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confession/vent/advice/question (long)

H and I got into a 'discussion' about this last night... not the first time it's come up, but it's not something that we talk about regularly.  Let's start with a question: if your in-laws live in another state, how often do you call them independently of your SO?  what if they live in another state and you have never lived in the same state as them?

I'll answer first: pretty much never unless prompted by H.  I don't think about it really, why would I?  I mean, I have plenty of family that I never talk to, maybe even for years (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents - most live in other states) and it doesn't cross my mind to call people I barely know.  H doesn't get on my case about it, or anything, for the most part and has never demanded that I do it or anything, but once in a while it comes up and he pretty much asks "why don't you just do it to make them happy?"  All I can think of is because a) it honestly never crosses my mind and b) I don't want to have a conversation that involves awkward small talk EVERY TIME (I know this is something that I should get over and just do to be nice) - it's seriously a broken record of small talk and advice.  I call people when I want to have a meaningful conversation and/or because I miss them. 

I know I'm wrong...

But I still feel like I'm justified in feeling annoyed that I should have to do it independently of when H talks on the phone.  He says he wants me to call other times on my own, not just when he's talking to them (or for birthdays etc).  *we then got in a side argument about whether he could just 'help the process along' and let me know when he's calling them so I could at least start out by talking to them when he's already calling them* 

I know I'm being bratty about this, but I don't know them!  I've met them maybe 7 times?  Every time we start the same small talk and advice (oh the advice!!) and I feel like a bad person, but I just don't feel close to them or interested in calling them.  They are nice and have never done anything to make me dislike them (except getting me those shoes... lol), but it's so forced right now because we don't spend consistent, normal time together.  Even the times I have seen them, it's always for an event/holiday and in general you know that visiting people isn't a way to get into a 'normal' relationship.

Ok, even if I'm right, I know what the nice thing to do is.  I just want to know if I'm crazy or if I'm right and then I'll let go and try to be the nice DIL :)  Oh also, H is their only child, so I'm the only daughter = compounding the importance.

Re: confession/vent/advice/question (long)

  • avila01avila01 member
    Sixth Anniversary Combo Breaker

    All of our family is out of state.  I don't think you're crazy...and I don't think your H is wrong.

    I never call my BIL and his family.  Ever.  They live in CA.  I kinda know them, but like you said, the only times I've ever met them is when someone is visiting.  I've never lived in the same state as any of them.  We'll comment on each others' FB statuses and photos, but that's it.

    I call my MIL occasionally, but normally, she calls me or I talk to her when DH calls her.  I call her maybe a couple times a year, max.  I have lived near her before and know her fairly well.

    DH never calls my family.  Ever.  I think I've made him call my parents once or twice for a birthday or something, but that's it.  My family doesn't call him.  While I don't make a big deal out of it, I really, really, really wish that DH knew my family better.  He doesn't like visiting Ohio (thinks the area is boring and doesn't like using his vacation days to go there), and my parents have only been out here twice.  My brother and his wife have never been out here.  Other than taking more trips, I don't know how they'll ever get to know each other if they never talk on the phone.  But I also totally understand the awkwardness of talking to people you don't know (hence why I never talk to my BIL/SIL), so I don't want to force that.  It really makes me sad, though, that DH has never really made a lot of effort to try to get to know them.  (That being said...I also never call my brother's wife......)

    So all that to say....I totally see where you're coming from, and I see where your H is coming from.  And I have absolutely no answers

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  • image avila01:

    So all that to say....I totally see where you're coming from, and I see where your H is coming from.  And I have absolutely no answers

    LOL but it does make me feel better :)  I guess I should add that I'm happy to hear from people who are on my H's side of things.  Somehow it's easier to read that side of things calmly than hear in the middle of a heated discussion :)

  • DH has a sister that lives in Kirkland, other than that all of our family is out of state. I will communicate with her via text/email and maybe a phone call if we're arranging our very irregular dinners. She arranges things with me since DH travels a lot.

    I know I have called my inlaws twice in 7 years independent of DH, once  was to tell them he ruptured his achilles tendon and was going in for surgery, the second was after my grandmother died MIL called several times and wanted to check on me, but I wasn't up for talking at that time.

    DH will call my parents if and when he's traveling in there area and DH will swing by and grab a beer with my dad. Other than that, I know DH called my dad a few times while my dad was selling our truck in his state.

    As far as other siblings, I get updates via Facebook and that's about it. We haven't talked to BIL in at least 2 years.

    FWIW - I think to each their own. I mean if he goes WAY out of his way to contact your family, I suppose you could throw him a bone and contact his.

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  • image avila01:

    So all that to say....I totally see where you're coming from, and I see where your H is coming from.  And I have absolutely no answers

    This. 

    I can offer a little bit too. Most of both of our families are in state. I am an only child and H is the youngest of 5. Maybe I'm the weird one because most of our families are in state.

    The only time H talks to my parents without me is when my mom calls him to come over for dinner when I'm out of town. This happens maybe 1x a month and he'll go maybe every other time they invite him. He's never talked to any of my extended family without me being around.

    I don't have my ILs phone numbers, like MIL/FIL. I've never talked to or hung out with any of my ILs without H being there. I see my ILs (maybe) 5x a year and that includes holidays. H and I have been together almost 5 years and I still feel like I don't know my ILs as well and I've even stayed at H's sister's house for a weekend!

    H and I have talked about this before when I told him that I didn't know his family. He said that he still isn't sure he knows his family. Half of his family is pretty religious, and while they're super nice and accepting, their views just don't match ours. It's hard when we don't have a lot to talk about (so, I totally get where you're coming from). And then on top of that his brothers that aren't religious are a lot older than us, so they're at different points in their lives (H's oldest brother is 17 years older than him) and that kind of makes it hard too. He (we?) is trying to get to know them better, but I think it's one of those things that's just going to take a lot of time, especially when you don't have much else besides blood in common. 

    And, the advice thing I totally get. I think it's an Asian parent thing. (Maybe other parents do it to, but I swear all of my Asian friends say their parents still do this and we're all almost 30!) My parents do this (especially my mom) all of the freaking time still and it gets on my nerves after a while. 

    So, um.... yeah... no advice, but I know exactly how you feel. 

  • image karimychel:

    FWIW - I think to each their own. I mean if he goes WAY out of his way to contact your family, I suppose you could throw him a bone and contact his.

    I guess I left this part out (and LegalBritt, this may make more sense now)... we live within a mile of my parents (and my sister).  It's not like we see them all the time (maybe twice a month), but I know it's a heck of a lot more than we see his family.  Also, H came here for college, so when we started dating, my parents were the "home away from home".  He and my dad get along SUPER well and so I can see how it seems unfair.  It's not like his parents live close and I avoid them, it's just been easier for him to get to know my family. 

    His parents adore us and I can see his point - they do a lot of nice things for us, why can't I just be nice and call them because it would make them SO happy?  I mean, it's pretty much the only reason I call my grandparents, so it wouldn't be the first time.  H doesn't bring this up or complain about it all the time, it came up as a tangent to another conversation.  MIL does rub me the wrong way sometimes and has done some things similar to UWhusky's mom (waiting for husky or jenn to chime in on this conversation...) and my knee-jerk reaction is to just be stubborn.  So yeah, sometimes I'm a brat :-/

  • jennlinjennlin member
    Eighth Anniversary Combo Breaker

    i haven't read the replies yet since i need to run to a meeting...but here's my 2 cents.

    my mom LOVES it when my brothers lady counterpart calls my mom. she gets SO happy and just adores her because of it. they've met two....three times tops.  they've been together about 8 months or so..and calls my mom maybe once every week or every other week. she also independently bought my mother a christmas present.

    my brother and my mom are *very* close though...vomitty close. he calls her 2-3x's a day...when he visits home, he sleeps in my parents bed and my dad sleeps in a different bed. TOTAL mommas boy.

    also, my brothers lady friend (i refuse to call her his FIe) did not have a mother figure growing up, so she is very happy to have someone like my mother right now...which is what is triggering her phone calls/close relationship....

    now my h's sister recently moved out of the country. we have never once emailed/fbooked eachother (except when she wanted help in shipping some tampax and then later some shampoo)... we don't have a relationship..we didn't when she was local..why would we want to when she wasn't?

    sometimes i wish i did email her out of the blue..just to "prove" we were "friends"...but we're not. so i don't. i'm kinda like you...h wants me to have a relationship with his sister, but he knows it's also 90% her fault, and 10% mine. so there.

    i find it very hard to call my inlaws...period. whenever i need to go to their house for something w/o h, i make him call and give them the headsup...or if they need to meet me for something, i make h do it.  i've only called them once or twice in 5.5 years.....

    what about emails? i email my FIL occasionally, when there's some event i know he'd have interest in.....

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  • oh yay!  husky joined!  I needed someone to understand the advice thing ;)  Side note: she's mailing us FOOD for H's birthday, lol.

    ETA: oh yay!  jenn is here too!  so much of that post made me LOL and Indifferent

  • So for me, all of H's family is within 10 minutes of us (his Dad's I should say). As for anyone else, H never calls my family to talk to them. The only time he happens to talk to them is if he answers the phone when they call, or when we go visit.

    I never think anything of the fact that he doesn't so I wouldn't worry about it either. I mean if it was the other way around for us, I sure wouldn't be making phone calls to his parents, or siblings!

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  • With the new information I would tell DH that you're more than happy to chat with his parents when he calls. Or that you'd be happy to initiate the phone call and pass them off to him when it gets to the really akward small talk. Sometimes if DH is busy and I see its his parents calling I will pick up the phone and chat until DH finishes up whatever he's doing. I figure that is nicer than letting them go to voicemail.

    The reason DH calls my dad up for a beer is because we did live near them for 5 years and camped together, etc. DH nor I have ever lived in the state his parents are in.

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  • image jennlin:

    my brother and my mom are *very* close though...vomitty close. he calls her 2-3x's a day...when he visits home, he sleeps in my parents bed and my dad sleeps in a different bed. TOTAL mommas boy.

    Yikes!  Indifferent

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  • I totally get where you're coming from.  I think some of this has to do with personality.  I hate to call people.  Even my grandparents who I adore, but who now live far away, I feel like every phone call "just to say hi" is awkward and forced and I avoid it (but feel bad too). 

    MIL passed away, but while we were dating and living here and she was on east coast, DH always complained that I didn't call her on my own.  I think he thought she'd think I didn't like her b/c I didn't call.  (sidenote: I think cell phones have a lot to do with this, b/c if we had a house phone I would have more random conversations when she called for DH.)  I like her and I was happy to join in when DH was talking to her and could chat all day if I was face to face with her, but felt awkward to just call her.  I did a few times during wedding planning, if I had something to say, which I know she appreciated.  Also, BILs who live there, SO were always super close to MIL and called her "mom" even if they just started dating, so maybe that had something to do with it...her house was the gathering place and hub of all activity out there.  I'm sure if we lived there, I'd have been closer with her. 

    DH, on the other hand, lives here and is pretty comfortable calling my bro, dad and mom.  It's super cute.  And, for him, it's not awkward.  Plus, my fam lives here and he sees them pretty often.  He's been going to church with my mom (I dont' go), which is cute.  Plus, he's probably even closer to my fam since both of his parents passed away.

    Anyways, I get both sides, but distance is a big factor and personality too.  Try to explain to DH with an example of something he would find extremely awkward to do.  Or, suggest a compromise like talking together on speaker phone?  Or call every once in a while when you actually have something to say???

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  • image amandasw:

    oh yay!  husky joined!  I needed someone to understand the advice thing ;)  Side note: she's mailing us FOOD for H's birthday, lol.

    ETA: oh yay!  jenn is here too!  so much of that post made me LOL and Indifferent

    Have we not established food= love? Big Smile I'm really not kidding when I tell you that my mom drops off food for us at least 1x a week plus snacks.

    And another random thought about the advice thing. So, my whole problem is that when my parents try to give me advice I go in to sullen teenager mode. (Eye rolls, huffiness, scowling, and the whole bit.) Then the problem becomes that my mom thinks I'm being an azzhat so then she starts yelling/lecturing more, then more sullen teenager from me and then it spirals out of control from there. 

    H and I have talked about this a lot. He's told them (in so many words) that they need to back off and let us/me make some mistakes for ourselves. I do give my parents credit that they have tried. (FWIW, my mom has *totally* backed off with the kid thing.) And he's told me that I just need to let it roll off my back and just acknowledge what they're saying and let it slide. I'm working on that, but I agree, it's hard. Sometimes I just want to yell "I'm freaking almost 30! I think I know how to x, y or z by now! Lay off, parents!" But, in the end I ended up realizing it's only because they care and they think they're doing good by looking out for me. 

    And if it makes you feel any better my Dad is almost 60 and *his* mom still tries to baby him. 

  • I don't think either you or your DH is right or wrong.  Family relationships are difficult, and each is different.

    FIL & MIL and SIL live on the East Coast.  I don't really call my MIL.  I have her cell phone # saved in my phone for emergencies.  I mainly email or FB with her.  And FIL communicates through MIL.  I talk with SIL mainly through email/FB, but sometimes through text/phone.  She was a BM in our wedding, and I consider her a close friend.

    Do you spend a decent amount on the phone?  I'm not a "phone person" so I use that as an excuse for not calling a lot of people (friends and family).  I think when your DH calls his family it should be assumed that they can send communication/well wishes for you through him and vice versa.

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  • I'd chime in with more, but I think everyone's pretty much said most everything that could be said. I don't think either of you are on the 'wrong' side of an argument, but like someone else said, families are just tough things.

    We're in an inter-ethnic relationship, and my parents have a lot more traditional and conservative views of how families should interact. My mom watches other Korean-Korean married couples wistfully and then gets really upset that she can't have that with D. She is pretty unhappy that he doesn't start conversations or talk, and while she doesn't expect him to call, I think if he did it, she'd be a happier. I've tried to explain to her that D doesn't really talk to ANYONE, even his parents. He's just that kind of quiet guy, but she takes it personally. She expects him to be filial, polite, respectful, which he is, but he's met my parents all of 4 times, and she wants a kind of closeness she's not willing to cultivate. In her mind, he's the one that should be responsible for cultivating that closeness, not her.

    As for his side, I can't talk to them, though I know it'd make my mil happier. Like, literally, I am unable to talk to them cause there's a huge language barrier: I don't speak Cantonese. She doesn't understand English. Our conversations tend to stay in the kindergarten realm, and it makes it frustrating to try and communicate in any other deeper level.

    It sucks. Maybe instead of phone conversations you could mail cards with one or two sentences written inside - nothing big? Or send one-off random/cheap 'thinking of you' gifts? That might smooth over the not-calling bit a little.

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  • image dreamwinds:

    We're in an inter-ethnic relationship, and my parents have a lot more traditional and conservative views of how families should interact. My mom watches other Korean-Korean married couples wistfully and then gets really upset that she can't have that with D. She is pretty unhappy that he doesn't start conversations or talk, and while she doesn't expect him to call, I think if he did it, she'd be a happier. I've tried to explain to her that D doesn't really talk to ANYONE, even his parents. He's just that kind of quiet guy, but she takes it personally. She expects him to be filial, polite, respectful, which he is, but he's met my parents all of 4 times, and she wants a kind of closeness she's not willing to cultivate. In her mind, he's the one that should be responsible for cultivating that closeness, not her.

    this sounds exactly like my MIL (she's Korean), except that H is half (his dad is white) so I guess she doesn't have quite the same feelings about him marrying me.  Otherwise, I feel like those are probably a lot of the same things she must think about me.  She has even asked H if I hated her Indifferent.  He told me a while after she had said that, not being angry at me, just to let me know that she feels sad that I don't call.  I was like, "WTF?!"  But I'm glad to know my MIL is maybe just being 'normal' lol.  I know she likes me because she is so nice and sends presents (and H says she likes me), she is just such a different kind of mom than my own mom and it's hard to relate.

    image dreamwinds:
     

    It sucks. Maybe instead of phone conversations you could mail cards with one or two sentences written inside - nothing big? Or send one-off random/cheap 'thinking of you' gifts? That might smooth over the not-calling bit a little.

    this is a good idea.  I do make all the cards for their birthdays because my mom gave me a cricut for Christmas, but I suppose it wouldn't hurt to just send cards randomly.  She's very into sending cards for EVERY holiday - she drives H nuts because she'll tell him he needs to send cards all the time, for example, she wanted him to send cards to practically every female relative for valentines day, lol

  • image amandasw:

    This sounds exactly like my MIL (she's Korean - H is half, his dad is white, so I guess she doesn't have quite the same feelings about him marrying me).  She has even asked H if I hated her Indifferent.  He told me a while after she had said that, not being angry at me, just to let me know that she feels sad that I don't call.  I was like, "WTF?!"  But I'm glad to know my MIL is maybe just being 'normal' lol

    Knowing my mom, I think when you're not acting cutesy or ... well, yea, cutesy (if you need a reference, maybe your H can show you some Korean dramas of (dys)functional Korean families and what some Korean MILs might expect. You think it's just a drama, but I swear, Korean women must like write a freaking book out of these soap opera dramas onw how life should be.

    I imagine she wants you to call and chat her up and be cutesy and ask how she's doing. See if she wants anything or if she wants to tell you anything to tell your H. Maybe ask for a recipe, be the daughter she's never had. Basically, I guess that's pretty much it: She wants you to step into that role. It might get easier if/when you have kids. I don't really know.

    But I think the card thing might work out well. Basically, think of her as super lonely and needy, and without constant validation, she doesn't know how you or her son feel. (With my mom, we don't have too much to say to each other, but if I don't call her at least once a week - she'd prefer every day - she gets really mad and starts the conversation off with: If I had died, you wouldn't even know cause you haven't called in forever.)

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  • image dreamwinds:
    With my mom, we don't have too much to say to each other, but if I don't call her at least once a week - she'd prefer every day - she gets really mad and starts the conversation off with: If I had died, you wouldn't even know cause you haven't called in forever.

    Do we have the same mom?

  • image dreamwinds:

    Basically, think of her as super lonely and needy, and without constant validation, she doesn't know how you or her son feel. (With my mom, we don't have too much to say to each other, but if I don't call her at least once a week - she'd prefer every day - she gets really mad and starts the conversation off with: If I had died, you wouldn't even know cause you haven't called in forever.)

    this is hysterical, and probably totally true for my MIL.  You just saved our marriage! ;)  lol  But seriously, that helps me think of the situation better and I will keep this in mind.

  • I don't have any advice that wasn't already given (i.e., send notes/cards, pictures occasionally in lieu of calls).

    image uwhuskygirl:
    ...
    I don't have my ILs phone numbers, like MIL/FIL.
    I get not calling to chat, but what if you needed to contact them about your husband (or something else) in an emergency?
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  • image CDMay2006:


    image uwhuskygirl:
    ...
    I don't have my ILs phone numbers, like MIL/FIL.
    I get not calling to chat, but what if you needed to contact them about your husband (or something else) in an emergency?

    I've thought about this numerous times and every time I think about it I remind myself that I need to get their number from H, but some how I just always forget. 

    In a real emergency I suppose I could call my mom to get my ILs number. My mom and my MIL are besties (not really, but they talk and hang out a lot). 

  • image jennlin:
    my brother and my mom are *very* close though...vomitty close. he calls her 2-3x's a day...when he visits home, he sleeps in my parents bed and my dad sleeps in a different bed. TOTAL mommas boy.

    Indifferent WHAT?

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  • image picksthemusic:

    image jennlin:
    my brother and my mom are *very* close though...vomitty close. he calls her 2-3x's a day...when he visits home, he sleeps in my parents bed and my dad sleeps in a different bed. TOTAL mommas boy.

    Indifferent WHAT?

    lol. maybe i should slightly clarify. when my brother visits home, he's usually out with his friends until at *least* 2am. when he comes home, he gets into my parents bed..my mom gets up for work at about 4 or 5 am, so it's really only a few hours...my parents are also the only room that has a tv in the bedroom- my brother has a tv addiction, and my mom sleeps through anything, while my dad does not. so my brother can sit in bed and watch tv while my mom snoozes.

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  • image uwhuskygirl:
    image CDMay2006:
    image uwhuskygirl:
    ...

    I don't have my ILs phone numbers, like MIL/FIL.

    I get not calling to chat, but what if you needed to contact them about your husband (or something else) in an emergency?
    I've thought about this numerous times and every time I think about it I remind myself that I need to get their number from H, but some how I just always forget. 

    In a real emergency I suppose I could call my mom to get my ILs number. My mom and my MIL are besties (not really, but they talk and hang out a lot).

    Given that you don't even have their numbers, that last bit is funny to me :)
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