Words of Encouragement?? Going to see the in-laws

  1. (sorry a bit long)

    Any advice on how to interact with difficult in-laws? We are traveling to see my BF's parents in Europe this Wed. and, to put it lightly, they are not the most welcoming or easy to get along with. I am surprised at how nervous I feel as the date approaches. I always thought it would get easier with each visit we made (and there have been several over the years we have been together), but it seems to be getting more difficult and more awkward with each visit instead.

    He spoke with them today on the phone and I could hear it was an argument. Their favorite topics are (i) when are we getting married (ii) when are we having children (iii) when are we moving back to Europe, (iv) his career choices.

    The other favorite subject of late is also the winter holidays. I have never been allowed at Christmas, and for this year he stood up to them and it hasn't gone well from what I can gather (this, of course makes me feel so incredibly uncomfortable and insecure… I’m not invited to Christmas???).

    My BF and I have already spoken a lot about this and he is greatly supportive, but I could still use advise on how to stay calm and make conversation when in the back of my mind I feel completely insecure and shy. It is the strangest thing, but these people can make me feel 10 years old again and like I'm being whispered about behind my back (or in this case a foreign language that I’m not proficient in) and I am a grown woman!!!

    Sorry for the long post, and thanks in advance for any advise.
  2. I'm assuming from reading your post that there is a language barrier. Have you made an effort to learn their language to improve communication?
  3. I have just had one of the most rotten weekends in recent memory thanks to my in-laws. I can't really help you but I sympathize.
  4. Hang in there, my inlaws hate me and after the Mother's Day Fiasco from HE** my husband didn't even mention going there for Father's Day. Just know that you're not alone.

    Good luck!
  5. I share the same sentiments with the rest of you ladies... I cannot give you any advice but do know I'm wishing you the best...
  6. Ahhhh.... had to come check this thread out based on the title.

    Here's my story summed up as simply as possible: I really felt like one of my in-laws didn't really dig me... I felt like I couldn't be myself, etc. and I always felt like this in-law was trying to "pick out" other people for my (bf at the time) DH to be with!! Fast forward to this weekend (after being married 2 years, dating for 3)... we had the most pleasant trip out of recent memories. I was pleasant and stopped viewing this person as "DH's" parent... and just viewed them as a person. It took the pressure off... I was myself, and subsequently I think I didn't let the situation bother me like I had in the past. (However, there didn't seemed to be any spiked comments towards DH's & my relationship this time?? Interesting...) I looked at the weekend as I didn't really care how it turned out, and for some reason that helped? I no idea if this is going to make sense. :p

    I'm also dealing with a "semi-culture/language" barrier... He's British (I'm American), so I've learned they say things alot more bluntly then in the US... (So it seems from dealing with that side of family?) Once I've realized that, and have learned a bit of Brit-slang - it has helped alot.
  7. They seem to have control issues with their son than with you... so while it will be hard to deal with them, try to keep objective in negative atmosphere. They sound like they have a toxic potential, or they are having huge cultural issues right now (a son abroad, foreign GF etc). It's possible as soon as your BF and you arrive there, all will be fine.

    These things might get on their good side, so if you are anxious, try to get over the hurdle with some sincerity:

    • tell them on arrival how honored you are to be visiting them
    • compliment the parent/s cooking
    • compliment their home
    • ask about their jobs or business or hobbies
    • tell them they raised a son who has integrity
    • ask them to teach you a local song and sing the lyrics... as embarrassing as that sounds, you'll score points (my DH did this and every one of the elders dissolved in laughter)
    if you want to cry, excuse yourself and go to the bathroom for a while... but always come back to the room with a calm demeanor... don't fight your BF's battles for him... he can handle it. Soon they will be defending YOU to him!
  8. stay at a hotel instead of their home, you can claim an allergy to their cat or something like that

    a glass of wine seems to help, and a hotel room. you can always pretend to have the flu.

    just remind yourself that they live far away. just plaster a smile on your face, no matter how much you dislike them. pretend you are an actress in a movie.

    i cant stand my inlaws. i have grown tired of fighting with them, and now just hope that the weekend ends quickly...and sometimes i treat myself to something after the visit is over.

    good luck
  9. My sympathies for you and bf--hard on both of you. Is there a language barrier, or mainly cultural? I like rainrowan's ideas. If you can do the right thing, whatever that may be in different situations, they can't complain about you, or if they do, they have to make up something. If they become disrespectful (continue to ask nosy questions after you both have declined to answer) you have every right to leave their presence, without drama.

    Not defending them, but imagine for a moment how much they must miss their son, the distance between them--it's probably making their unpleasant qualities worse. One of my sons lived 4 hrs from us and never visited us--if we wanted to see him we drove there. Now that we're in NC (he's in Iowa), I expect he will never see us down here. This makes for a touchy situation when I hear my d-i-l give excuse after excuse for why they can't visit. You aren't like she is--I'm just saying the distance may make them extra-critical and difficult.

    Try to go with no expectations and maybe you won't be too disappointed. Your bf is a treasure because he supports you! Best wishes!
  10. honestly go put on a good face and no matter what do not take their bait. be the better person and be the adult.

    and quite frankly if they don't want yoiu by the holidays maybe they really arent ready for their baby to grow up and they think by having those four hot topics of argument if they keep pushing the two of you maybe they are hoping to dissolve your relationship
  11. ^^ ITA alvie...nomatter what i have to agree dont let them bring u down to their level..sometimes people attack u so that they can make you look bad when u fire back...dont give them what they want ..honestly if you say a prayer it'll help, prayer works wonders...and try not go over in your mind anything rude they do to you, just let it go and try to stay focused on positive things..... like maybe you can go shopping after ur stay with them..reward urself!!stay focused on your treat!!
  12. Just be polite. What language do they speak? Do you also speak that language?? If not, how about making the kind gesture to learn a little bit of the language - to let them know that you're taking an interest and really are making an effort to communicate with them.

    How about bringing a small gift when you arrive at their home? How about a potted plant or a cake?

    The only advice I really have is to be polite. Also, offer to help set up and clear the dinner table - even if his mother says no, at least you offered to help.
  13. Thanks Ladies for all of your great advice, encouraging words, and good insights. I particularly liked the advice of Bags4bubbles and Rainwoman and will try those things.

    As to the question some of you had about the cultural difference/language barrier –they lived in the U.S. for several years before returning to Germany, so while they are German, they are fluent in English. I have started taking German classes, but am by no means conversational (which is why it is particularly infuriating when they switch into German in the middle of a heated conversation so I can’t understand!!! but of course, I’m not going to focus on that anymore … instead I’m breathing and staying clam in practice for this upcoming trip J LOL)

    Anyhow, gifts have been purchased for each of them, and I have written a list of conversation topics (yes, I actually wrote a list!) Other than that, I will be steadfast in being polite and staying neutral when difficult conversations come up, and when they switch into German I will excuse myself and let them “have their privacy” to discuss “family” matters (which they always talk about as a reason that I am not invited to things). I also have a new mantra “this is not about me, it is about them” (very childish, I know, but I think it’s spot on).

    I’m leaving tomorrow, but will visit pf again when I get back in July. Thanks again for all your advice. I really appreciate it!
  14. I ditto the others' advice. Also, i & ii makes it sound like they want a commitment, from both of you, am I right? That doesn't sound so bad. It's difficult sometimes with future in-laws, the language & cultural barrier doesn't make it any easier.
  15. The only advice I can give is be yourself, I sware thats the most important thing! MIL can see straight through you! Scary actually!
    My SOs Mum has a very strange sense of humour, and I just couldnt grasp it! In the end, i stopped being uptight and was just myslef an drelaxed and now I love her to bits!
    It sounds like it will be harder though because you are in different countries.
    Just smile, keep your head up and be extra nice to his mum! xx