Tuesday, March 2, 2010

part of the family

Author note: Please be advised that this post, like the last one, does not contain any wedding fluff. There is no mention of pretty centerpieces, lace gowns or menu choices. It's depressing, I know. But that's the kind of weekend I've had, haha. If you're a wedding-fluff-only kind of girl, you'll want to leave and come back some other day when I go back to talking about how in love I am with our wedding. Just sayin' ...

We've all heard the horror stories of the dreaded In-Laws. There's the crazy cord-hasn't-been-cut-yet mother in law who refuses to let go of her son. There's the pervy dad who can't keep his eyes focused on your face. And then there's reality. Hopefully, fiction and reality never match up. But even so, trying to forge a relationship with your partners parents is a tough one. There's tons of pressure attached to it.

Thankfully, Mr. FP and I met in high school so the "meeting the parents" situation wasn't as stressful for us. We had no idea we'd be getting married 6 years from then, so it wasn't a big deal. But since that day, the relationship has definitely been complicated and while my future In-Laws aren't even close to the crazy mom/pervert dad, it's been a difficult relationship to work with. Especially when it comes to balancing it with wedding planning.

Even though my future In-Laws have welcomed me into their family and taken time to get to know me, I'm still not sure I'll ever feel like their daughter. And I think they might expect me to. However, I'm a sensitive, quiet, shy, creature of habit who doesn't stray to beyond the life she's been leading for the past 22 years. And they, well, they're not shy or quiet and the dynamic of their family is very different from that of mine. They talk about everything, we talk about nothing. They're fans of Lebanese and Indian food while my family is a meat and potatoes kind of bunch.

This has been a problem in my relationship with them. They seem to expect something different than what I am. They expect me to show up to every family function. And while I try my best to spend time with his family because it's important to him and well, I'll be hanging with them for the next 60 years of my life, I'm not comfortable with giant groups of people. It's never been easy for me to approach and relate to complete strangers immediately. It take me a lot of time to get to know and be comfortable with people. Which I have been able to do with a few members of his family, especially the local ones.

This is something I think his parents don't understand. Actually, I know they don't understand it because the subject came to a head this past weekend when we had to talk to them about it. We tried to explain that my shyness and reserved nature makes me feel uncomfortable at large gatherings where everyone knows everyone else, but I'm unfamiliar with most, if not all people in attendance. As we tried to explain my shyness to them, his dad made an insensitive joke about
how I "have to show up" at our wedding regardless of how many people I don't know who might be there. Then his mother told me that I don't live up to her expectations of what she thought Mr. FP's partner would be. She thought her relationship with the woman who marries her son would be different than my relationship with her. That hurt. A lot.

I think it's situations like this that prevent me from feeling like their daughter. Hell, forget feeling like their daughter, it's hard for me to even spend time with them when they're making me feel like an idiot for being shy and introverted. While I obviously give some thought to what they think of me, I have the ability to shove off how they feel about me and try my best not to worry about it, but it's Mr. FP I'm most worried about. I don't want there to be tension with his parents because they mean the world to him. But I can't just stop being shy and I flat our refuse to put myself into uncomfortable positions just because of my fear of not living up to their expectations.

Ugh, damn families.

Anyone else have any In-Law troubles? Or have you managed to feel like part of his/her family? Or even better, solve my problem for me! Ha, yeah right. You're not miracle workers.


steph@alittlebirdieweds said...

That's tricky. I know in my big family outsiders, if you will, stick out like a sore thumb. We very well know you're different and they probably talk about it behind your back. I think these things can't be helped from your end. People will talk, your mother in law will feel like you should've been different. I think it's up to them now to realize that you make their son happy and that should be enough. Don't put so much pressure on yourself to fit into the cookie cutter module of what that relationship should be like. Just be yourself!

Gaynor said...

Oh no, that sounds horrible. I would be really hurt if my fiance's mum had said that to me!

Families can be difficult though, hope you manage to find a way to get on with them!

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, this sounds so much like me and my in-laws-to-be. They've actually been very warm and kind to me, and haven't "complained" about my introversion, but I can tell my fiance's mom in particular is disappointed that i don't treat her like a second mother or want to just call and chat with her (which I actually don't even do to much with my own mother!). and my fiance was disappointed for awhile too, because he's an extrovert and has a great relationship with my parents, and felt like either (a) i didn't like his parents or (b) wasn't trying as hard as he was.

so we had to have some long talks about our cultural and personality differences before he appreciated that really this isn't about "not trying" or "not liking," but just about it taking me more time to get to know and be truly comfortable with people who are a different generation, culture, and personality type than me (and who have a lot of expectations about how i should relate to them). And then he's been able to relate some of that back to his parents, and I think things are a lot better now, if not perfect.

So, I know your situation is a little different, but I'm really optimistic that things will work out for you. Good luck.

Helen Chase said...

Oh, dear. Learning how to relate to a whole new family can definitely be difficult, can't it? My fiancee (Lindi) and I are currently planning a wedding in a non-gay-wedding-friendly state. Luckily, my close family and Lindi's mother and sisters are perfectly happy with our relationship, and are very accepting. Unfortunately, my partner's grandmother (whom she is very close to) is very, very Catholic, and back when I was just a friend, she loved having me over to her house, taking me out to dinner with her and Lindi, and so on... and then we told her that we were a couple. WOAH. She went from liking me a lot to refusing to even have me in her house. It was a struggle, especially since Lindi's relationship with her grandmother is so important. However, I stuck around... and now, although she doesn't necessarily recognize our couple-ness, she does talk to me when I go over to her house with Lindi. Over time, things got better.

The reality is, a marriage makes for a changed family dynamic in ANY family. I hope that you're able to work out the hard parts with your in-laws, and that things get better for you as well. Good luck. :)

Chocolate Lover said...

Wow this is tough. Sounds like they were also a little out of line. Is this something Mr. FP can help out with? For us, we decided that we would each handle our own parents with our goal being to protect each other. Our two families are very different and there is a more obvious acceptance of Mr. Milk into my family than of me into his. But to be fair I have also noticed a change over time, as they become more used to the idea I guess. We have spent many hours talking this over between ourselves and deciding on what is right for us. The conversations weren't always smooth, but we at least reached agreements for most things (like not needing to go over for dinner every Sunday like his brother does) and we just take it a situation at a time now. Hang in there. I think sometimes time and an acceptance of differences is all thats really needed.

Jess said...

Oh my. I'm so, so sorry. What a hard thing for you to hear from her and I'm shocked she would be so bold to say something. But then again, she's trying to open up to you about your relationship, so maybe that's a good thing?

I wish I could give advice, but I feel like I have a very similar relationship with R's parents. I've never had a father in my life, so my relationship with his father is basically non existent. As for his mother, I feel the same way you do- very shy, not so much like a daughter. The worst part is that R's brother is getting married a few months after us and his fiancee is very close with my future mother-in-law. Then again, R's other brother is super, super shy so in some ways, I think R's mom understands shy people, so she's okay with me in that way.

Maybe this revelation will open up more conversations between the two of you and, very slowly, you can build a relationship there. Hang in there and stay positive. Ultimately, they love you how happy you make our son so you're not going anywhere anytime soon :)

aapuzzanchera said...

I am having some of the same complications that you are. I do not feel like a part of my guy's family. We have been together for 11 years. Although our family dynamics are so different some things are the same. We have large gatherings for the holidays and when a family member comes to town. He doesn't always want to participate in the things that we do but up until recently I was always willing to participate. To make matters worse we currently rent from his parents. Although there is an arrangement in place and we don't actually pay rent...his mother is greedy. She said that while it was fine for her son to not have to pay rent, that I as a non family member should still pay my portion. BF responded that i will be family some day.... but she said it and it still stings. From this day on I am not going to family functions! You are not alone! I feel your pain! I never feel like I am good enough!

Miss C said...

Poor you :( I can't believe his mother could be so insensitive.

I think everyone has ome kind of issue with their in-laws.

I really love the Groomie's family and extended family... but I can't help but think his sister really resents me. They are really close, and well, I'm the reason he has moved to a whole different hemisphere than his family. I think she likes me, but I just know she'll never be completely on board.

Maybe you should ask Mr. FP to talk to them?

miss fancy pants (the bride) said...

Gosh, you guys are great. I'm so happy to hear that I'm not the only one with a messy In Law situation. Misery loves company, haha. Thanks for the support.
As for Mr. FP's involvement, he's actually been great. We do talk to them and because I find it more difficult to deal with them directly, he often talks for me because he's on the same page I am for the most part. But this problem persists even when he defends me and in spite of these conversations, I still seem to be disappointing them. Honestly, I think it'll just take time for the problem to subside, there just happened to be more drama than usual this week, I guess.

Mrs T said...

Oh that is such an unkind thing to say to you. The kind of thing that if someone said it to me I'd find it very hard to forget.

I married Mr B - I would NEVER have married his family. We have talked it through a million times and I have said that as long as he is on team US when it comes to conflict with them we are fine.

My family is very tell it like it is - so I always know where we stand with each other. Whereas his family will make snide remarks, or just be snippy and when you confront them about things they say nothing is wrong. But they are constantly complaining about other family members to us, and I know they complain about us to other family members too. Can't stand it!

Ah the joy of inlaws!

Ellie said...

I would post more about my in-laws but they know about the blog. My relationship with them is similar to yours, with one huge difference. I'm the extrovert. I'm the one that needs a big loud group of people I know to feel comfortable. I sit in their family gatherings, in which everyone fits in a room, and I feel uncomfortable. They're all staring at me. If I talk, they LISTEN. (My family does NOT do this.) It's totally awkward. And I'm SO LOUD. I can't help it; I'm just LOUD.

They also don't talk about complicated stuff. My family talks about abortion and stem cell research and gay marriage and all of that over dinner. Mark's family talks about things like the garden and what movies they've seen lately and what concerts they have gone to and who from Mark's soccer team is getting married. Which I find incredibly boring. But they love board games, and so do I, but I'm never allowed to play pictionary again because I am one sore loser, let me tell you that.
Ever since we got engaged, I've gotten a lot more comfortable. They were so happy that we were getting married that I felt like I couldn't possibly turn them off too much. So I stopped holding back so much, and it got a lot better. They still don't really understand me, but they know what they don't understand, and we work around it.

The biggest issue so far has been our vegetarian wedding. Man, did they have a hard time with that. The thing that I found helpful was to really show them how vulnerable I was - I had been avoiding the topic of meatlessness and giving flippant reasons for it because I simply didn't want to say, "I believe that it is wrong, and it makes me uncomfortable to celebrate our marriage by killing things" because I feel that what I believe, about food or faith or anything else (except gay marriage) is personal. But once I said that, they understood, and they dropped it. So maybe the next time your in-laws say something insensitive, say, "I know I have to show up, but I can't enjoy myself if I'm uncomfortable, so please stop thinking my discomfort is humorous and find a way to work with me." Eventually, maybe they'll get it.

Also, not to defend your mother-in-law, but to maybe make yourself feel better - maybe her comment wasn't meant to be hurtful, but instead was meant to be explanatory? That she doesn't understand you and maybe if you had the relationship she thought you would, she would understand you better?

miss fancy pants (the bride) said...

@Ellie, honestly, I think that probably is how she meant it to sound, so you're totally justified in saying that. When she first said it, I didn't think much of it until I started thinking about. I don't think she intended it to be spiteful, probably only helpful in the conversation we were having, but even knowing that, it still stings a little. Obviously, haha.

Anonymous said...

Eik. My relationship with my in-laws is not the best either. But I shall save that for my blog! They read my blog (I think) but... I don't care. It's nothing they don't know. Thank God for supportive SOs, huh?

Maybe you can have dinner with them one on one? Or do a double date if you are uncomfortable with big groups. I think they probably feel like YOU don't like them. *shrug* Just a thought.

It is okay, my mother in law thinks I am not good enough for her son. And tells Cory all the time too. URGH

Julie A. Whitlock said...

oh yeah. when i started dating steve is was overwhelming. i am an only child of divorced parents and i am used to quiet and family you see at christmas or exchange emails with a few times a month. i wouldn't really say i am that shy but what i am is solitary. i like my space a whole bunch. three weeks after we started dating steve's mom started cancer treatment. it was either in or out at that point. for a new girlfriend it was a lot. it was a time when family was big and intense. thankfully steve's mom realized that i was overwhelmed with the sheer masses of people. it was nuts. i felt like the bearded lady at the circus. " come see the new girl!!!". steve is really shy so lets just say his dating experience was limited so i was a curiosity and at such a bad time a welcome diversion. i still don't go visit and hang out as much as they like but i would be forcing myself if i did so what's the point?? it's not that i don't love them, i just don't have to be around people all the time. that's just me. i can totally feel you. my first christmas party was sheer torture. and steve probably didn't like the abuse he got for going to the toilet and leaving me alone with all those people. thank god for beer. xox

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