We recently moved to our first job posting overseas. My mother –in-law immediately announced that she was coming to stay for one month.
She arrived only days after we moved into our new house. We’d been married for just three months. She brought no housewarming gift, nothing.
She’s very demanding and direct. Though we both work, I did my best to show her the sights, entertain her, and held a couple of parties in her honour.
She’d openly and loudly criticize my appearance and dress to anyone who’d listen.
When she finally left, she didn’t send me a thank-you note. But she told my husband that she would’ve enjoyed herself, if there’d been more to do (meaning, if I’d escorted her around more).
I told my husband that the next time she visits, she can stay in a hotel. He seemed relieved - he doesn’t like her either. But he begged me to write her a nice letter, saying how much we enjoyed her visit.
I’m afraid I’ll just be stuck with her again, and he’ll beg me to welcome her to stay with us again.
I feel I should insist on my terms at the outset or she’ll destroy our relationship.
You’ve entered the minefield of a potentially explosive in-law relationship. You came to it with several unavoidable problems regarding your husband’s mother’s visit: You’re a newlywed, in a new job, in a foreign country, where your mother-in-law expected you to take her around.
She brought her hard-to-please personality and outspoken criticisms. It’s a doomed beginning.
Your husband already has his own issues with her, so you two do need to set your agreed boundaries now.
But there’s no benefit in doing so with harsh pronouncements.
When she next announces an interest in visiting, respond immediately that you’ve booked a room for her at a very nice hotel in the midst of a pleasant neighbourhood where there’s lots to see and do.
The main point is this: These have to be mutually-decided “terms” between you and your husband, not a stand that you take about his mother, no matter what he feels.
Her next visit (if there is one) and/or her attitude towards you through emails and phone conversations, will surely make it plain that you two have to draw your line in the sand together.
That said, I’m still a believer in trying to find harmony in an in-law relationship, especially if, in time, there are grandchildren.
So remember, this visit in a place unknown to her, with a still “new” daughter-in-law was likely unsettling for her, too.
We’re going to our first destination wedding, which is a second wedding for both the bride and groom.
They’re mid-30’s, have high-paying jobs, house, all the “toys,” etc.
Everyone attending the wedding is paying his or her own way.
What’s the protocol on wedding gifts in this situation, either from friends, family or even from the parents of the bride and groom?
Given your travel and hotel costs, a simple, affordable gift should be sufficient. Search for something meaningful to the couple, based on your knowledge of them.
Since they obviously can afford this wedding and their lifestyle together, a gift of money doesn’t seem as appropriate.
(However, it’s always appreciated if that’s what you prefer, but keep it well within your means).
As for the parents, again their own finances matter here. Their “children” aren’t in need. So, an item of significance to them would be most appreciated.
FEEDBACK Regarding the “Confused Man” (February 25):
Reader – “The wife has stopped talking to him and is rude during any interaction. He shouldn’t re-attempt to speak with her in the home or anywhere else.
“Instead, he should write a letter outlining the state of the relationship and the need to discuss how to go forward with living arrangements, their children, etc., to save or dissolve the marriage.
“He should offer to only talk away from the home, such as his or her lawyer's office or a counsellor's office, with witnesses present to guard against false allegations of domestic abuse.
“His letter shouldn’t mention her infidelity but should be mailed to her lover’s residence.
“If she doesn’t respond, another copy should be sent to her at her workplace.
“If she still doesn’t respond, he should have divorce papers served to her.
“I believe she’s already left the marriage, physically and mentally.”
Tip of the day:
Tough mother-in-law? Decide with your partner on reasonable boundaries with room for improved relations.