Author Topic: How to establish boundaries when family move closer  (Read 1363 times)

Trudie

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How to establish boundaries when family move closer
« on: March 03, 2020, 08:27:26 AM »
My husband and I moved last June to a condo that was a historic reuse of an abandoned property in a midwestern university town.  We are blocks off campus from the big public university and LOVE the life we are building here.  We have found it easy to make friends in our new FIREd lives, are staying physically and mentally active, and we are trying new hobbies.

The move enabled us to move closer, but not too close, to family.  It erased three hour trips each way to see family.  Now everyone is within a half hour to an hour.  That said, we have nice boundaries here.  We go to different churches, run in different social circles, have autonomy, and can manage expectations.  We don’t show up at the same events.  We pick up the phone before visiting.

My SIL and BIL live an hour away and have decided to downsize to a condo.  Yesterday she called my husband and told him that they had made a cash offer on a condo in an adjacent neighborhood in our town, but that it fell through.  They weren’t going to tell us, but rather they wanted to “surprise us.”  My immediate reaction was something like, “Really fucking really?!?!?”  I love our family and spending time with them, but it’s kind of like the old adage, “I married you for better or for worse, but not for lunch.”  We share some of the same interests but are different personalities.  My husband and I are quieter and less likely to dominate in social situations.  My SIL can talk forever.  Also, most of our new friends are politically and religiously on the liberal end of the spectrum, my BIL and SIL are pretty conservative.

I realize they can technically do whatever they want, but I am irritated by this.  My husband doesn’t feel as strongly as I do, but this morning offered to talk to her about not moving into our building or immediate neighborhood.  Selfishly, I want to have our own friends and activities and feel free to be myself.  I feel like we’ve earned it.  What to do?

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: How to establish boundaries when family move closer
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2020, 08:50:57 AM »
Oof, I would hate that. I'd hate it enough that I'd be willing to have an awkward conversation now rather than have them move too close. In fact I'd hate it enough that if they moved in I'd be looking to move out.

Does it bother you (and your husband) that much?

If you wanted to approach it more softly, you could mention all the reasons that you were surprised that they chose that neighbourhood and why you don't think it would suit them. Politics could be one thing, maybe the size of the units could be another, the different style of the churches a third? I'd also cut right down on the positive things I said about the area.

Personally, it'd bother me enough that I'd say something. It can be packaged in context that you really like being 30 minutes away and it feels a good distance compared to a three hour drive, but be clear that this would not be a fun surprise for you.

Retire-Canada

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Re: How to establish boundaries when family move closer
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2020, 08:53:31 AM »
Selfishly, I want to have our own friends and activities and feel free to be myself.  I feel like we’ve earned it.  What to do?

I don't see how you can't have this ^^^ just because some relations move closer to you. There is no legal requirement to spend time with them beyond whatever amount/context you want to.

BabyShark

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Re: How to establish boundaries when family move closer
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2020, 09:01:26 AM »
The weird thing for me is that they wanted to "surprise you."  Like, did they think you'd be thrilled?  Or did they know you wouldn't be?

Trudie

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Re: How to establish boundaries when family move closer
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2020, 09:18:25 AM »
The weird thing for me is that they wanted to "surprise you."  Like, did they think you'd be thrilled?  Or did they know you wouldn't be?

This is what bugs me... There are good, then not so good surprises. 

Trudie

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Re: How to establish boundaries when family move closer
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2020, 09:31:11 AM »
Oof, I would hate that. I'd hate it enough that I'd be willing to have an awkward conversation now rather than have them move too close. In fact I'd hate it enough that if they moved in I'd be looking to move out.

Does it bother you (and your husband) that much?

If you wanted to approach it more softly, you could mention all the reasons that you were surprised that they chose that neighbourhood and why you don't think it would suit them. Politics could be one thing, maybe the size of the units could be another, the different style of the churches a third? I'd also cut right down on the positive things I said about the area.

Personally, it'd bother me enough that I'd say something. It can be packaged in context that you really like being 30 minutes away and it feels a good distance compared to a three hour drive, but be clear that this would not be a fun surprise for you.

We’re going to have a small conversation now.  The truth is, when I do things with female friends I don’t want to have to negotiate including my SIL.

It’s not that I don’t want to spend time with them at all, it’s just that I prefer it better in small bits.  You choose your friends, but not your family.

If they moved into our building I’d want to move out.  But I don’t think that will happen.  Our units are small and not too suitable.  My husband is going to point all this out.

My husband mentioned earlier this fall that his sister is a bit needy in a way.  Her transition to retirement has not been as fulfilling as she’d hoped.  They don’t have enough to do where they live and would like to make new friends.  I’m empathetic.  It’s just that she often looks to us for reassurance and a confidence boost.  I don’t want to play that role.  I already get irritated with her religious fundamentalism.  She’s searching for things to do and lobbies us to do those things — like a Bible study she’s into — and it gets old.  We say no.  Lots of dynamics there that I’m too lazy to get into.




Sibley

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Re: How to establish boundaries when family move closer
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2020, 10:11:39 AM »
Just because someone lives nearby doesn't mean you have to spend time with them. As long as you make it clear to everyone (and I do mean EVERYONE - spouse, inlaws, outlaws, SIL/BIL, everyone) that you like your like as is, and you're happy with the frequency that you see everyone and you don't intend to change that balance if someone moves closer, then do your thing. You may need to be quite blunt, especially with your spouse.

G-dog

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Re: How to establish boundaries when family move closer
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2020, 11:49:33 AM »
Re: negotiating adding SIL - where would the pressure come from?  Is it like SIL would generally ask if you are free, and if you say “no” she would probe and try to invite herself along?

I think they should move closer to parents .....

Padonak

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Re: How to establish boundaries when family move closer
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2020, 12:07:14 PM »
Op, you own the condo but not the building, neighborhood or town. They are free to move wherever they want. You are free to limit your interactions with them or even ignore them completely. The only potential problem I see here is if your husband is not on the same page.

kei te pai

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Re: How to establish boundaries when family move closer
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2020, 12:22:03 PM »
Hi, I can appreciate your discomfort about possible changes in family patterns if your SIL and husband move nearer. However , I think a conversation discouraging this is actually a step too far. It may be how you feel, but it shouldnt be how you behave.
Setting boundaries may mean asking them not to visit without arranging it first, making clear you dont expect to include your SIL in regular friendship circles, and having a frank discussion with your spouse about how ongoing relationships will work, if in fact they do move.
I think attempting to control their choices at this stage is not productive and may cause ongoing hurt and resentment.

Pigeon

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Re: How to establish boundaries when family move closer
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2020, 12:32:13 PM »
Op, you own the condo but not the building, neighborhood or town. They are free to move wherever they want. You are free to limit your interactions with them or even ignore them completely. The only potential problem I see here is if your husband is not on the same page.

This.  I think it's pretty unreasonable that you think you can control where they move. 

However, you absolutely don't have to socialize with them any more than you want to.  We moved back into the same town as my ILs at one point.  It took some setting of boundaries with my MIL.  We explained that we'd appreciate a phone call prior to any visiting.  She decided a couple of times to ignore that and just showed up at our apartment.  We ignored her knocking on the door, even though it was pretty clear from both our cars parked in front that we were both home.  She did this twice, and it became obvious to her that showing up wasn't the way to go, and from then on, there was a phone call.

You don't have to include your SIL in your plans with your friends.  You don't need to explain anything.

Car Jack

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Re: How to establish boundaries when family move closer
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2020, 12:38:18 PM »
My in laws live 12 miles away.  Back when we were new to our house, they would show up, unannounced.  We tend to keep our cars in the garage, which is 200 feet away from the house, so it's never clear by looking for cars if we're home or not.  We have seen their car coming up the driveway, locked all the doors and hidden while they banged on the door until they gave up and left. 

GizmoTX

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Re: How to establish boundaries when family move closer
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2020, 12:50:52 PM »
OP, you have to make it clear, nicely but firmly, that all visits must be invited ones & that there are no assumed standing days or times to get together. I realize that some cultures or families ignore these boundaries, but this is where you must stand firm. No exceptions. However, telling them to stay out of Dodge is unreasonable.


mm1970

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Re: How to establish boundaries when family move closer
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2020, 01:12:30 PM »
Selfishly, I want to have our own friends and activities and feel free to be myself.  I feel like we’ve earned it.  What to do?

I don't see how you can't have this ^^^ just because some relations move closer to you. There is no legal requirement to spend time with them beyond whatever amount/context you want to.

This.

Quote
The weird thing for me is that they wanted to "surprise you."  Like, did they think you'd be thrilled?  Or did they know you wouldn't be?

Some people just like that.  My mom was like that, for some strange reason.  The wow factor.  She "surprised" me with a bridal shower (ugh), she "surprised" us one summer when we were visiting her by having my husband's parents drive 8 hours down and be there too.  (Huh, we got the last laugh on that one because I was pregnant, ha surprise!)


I have an old great friend who just moved into town.  She lives about a mile from my house.  And I have seen her exactly twice.  She's been here two years.  Now, you are retired so it's different (I have a FT job, husband, 2 kids and a dog - and she has FT job, travels, husband, and dog).  However, it may be very likely that you are worried about not much...

FIence!

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Re: How to establish boundaries when family move closer
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2020, 01:54:57 PM »
A few have mentioned that you can't tell them what to do vis a vis moving, and that letting the in laws know you'd hate it would cause too much resentment. But how much resentment will you feel if they move in (figuratively) next door to you? I would argue that at the very least you SHOULD go ahead and set expectations now.

The surprise element would seriously bother me. You indicated yourself that SIL is very different from you socially, and some "very social" people say "I get all my energy from other people!" I call that being a vampire. If you want to hardball the discussion, you can do that, but if you want a soft approach your husband could ask some leading questions about what they expect their lives to be like if they move there, what the appeal is, etc., using phrases like "We're surprised you are interested in this area because xyz..." and sort of remove the gloss for them. Ask questions that determine if they expect you to entertain them, see them all the god damn time, etc. so that can be nipped in the bud like so:
SIL/BIL: "We'd be closer to you, so we could all go out to eat every other night of the week!"
You/spouse: "Oh, I hope your whole motivation for coming here is not to do that, we watch DVDs of the hit show Viper every other night of the week, and we have boycotted restaurants. How would you plan to meet people in the area? I know our church is not your style, do you have a new church in mind?" etc. etc. etc.

Let them know that moving near you does not mean they are entitled to all of your time, and that you will not be their social coordinator. Yes, they are legally allowed to move where they please. And yes, they can be doing so based on unrealistic expectations of you and your spouse. These things can be true concurrently. Not saying anything now is setting everyone up to hate each other. If you meet in the middle, you will resent the 50% more time you are spending with them, they will resent you for only spending 50% more time with them.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2020, 02:28:28 PM by FIence! »

wellactually

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Re: How to establish boundaries when family move closer
« Reply #15 on: March 03, 2020, 02:11:25 PM »
Obviously I don't know these people, but it sounds like you are projecting a lot of intentions on them. Maybe they are justified by your experiences, but maybe you're also worrying overmuch.

I don't think you have any right to say these people can't move one hour from their current home into a different neighborhood from you. I don't even think it's that strange they didn't tell you. They're only moving an hour away. And it doesn't sound like they've done anything to indicate your relationship would change much from how it is currently.

If they do move into your town, I'd suggest setting up some kind of regular get together as the time you will see them. Maybe it's brunch every other saturday or something. Then just don't invite them to things that you don't want to invite them to. They won't be able to say you never see them if you've got a standing appointment. It sounds like she already asks you all to do things with her, the hour difference hasn't stopped that. So you'll just have to be honest that you all aren't into the same things but you're glad she's found X group or whatever.

charis

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Re: How to establish boundaries when family move closer
« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2020, 02:16:35 PM »
Selfishly, I want to have our own friends and activities and feel free to be myself.  I feel like we’ve earned it.  What to do?

I don't see how you can't have this ^^^ just because some relations move closer to you. There is no legal requirement to spend time with them beyond whatever amount/context you want to.

This.

Quote
The weird thing for me is that they wanted to "surprise you."  Like, did they think you'd be thrilled?  Or did they know you wouldn't be?

Some people just like that.  My mom was like that, for some strange reason.  The wow factor.  She "surprised" me with a bridal shower (ugh), she "surprised" us one summer when we were visiting her by having my husband's parents drive 8 hours down and be there too.  (Huh, we got the last laugh on that one because I was pregnant, ha surprise!)


I have an old great friend who just moved into town.  She lives about a mile from my house.  And I have seen her exactly twice.  She's been here two years.  Now, you are retired so it's different (I have a FT job, husband, 2 kids and a dog - and she has FT job, travels, husband, and dog).  However, it may be very likely that you are worried about not much...

Friends of my in-laws bought a condo next to the in-laws' vacation home.  These friends didn't mention it until had they made the offer.  It was assumed that they would all be there on weekends and hang out together.  Scary stuff.

Trudie

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Re: How to establish boundaries when family move closer
« Reply #17 on: March 03, 2020, 03:32:48 PM »
A few have mentioned that you can't tell them what to do vis a vis moving, and that letting the in laws know you'd hate it would cause too much resentment. But how much resentment will you feel if they move in (figuratively) next door to you? I would argue that at the very least you SHOULD go ahead and set expectations now.

The surprise element would seriously bother me. You indicated yourself that SIL is very different from you socially, and some "very social" people say "I get all my energy from other people!" I call that being a vampire. If you want to hardball the discussion, you can do that, but if you want a soft approach your husband could ask some leading questions about what they expect their lives to be like if they move there, what the appeal is, etc., using phrases like "We're surprised you are interested in this area because xyz..." and sort of remove the gloss for them. Ask questions that determine if they expect you to entertain them, see them all the god damn time, etc. so that can be nipped in the bud like so:
SIL/BIL: "We'd be closer to you, so we could all go out to eat every other night of the week!"
You/spouse: "Oh, I hope your whole motivation for coming here is not to do that, we watch DVDs of the hit show Viper every other night of the week, and we have boycotted restaurants. How would you plan to meet people in the area? I know our church is not your style, do you have a new church in mind?" etc. etc. etc.

Let them know that moving near you does not mean they are entitled to all of your time, and that you will not be their social coordinator. Yes, they are legally allowed to move where they please. And yes, they can be doing so based on unrealistic expectations of you and your spouse. These things can be true concurrently. Not saying anything now is setting everyone up to hate each other. If you meet in the middle, you will resent the 50% more time you are spending with them, they will resent you for only spending 50% more time with them.

This.

My husband has already talked with his sister, and things went fine.  Basically, he said that it would be great to have them in town, but he discouraged her from looking in our building — honestly pointing out that it is a small building, that it could be as if we were living in the same house at times (lots of shared common areas), and this wouldn’t be good for either him or her over the long term.  All of this is true. 

She got back to us right away, appreciated our candor, said she was glad to be able to talk this stuff through with her brother, and sounds genuinely fine.  They are satisfied to be looking in town, but in other areas.

Yes, my initial reaction projected stuff, and I realize they can do whatever they want.  This reflects some insecurity on my part; I own it.  And, I can certainly work on it.  But—my reaction was somewhat based on prior personal experience when my parents moved less than a mile from my only sibling when they retired— I do think discussions about expectations and boundaries are crucial. In that case, there have been frustrations and hurt feelings because stuff wasn’t discussed candidly.  Candor is important.

I was bothered by the surprise factor, and I feel it was justified.  My husband and his sister are close.  They are the only siblings, and they do talk a lot — especially now that their parents are dead.  When he did talk to her she said that she likes being able to talk to him about it because they can’t really talk to anyone where they now live.  I can empathize with that.  So, I will just chalk it up to that and let it go.

G-dog

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Re: How to establish boundaries when family move closer
« Reply #18 on: March 03, 2020, 08:11:12 PM »
I’m glad it’s (mostly) resolved.  Sounds like DH and his sis have a good relationship.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: How to establish boundaries when family move closer
« Reply #19 on: March 04, 2020, 01:24:41 AM »
...

Yes, my initial reaction projected stuff, and I realize they can do whatever they want.  This reflects some insecurity on my part; I own it.  And, I can certainly work on it.  But—my reaction was somewhat based on prior personal experience when my parents moved less than a mile from my only sibling when they retired— I do think discussions about expectations and boundaries are crucial. In that case, there have been frustrations and hurt feelings because stuff wasn’t discussed candidly.  Candor is important.

I was bothered by the surprise factor, and I feel it was justified.  My husband and his sister are close.  They are the only siblings, and they do talk a lot — especially now that their parents are dead.  When he did talk to her she said that she likes being able to talk to him about it because they can’t really talk to anyone where they now live.  I can empathize with that.  So, I will just chalk it up to that and let it go.

I think this is justified. It's not like you were thinking about banning them from moving near to you, you were just letting them know that this isn't something that you'd be delighted about, so it allowed them to calibrate their plans.

If someone is thinking that moving next door to me means we'll hang out every second and have a super-close Friends open house scenario, it's a kindness to everyone to tell them that if they move in I'll be moving out.