up with them along the way. More than that (to me at least) is excessive particularly because you're going to be bedding down with... her brother, for 3 nights, with zero possibility for a break from the family. Awkward. This is the sort of thing you do after you're married, when everybody knows everyone much better, and even then, I'd still want some escape routes for when I just want some time reading a book with my wife.
posted by canine epigram at 9:12 PM on March 23, 2011

I agree that your attendance at a family wedding your girlfriend wants you to attend is pretty well mandatory baring exceptional scheduling conflicts.

However I don't believe a 13 hour each way road trip with her parents and brother is some beyond the pale demand that should be rejected outright. Nor is the offer of accommodation in the RV for the couple of nights you'll be there. The travel in such a large vehicle is bound to be more comfy than squeezing five people into even a large car for such a duration and the RV more comfortable than a sleeping bag on the living room floor. The latter travel arrangements is pretty well how I've travelled to every out of town family wedding I've ever been to until I was old enough to be driving myself (when I could subject my younger cousins and siblings to the back seat *evil laugh*).

That said I don't think it would be a huge deal if you paid for accommodation at your destination. In my family it would get the older family members wagging about the "waste of money" but it wouldn't be a deal breaker. Refusing the ride would be considered bizarre though unless there was a scheduling conflict as the journey is considered to be half the fun.

"Asking you to take a take a 96 hour road trip and spend three nights sleeping with her brother in a trailer...really unreasonable in my opinion."

It doesn't sound like the OP would be in the RV for four days unless they plan to arrive half an hour before the ceremony and then leave immediately after the reception. It's only ~13 hours from Chicago to Baltimore. I read it as they would be travelling on Friday and Monday with the other two days spent with the RV mostly or entirely parked from Friday night to Monday morning. There will be plenty of time to get away from their fellow travellers during that the weekend. And I think it's unlikely his girlfriend is expecting the OP to actually sleep in the same bed with her brother; they'll just be sharing the space in the same way one would share a hotel room with two double beds.

TL;DR summary: This is pretty well par for the course for many poorer people, at least in Western Canada and people who for whatever reason would prefer not to fly.

PS: RV is a pretty loose term encompassing everything from a vw vanagon conversion through moderately sized class As and Cs through fifth wheels larger than the park model trailer I lived in as a child. Many (most?) modern RVs feature slide outs (even found on class Bs and Cs) that allow for up to three queen size beds. A queen and a double (one of which may be convertible to a couch) is very common. The larger RVs are way more comfortable IMO than cheap hotels.
posted by Mitheral at 9:48 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

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