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How to set in-law boundaries without starting a war?

So Im going on three months of marriage and am getting a glimpse of the in-laws in action.  Don't get me wrong, they are great but I need to create some boundaries and MIL is sensitive- my now sister in law tried to talk to her last year about something and MIL got all upset which created a year-long rift in the fam, thankfully its since been mended.  Apparently my husbands side of the family argues by cutting all communication.  A few things of note:

I moved into my fiances home that he owned before we met.  Its OUR house now.  His dad comes over to mow the lawn, very nice but doesn't call first or have a schedule.  I tried to tell my husband, what if I want to lay out in a bikini?  Id rather just know he was coming so I can do it on a different day.  Hes like "whats the big deal?".  We want to have kids in the next few years and I tried to explain to him that Im not entertaining your parents weekly while your at work b/c your mother decides to come over with your dad.  He says he doesnt want to take away the house tasks from his dad b/c hes bored...and how can I say no when hes just trying to be nice yet I feel like Im living in someone elses home and its not mine.

Secondly, Im a pretty healthy person, work out, eat healthy, dont keep junk in the house.  Husband-not so much.  Im working on helping him be better with healthier  habits.  My MIL without fail comes over with cheesecakes, ice cream, 3 lb bags of M&Ms..it kills me.  She thinks its funny.  Granted she def. is a person that associates love with feeding ppl (she is an immigrant that came from poor, hungry beginnings in Europe) but she rarely respects my wishes when I say no about bringing junk food over...again, kids in the future...want them to eat well, not junk food....  and she is so sensitive everyone tip toes around her.  What to do?   

Re: How to set in-law boundaries without starting a war?

  • It's really very simple:

    Cut the lawn yourself.

    And the both of you sit down and tell the ILs, "Listen we love you guys but we now have a rule: please call before coming out. We may be indisposed, busy, or doing one of a number of things and we may not be up for company or your visit."

    They should be fine with that.

    Let his dad find something else to do. That "oh he is bored" is an excuse. Your H needs to step up and be more proactive.

    Give the cheesecake and other goodies away to the neighbors or a senior citizen's soup kitchen; give them to anybody else. YOu do not have to eat them.
  • Here we go - this is largely a DH problem.  If he doesn't see the problem, then THAT is th eproblem

    A few thoughts, though.  Mowing the lawn?  Let that one go.  if you're outside and he shows up, just go inside or move to another part of the lawn, or.... what have you. 

    If their stopping by means coming in unannounced, then start locking the doors.  Or if they have a key, make THAT your hill to die on and tell DH that the locks WILL be changed.

    But if they show up and you're home - tell them it's not a good time and to please call next time.  Some of this does actually fall to YOU.

    The food - she brings over junkfood?  Throw it out after she leaves. 

    On the kid note- be careful about putting the cart before the horse on this one.  You can talk "what ifs" all you want, bu tyo udon't know what will actually happen.  Yes, you want to get DH more on  your page so when you do have kids, it's not a huge uphill battle, but focus on the here and now than what might or might not happen. 

    As to her being sensitive - well, at some point, you all might jus tneed to suck it up and let her get hurt.  She doesn't talk to you for a year?  EH, is that really all that bad?  I just don't know how much tolerance I'd have for this crap.  But again, if your DH doesn't agree - that's your bigger problem.

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
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  • i see a spineless DH here. until he grows one I wouldn't expect your situation to change.although it sounds like your FIL does this for free so you might be at his mercy with timing. you could always hire someone to do it for you....

    but the food thing-it's fine-let her bring whatever. he can tote it to the office the next day for his coworkers to eat. just because she brings it doesnt mean you or he have to eat it.

    and i'm assuming all of this has been going on since you moved in. did you expect it to change when you got married?

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  • imagealithebride:

    i see a spineless DH here. until he grows one I wouldn't expect your situation to change.although it sounds like your FIL does this for free so you might be at his mercy with timing. you could always hire someone to do it for you....

    but the food thing-it's fine-let her bring whatever. he can tote it to the office the next day for his coworkers to eat. just because she brings it doesnt mean you or he have to eat it.

    and i'm assuming all of this has been going on since you moved in. did you expect it to change when you got married?



    Good  idea: give it away to coworkers.

    And here is another suggestion:

    They visit when they are not cleared to do so? You walk away, you don't answer the door.

    They call you? Don't get their phone call or answer a text of theirs. Let the message go to voicemail.

    the BOTH of you need to stop being at their beck and call.

    And I am wondering: Is the home in any way partly theirs legally??? I am willing to bet it is.
  • WahooWahoo member
    Ancient Membership 2500 Comments 5 Love Its Combo Breaker

    I see an "over-reacting wife" problem more than an IL or DH problem.

    You're worried about your FIL "because you might want to lay out in a bikini?"  So what?!?  You do NOT have to entertain your ILS!!!  If your FIL comes over, move the chair so that he can mow around you, plug in your Ipod (or read a book), and tune him out.  That goes double for MIL.  If she want to chat, just tell her "I'm listening to a book on tape"  If that starts WWIII - - THEN your H will have to deal with it, but the "what if.........." sounds like you are insecure and want to establish YOUR territory.  Do YOU want to be responsible for mowing the lawn every other week?  If not, accept your FILs generousity and keep your mouth shut.

    If your MIL brings over cake, cookies, candy......throw it all out when she leaves.  But I also think this is a control thing.  You KNOW you can throw this all out, but you want to establish RULES for your house.  Does your H want to eat this stuff?  Are you the food police? 

    If MIL comes over two days in a row and says "hey, where is the cheesecake I brought over?"  You can tell her that cake is a "sometimes food" in your house, so you try not to keep it around more than one day." 

    If they drop by unannounced, just tell them it isn't a good time, you are about to go out. So sorry, you wish they would have called.

    image "Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.
  • I'm in the Wahoo camp, since it doesn't really sound like there are problems yet (short of the lawn mowing). I think asking for a heads-up if he's coming is fine, but what else do you need?

    It doesn't sound like MIL is stopping by unannounced, so why address it now? If it becomes an issue, then you address it.

    The food thing is what makes me think you also have control issues, not just your MIL. If bringing food makes her feel good, let her do it; it's not harming anyone. My ILs bring up tons of food when they visit, including very yummy but very bad for you pastries. We'll have a treat, and just bring the rest to work to share. You don't need to make it into an issue, since it's the biggest non-issue ever.

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  • imageWildFlower2350:

    Im working on helping him be better with healthier  habits. 

    This will cause you a great deal of pain and annoyance. And it won't work.

    You are going to completely dismiss my comment - but I'm typing anyway. You can not "help" or teach your partner healthier habits. You can only do that for yourself. You can agree to a healthy household because its shared space, but you cannot "help" him to be healthier. You will be disappointed. Unless/until HE descides to get real and do it himself, he will not change.

    Case in point: his mother. he's accepting the food and he's the one keeping it in the house. And he's eating it, whether or not she's around. When HE changes that, it will change.

  • I have to admit that it would annoy me to no end that anyone, much less my in-laws, would show up at my house without an express invitation/notice. Even if it's 5 mins notice! I think it's rude and disrespectful of your time. Especially when you have children. If your DH really won't say anything to them, just ignore their unannounced visits or say "I was just on my way out, sorry." Do that enough and they'll realize they're wasting their own time by not calling ahead.
  • These were my thoughts exactly.  Obviously your in-laws have good intentions and you need to focus on that.

    The lawn-cutting... your FIL is doing it as a favor to you both.  Do I think it's a big deal that he shows up unannounced?  Maybe.  I would just approach it like "FIL, we love that you cut the grass for us but would it be too much trouble to call before heading over?  This way I know to not be naked!"

    The food - really, big deal in my book.  Your husband welcomes it because he likes to eat it!  You don't have to eat it.  Which ties into the next point - you can't force your husband to accept a lifestyle that he may not want.  Even if he does, so what if he cheats once in a while with goodies made/brought by his Mom?

    If they are both dropping in unannounced then again, I would address it similar to how I suggested above.  If they continue to do it, take more drastic measures - locking the door, being "on the way out" when the drop by, or ask your husband have a serious chat with them about it.

    Bottom line OP, I think you need to take a chill pill on this stuff, for your own good too.  Good luck.

     

  • I agree with Wahoo as well.

    What do you want to do, have your FIL call you and ask if it is okay for him to come over and mow your lawn for you? For free? Just let it go and be appreciative of his generosity, or mow your lawn yourself instead of lying on it in your bikini.

    As for the food, she very well may be doing this in a "food is love" kind of way and it's sweet. You're complaining that your inlaws come over and mow your lawn without asking and bring you goodies. 

    Trust me. There are worse things in life.

    image

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  • Haha, there are some feisty women out there with some intense opinions...I just needed a vent, I know there are worse things...my in-laws are great people and I'm just trying to set boundaries and settle into married life in a home I share with my husband, a home that I want to feel is mine too, not like Im living in someone elses.  Perhaps I have a teensy bit of jealousy b/c my parents are 3.5 hours away and I sometimes wish it was them coming by b/c i miss them dearly and though I drive to see them as much as possible, quite honestly I wish we lived closer.

    As for my husband, whoever referred to him as "spineless"...that's a bit much, no?  And couldn't be further from the truth. in reference to me helping him have a healthier lifestyle-its b/c he asked for my help and b/c he has a history of cancer and heart attacks in his family. My in-laws have no "legal" rights to the house.  They are not cosigners or share any part of owning the home.  and lastly, i offer to do the lawn, id LOVE to do the lawn but am told "no"....so im not some primadonna thats ungrateful. 

     Thanks for the feedback both kind and harsh.  Happy trails. 

     

  • imageanniemac1581:

    i offer to do the lawn, id LOVE to do the lawn but am told "no"....

    Huh? 
    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
    ~Benjamin Franklin

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  • And why are you posting under a different name?
    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
    ~Benjamin Franklin

    Lilypie Third Birthday tickers
    DS dx with celiac disease 5/28/10

  • This seems to be more of a problem with your husband than your in laws. You feel uncomfortable with your FIL coming over unannounced and your husband won't back you up. I tell my husband all the time "You may not understand it, but you should still respect it". I saw this happening while we were dating and I told him it was a deal breaker if he could not start backing me up instead of taking his parents side all the time. He got it right away and now there's not much of a problem. Another thing...this house is yours now too. You have the right to ask unwelcome visitors to leave. You have the right to ask your father in law to leave and come back at a better time if you are home alone. If your in laws want to make a big deal about it, that's their problem.

    As for the food...your husband is an adult capable of making his own decisions. While you may not agree with it, you cannot control what he puts in his body, nor should you try to. My dad is overweight and my mom calls me all the time asking me to talk to him about his food choices and I refuse. You also need to learn to compromise on the issue. Maybe you should ask to take half of the junk food your MIL brings over and take it to work. Then both of you win a little bit. 

    [IMG]http://i48.tinypic.com/des47b.jpg[/IMG]
  • send FIL over to my house to cut my lawn! problem solved! As far as stopping by, my inlaws do it all the time early morning on weekends because they are "out running errands and nearby." I stopped getting out of bed. Sorry, weekends I'm sleeping until 9am and if you come before that I'm not getting up and my DH has learned to tell them I'm still sleeping. I'm worried about when I have my baby since they will "know" I'll be up early and start dropping by again.
  • I think the main problem here is your in laws coming over unannounced. Your husband needs to tell his parents to please call and give you guys a heads up that they are on their way over. I don't think you're over-reacting, anyone would be upset if their inlaws repeaatedly came over unannounced, at least I would be.

     As far as mil bringing over sweets, I would just let it go. After she leaves you can destroy the food, run water all over the cookies, cheesecake etc., so that neither you or dh would want to eat it. If it really is a big problem then your husband needs to say,"Hey mom were dieting, can you please stop bring all the junk food over?".

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