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jca's avatar

Married people or people in a long term relationship: How is/was your relationship with your in-laws or your SO's parents?

Asked by jca (36043points) May 31st, 2012

I am thinking of this because I have a good friend who had a very demanding mother-in-law. The MIL expected displays of affection on special occasions, and requested certain gifts of my friend and her husband. My friend was expected to cook big meals for the MIL’s birthday, and all holidays. My friend probably would have done it anyway, but it was expected, which puts a different taint on things.

Now my friend’s oldest son is married with two children. My friend is resentful because her daughter-in-law does not communicate with her and does very little for her in the way of gifts. The son and daughter-in-law live about 500 miles away, so they don’t see them that often, but my friend expressed disappointment today at her daughter-in-law not returning her calls quickly (a few days pass before she gets called back) and my friend said to me in an email “Imagine if I was this way to my mother-in-law?” I reminded her of how she used to feel with her mother-in-law’s demands and entitled attitude, and also since her MIL was local and my friend is not local to her son and his wife, it’s different, too. I told her that displays of affection have more meaning when they’re from the heart and not demanded.

What was/is your relationship like with your in-laws or significant other’s parents? Are they demanding or are they in the background? Are they pushy or are they meek?

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17 Answers

bookish1's avatar

Woof, glad I haven’t had to deal with this dynamic, as I tend to only get involved with people who don’t have a relationship with their parents for one reason or another…

wundayatta's avatar

My mother-in-law was fairly nice. Not very demanding. My father-in-law passed away before we got married.

I was never that fond of my mother-in-law, though. I like my wife’s family mostly because they were big and that made things interesting. When my MIL stopped being able to do things and then stopped being able to think very well, it grew harder and harder for me to enjoy my time with her. It just became a chore. She was hard of hearing, and I had to shout to be heard, and I just don’t like shouting. It makes me not want to say anything.

But my relationship with my parents wasn’t much better. I know them better, but we have had our issues which we have learned to stay away from. Mostly we just pass time, making good food, drinking wine, and hanging out on vacation or holiday. I live about 200 miles away from my parents, compared to 100 miles for my MIL. That’s far enough to keep casual visiting from happening, but close enough to allow serious visiting without too much trouble.

There are times when I wouldn’t have minded someone living closer so as to help with the kids, but my MIL was never young enough to be able to trust her with the kids, anyway. That was my wife’s choice, not mine.

I know I didn’t have the worst relationship ever, nor the best. I’d say I’m somewhere in the fat part of the distribution curve. I’m not going to complain a lot, but it could have been better. Honestly, I don’t really miss her.

digitalimpression's avatar

My mother in law is crazy. Flat-out, bat-$41t crazy. I hope it isn’t genetic. I try to steer clear of her the best I can.. I think deep down she’s got a good heart, but wow.. she sure is…. crazy.

Blackberry's avatar

Some were good, and some were bad.

I avoided one set of in laws due to the treatment of one of their pets. Another set I loved, and that whole family seemed to like me.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

The SO’s parents are wonderful. For the past two years, we’ve asked them to come stay with us for a month over Christmas and New Year’s, and they only live about 30 miles away. They tell me stories about the family and what life is/was like in the UK. They patiently answer my questions about what anyone in the UK would consider to be basic knowledge. They are a second set of beloved parents in my book.

marinelife's avatar

It took many, many years for there to be a rapprochement between my in-laws and me. They were always outwardly civil, but they did things that caused problems such as calling up up and announcing the dates they were coming to visit us for a week without asking in advance if it was a good time for us.

It wasn’t. We had just moved. My company was on deadline to ship a product so I was working crazy hours. My husband was between jobs so he had made the decision to not work until the move was straightened out and we were unpacked. He also was picking up the slack at home since I was working such long hours. I had to deputize my Mom to do sightseeing duty and help keep them busy during the day.

Anyway, after that disaster, they wrote a letter to my husband offering to pay for a divorce and move him in with them. He replied via a furious letter that they were to butt out of his life and our marriage. We chose not to speak to them for more than a year.

The pressure was off somewhat when my husband’s brother got married. My mother-in-law once said when we were both visiting for the holidays that would I “as the senior daughter-in-law” pour the beverages. I replied, “I didn’t know I had a rank, but I’ll be happy to pour.”

There are so many other stories I could tell. But his dad is dead and my mother-in-law has dementia and is in an assisted living facility so those days are gone.

tinyfaery's avatar

My non-inlaws are great. They have welcomed me with open arms since the day we met. I like them much better than my own family.

cazzie's avatar

My first mother in law (from my first marriage many many years ago) was one of the reasons I got out of the marriage. She and her daughter were horrible. Marriage only lasted 3 months.

I love my inlaws I have now, but they are very old and infirm. He doesn’t even know who he is any more and had to be put in a full time care facility last month and she has MS and sits in a wheelchair and has done since I’ve known her. They live hours by plane away, needlessly, but she refuses to move closer to us so we could help, so me and my son don’t see them often.

tedibear's avatar

I have wonderful in-laws. Not demanding, nice to hang out with, appreciative of whatever we might do for or with them, just generally good people. Had I met them and not their son, I think that we would have been friends. Though I am quite glad that I met their son. ;-)

Neizvestnaya's avatar

My past in-laws were wonderful to me, like the parents I wished I’d had for myself. My MIL was very upfront with what family traditions or routines they all had which made it easy for me to integrate. There was nothing expected outrageous though aside from we were expected to rotate big days like Thanksgiving and Christmas so we weren’t always at my mom’s house for the actual day-of.

With my current in-laws, much is the same. I’m very lucky I have good communication with my them because it kind of falls on me to keep my husband and his kids on board with the those sorts of events and I don’t mind because I enjoy the get togethers/observances too. Again, I don’t have in-laws who expect gifts as much as they want our company.

Bart19's avatar

I have a good relationships with my in-laws. We have some quarrels (My wife and I are living with them) but they never concern gift buying. My mother in-law is more of a mother than my mother ever will be and although my father in-law can be ridiculously small minded and grumpy at times, he at least cares for me, which is more than can be said of my father. I’m very grateful to have them in my life.

Sunny2's avatar

If you wanted a good mother-in-law, mine was a great example. She never interfered in the least. She baby or cat sat when we went on vacation, first without and then with the kids. She lent us her car to go on vacation because hers had AC and ours didn’t. She demanded nothing. I feel guilty about the times she must have been stressed and I didn’t recognize it and offer to do something. In my favor, we did take her to Hawaii for Christmas after her husband died. Still, I should have done more for her than I did.

HudsonHero's avatar

My m-i-l is a hard person to like. I never know if she’s going to be happy or mad at me. All depends on her mood. Most decisions revolve around her. That’s fine but she can be so unkind. She disowned us for a couple months because she said I was disrespectful to her (I had moved something of hers). She also is pretty manipulative to my husband. I think she must have mental health issues. We try very hard to be respectful to her but don’t like her very much.

My parents treat my husband very well and always tells me how lucky I am. They really like him and vice versa.

Our motto is to treat others how you want to be treated. That also means that I wouldn’t want someone to be a doormat for me – so that means I have put up healthy boundaries so M-I-L can only do so much.

woodcutter's avatar

My father in law was a complete asshole and he died 2 years after we married so I think that was a good thing. It may have had a lot to do with me never having to go to prison. Another good thing.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

I had a great relationship with my MIL. She’s been gone about 12 years. I still miss her.

Facade's avatar

My boyfriend’s parents are very much in the background. His mother wishes me happy birthday every year, and his father asks about me every time he calls. We have a good, yet superficial relationship; it’ll probably stay this way. He is the one who has to deal with my parents!

ohmyword's avatar

My SO’s parents were… difficult to deal with, but mostly because my SO didn’t have the best relationship with his parents before I was in the picture. It was an unusual relationship… which is hard to understand because my parents are awesome

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