Anonymous

Separation because of parents

My wife and I never really fight except for things our parents do. We have a 1 year old daughter and since she is the only grandchild in both sets of families and will 99.9% chance be the only one we have a more unusual family dynamic. Over the past several months/year since the birth of our daughter, I’ve struggled with my in-laws and sister-in-law likely due to me not being as used to having family so nearby. My in-laws are near us 6 months out of the year and we see them 3-4 times a week. My sister-in-law was 6-7 hours away by car, but now found a new job about an hour from us so she could be closer to our daughter. I continue to struggle with the idea of spending so much time with my in-laws and soon my sister-law. I truly value family and the importance for our daughter to be surrounded by such loving people, but I also value my time with my wife and daughter. The more and more I think about the current and upcoming changes makes me more and more concerned. Here's the problem: A couple of weeks ago I upset my wife by saying isn’t it sort of sad to think that if we were separated your family would be fine since they have you and the baby. I actually somewhat believe it since I truly don’t think I’m missed by anyone when I’m gone. I was gone for two back-to-back business trips over two weeks and only home for the weekend and I guarantee my in-laws loved every second staying at our house for those two weeks. I said what I said since my parents are past retirement age and starting to look for a new home due their current home having way to many stairs. They live over an hour away from us today and we don’t over see them maybe 6 times a year due to how hard it is for them to drive, etc. I guess they may have said in passing to my wife and in-laws that one area they were thinking about was a town only a few miles from us. I jokingly said to my wife that I guess what they said probably freaked her and my in laws out (while my parents and in-laws get a long I think thugs have changed a little since the birth of our daughter). So I told her that it’s sad to think that any issues we have stem from issues we have with each other’s families and how life might be easier if we were separated although it’s such a farce to even say. While we got over my mistake and poor choice of words, I see how we will continue to have issues with our parents and I will likely struggle even more with the ongoing proximity of my in-laws and sister-in-law. I’m going to see if I can take a step back and find a way to be at peace that my future will now be the closeness with my in-laws and sister-in-law that I guess I never expected. I won’t go into more detail, but I can just say that my in-laws and sister-in-law overwhelmed me with the baby since they can’t get enough of her and I don’t know my place when I am around them as I want to respect them and give them their time, but I don’t feel they respect me or give me my time. I know it's weird to say since the daughter lives with us, but it's more about the time I have with my wife and baby and not just with them, etc. They also crowd the baby and everything she does is seen as amazing which it is, but sometimes I feel she is performing. For example: Meals: when she eats we are so excited to see her try new things, but sometimes in my opinion narrating every bite or every sip of water gets to be a bit much while I think letting her eat like a normal baby/person might be healthier for her than to be treated like a performer. Playing: I also understand wanting to be playing with her our holding her all the time, but I also think sometimes giving space and letting her have sometime by herself or with people but not always entertaining her is good. Not ignoring her, but letting her explore toys, letting her choose what to do or play with, etc. In the end, I struggle with what the future will look like with way more in-laws and sister-in-law time and less time for me and my wife with our daughter. I would love to hear coping strategies, self-help books, what role you think I should play when they are around? Let them have their time or play and be normal, etc. I know I should establish boundaries, but I don’t think my wife thinks anything is wrong with the amount of time we see my in-laws or will see my sister-in-law as she sees all this as normal and positive. Thanks for any advice.

  • B
    Oct 30, 2018

    I think the first thing is to talk to her about making sure you preserve enough time for you as a family unit. Say you need one weekend day or whatever without guests so that you can enjoy the family. Come to a compromise, then stick to it (except when important things come up). Also, if they are over that much I don’t think you need to be so hands off. Figure out what dynamic works for you. But you don’t have to give up baby the whole time. I think you need to work on feeling less pushed out. Maybe that’s counseling or maybe just reminding yourself that you are loved and needed. I’m sure your in laws loved seeing baby a ton. Doesn’t mean they don’t want you around.

  • Anonymous
    Oct 30, 2018

    Thanks B. I agree that ensuring we get the personal unit of family time that I want within reason will be key. I also agree that likely my in laws are doing exactly what all grandparents do. I’m sure they are indifferent to me being around. Likely they are to self absorbed to actually notice. I know sounds harsh but truly meet it that 99.9% of everything they do us focused on the baby as soon as they set foot in the house or if we meet them outside the house... again likely normal behavior if grandparents. I just started seeing a therapist several weeks ago some of these topics are being discussed especially trying to cope with different family background style.

  • Anonymous
    Oct 30, 2018

    I agree with you that in-laws can be frustrating and overbearing, even between my husband and I they create a lot of issues on both sides. I also have this issue of my in-laws crowding my son. It’s usually 4 people surrounding him like he’s an act in a circus and when he’s tired and crying, they always try to keep playing with him. It definitely pushes my buttons. But pick your battles. Your daughter won’t really remember this time, and I’m sure as she gets older it will be less like this. However I am offering one different perspective that maybe can help you feel a little better. Is your wife a SAHM? Because I am, and my family may live over a thousand miles away but I am always on the phone with them and my mom visits often, because I get so lonely and raising a child by yourself for many hours a day is hard. I am always thankful for when my mom comes to visit (though my husband thinks it happens too often) and I get a few hours a day to put a bit of energy into something else. When you went on a business trip I am almost sure your wife missed you but just appreciated and got used to the extra hands and eyes on your baby. With that said, I don’t think your wife or in-laws should be upset if yours moved closer. That’s a bit selfish and if it were to happen I would suggest being honest in that regard. Anyway, navigating human relationships is a difficult thing to do, and it sounds like you’re putting a lot of energy into it. I like PP suggestion, about knowing you have at least 1 family day planned every week and let it give you a peace of mind. Best wishes!

  • Brianne
    Oct 30, 2018

    Talking openly with your wife is the first step I think. I’m in the same situation but it’s my family that is close. I didn’t see how much it was bothering my husband until he told me his frustrations. (It’s actually bad enough we have decided to move 4 hours away) Just avoid the blame game and be honest about what events make you feel what and ask for her help in securing your family unit time. Standing up to the grandparents can be hard but I think all that you’re describing are legit reactions to your situation. It may just be that you limit it to one time a week. we use the he’s exhausted and needs to stick to a strict schedule for a little while to get back in the swing of things excuse in order to shorten the amount of visits without blatantly telling them we don’t want them over. I hope you can work it out!

  • Anonymous
    Oct 30, 2018

    I think you should 100% be very clear with your wife. No weird “we might be better off apart” comments. Figure out what you’d like to see happen, talk to her about what boundaries you’d like to see set, and work to make it happen. I don’t think you need to be dealing with your in-laws alone, nor do I necessarily think you need a self help book...The issue isn’t your in-laws, it’s the communication between you and your wife. If you don’t know how to be clear without resorting to bringing up separation, try finding a counselor to help you guys hash this out in a more productive way. This really isn’t about your in-laws at all... it’s about you and your wife not being on the same page and you not feeling like she is respecting what you want. But.... she can’t do that if she doesn’t know that this is a real issue about how you want to raise your child together. I don’t really know that people casually bring up separation without either 1) being serious about it on some level 2) are looking to get an emotional response from their partner. But you won’t be getting a HELPFUL response, just a hurt reaction. You get a say in what your family life looks like, but you’ll need to find a way to communicate it. Maybe write down all your thoughts first so you’re not just trying to figure it all out in an emotional moment. Good luck!

  • Sarah
    Oct 30, 2018

    First of all, she is YOUR daughter too. I felt that way when my 8 month old was born. I told my fiancé I didn't want his parents over all the time or didn't want to take her over there all the time. She's a new baby and this is our time with her. They're grandparents, THEY need to know THEIR place. It is VERY important to give her her own space to explore, otherwise she will become codependent if not already. Before my baby could scoot, my MIL kept handing her toys that were out of her reach. I told her to let her figure out how to get to something she wants and now she's been mobile for almost a month. You need to talk to your wife respectfully and tell her your feelings of distance from her and your baby girl, that you would like more time just the 3 of you. You guys are married and it should be natural to talk about feelings and for the other to listen and understand. Then after you talk to your wife, you both need to talk to the family together and express your feelings and say you guys need more alone time as a family. It's not normal for them to be as involved as they are like they're a part of your immediate family. They need to realize you guys are your own family now. Especially since you go on business trips, they need to understand that you miss your wife and daughter. You might have to be firm to get the quality time you want but you have to make yourself and your wife and daughter happy, not the in laws. Hope this sheds a little light at least. Good luck!

  • Anonymous
    Oct 30, 2018

    First, I want to apologize for typos as typing on an iPhone has its challenges! Thank you so much for the thoughtful feedback to my issue. I have to say that I am 100% embarrassed and sad to have ever said anything to my my wife related to “separation due to family”. I didn’t say it in the way of “we should” but I can see how even saying it as how “sad it is to think... that it might bring peace...” It was not in my character and not what I want. That being said I agree that my wife and I need to be on the same page and strengthen our communications. While I agree this issue is between my wife and I... the challenge might be is we may not see 100% “eye to eye”... For example the comment that was about... Since my wife is currently a stay at home mom having help while I was gone for back to back (highly unusual business trips) is likely viewed as very helpful and appreciated. Her parents are here for the six months so it’s perfectly natural for them to move in... I have a virtual job and work from home or can go into my co-working office. So usually I’m able to make breakfast and lunch and help and love being around our daughter as much as possible etc... This can cause challenges with the in-laws depending on how often we see them through the week since I am home or can go to the office etc... Where we likely won’t see eye to eye is that while I believe in “it takes a village” I’m likely more in the mindset that we can do it or we can do most things... So while my wife does appreciate and can use the help I see where she sees her mom or dad as being assets and I know they totally just want to be with the baby! I also do believe that grandparents and sister in laws are valuable to our daughter and the issues I have are “silly” when it comes down to really that these things are so positive. Everyone just loves our daughter and can’t get enough of her which is the most important thing. However I do agree with another comment that sometimes I think my daughter gets crowded. I think it’s a bit much for eating and playing with so many people. I get it’s fun to encourage drinking water, eating and chewing her food, and playing with her but sometimes I think it’s overwhelming and a bit much. Knowing my place As another comment was that likely for my in laws they are around enough that I don’t have to give them unlimited space with my daughter and I don’t need to put myself into the kitchen to finish dishes and cleaning the bottles etc... —- I usually do this so I have more time finishing chores to play with my daughter later. But I likely do it since I don’t want to overcrowd my daughter and don’t truly know my place in this larger family dynamic. The same issue with my sister in law but since currently she isn’t around as much since she lives for now 6-7 hours away I do step back and also give her space... however with the pending move I’m a bit more worried as I don’t know how many weekends we will see her but I’m assuming a lot since she will likely be within about an hour. Agreement This is where I don’t know if my wife would see eye to eye about time with in-laws and sister in laws. She is more loose and likely feels no issue with them being around etc... My family likely won’t move closer, may want to do more with the baby although I think we set up boundaries for them very clear. I think this is just how the dad vs mom side of families are treated. The mom side is more open and the dad side is more restrictive. Just my opinion. I just wanted to thank you for sharing some insights and stories as it makes me feel better to know that some of my issues are not that odd. I truly hope for the best and hope we can overcome these issues and challenges.

  • anonymous mom
    Nov 02, 2018

    So I see this as a boundary issue...it sounds like your in laws are around a lot and not giving you family time together. It also sounds like your wife likes it this way which will be challenging but needs to be addressed when you’re both calm and relaxed. It’s hard with a one year old, I know.. But I would start by explaining to her that family is so very important to you and you want your daughter to grow up with a strong sense of family. That starts with your nuclear family and branches outward. Move on to tell her you need time with just her and your daughter. Explain to her that your separation comment was possibly coming from a bad place but your point was you don’t feel like you get time with your family. You need to establish visiting times and nuclear family times. As for your own parents, you also need to find time to visit them. I think it’s a great idea to have them move closer as long as you all get along and you want that too. To your point about not feeling like you’re missed by her family, just being really honest here. You’re probably not. I’m fairly certain my husbands parents don’t care if I’m along for visits to their house and I’m absolutely certain that my family isn’t heartbroken when my husband is absent during my visits to them or their visits to my house. It is what it is...we are our parents children and our kids are their grandchildren but our spouses are their in laws too. I don’t really mind and I completely understand. Bear in mind that things like extended business trips are actually (in my opinion) the best time for in laws to visit. I had to go out of town for 3 weeks with two two day stays back at home recently. My FIL and SMIL were around most of that time and I was all for it. My daughter loves them and they’re great and all but when I got home after all that nonsense they left and I got to have my family back. I knew while I was away that my daughter was being spoiled and my in laws were getting all the time they could ever ask with her and it was nice knowing she was probably (hopefully!! 😭) missing me but had lots of distraction. Similarly, my husband will be out of town on extended business for most of January. My mom will more or less move in for the month and then will head out the afternoon before my husband is due to arrive back home.

  • Anonymous
    Nov 18, 2018

    My in-laws are completely overbearing also so I understand how you are feeling. My hubby is deployed and I just got back from 6 months of military training. I got back and wanted alone time with my son so I took him and had alone time not going to my in-laws at all for around 3 weeks. That’s when they called my hubby and told him that his sons mom is not letting them see our son and how horrible it is and how after 3 weeks they are so hurt. I feel they have no right to be hurt seeing my hubby won’t see our son for a year because of his deployment and I went 6 months without seeing him because of the military. So they don’t really have a right to complain. But they did🙄 they also told me I needed to respect them more as grandparents.... but they don’t want to be grandparents they want to be his parents and have him around 24/7 and if he is t they freak out. It’s overbearing and wrong. You need to tell them how you feel about it and tell them you need your space. When I finally did that they freaked out and got offended but hey, they stopped asking me to bring him over because they were upset at me so it helped. And when they got over it so far they have been less pushy. Hopefully it sticks.

  • Anonymous
    Nov 24, 2018

    Good luck. Thank you and your husband for your service. I had a bit of a POW Wow with my in-laws as they stated they were coming to my daughters upcoming medical procedure. I wish they would Kay ask and not state what they will be doing etc... It’s hard and I totally know what you mean by feeling like they want to be parents just like I fell my sister in law thinks she is the mom. Whatever! My case is odd as my wife and I have both older sisters not married and no kids so I feel our baby is viewed as the family baby!

  • anonymous mom
    Nov 24, 2018

    I’ve been thinking about you!! How did the pow wow go?? I hope things are calming down!

  • Anonymous
    Nov 24, 2018

    @julie, It went okay. I was a bit surprised initially that my MIL didn’t think we had any “issues”.... I brought up how some of the old issues still bothered me and she I guess felt they weren’t issue any more. She asked if it was my Mom what would I do and I said I would likely tell her how I felt and my MIL said to treat her the same. Sounds nice but not real in my opinion. I’ve been learning to just let things be and to realize how everyone just loves our daughter and means no harm etc... At this point I’m mostly stressed about my sister in law moving near us since that will be the next life changing event. When she was 6+ hours away it was one thing but now it’s 1 hour away staring Dec 15. —- I’ll find a way to embrace this and hope that my wife and I and our daughter still gets our own time as a family or else I will likely have more issues! Ugh...