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In-law gatherings make me extremely uncomfortable...

Basically, I need some advice on how to get through these uncomfortable situations or on how to avoid them.

All of my in-law's gatherings are centered around drinking, and this is just extremely difficult territory for me. This heavy consumption of alcohol makes both my FIL and BIL become "jokingly" very verbally abusive (especially toward my husband); it makes my MIL think she needs to nit-pick and mother my husband and I to death; and, since that was environment in which my husband was raised, he joins in and can no longer act as my "buffer" or companion.

I'm not against alcohol, but I just can't handle the way that we are treated when everyone gets really intoxicated.

I just don't know how to navigate the situation: I really enjoy spending time with his family until everyone has had a few too many. But, anytime I want to leave before things get out of hand 1. My husband wants to stay 2. If my husband actually agrees with me, we get a crazily intense guilt trip- no matter how airtight of an excuse we give.

I know that I need articulate my feelings better to my husband, but I'm not sure how to talk about it without sounding like I'm condemning him/his family. How do I go about doing this?! And how can we work together to avoid the bad situations?

Re: In-law gatherings make me extremely uncomfortable...

  • You can leave when things get dicey or not attend at all -- and let the IL hosting the event know precisely why you and your H will not be attendance.

    This bunch needs to avoid booze.

    And I can imagine what it's like when it's time for them to drive home. Breaking the law too -- doubtful there are designated drivers.

    Whatever the decision is, you and your H need to stand together on it. If not, you have an H problem, not a problem drinker ILs problem.

    I can't figure out why he wants to stay when they get drunk and direct insults toward others....or why he'd want to be in that environment at all.
  • My FIL is an alcoholic - we have found that it's best to talk to him before 11am (easy for us as we live with a big time difference between us) if we are doing anything on the phone or over skype.

    As for in-person, when we are there for a visit and we are going there for say, dinner, we go with two cars and DH either stays the night at his dad's (because he would probably drink a bit along with his brothers, cousins and dad) and I plan to spend the later part of the evening with some girlfriends or my own family. This way I can politely bow-out after dinner, leaving them with DH (who really, is more fun than I am anyway). If we go with only one car, I'll leave and go do something pre-planned after dinner and then come pick him up later - being polite and jovial at the door, but insistent that we need to go because of XYZ plans the next morning, dinner was amazing, really good to see you guys, looks like DH had a blast, we should do this more often, ta ta and out the door.

    I think it's a good compromise rather than always declining, always the two of you leaving early or it always just being DH there without you even going for dinner.


    Chronically hilarious - you'll split your stitches!
    I wrote a book! Bucket list CHECK!
  • As for your husband, I wouldn't necessarily approach it as "ZOMG, your trailer trash family is a bunch of raving alcoholics and I don't want to be around them because they are mean, nasty, abusive arseholes" but more of a "hey, you know I love your family and dinner at your parents' is always fantastic, but the drinking afterward tends to get out of hand and even though I know they don't mean it, I end up taking a lot of the things they say and do really personally - I know that you want to spend time with them and that's great, but how can we do it in a way that works for both of us comfortably?

    How can you make your husband WANT to spend time with them on his own without you? (If that is indeed what you want). He'd probably enjoy himself a bit more if he wasn't worried about you and shielding you in the back of his mind constantly, right? So put it that way. He probably feels embarrassed about his family with you afterward, so you two splitting during the evening would avoid that too, right? He probably hates the guilt trip - but it would probably be much less of a guilt trip if it was just you bowing out, right?

    If he is over there on his own without you drinking up a storm on a regular weekly basis I'd have a problem with it, but a couple of times a month to me doesn't seem that excessive, it really depends on how much your husband actually drinks at these things. (to me)


    Chronically hilarious - you'll split your stitches!
    I wrote a book! Bucket list CHECK!
  • Your husband doesn't stick up for you? He joins in? Your post makes me cringe. I wouldn't participate in these gatherings at all. You can stand up for yourself and not allow yourself to be treated that way, but you will always have issues if your DH doesn't respect you or himself. 
  • I have a question,  does your husband have a problem with his dad and brother?  Does he get upset at the way they act or does he pretty much do the same thing?  This could actually just be the way they are...  I am not giving drinking any excuse, but this could be the way he was raised and their way of joking. 

    The only reason I say this, I come from a big family, of many brothers and sisters, we all get together, drink and joke around with eachother.. We will all make fun of or what have you, but it is nothing personal.. We have always been this way and it is just our sense of humor.  So I know you may not like it, maybe this is just their way..  I would just ask him.. Ask him if this is bothering to him and if he says no, just express your feelings about it.  Maybe it does bother him and he needs to talk with his family about it, because that sucks if they are making fun of him..  But like I said, this could just be the way they are...  Best of luck girlie and best wishes for everything!!! 

  • image doglove:
    Your husband doesn't stick up for you? He joins in? Your post makes me cringe. I wouldn't participate in these gatherings at all. You can stand up for yourself and not allow yourself to be treated that way, but you will always have issues if your DH doesn't respect you or himself. 
    sounds like your husbands apple didn't fall too far from that tree :(
  • image Nest Cayla:

    image doglove:
    Your husband doesn't stick up for you? He joins in? Your post makes me cringe. I wouldn't participate in these gatherings at all. You can stand up for yourself and not allow yourself to be treated that way, but you will always have issues if your DH doesn't respect you or himself. 

    Yes! this is such a difficult situation to be in and it has to be insanely hard for you to watch all of this go down! Would you say that you guys ever have family functions and this doesn't take place???

    This isn't a difficult situation to be in, she chose to marry this guy. I have a hard time believing this behavior started after they said I do. She's not just "watching" the behavior, she is a part of it.  

  • I agree with the responses that indicate you need to talk to your husband lovingly, say what you intend to communicate, then discuss.

    I'm also with the group that says take separate cars. My MIL lives over 40 miles away, and she always hosts when my husband's brothers & families visit. If I had issues with his family's behavior after a certain number of drinks had been imbibed, I'd just leave, and insist my husband spend the night and not drive home in an inibriated condition. You are not joined at the hip. If your husband doesn't agree with leaving before the party gets negative and mean-spirited, maybe after leaving early a few times he'll say something.

    Good luck.  


  • Oh see, I have the opposite problem... my ILs make ME drink.  Kidding... sort of.

    I like the suggestion of taking two separate cars (if you have them and if it's feasible).  Also, you aren't required to go to EVERY family event.  Do every other and call it a day.  Also, when you're there and it's getting to be too much, excuse yourself and take a walk.  I've up and walked out of my ILs house more times than I can count.  I just take a breather, re-group, and go back a little bit clearer.

    It doesn't sound like any of this verbal abuse is directed toward you, sounds like it's mostly at your husband???  If that's the case, and he's ok with it, I think you just need to ignore it.  And regarding the guilt trips... who cares?  My ILs try to guilt trip us every time we leave their company and I've learned to stop letting it impact me.  Guilt is self-inflicted, so if you're allowing yourself to feel bad, that's on you.  I get that it's annoying as sh!t to hear it every time you leave, but what can you do? 

    I'd talk to you husband a little more about this. See if you can come up with some kind of code-word for when you're getting upset. Also ask if he can limit his drinking while there so he is fresh and clear-headed when you need him. It's a tough situation... it's his family and he's used to it. I think you guys need to meet halfway here. Good luck.

    ETA - I also come from a big family, one side is low-brow.  Every time we get together, some people drink too much.  We all poke fun at one another.  If it's all in good fun and no one gets offended I can't call that "verbal abuse."  OP - what exactly is going on that makes you call it that?  (Not suggesting you're overreacting, I'm curious...)


  • When you talk to your husband be sure to emphasize the part about enjoying spending time with his family before everyone gets intoxicated, that way he doesn't think you are saying you don't want to spend time with his family at all. Tell your husband that if he is going to want to stay that you need to take separate cars so you can leave when you want, or if you get there together and he decides to stay ask him to get a ride home. You shouldn't have to be in a position that is uncomfortable.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • I have the same problem. My ILs are all drunks. I have one fond memory of DH's uncle drunkenly asking me when I was going to allow DH to have a kegger at our house. I said no, so then he went in to a rant about gays and bla bla bla...  As for my ILs, all my FIL BIL and SIL do is turn in to nasty, nit picking a-holes. DH does the same thing, but never to me, and thankfully, he's always stuck up for me. In fact, when I voiced my concern over his family get togethers, he told me he didn't enjoy them either (Thank God!). Personally, I just wouldn't attend them. That's what I had planned to do if DH hadn't agreed that they were uncomfortable situations.
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