What do I do about my in-laws?
November 22, 2005 11:40 AM   Subscribe

Evil In-Laws Filter. Alternatively, do I need to learn to take the high road? My pseudo in-laws insist on maintaining a relationship with my boyfriend's ex-wife. This irks me to no end and I am exhausted from trying to ingratiate myself to them. Do I have to include them into my life?

The problem is my long-time boyfriend is an only child and we find we must divide holidays alternating Christmas and Thanksgiving each year. This year, I started a new job and don't have Thanksgiving vacation time. It is also their year for Christmas. I just found out they are planning on getting together with the ex-wife (who my s.o. was married to for all of two months four years ago).

I miss my family and haven't seen them since May. I am thinking in light of this recent "slap in the face" that I am going to bail on this so-called family Christmas and go see my own family that doesn't make me feel like shit.

My s.o. is disgusted that his parents continue a relationship with his ex but feels morally compelled to put up with it for whatever reason (only child guilt)?

Should I let it go? Am I completely stupid for being jealous or hurt by their insistance on maintaining this relationship? I just don't know what to do anymore.
posted by Lola_G to Human Relations (43 answers total)
When you say "planning on getting together with the ex" do you mean that you could end up in the same room with her during your visit, or is this get-together a separate event?
posted by surferboy at 11:46 AM on November 22, 2005

Well, how do they treat you otherwise?

Is this really a slap in YOUR face or do they simply have their own relationship with this woman, awkward tho that might be? Or do you think they are angling to get them back together (she and your boyfriend, that is...)

Can you provide any more specifics?
posted by konolia at 11:48 AM on November 22, 2005

Well, Lola, if they are planning on having the ex there over Christmas while you are supposed to be there, it would appear that you need to go see your parents, as they are either incredibly insensitive or else wishing he was still with her are are engineering ways to have her around for that purpose. I would suggest to your S.O. that you're uncomfortable & so should he be, at least for your sake. He should go with you if his parents can't get the message.

Much of course depends on your past history together with him and them. Avoid a fight, just state your position.

Or else, go somewhere else altogether & get with your parents later.
posted by Pressed Rat at 11:48 AM on November 22, 2005

Personally, I don't think you're absolutely obligated to spend Christmas together unless you're married.
posted by acoutu at 11:49 AM on November 22, 2005

I miss my family and haven't seen them since May.

I think this is the most relevant part of your post, well above any irritations presented by your boyfriend's family and ex-wife. Will your boyfriend support you in the decision to go see your family this year (even though it's his parents year in terms of the alternating Xmas schedule)?

I also think konolia makes a good point with this:
Is this really a slap in YOUR face or do they simply have their own relationship with this woman, awkward tho that might be?
posted by scody at 11:51 AM on November 22, 2005

I second Acoutu.

I also second Pressed Rat, I smell a rat and your boy should smell it too!
posted by Pollomacho at 11:52 AM on November 22, 2005

Not so much angling to get them back together. There is absolutely no chance of that.

I think they relate to her more in that she comes from a similar background. I grew up in a suburb of a large metropolitan area and they are more small town Ohio.

The divorce was hard for them. When I have mentioned, through my boyfriend, that this is hurtful they tell him that they have love to go around for everyone and she is still part of the family.

It seems more disingenious though when you get to know them. If I look at it in a more objective sense, it seems maybe she is more of a daughter to them than I will ever allow myself to be because of my own love and reverance for my own family.

That said, I TRY SO HARD and I feel I never get anywhere. They are rude and self-righteous. Then they know we are struggling and pull out the pocketbook.

Then it feels even more difficult because I feel indebted to them.

Ugh! I keep so much of it in and think about what it will be like when we eventually marry and what about kids????
posted by Lola_G at 11:53 AM on November 22, 2005

Oh, to clarify, if they are just getting together during the holiday season with the ex to give her a little gift of equal or lesser value to the one they give you then forget what I said earlier. If there are children involved or they feel sorry for her, all bets are off as well.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:54 AM on November 22, 2005

I hate that you are going through this. You mentioned that your S.O. feels "morally compelled" to tolerate his parents' continued contact with her. Has he ventured to tell them that it makes him, and now you, uncomfortable? Sometimes I'm amazed at how ignorant people can be about how their actions affect others. If they haven't been made aware of how he, and you, feel, then perhaps they truly don't realize it. Perhaps they do realize it but have somehow minimized it in their minds and don't realize that it's truly disrespectful and hurtful to their son and to you.

Speaking from experience (as the one whose former in-laws still hung onto), I can tell you that time should make it easier for your S.O.'s parents to let go of the past. Especially since there aren't grandchildren bonding this woman to them (at least I'm assuming there aren't), eventually they should be able to move on. Though four years seems like plenty of time! You mentioned that your S.O. is an only child. My ex-husband was one of two boys, but I was the only female that ever was a part of his life, and so his parents really took to me as the daughter they never had. Is that what you think is going on with your S.O.'s parents? If so, and if you can find it in your heart to reach out to them (I can see how that would be unappealing given the circumstances), then perhaps building that kind of bond with them over time will help them dissolve their connection with the ex.

I think perhaps your S.O. should approach his parents (if he hasn't already done so) and explain how their continued contact with his ex makes him, and you, feel. If his parents are receptive, or at least non-combative, I think you shouldn't bail on their Christmas celebration but instead should go and start working on building those bonds. If they make him or you feel worse for having approached the subject with them, though, then by all means, find something to do for Christmas that makes you feel good. You deserve that.
posted by justonegirl at 11:56 AM on November 22, 2005

I second Pressed Rat, definitely avoid the situation if she's going to be there. Otherwise, you can't really control their relationship, you can only do your best to stay away from it. I don't think your boyfriend (or his parents for that matter) could fault you.

As for holiday etiquette, it's hard enough as it is to please every flippin' body over the holidays. I have been in relationships where we parted ways over Christmas and everyone understood. In fact, I think when you're married you could even argue for not going home at all, since you're starting a family of your own. (although i haven't had the nerve to stick to my guns on that one yet :)
posted by surferboy at 11:59 AM on November 22, 2005

Try to quit trying so hard - it leads you to expect something in return that they may not get, leading to dissatisfaction on your part. Be sweet & be yourself - then go to your parents. If they are really proposing that all the love the have to pass around requires them to have her there when you are then they are insensitive boobs, or else clueless & your S.O. has been too reluctant to explain it to them, which is , after all, his place & duty..
posted by Pressed Rat at 12:00 PM on November 22, 2005

No kids. They get together with her because they still view her as part of the family. I guess this is weird to me because I would think the loyalty lie with their son. It irks my s.o. too but he thinks his parents are crazy and doesn't want to fault his grandmother by not going home for the holidays.

Plus, they don't tell us about this directly. I have to hear it from a wife of a friend who knows both of us. In the past, when we have confronted based on this information his mother starts hysterically crying and we are to blame.

I thought this would pass but it hasn't. I can also understand why my s.o. doesn't want to bring it up because it just turns into a huge mess. His mother is the long suffering victim.

The irony in all of this was that he had no relationship with them when I started dating him and I (based on my family bonds) encouraged him to reach out and strengthen it.

posted by Lola_G at 12:02 PM on November 22, 2005

I have to hear it from a wife of a friend who knows both of us.

Tell that wife-of-the-friend that you don't want to hear any more stories about the ex-wife visiting the folks. It sounds like this wife-of-the-friend might be a bit of a shitstirrer, or at best a gossip. If the folks are not telling you this stuff themselves, that kind of indicates (to me) that they do actually have some consideration for your feelings on the matter -- in other words, they aren't shoving the ex-wife and their relationship with her in your face.

Are they inviting her over for Christmas, though, at the same time you're supposed to be there? I'm not quite clear on that, you just said they're planning to "get together" with her.
posted by Gator at 12:10 PM on November 22, 2005

1) Only children are broken. Don't trust their decisions.
2) You don't have to go visit his family. The holidays are for family. Your family, not his. Go see your family, guiltfree.
3) His parents are entitled to maintain relations to whomever they want. I'm sure your partner hasn't asked you to end all relations to people you dated before you two met. I'm sure you haven't asked him to stop talking to his ex-wife. These things happen.
4) Oh, to clarify, if they are just getting together during the holiday season with the ex to give her a little gift of equal or lesser value to the one they give you then forget what I said earlier. <-- be sure to ask for receipts. Sometimes a good paper trail is the only way we can get to the bottom of moral impropriety.
posted by jon_kill at 12:11 PM on November 22, 2005

Only children are broken. Don't trust their decisions.

Not to derail the thread but...what?
posted by jeanmari at 12:17 PM on November 22, 2005

When I have mentioned, through my boyfriend, that this is hurtful they tell him that they have love to go around for everyone and she is still part of the family.

Yeah, that's a bullshit lie self-righteous people like to tell those they think less of. I think they're trying to get your boy and his ex back together. I wouldn't be surprised if they engineered this situation in part so they can drop little turds like "Oh it's such a shame that Lola can't be here. Oh I sincerely hope she's having a nice time with her family. Do you think she'll be able to come next year, dear?"

In the past, when we have confronted based on this information his mother starts hysterically crying and we are to blame...

I can also understand why my s.o. doesn't want to bring it up because it just turns into a huge mess. His mother is the long suffering victim.

Yeah, your MIL sounds like a first class manipulator who has decided things are going to be a certain way.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:17 PM on November 22, 2005

As far as I am concerned, I think your SO should be taking the lead on this and really telling his parents what has to happen. No matter what their feelings are for the ex, his feelings about her being included should be paramount. His seeming hesitance to say so and to insist that the holidays not go in such a way that he and you both feel 100% comfortable is to me the biggest problem in this.

I don't think it should be your burden to discuss this with his parents, I think he should definitely make this right so that you can fully enjoy the holidays with his family.

How this happens will be instructive as well. The easiest thing in the world would be for him to say "no" while essentially selling you out, "oh, I don't mind so much but she does..." which would be evil and weak. He has to convince them that HE doesn't want her there and that they MUST respect his wishes. Anything short of that is extremely disrespectful of you, and to me says a lot about your place in his life.

I would also wonder why the two of you aren't going to see your family in the first place since you can't go for Thanksgiving. But that's a separate issue.
posted by mikel at 12:18 PM on November 22, 2005

I don't really want gifts from them. To receive them seems like I am trading them for something. It isn't sincere. They are always bestowing them like it means something.

No, she wouldn't be there with us. His parents wouldn't go that far, then they would lose the only thing that seems to matter to them. Him.

I guess I feel if I start going down this trail now and go see my family the message will be one of conflict. Then again, I'm made a lot of sacrifices for our relationship lately and at least when done for the sake of our relationship I know why I am doing it. But with them I feel like I can't do anymore and it isn't ever going to change so why invest such an important part of the year for judgment and factory outlet sweaters (kidding on the last part).

My own family is so big we don't even give presents anymore because we all are in debt and just like to opportunity to be together. It isn't to say my family is better than his but I never have the guilt or the pressure or the feeling of being bought.

You guys have been a great help though. I appreciate all the insight. In a perfect world I would have heard that someone cut the in-laws out of their life and were so much better and wiser for it. But I guess that was hoping for something that can't really exist?

Either way, I will be villified. Once, I stayed home with a stomach ache when they all went out to lunch and his mother cried the whole way to the restaurant exclaiming that "I don't like her." So, I am in a no-win situation with them. I guess I have to accept it.
posted by Lola_G at 12:23 PM on November 22, 2005

Have you asked your boyfriend not to share her evil ways with you? There's no reason you need to know the details of her crying all the way to the restaurant. That might make things easier on your mind.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:24 PM on November 22, 2005 [1 favorite]

Perhaps I misunderstood - if they aren't having her over while you're there or making it an issue when you're present, then let it go, Jon_kill #3 is right on. My wife's previous in-laws still consider her part of the family & she still visits them (when she's in Abilene to see her parents), sometimes with me along. They're great folks (& there was a child from that marriage). That's no big deal unless you're insecure & let it be. On the other hand, woe to me to actively look up MY old girl friend - why would I want to do that? Sometimes what's good for the goose isn't necessarily good for the gander.
posted by Pressed Rat at 12:24 PM on November 22, 2005

Point of clarification...She was the victim and I (Lola) didn't like her and stayed home at their house just to really rub it in...
posted by Lola_G at 12:25 PM on November 22, 2005

Your BF's family formed a strong relationship with his former girlfriend/ex-wife. That's not unusual. It's also not unusual for their relationship to remain strong even after they broke up, especially since it doesn't sound like a terribly acrimonious split.

Since you're pretty sure they're not trying to get them back together, I don't think it's fair for you to demand they can't see her.
posted by justkevin at 12:28 PM on November 22, 2005

Once, I stayed home with a stomach ache when they all went out to lunch and his mother cried the whole way to the restaurant exclaiming that "I don't like her."

Grown women don't do that. Your MIL is a child.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:28 PM on November 22, 2005

My mother has been going through a very similar situation with my stepfather's family. They continue to invite his ex-wife over, while slighting my mother. The one, one year we joined them for the holidays, after my mom and stepdad had been married several years, they invited the ex.
They also gave her presents, while my little sister and I (I was about 13 at the time, she was maybe 10) sat there and watched everyone else open presents. His parents couldn't even see fit to give us, or our mother, cards. (and yes, we bought gifts for everyone)

My mother's refused to go there for another holiday since.

My stepfather has stood by her, and it's been about 13 years.

Personally, I would say if they plan on seeing his ex over the holidays, separately, don't stress too much. At this point she may have reached friend of the family status. However, if they are planning on having her over when you are there, I would skip it.
And I would expect your boyfriend to join you. His family is openly belittling and disrespecting his partner, he needs to decide what is more important: your relationship, or keeping the peace at the expense of your feelings. At some point the apron strings need to be cut.

(I've dated a lot of only children, and although I would not call them "broken," they are far more likely to have trouble doing anything that might upset their parents, IME.)
posted by Kellydamnit at 12:28 PM on November 22, 2005

Oh, and the other kicker. While they were together the ex hated my s.o's parents. Once he left her she cultivated this relationship. He tried to tell them that once. I'm sure you can imagine how well that went.

Also, he hasn't spoken to his ex since the day he filed the divorce papers with the court.
posted by Lola_G at 12:30 PM on November 22, 2005

Only children are broken. Don't trust their decisions.

Not to derail the thread but...what?

Proofs both exhaustive and exhausting exist in the anecdotal realm. We could email eachother about this particular opinion if you don't feel like a derail.
posted by jon_kill at 12:32 PM on November 22, 2005

All of this is extremely helpful. If I could mark them all as best answers, I would, in that every perspective helps.

I guess getting upset over their need to continue this relationship is giving it more energy than I should.

Not to sound flippant but at the end of the day, I have the thing that connects them. Part of me wants him to defend me, but I also understand his reluctance to do so. I can't expect him to tell his parents where to go...even if I would do that with mine.

He has shortcomings where his family is concerned but I have them in every other aspect of my life. I suppose practicing tolerance would be better but it hurts.

I've never had parents of my s.o. not adore me. I think I will go see my family. Then when my older brother ceremoniously makes me cry, I will feel right at home. Ahhhh, gotta love the holidays.
posted by Lola_G at 12:38 PM on November 22, 2005

From your clarifications, it really sounds to me like the whole thing with the ex is a non-issue -- something that gossip and your own insecurity has helped you balloon into a Big Deal in your mind. If the folks aren't putting you in a position where you have to be around the ex, and they aren't making comments in your presence about the ex, then their relationship with the ex has no connection to you at all, and has no bearing on your relationship with them.

Just make it clear to everyone (including your SO) that you don't want to hear anymore about the ex and her wonderful relationship with your in-laws. That should help. Then make a conscious decision to stop stewing over it. I understand it's hard, when you feel like someone doesn't like you or prefers someone else over you, but it really doesn't sound like they're actually doing anything to make you feel this way.

As far as the other stuff, yeah, sounds like the mom is a bit of a drama queen, but it's not like you live with her. Fortunately.
posted by Gator at 12:39 PM on November 22, 2005

You mentioned that she might be "more of a daughter to them than [you] will ever allow [your]self to be" because you keep your own affiliations to your own family (which seems perfectly right to me). So it may be simply that reason, rather than being evil and trying to stick it to you, that they continue to have this woman in their lives. Of course, you also mention that they are rude and self-righteous so maybe I'm just spouting wishful thinking.

If you decide to visit them for Xmas (and I agree with others who suggest that it's totally reasonable for you to see your own family, especially in light of your limited vacation time this year), maybe try to think of her as a guest of theirs that you just don't particularly like or want to spend time with. Because really, isn't that what she is? It sounds like she poses no threat to you in terms of your relationship with your s.o? How much interaction with her will be necessary?

Also, I think the "only child" status isn't necessarily relevant. [Disclaimer: I am an only child.] Many people love their parents and therefore accept behaviors that they might prefer were different.

[On preview: it looks like I missed the boat! Best of luck!]
posted by tentacle at 12:42 PM on November 22, 2005

I'm an only child.

I'm not broken.

That is all.
posted by konolia at 12:44 PM on November 22, 2005

While they totally do not sound like a real treat to hang out with, you're being a little bit of a drama queen here. You can't make people change or do what you want, and you can't dictate who they'll keep company with; you just have to let them be who they are and then you decide what your actions will be accordingly. If you don't want to be around them, don't. If you're expecting your partner to magically control their behavior in order to prove his loyalty to you (or as a test), that's gross. He'd already cut off contact with them; I doubt he feels like dealing with this crap again just because you want a turn.

Clearly his folks are a little weird, but I seriously doubt this whole relationship with the ex has been specifically manufactured to upset you. If it's not worth the effort, don't make it - and if it is, make the effort and get over this because it's not going to stop. Y'all have brought it up, and you got your answer. Don't be a victim, and don't keep flogging yourself trying to create a relationship that isn't going to exist.

You're going to be happier visiting your folks, so do that. Don't use your family and the holiday to make some grand hand-to-forehead gesture in hopes his family will notice or care; manipulation is, as you have experienced firsthand from your partner's mother, ugly and unfair and not very grown up and it doesn't work in any satisfying meaningful way.

You're not going to have the relationship with his family that you envisioned. That's sad, of course, but you tried and it's not working out with them. Maybe the perfect relationship for you and them predominantly involves Hallmark.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:46 PM on November 22, 2005

My parents still have my (first) ex-GF over for dinner sometimes. We broke up 12 years ago. They (and I) were invited to both her marriages. Some of my GFs had an issue with this, some didn't. My wife couldn't care less.
If they're doing it to spite you, they're assholes. If they're doing it because they genuinely feel she's part of the family, that's their right, and you have to learn to deal.
posted by signal at 12:49 PM on November 22, 2005

The drama queen assessment is fair. And despite my own families misfunctions, I have an idealized picture of family and the holidays.

That said, my brother is a serial monogomist. He brings women into our lives and we fall in love them and include them into our lives. His most serious girlfriend of late was very much a part of our family and we still saw her after they broke up, but she moved on and so did we. That said, our ties are to my brother. Had he ever been bothered by the continued relationship (like my s.o. is) no one would have asked a single question. We would have ceased the relationship.

I really believe my s.o.'s mother has ill-intentions. That said, I can't let this become another shitty thing in my life.

But I'm also not going to make the sacrifice for them. It is manipulative, it may be perceived as so and so be it.
posted by Lola_G at 1:06 PM on November 22, 2005

Or rather family's...

AND it isn't manipulative.
posted by Lola_G at 1:07 PM on November 22, 2005

All you can ask your in-laws to do is to not strong-arm you and/or your boyfriend to spend time with the ex, and to not harp on her when you're around. They're adults, and they'll associate with whom they please; repeated attempts to get them to change the company will get you labelled as a "controlling shrew" in their book (and, to be quite honest, mine.)
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:11 PM on November 22, 2005

My husband has a theory that any girlfriend beloved by her future mother-in-law is not the right girl for that man; that a man's Dreamweaver should irk and annoy his mother by being so clearly perfect for him in all the ways that Mom could never be. Of course, he only believes this because his mother and I have a contentious relationship, and she has liked all of his brother's girlfriends much more than she has ever liked me. But it makes me feel better, like he's on my side, and that's what matters. You should be getting the same kind of support from your guy.

Go see your family. Don't worry about what she thinks. Maybe she'll spend all afternoon crying and throwing a tantrum, ruining the day for herself while you have a great time -- serves her right. No one can make you unhappy if you don't allow it.
posted by junkbox at 1:48 PM on November 22, 2005

Most of the people in your immediate family -- people you love very much -- are in such great debt that you've suspended the tradition of exchanging gifts. You and your boyfriend sometimes have money troubles, too. You boyfriends' parents have more money. They sometimes bail you out and use it to buy you presents your parents can't afford.

We live in a culture that's extremely messed up about money and commerce, where we often determine our own self-worth based on what we can afford to consume. It's an unhealthy viewpoint, but it takes work to overcome. It sounds like your family has set up a refuge that allows you to overcome this view when you're with them. At the same time, it sounds like you're insecure about how you, your boyfriend and your family are perceived by people who are better off.

It sounds like you have a lot of guilt and emotional issues surrounding money.

I know this particular question relates to your in-laws' relationship with your boyfriend's ex-wife, and I wish you luck as you try to let that one go.

Honestly, I think you should now start thinking about relationship with money and the emotions that money-power dynamics dredge up.

Think about this in terms of yourself with your mother-in-law. You feel beholden to her. Do you think she knows this? Do you think she has any idea she's inspiring guilt? Do you think she's judging you? Can you get past it?

Also, think about this in terms of your relationship with your boyfriend. Do the two of you think about money and money/power dynamics in the same way? If not, are you capable of communicating with each other and understanding each other on these very hot topics?

Good luck.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 2:29 PM on November 22, 2005

I really believe my s.o.'s mother has ill-intentions. That said, I can't let this become another shitty thing in my life.

That's the thing to hang onto here. She may indeed wish you ill -- and all that shows is who she is. Not you. Just keep reminding yourself that you can't change who she is or how she behaves -- you can only make choices for yourself.

Good luck, lola, whatever you choose to do this Christmas (and I'll just reiterate that I think you oughta go see your folks simply because you'll be happier).
posted by scody at 3:20 PM on November 22, 2005

I think it's a bit disloyal to maintain close ties with a family member's ex, unless you were quite close before they got together. Stop trying hard to please them. Be your most polite, gracious, charming self, but be yourself. Your SO needs to be clear with his family that he expects them to be polite and charming to you. Act as if they're being sweet to you, and respond in kind; that'll really mess with their heads! Ignore the ex-wife and her relationship with your inlaws.

So if you can't go to your family because of your job, go to their house, if it's close. Either go to your family at Christmas, with the SO, or be sweet to him, and go to their house as scheduled. Arrive on time, leave early.

If you make this into a battleground, you and your sweetie will be the losers.
posted by theora55 at 3:21 PM on November 22, 2005

I have always thought that one is an adult when one has an adult relationship with one's parents.

Which is to say one does not put up with bullshit from them, just as one does not put up with bullshit from other people.

If a friend of mine showed up in my house and subsequently shat all over my spouse and my hospitality, they would be an ex-friend. Indeed, this has happened in my life: I terminated a very long-term, close friendship because he was disrespectful toward my wife.

I would not hesitate to completely cut off all communication and ties with my parents if they were EVER to show disrespect to my wife.

Just because I didn't choose them doesn't mean I'm stuck with them at all costs.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:08 PM on November 22, 2005

I have a friend who described an event wherein his mother-in-law was doing her best to drive a wedge between him and his wife. She basically pointed out what she was doing and said, "if you try to force a choice between and my husband, I will side with my husband every time. I love you, but I chose him."

When I see inexplicable emotional behavior that involves me, I used to blame myself out of the gate. Now I make up two or three likely stories that would cause something like that and choose the one that best fits. I accept it and move on.

I used to have the best relationship of anyone in immediate family with Mrs. Plinth's grandmother. She acted in a way towards me that was off-the-charts childish and inconsiderate--long story, but in the end I lost most-favored nation trading status and it was passed on to my sister-in-law's husband. I take a certain amount of responsibility for the circumstances, but I mostly shake my head over the affair. It became ridiculous eventually.
posted by plinth at 5:48 PM on November 22, 2005

Am I completely stupid for being jealous or hurt by their insistance on maintaining this relationship?

No, just childish. They don't dish out comparisons between you and her, they don't push him to get back together with her, they don't invite her over when you're there. Basically you're torqued up because they're friends with someone your boyfriend used to fuck long before you knew him. Meaning she's nothing to you and it's none of your business. If it bugs your boyfriend, that's between him and his parents and all you're entitled to is to think less of them for being cruddy to him.

What's your business is whether these people treat you right and it sounds like they're whacked out enough that you don't need to get yourself frothed over who they're friends with when you're not around - don't manufacture trouble when the universe gives it out for free. If they treat you poorly you should demand they stop. If your boyfriend allows them to treat you poorly you should consider what that says about him.
posted by phearlez at 6:09 PM on November 22, 2005

I didn't read everything so this may be a repeat of other's advice. If they want to have a relationship with the ex that is their choice. That doesn't mean that you need to spend Christmas with her. Does she not have family to spend Christmas with? Does she live close enough that your SO's parents can see her outside of holidays?

I got the impression that y'all are struggling or have struggled financially and they've given money. I think being independent of them would help the situation. They give money so maybe you and/or him feel obligated to put up with more than you ordinarily would? Just guessing. Would it be possible to budget yourselves such that you don't need money?

Having said all that your boyfriend needs to stick up for you in these situations. If he truly isn't willing to do this you might consider re-evaluating your relationship. He's got to say "Hey, Lola and I are going to be here for [holiday/whatever]. We don't need or want to see Mary Lou so please don't invite her for the few days we'll be in town. Thanks." I don't think that's too much to ask.
posted by 6550 at 10:19 PM on November 22, 2005

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