Family Matters
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Family Drama: Hurt feelings

I haven't posted on here in a long time, but recently something has come up and I need somewhere to get it out. Advice and insights, please.

My parents and my IL's have known each other for over 10 years now, and they appear to get along well. We all live within about an hour of each other, so my IL's and my parents often invite each other to holiday gatherings and big family functions.

A year and a half ago, my parents made an effort to hang out with the IL's, just the four of them. The IL's kind of blew them off. Eventually, after my parents had asked a few times and my IL's kept canceling and/or putting no effort in, my parents gave up. (I've posted here about this issue before). My parents confided to me that they were disappointed and hurt, but they were going to accept that my IL's apparently didn't want to be best friends with them. In the end my parents are just glad that my family and DH's family can all be in the same room together, and they're not going to do anything to cause drama and jeopardize that.

When all of this happened, I talked to DH about it. He offered to talk to his parents and see what was up with them, but I asked him not to.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. DH is hanging out with his mom and they're having some deep conversations, and DH finally comes right out and asks her if there was some reason she doesn't want to spend one-on-one time with my parents. MIL told my DH that the problem is my dad. According to her, he "won't talk" to her and FIL. She said that they've both made a lot of effort with him at parties, asking him questions, etc., but he simply won't talk to them or have a conversation, no matter what they do. She said that after years of trying, they simply got "worn down" and gave up. And this was why, when my parents asked about getting together, the IL's just didn't feel like putting any effort in. MIL made DH swear not to tell me about any of this, and he didn't. But it all ended up getting back to me anyway, because apparently no one in the family can keep their mouth shut (long story).

Once all the secrets were out, MIL and spoke about this subject directly, so I got to hear it all straight from her. Honestly all these years I had no idea that they thought my father was distant. I think my father would be very surprised to hear this, too.

To be fair, my dad is an introvert. And he definitely does have a tendency, in large groups, to hang and talk with people he feels more comfortable with. So yeah, when we're all at a Christmas gathering, for example, he's likely to spend more time with me than with the IL's. But I've been to all these gatherings and I've seen my dad in action, and I think that the IL's are grossly overstating things when they say he won't talk to them at all. From where I'm sitting, my dad enjoys the IL’s company and has made a lot of effort with them (as much as he can, anyway). And HE'S the one who actually invited them at first to go out to lunch a year and half ago (I know because I was in the room when it happened). Soooooo...if my IL's were really upset that my father wouldn't talk with them, why wouldn't they view his invitation as a nice gesture and a step in the right direction? If the whole problem was that they wish they had a closer relationship with him, why not just accept his invitation? Why blow it off?

When we talked, MIL suggested that I secretly try to "nudge" my dad into talking to them more. She also said that maybe she and FIL could invite my parents out to dinner, and added, “If it’s just the four of us, maybe he’d HAVE to talk to us.” Gee, thanks, MIL. How brilliant of you to come up with this idea all by yourself. *sarcasm

DH thinks that his parents have handled this whole situation badly, but he thinks they do have a point because he’s noticed my dad’s introverted behavior, too. He agrees that I should try to “nudge” things along a little. I think I should do nothing. Frankly, It’s tempting to come right out and tell my parents everything because I hate keeping things from them, but I don’t want to get further involved and cause more drama. And yeah, it would be nice if my IL’s and my parents do go out and do improve their relationship, but I’m not even hoping for that at this point; I just want everyone to continue being capable of being in the same room with each other.

So, two questions:

Am I out of line to feel annoyed with my IL’s over all this?

And I should definitely stay out of this in the future, right?

Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker

Re: Family Drama: Hurt feelings

  • Oh yeah I would definitely stay out of it.  Nothing good would come from getting involved.  

    I personally wouldn't be annoyed with your ILs and would stop pushing the issue.  They don't particularily enjoy each others company.  That's ok.  There is nothing wrong with your ILS thinking that your parents aren't their kind of people.  Sometimes people don't click and that is ok.  Come to terms with the fact that your respective parents are polite and civil with each other, but will most likely never be friends.  

    I honestly think you should be grateful that they are willing to share holidays and be in the same room.  That isn't the case for lots of couples.  

    FWIW, I felt that my sister was pushing her ILs on us and it got tiring as she wanted to combine our holidays with theirs.  If anything it pushed us away and now we celebrate some holidays with just me, my husband and the kids.  

  •   Sometimes people don't click and that is ok.  Come to terms with the fact that your respective parents are polite and civil with each other, but will most likely never be friends.  

    Thank you. DH feels like we should push it, so this is just the thing I need to hear.
    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
  • Disneygeek77Disneygeek77 member
    Ancient Membership 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited March 2015
    Trust me, it wouldn't work on both sides.

    How would he feel if he was guilted into spending time with people he just didn't click with.  On the other hand, how would he feel if he knew people were only spending time with him out of guilt or obligation and not because they genuinely enjoyed his company.

    Clearing the air would probably only make things more awkward.  Just let this one go.
  • All of what Disneygeek said. I can't imagine why your H would want to push anything. Stay out of it. It's for the best.
  • I think you should stay out of it. They don't need to be best of friends, it's great though that you can invite them to the same functions and enjoy each other's company and you don't have to be torn between families.

    What I would recommend doing is inform your IL of your dad being an introvert. The reason being until recently, I didn't know what an introvert really was. Once a friend of mine explained that she was an introvert things started making more sense. I told her that I never realized she was one because she was always outgoing with our small group of friends. She said that is exactley it, she's ok with small groups of people doing an activity that she enjoys. Like with us we are usually going hiking when we get together or going to wineries. But if she gets into a large group and it's just sitting around, she shuts down and gets uncomfortable. It really helped me to understand her (and a few other people I know) and makes it easier to communicate with them know. Even with your IL learning about this, it won't change the relationship they have with your parents, but at least they will understand why your dad is the way he is and not take it personally.


  • Introverts always get bad raps. It's really unfortunate that a quiet, reserved person is often "in the wrong" because s/he is social, but not social "enough" for other peoples' liking. So what's your Dad supposed to do? Fake it? Not be himself?

    I would stay out of it and DON'T breathe a word of it to your parents.

  • Another vote for staying out of it. 

    My father has Asperger's, so he doesn't always handle social situations the "right" way, or interact with people the way that they want him to.  As a result, I'm sure that my parents have missed out on a few potential friendships.  No big loss, really, because the friends that my parents do have are REALLY GREAT friends, who understand and love my father despite his differences.  Nudging my dad to act differently than the way he is wired won't magically make him neurotypical, just in the same way that nudging an introvert to be more outgoing won't "fix" the person - when they weren't broken to begin with. 

    If your Mother in law goes through with her totally original master plan (*eye roll) to get the four of them together, your father will very likely have a different overall demeanor than he does at the large holiday gatherings.  Your in laws will probably get exactly what they've been craving.....a conversation with him.  If not - it really isn't the end of the world.  There really isn't any reason why your parents and in laws need to be best friends!   As long as they can still behave kindly towards one another at family functions, then don't worry about the rest. 
  • VORVOR member
    Eighth Anniversary 500 Love Its 500 Comments Name Dropper

    Do NOT tell your parents about this.  Honestly- your DH was in the wrong here.  Your ILs may have handled it "badly" but they were also put on the spot.  They were handling your parents and your parents got the hint.  Then your DH just couldn't let it go and had to bring it up.

     Your parents DO NOT NEED to be best buddies.  They just don't.  Doesn't matter the reasons. 

    Your DH needs to back off and let your parents - both sides- navigate this how it works for THEM.  Pushing this or telling your parents will only result in people feeling forced and probably hard feelings. 

    If you all enjoy the fact that both families can get together for holidays, DO NOT do anything else.  If your DH insists on pushing this, I expect that this year, you all will have to start splitting your time between families. 

    You have a good thing going- don't ruin it.
  • Vet35Vet35 member
    First Comment
    Have to agree, staying out of it may be the best option. Like someone else said, it's ok not to click with someone.
    We choose who we're going to marry but parents don't get to choose our inlaws, fortunately or unfortunately
  • Thanks, everyone. I think when this all went down I was feeling kind of defensive for my dad. But after taking some time to cool off, I agree that no one really did anything wrong here (well, except for my DH, but he's apologized so there's nothing more that can be done about that right now). 

    I have not done anything to get further involved, and don't plan to. I'm not sure if my MIL is going to invite my parents out for dinner. At this point I actually hope she doesn't. But if she does, it'll be interesting to see how that goes...
    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
  • On the good side, it sounds as if your ILs like your parents...they just don't "gel" with them.  And that's fine also.  I'm sure we've all met people who we generally approved of and thought were good people...but just didn't quite have a connection with.
  • Cindy41710Cindy41710 member
    10 Comments 5 Love Its
    edited March 2015

    You did a good thing by not getting involved any more than things already went.  You know, there's no need for them to be BFF's. I mean, it's nice if they are; my sister's in laws always got along great with my folks.  But if you can all have holidays together without people butting heads, that's equally as good.  :)

    I agree with the comments about introverts getting a bad rap.  My cousin is very introverted - complete polar opposite of her sister.  Of course everyone loves the sister because she's such a people person.  Then I have friends and other family members asking me, "why is K so antisocial?"  Or "she's pushing 30; why can't she keep a guy?"  For as close as we are sometimes I have a hard time keeping a conversation going with her but it doesn't make her - or your dad, in your case - a bad person.  We are who we are.


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