Author Topic: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help  (Read 2233 times)

GuitarStv

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Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« on: August 12, 2017, 04:51:41 AM »
This is the end of week 1 of 6 of my in-laws scheduled visit.  My in-laws moved to the Philippines after my wife graduated from university, and thus can't just drop by very often . . . so they tend to come to Canada for a month or two every year (sometimes twice a year).  Since our son was born (three and a half years ago) they have been staying in our house with us during these visits (they used to stay with my wife's aunt).  Seeing a lot of son is really, really important to them.

My in-laws are decent people, and they have always treated me well.  They are decent guests - while they are staying with us they elect to do things around the house (cooking/cleaning/splitting groceries/helping out with our son).

This living situation is extremely frustrating for me though for a variety of reasons:

- For the first two weeks after the flight over here, my in-laws will loudly bang doors at night going to/from the bathroom and their room.  The bathroom door is right outside our bedroom door, and every time that it happens it wakes me up.  Since they're jet-lagged, this happens as often as ten times a night.  We've talked about the need to turn the doorknob close the door, then turn the doorknob back to shut doors quietly multiple times over the past four years.  My in-laws like to just push the door shut which results in a lot of noise.  My wife sleeps with ear plugs when they come over (I've tried, but they bug my ears and I can't fall asleep with them in) and my son has mentioned that he has trouble sleeping from the noise.  I have not had more than four hours sleep during the night for the last eight days and am a wreck.

- My father in-law makes regular off handed racist comments.  These comments range from jokes about the blacks stealing things from us to jokes about how cheap Jewish people are, to jokes about how Muslims are all terrorists.  I've asked him not to say these things.  My wife has asked him not to say these things.  They are regularly said in front of our son, in public, and with our windows open (we live in a neighbourhood that is predominantly Indian, middle-eastern, and black).

- These visits happen when my wife's family tells us they will.  They call my wife and tell her that they're coming.  This year they also gave her an itinerary for a ten day trip to Florida that they had planned for them, my wife, and my son.  My wife wants to keep her parents happy, and tends to just agree with whatever they say . . . but I totally lost it this time and we had a big argument about the trip.  We compromised, and now are going to take a week of vacation to go to places around where we live.

- When the in-laws aren't here, their stuff still is.  Microwave ovens (2 - not counting the one that we actually use in the kitchen), extraneous pots/pans, popcorn maker, George Foreman grills (2), Hot plate, clothing, suitcases (as many as 10, but I managed to make them lower that down to 2 last year) . . . these are all things that are in our house.  In addition, they get their mail sent here year round (my wife has to go through it all and tell them if any bills need to be paid) because they change addresses regularly in the Philippines and don't want to switch their billing address.

- My in-laws exclusively use our home phone while they're here.  They are on the phone a lot.  Going through the last 50 numbers that called, 6 of them were for me or my wife, the rest for our in-laws.

- I don't actually want my in-laws to clean our house all the time.  I have a place for things and know where they all are, but stuff gets lost when they move things around.  I don't like or want other people going into my bedroom.  The in-laws also over clean things . . . the day before they came my wife and I cleaned all the bathrooms.  The day after they arrived the in-laws came they decided that all the bathrooms needed to be cleaned.  I generally will use vinegar/water/baking soda and a lot of scrubbing.  My in-laws let harsh chemicals sit for hours and it leaves the house smelling very bad.  We asked them not to use these chemical cleaners a couple years ago, but they appear to have forgotten.

- It's nice that my in-laws cook for us (and they're good cooks), but I like to have control of what I eat.  We'll normally do a day or two of vegan/vegetarian meals a week, but when my in-laws are cooking it's meat every day.  We don't get raw vegetables ever (always cooked in some kind of salty sauce), and I don't feel like I get any say at all in what we'll be eating. 

- Dishes.  Each meal that we have will use every single dish in the house.  This is because each meal has to have soup, a main course, rice, and some sort of vegetable.  The meal is cooked and then put on dishes to serve with a separate serving utensil for each dish and a separate dish for each sauce rather than simply putting food on plates and taking it to the dining room.  When you couple this with the fact that my in-laws refuse to use the dishwasher (I will load it, and then they will take the dishes out and wash them by hand) it makes for a very involved clean up ritual every single night.  I've asked them to use the dishwasher, and I've asked them to just put the food on plates rather than use serving dishes.  Because of this, I've just said "fuck it" and don't bother helping with dishes any more.

- My in-laws are the cause of 2-3 really big arguments between my wife and me, every year.  This is pretty much the only thing that we ever fight about.  The last argument happened yesterday in the morning, was about the slamming doors all night long again and the in-laws certainly heard some of it.


Stuff that I'm definitely doing wrong and need to somehow fix:
- I don't know how to make the in-laws listen to me or my wife.  If I try to bring something up in a joking manner, it's usually laughed off.  If I try to bring something up more seriously, it is also usually laughed off.  I want to set out rules/guidelines for the house, but I don't believe that they would follow them.

- I am a very introverted person and don't like to be around people all the time.  When I come home I don't want to have to be "on" all the time.  Because of this I tend to hide as much as possible when my in-laws are around.  I will go to my room and read, go in the basement and work out, or just get out of the house and do something outside.  I'm sure this comes off as unfriendly.  It's not intended to be - I just don't want to be around guests.  It's particularly bad because I have zero, nada, zilch in common with my wife's parents so even when I do try to make awkward conversation there's really very little to say.






Is there some way to save my sanity, make the relationship with the in-laws a bit better, and get them to back off a bit at the same time?  My default tactic of avoidance is not working and I'm seriously losing my shit here.

Kris

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2017, 07:25:32 AM »
Oh, man.

I, too, am introverted, and this would all drive me crazy. CRAZY.

This is a tough one. But I do see some things that could be changed or modified.

There are so many things here that I think you have to pick your battles.

If I were you I would ignore the dishes completely. If they are doing them, even if they refuse to use the dishwasher, then let them take care of all of them. For every meal.

This puts you in a difficult spot, because they aren't your parents, and your wife isn't very wiling to talk to them and make them understand that they need to change. That sucks. And it's not very considerate of your wife, at all.

There are at least three non-negotiables I see here.

The first is the racist remarks made around your son. I think this is a "put your foot down" moment. This is not acceptable. And you, and your wife, need to sit down with them, together, and tell them that this must stop. Right now. Because you will not have your child taught such nonsense. If they laugh it off, don't laugh with them. Direct the conversation back, and say that this is a matter of spending time with their grandson or not spending time with their grandson. If they persist in making such remarks in your house, they won't be able to be around their grandson. Their choice. It is NOT an unreasonable burden to expect them to refrain from saying such things, and anyone who finds that impossible has a larger problem. Your house is your house. You deserve to have it free from lessons of hate for your son.

The second is the doors slamming. One way you could deal with this is to install mechanisms that do not allow the doors to slam but forces them to close slowly, and pads between the cupboard doors and the cupboards that dampen sound. They work very well. This might be the easiest route.

You mention that your wife just uses ear plugs. That's a second solution, and I know you hate them, but I used to, too, before I had to get used to them because my husband snores. Now I can't sleep without them. They can be adapted to. That doesn't change the situation for your son, however, and his ears are so small that earplugs won't really work.

But the slamming doors also open up onto just a general lack of respect for your family in general. Have you couched it in those terms? Like, literally talked about lack of respect for the people who are lodging them for free for long periods of time every year? More importantly, has your wife said it like that? Because if you are the primary person talking about this, they will be more likely to just chalk it up to their son-in-law being too uptight, rather than being rude to their daughter and her family.

Finally, I think you should not feel uncomfortable about leaving and having your own time periodically. Like, actually schedule activities away from the house when they are there. Even if the thing you have "scheduled" is to go to a coffee shop for the afternoon with a book. It's not as good as being alone in your own space, but it's better than nothing, and it's absolutely necessary to your sanity as an introvert.

Good luck with this. It's my idea of a nightmare scenario, so you have my sympathies.
Please note: Libertarian4321 did not vote for either Hillary or Trump. He voted for Gary Johnson, who was the Libertarian candidate.

GuitarStv

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2017, 07:46:32 AM »
I think you're right.  It's difficult to pick my battles when there's so much stuff that's bugging me (there's also a bunch of other stuff that's mildly annoying and regularly happening that I left out).

My wife has never been assertive with her family, ever.  If we hadn't been married, she would still be living with them.  Her family structure and the rules they follow are utterly strange to me (very large family, there are sides of the family that are actively dicks to other sides, there are people who have been excommunicated from the family who you're not allowed to talk to, etc.) and I don't know if it's fair of me to try and push her more on this.

My wife's parents clearly heard us arguing, and have disappeared.  I've been taking apart the two doors (it's not cupboard doors, just regular doors that you walk through) that they use most often at night and trying to come up with solutions to quiet them.  There seem to be two main issues causing the noise at night:
- The actual sound of the door banging into the jamb
- The sound of the latch banging into the strike plate
I tried applying some thin foam weather stripping to the jamb, and that seems to significantly muffle the first problem.  I tried stuffing things into the strike plate to muffle the sound, which didn't work.  Then I tried removing the latch entirely and holding the door in place with cabinet magnets (only seems to work if the magnets are close enough to make contact, which will then make a click).  I can install a hook and eyelet type closure on the inside of the door without the latch so that the door can be held closed, but there's always going to be a little wiggle room with that setup so the door won't really shut flush . . . which is annoying (particularly for a bathroom door).

I will try to learn to use ear plugs while sleeping, but am leery about doing anything else that will further disrupt my sleep.

Dee

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2017, 08:08:33 AM »
I can't think of anything constructive off-hand (but maybe I'll think of something later and post accordingly) but I just want to echo the previous sentiment that this would drive me bat-shit crazy too. Your wife may not really get that enough to be an advocate for your needs. My spouse doesn't really get my introversion and my need for alone time. I've brought it up before and he's actually said "I don't understand" and I think that is the root of the problem. I don't know if your spouse really, truly understands the impact and the toll these visits take on your core self above and beyond the annoyance/irritation most people would feel. 

I guess, more concretely, one thing you might try that could help would be for everyone else to leave the house to do something together on occasion, so that you are left home alone (to get some alone time)? You may have to come up with a pretext for something like that, e.g., that someone has to be home to let in a repairperson or that you need to work or something.

As for the door-banging, I'm impressed you haven't taken down the doors entirely yet, so that they don't have the option of banging. I can only speculate -- they must somehow believe that it is a matter of personal choice/will-power whether someone wakes up to sounds in the night. My mom tended to be like that. She was a relatively sound sleeper but had some experience waking up to sounds. And then promptly falling back to sleep, as though the awakening had not happened. She seemed incapable to grasping that not everyone could do that.  When she had friends or neighbours who would talk about having been awake for big portions of the night due to having been woken by noises, she would wonder quite earnestly why they didn't just roll over and go back to sleep the way she would. (As time went on and she had more examples of people not being like her, at some point, the idea began to seep in to her that maybe, just maybe, these people really *couldn't* just fall right back asleep the way she did.) So, to sum up, I would guess your in-laws are persisting in this behaviour because they don't really believe that it's affecting your sleep in a way that is out of your control. Kris's suggestion of installing noise-camouflaging devices seems like a really good option. Maybe try some white noise in your room too, to see if it might help you not wake and/or fall back asleep more easily if you do.

Adventine

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2017, 08:17:25 AM »
Hello, Filipino in-laws! They feel they have a right to do things the way they want in your home because that's the way the family/cultural/social structure works. Did I ever mention that is one of the reasons why I don't want to get married, especially not to a Filipino guy? :)

My deepest sympathies to you. I have a few initial suggestions (maybe I'll think of more later):

1. Pay for an AirBnB or hotel for their next visit. Yes, it's expensive but you will have your privacy and peace of mind back. It is probably too late to do this for the current visit as they will interpret it as you kicking them out (which yeah, you are). An unforgivable sin if you try it now, but maybe more acceptable for next time.
2. Take the doors off the hinges.
3. Prep your own food and serve it side by side with their food.

Will there be backlash and hard feelings? Of course there will be. Asian in-laws as a general rule expect their kids and kids' spouses to adjust to them, and not the other way around. You will have to decide for yourself what kind of backlash is worth your sanity.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2017, 08:21:57 AM by Adventine »

Hotstreak

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2017, 08:23:01 AM »
It's hard when your instinct is to isolate yourself instead of confronting them, but you need to set and enforce boundaries, and you need to be prepared to kick them out of your house if they don't comply.

scantee

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2017, 08:33:58 AM »
Air bnb within walking distance of your house. This would solve a lot of your issues although I suspect they'll be offended when you first present this option. This isn't something you'll be able to discuss with them. You, or more exactly, your wife, will need to tell them this is the arrangement for their visits from now on. They will throw a fit when they find out about his, act passive aggressive. Plan for this so that your wife doesn't cave and let them return to your house.

The thing is, once they've been in the air bnb for awhile they will come to prefer it too. They'll never admit this, and they'll probably continue to complain about it no matter what, but secretly they will like having their own space.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2017, 08:48:39 AM »
I'd go on a murderous rampage if anyone stayed in my home for 6 weeks.

In your shoes, I'd put signs on every single door, and weather-strip every single frame. And tell them not to clean anything.
Related pet peeve of mine: guests who "help" by cleaning dishes leaving the water running like Niagara Falls.

lizzzi

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2017, 08:54:35 AM »
There's obviously a huge cultural gap here, and I think you have gone far above and beyond to accommodate yourself to the Filipino culture. (I've been a military wife and lived overseas on Guam--big Filipino presence on the island--lots of employees from the Philippines at Guam Memorial Hospital where I worked...so I have some knowledge of the culture. I've seen many a Philippine/American marriage--very good combination, btw. ) I think in all fairness that if you can adapt to the in-law's culture, that they should also be making some accommodations to yours. And I think your wife, cultural differences aside, is far too amenable to her parents and not respecting your position as her husband...not respecting your own culture and lifestyle enough. Whatever it takes, these people need their own space, although it should be as close to your house as you can possibly get them. Some kind of short-term rental apartment (like an airbnb), or possibly--I don't know what you have to work with in your house and on your property--a separate apartment in your house or above your garage, or a separate, purpose-built cabin for them on your property might be a good idea. If that isn't workable, would you consider selling your house and going into some kind of duplex or home that does have an ancillary apartment? It looks like the situation is not going to go away, and that they are--and probably should be--an ongoing major presence in your lives.

But...the racist comments are non-negotiable. That must stop. Zero tolerance.

MMMaybe

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2017, 08:57:15 AM »
Oh dear. I lived in the Philippines for 2 years and saw the culture clashes that existed between the Western husbands and the Filipino in-laws. Its just such an utterly different view of family. Take the guy who lived across the hall from me. He would have in-laws (sometimes 5 or 6 at a time) coming to stay for extended periods and wow was he tense (and the fights we overheard! ) He would come across to us to apologise for the noise as due to space constraints, the in-laws would socialise in the hallways. Nothing he said seemed to resonate with anyone.

If I were you, I would lay down some expectations with your wife. Having people staying for weeks/months at a time is clearly not sustainable. It may affect your relationship with the in-laws but you may need to set some parameters with everyone as you are being taken advantage of. Start with the timing of the next visit. Its outrageous that you are being told when they are coming/what the itinerary is. Push back on the timing and the length of stay to set a precedent. Arrange for them to stay part of the time with the aunt. This won't get better on its own.

GuitarStv

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2017, 09:22:49 AM »
Everything was reasonably tolerable before my son was born . . . but now it's like it's all ramped up to 11 and much more in your face.  I get the feeling that the in-laws are concerned that they're going to get old and not be able to do things with their grandson, so are trying to push for LOTS OF STUFF RIGHT NOW which is forcing the over closeness thing going on right now.

As far as the racist stuff . . . I've tried over the years.  Oh lordy, I have tried.  I've tried immediately saying 'Hey, that's not OK', to getting up and leaving the room in a conversation, to talking about it afterwards, I pointed that my best friend is black (actually seemed to be the most effective approach - now I just need to make some Jewish friends to invite over).  My father in law just does it by habit, I honestly don't think he means anything by it . . . it's like a long running unfunny joke.  This is an area that I'm going to have to really push on though, because I don't want my son picking that garbage up.

I'm not good with people.  I tend to take a lot of time to analyze a situation because of the habit of saying exactly what's on my mind and deeply insulting folks.  I have yet to have figured out an approach to try to set down rules and get them followed.

Hotstreak

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2017, 09:47:59 AM »

As far as the racist stuff . . . I've tried over the years.  Oh lordy, I have tried.  I've tried immediately saying 'Hey, that's not OK', to getting up and leaving the room in a conversation...


Man, don't walk away from it.  You make the rules in your house, if they aren't following them, then you need to ask them to leave.  If you're not willing to do that, then they will continue to act in these ways you don't like. 

Adventine

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2017, 09:50:55 AM »
I forgot to add, it is critical that your wife is on board with whatever your decision is. Otherwise, her default attitude is going to be "It's only for a couple of months, and they're my PARENTS, so I'm going to do whatever it takes to accommodate them and make them feel welcome."

You do not want to make this the Canadian vs. Filipino Tradition. You're going to be seen as getting in the way of the grandparents spending quality time with their grandson (and their daughter).

Kris

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2017, 09:57:36 AM »
Grab some of these for the doors.

https://www.amazon.com/Latchy-Catchy-Packs-Sleepy-Safari/dp/B01MUBHM6P/ref=sr_1_50?ie=UTF8&qid=1502553329&sr=8-50-spons&keywords=Door+closer+quiet&psc=1

I didn't get that your in-laws were Filipino. I thought they had moved there, for retirement or something.

So, that adds some additional cultural issues. Bummer. But my advice is still more or less the same.

Please note: Libertarian4321 did not vote for either Hillary or Trump. He voted for Gary Johnson, who was the Libertarian candidate.

GuitarStv

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2017, 10:12:48 AM »
Grab some of these for the doors.

https://www.amazon.com/Latchy-Catchy-Packs-Sleepy-Safari/dp/B01MUBHM6P/ref=sr_1_50?ie=UTF8&qid=1502553329&sr=8-50-spons&keywords=Door+closer+quiet&psc=1

This is actually kinda a genius idea.  I'm going to rig up a knock off test harness with some spare fabric and elastic bands right now to try out.

markbike528CBX

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2017, 10:43:04 AM »
Print this forum thread and accidently leave it out?

OK,  a bit harsh.   

At least have your wife peruse it?
Make sure she sees the suggestions by the Filipino-culture-aware posters.

We have a housemate/old friend, mostly a good housemate.
The original plan was 3-4 months, now 6 months with no firm move-out date. 
We just want our guest room/privacy back.
Soon the basement "apartment" will be ready, and it will be the basement or out.

We feel at least a small part of your pain.

Snow

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2017, 11:11:27 AM »
Oh man, I really feel for you. I would be up against the wall if someone was invading my personal space for such an extended amount of time. And several times a year to booth? ARGH!

Many good suggestions here though, especially just installing doors that can't be slammed.

I'd also just +1 the suggestion of not laughing with them at all when they tell a racist joke or any other inappropriate remarks. I've seen this tactic used against sexual harassment in the workplace a few times and it shuts down inappropriate jokes pretty quickly. There are several additional tactics, like forcing them to explain why the joke was funny, or pretending like you just don't understand it at all, even after getting an explanation. Just keep reiterating "That is not funny/that is inappropriate" in a stone face.

If it were my family, and my imaginary offspring was their big incentive for coming, I might simply also pick up the child and bring him/her out of the room with me to show that it is an inappropriate remark/environment for your child, after confronting them. I don't know if that will work for you. Basically deprive them of their main incentive to visit you.

Freedomin5

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #17 on: August 13, 2017, 12:37:53 AM »
Air bnb within walking distance of your house...

The thing is, once they've been in the air bnb for awhile they will come to prefer it too. They'll never admit this, and they'll probably continue to complain about it no matter what, but secretly they will like having their own space.

This. I did it with my in laws. In our case, we had stayed two weeks with them over the past two summers.  Every year, it led to a huge argument of one sort or another. This year, we stayed in a hotel a short drive away, and everyone was happier for it. Your sanity, your son's sleep, and your marriage aren't worth the couple thousand dollars you may save by having them stay with you. Psychiatrists and divorce lawyers are expensive and are likely to cost a lot more than what you would pay for a short-term apartment rental.

okits

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #18 on: August 13, 2017, 02:06:59 AM »
HUGE sympathy, GuitarStv.  I'm also in a culturally-mixed marriage.  Adventine's comment that the social structure expects kids+spouses to simply defer to and cater to the parents is spot on.

Lots of good suggestions, already.  If you can't take more direct, confrontational actions (ideal, but you might decide it's not worth the backlash or the marital damage), work harder on your avoidance.  Now would be a great time for you to have to "work overtime" or "travel for work" (wife and you lie to the in laws, and you spend some of your evenings or a few days away.  Get yourself some decent sleep, time alone, and a break from parenting.  Yes, you'll miss your son, but he'll be well cared for by the other three adults and it will be worth it if this saves you murdering someone.  Even if your ILs know you're lying/avoiding them, you can all pretend you're doing this for work and save awkwardness and face.)

In the really bad moments, remember: some Asian cultures expect that the parents will live with you.  Indefinitely.  At least, after a few weeks, your ILs will leave.
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Letj

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #19 on: August 13, 2017, 07:12:42 AM »
This is the end of week 1 of 6 of my in-laws scheduled visit.  My in-laws moved to the Philippines after my wife graduated from university, and thus can't just drop by very often . . . so they tend to come to Canada for a month or two every year (sometimes twice a year).  Since our son was born (three and a half years ago) they have been staying in our house with us during these visits (they used to stay with my wife's aunt).  Seeing a lot of son is really, really important to them.

My in-laws are decent people, and they have always treated me well.  They are decent guests - while they are staying with us they elect to do things around the house (cooking/cleaning/splitting groceries/helping out with our son).

This living situation is extremely frustrating for me though for a variety of reasons:

- For the first two weeks after the flight over here, my in-laws will loudly bang doors at night going to/from the bathroom and their room.  The bathroom door is right outside our bedroom door, and every time that it happens it wakes me up.  Since they're jet-lagged, this happens as often as ten times a night.  We've talked about the need to turn the doorknob close the door, then turn the doorknob back to shut doors quietly multiple times over the past four years.  My in-laws like to just push the door shut which results in a lot of noise.  My wife sleeps with ear plugs when they come over (I've tried, but they bug my ears and I can't fall asleep with them in) and my son has mentioned that he has trouble sleeping from the noise.  I have not had more than four hours sleep during the night for the last eight days and am a wreck.

- My father in-law makes regular off handed racist comments.  These comments range from jokes about the blacks stealing things from us to jokes about how cheap Jewish people are, to jokes about how Muslims are all terrorists.  I've asked him not to say these things.  My wife has asked him not to say these things.  They are regularly said in front of our son, in public, and with our windows open (we live in a neighbourhood that is predominantly Indian, middle-eastern, and black).

- These visits happen when my wife's family tells us they will.  They call my wife and tell her that they're coming.  This year they also gave her an itinerary for a ten day trip to Florida that they had planned for them, my wife, and my son.  My wife wants to keep her parents happy, and tends to just agree with whatever they say . . . but I totally lost it this time and we had a big argument about the trip.  We compromised, and now are going to take a week of vacation to go to places around where we live.

- When the in-laws aren't here, their stuff still is.  Microwave ovens (2 - not counting the one that we actually use in the kitchen), extraneous pots/pans, popcorn maker, George Foreman grills (2), Hot plate, clothing, suitcases (as many as 10, but I managed to make them lower that down to 2 last year) . . . these are all things that are in our house.  In addition, they get their mail sent here year round (my wife has to go through it all and tell them if any bills need to be paid) because they change addresses regularly in the Philippines and don't want to switch their billing address.

- My in-laws exclusively use our home phone while they're here.  They are on the phone a lot.  Going through the last 50 numbers that called, 6 of them were for me or my wife, the rest for our in-laws.

- I don't actually want my in-laws to clean our house all the time.  I have a place for things and know where they all are, but stuff gets lost when they move things around.  I don't like or want other people going into my bedroom.  The in-laws also over clean things . . . the day before they came my wife and I cleaned all the bathrooms.  The day after they arrived the in-laws came they decided that all the bathrooms needed to be cleaned.  I generally will use vinegar/water/baking soda and a lot of scrubbing.  My in-laws let harsh chemicals sit for hours and it leaves the house smelling very bad.  We asked them not to use these chemical cleaners a couple years ago, but they appear to have forgotten.

- It's nice that my in-laws cook for us (and they're good cooks), but I like to have control of what I eat.  We'll normally do a day or two of vegan/vegetarian meals a week, but when my in-laws are cooking it's meat every day.  We don't get raw vegetables ever (always cooked in some kind of salty sauce), and I don't feel like I get any say at all in what we'll be eating. 

- Dishes.  Each meal that we have will use every single dish in the house.  This is because each meal has to have soup, a main course, rice, and some sort of vegetable.  The meal is cooked and then put on dishes to serve with a separate serving utensil for each dish and a separate dish for each sauce rather than simply putting food on plates and taking it to the dining room.  When you couple this with the fact that my in-laws refuse to use the dishwasher (I will load it, and then they will take the dishes out and wash them by hand) it makes for a very involved clean up ritual every single night.  I've asked them to use the dishwasher, and I've asked them to just put the food on plates rather than use serving dishes.  Because of this, I've just said "fuck it" and don't bother helping with dishes any more.

- My in-laws are the cause of 2-3 really big arguments between my wife and me, every year.  This is pretty much the only thing that we ever fight about.  The last argument happened yesterday in the morning, was about the slamming doors all night long again and the in-laws certainly heard some of it.


Stuff that I'm definitely doing wrong and need to somehow fix:
- I don't know how to make the in-laws listen to me or my wife.  If I try to bring something up in a joking manner, it's usually laughed off.  If I try to bring something up more seriously, it is also usually laughed off.  I want to set out rules/guidelines for the house, but I don't believe that they would follow them.

- I am a very introverted person and don't like to be around people all the time.  When I come home I don't want to have to be "on" all the time.  Because of this I tend to hide as much as possible when my in-laws are around.  I will go to my room and read, go in the basement and work out, or just get out of the house and do something outside.  I'm sure this comes off as unfriendly.  It's not intended to be - I just don't want to be around guests.  It's particularly bad because I have zero, nada, zilch in common with my wife's parents so even when I do try to make awkward conversation there's really very little to say.






Is there some way to save my sanity, make the relationship with the in-laws a bit better, and get them to back off a bit at the same time?  My default tactic of avoidance is not working and I'm seriously losing my shit here.

I can relate completely and when I say completely I mean completely. Without going into the specifics of my situation, suffice it to say that what you are dealing with is more of a cultural problem. Outside of the US, Canada and Western Europe, people are not very aware of how their behaviors and words are affecting other people because sensitivity to others' feelings are never considered. They expect you as the recipient to not be so sensitive and grow a thick skin and brush it off. They are often not  aware that they are being jerks and their culture doesn't call them out on it so as not to offend them. It's the reason why they can say racists things and not be concerned. They really think that's ok to say.  In most societies outside of the ones I mentioned being openly discriminatory based on looks, age, color, tribe is totally acceptable. In India and China for example you have to include your age and picture on job application. If you ever travelled or lived in China, Africa, Philippines, Singapore, etc you will not be surprised by the behavior and above all parents are king and children better obey or the very least put up with them.

Khaetra

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #20 on: August 13, 2017, 08:08:59 AM »
My opinion of this will probably be unpopular, but I'll give it anyway.  The racism full-out has to stop, dead stop.  It's not funny and it's not appropriate, especially in front of your son.  You need to speak up, NOW, and tell them either to quit or they are not welcome into your home anymore.  Period.  Culture or not, it is your home, you set the rules and if they don't like it they are welcome to go elsewhere for their stay.  If it pisses them off, too damn bad, you asked them to stop, they didn't and no visiting would be the result.  Grow a pair and speak up loudly and firmly!!  Do not take that crap IN YOUR OWN HOME!

Villanelle

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #21 on: August 13, 2017, 08:30:47 AM »
To me, the racism would be a hill on which I was pretty much willing to die.  That hard part is if your wife doesn't feel the same, you are sort of screwed.  I would hope that she would be willing to do whatever it took to set a healthy boundary (for her son's sake, if not her own or yours).  To me, this would take the form of something along the lines of her talking to them when you aren't around (because I think family dealing with family is always better) and saying, "look, we've discussed this repeatedly, and yet last night you made yet another racist comment.  We will not have that in the house any more.  Ever.  The next racist comment you make will mean this is the last time you stay in our house, and because I can't have you teaching junior these hateful things, I would have to also severely limit the time you spend with him in the future, even if you stay with someone else.  We simply will not tolerate racism in this house or around our son.  Perhaps I have been remiss in the past with not making this clear enough, or not letting you know how serious this is to us, so I am doing that now.  And now that I've done that, there is clearly no misunderstanding where we stand.  You either abide by this rule, or the visits are over, and the time with junior will be limited until you prove yourself in very small doses as being capable of abiding by the rule."

 And tell your wife that you believe it will received better coming from her because she is family and they will be somewhat less defensive (better still if you aren't even in the room, but then you have to trust her to fully convey the message), but if she doesn't want to do it, you will.  However, if that's what she chooses, she doesn't then get to be critical of your approach or wording. 

Your wife needs to be willing to set healthy boundaries with her family.  If they tell her they are coming X day, she can simply say, let me check the family calendar to see if that works and get back to you.  If it's not a good time, she needs to tell them that.  I understand some of this is just cultural, but it's not fair to you or your son that everyone must drop everything on the IL's schedule.

Some of this I think you need to suck up.  The dishes?  Your solution for simply leaving it to them is perfect.  Their mess, their clean up.  The introversion?  Plan a weekend away for yourself (along or with friends, and even if it is just to a nearby vacation rental). 

golden1

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #22 on: August 13, 2017, 08:38:10 AM »
Props to you, because I would not be able to handle all that. 

The real conversation you need to have is with your wife, and it is not going to be a pleasant one.  This is a hill I would die on, not because of my own discomfort, but because there would be no way in hell I would let my child be influenced by racists, no matter what else they might do for you or your child.  Your only hope of dealing with this and preserving your marriage is if your wife has your back.  If she is comfortable with her child hearing racist diatribes in order to keep her relationship with her parents peaceful, I am not sure what else you can do.  You either accept that your child hears this garbage and hope it doesn’t make an impact, or you take action. 

I know how hard this is from experience, but honestly you need to decide what is best for your family and set boundaries.  It should have been done a long time ago before it got this bad, but you can still attempt to salvage something. 

Cpa Cat

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #23 on: August 13, 2017, 09:12:11 AM »
I would probably just get the AirBnb for myself.

In all honesty, I have an overbearing mother and getting her to stay in a hotel has been a years-long affair. I've had multiple upfront discussions where I flat out say, "I don't like it when you stay in my house. I will pay for your hotel." And she just says I'm being ridiculous. I got rid of my guest room, and she still does things like plan a trip to visit (without consulting me) and arrives without booking a hotel for herself. Then she'll say, "Oh well, if I can't find a hotel, I'll just have to stay with you." So telling your in laws that you've booked them an AirBnb is easier than actually getting them to stay there.

Fix the doors - there has to be some kind of quiet-closing door that can be installed.

Dinner - Make a salad and bring it to the table. You might be the only one who eats it, but it takes no time at all and it will make you feel better at dinner.

Dishes - Stop the fight. As long as they're washing the dishes, this is one to just let go.

Cleaning chemicals - Remind them each and every time. "Don't use those chemicals..." Maybe throw in a good reason, like "Don't use those chemicals, they give me a migraine." Then open all the windows and tell them you're leaving until the house airs out. To reinforce the point, gather up the noxious chemicals and put them in the garbage. They probably won't use vinegar to clean, but that doesn't mean you can't stock some non-noxious natural cleaners in familiar-looking containers for them to use.

Mail - I don't think there's an easy way to win this one. You could suggest a virtual mail service, but if your wife is willing to sort their mail then you won't win.

Stuff - I guess I'd be willing to store a reasonable amount of stuff. But two microwaves? I'd seriously just donate/sell stuff like that as soon as they left. I assume they'd eventually get the picture. For my own amusement, I might tell them I threw their stuff in the garbage any time they ask about it. "I thought you didn't want it anymore, so I thew it away."

Phone - I don't know. I don't have a home phone. You could always get rid of yours.

Arguments - I have no solution. If this was my life, I couldn't even be in the house. I would go live somewhere else while they visited.

Racism - Unless your wife is willing to back you up and kick these people out for being racist, I'm not sure how you win this one.  Pick your child up and leave the room any time you hear it. Remind them that you won't have your kid hearing it. Try to get your wife on board with at least this bit of resistance.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2017, 09:15:15 AM by Cpa Cat »

JRA64

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #24 on: August 13, 2017, 11:49:22 AM »
Print this forum thread and accidently leave it out?

Best laugh of my day so far, thank you.

I was also thinking that getting an AirBnB for you might be worth it.

I would be very surprised if your wife is willing to take a stand on any issue against her parents because of the cultural reasons. How does this affect your marriage when they are not there? To me that's the real question. Are any of these things hills you wish to die on if it costs you your marriage or has a lasting, negative impact on your relationship with your wife?

It sounds like the most effective thing you've done so far (besides actively trying fix the doors) was letting them overhear you and your wife arguing. Somehow that seemed to get through to them when calmly expressing your feelings didn't.

And now for what will probably be the most controversial part of my post.....  I honestly don't think your in-laws are going to have a lasting influence on your son when it comes to racism. Which does not mean you should not address their comments, or set down rules that they can't stay there if you decide that is what is best for your family. But, as your son grows, he is going to form his own opinions. I say this as someone who grew up with a very racist father - I heard all of those things on a regular basis as a child, and my mom protested too. What made the difference over the long haul is that we met people from different races especially at school. We read books written by authors about and from different cultures. At fairly young ages we clearly disagreed with our dad. Sometimes I'd argue, sometimes I'd just roll my eyes and leave the conversation, sometimes he'd use the topic to try and pick a fight. But just doing what you are doing - not agreeing, and surrounding your child with diversity - I think your son will see their views in a less than flattering light. Someday he'll be the one arguing, or rolling his eyes and leaving. So my thoughts would be to try and let go of your fears that your son will adopt their beliefs, have confidence in your son to ultimately make the right choices, and think about what tools you want him to have in these situations and how you can teach him these tools.

Dave1442397

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #25 on: August 13, 2017, 01:25:00 PM »
2. Take the doors off the hinges.
3. Prep your own food and serve it side by side with their food.

# 2 was my first thought. Pull the pins on those hinges when you're going to bed and take the bathroom door into your bedroom :)

# 3 is something I do all the time.

My Filipino in-laws had been in the US for over 30 years by the time we got married, so we really had very few of those issues. MIL definitely drops the casual racist comments, but my wife jumps on those right away.

I'm a picky eater at the best of times, so when the pig-in-a-box came to the house for Thanksgiving, I ordered pizza. I just made a joke of it, and nobody was offended.

The Fake Cheap

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #26 on: August 13, 2017, 02:10:30 PM »
This is the end of week 1 of 6 of my in-laws scheduled visit.  My in-laws moved to the Philippines after my wife graduated from university, and thus can't just drop by very often . . . so they tend to come to Canada for a month or two every year (sometimes twice a year).  Since our son was born (three and a half years ago) they have been staying in our house with us during these visits (they used to stay with my wife's aunt).  Seeing a lot of son is really, really important to them.

My in-laws are decent people, and they have always treated me well.  They are decent guests - while they are staying with us they elect to do things around the house (cooking/cleaning/splitting groceries/helping out with our son).

This living situation is extremely frustrating for me though for a variety of reasons:

- For the first two weeks after the flight over here, my in-laws will loudly bang doors at night going to/from the bathroom and their room.  The bathroom door is right outside our bedroom door, and every time that it happens it wakes me up.  Since they're jet-lagged, this happens as often as ten times a night.  We've talked about the need to turn the doorknob close the door, then turn the doorknob back to shut doors quietly multiple times over the past four years.  My in-laws like to just push the door shut which results in a lot of noise.  My wife sleeps with ear plugs when they come over (I've tried, but they bug my ears and I can't fall asleep with them in) and my son has mentioned that he has trouble sleeping from the noise.  I have not had more than four hours sleep during the night for the last eight days and am a wreck.

- My father in-law makes regular off handed racist comments.  These comments range from jokes about the blacks stealing things from us to jokes about how cheap Jewish people are, to jokes about how Muslims are all terrorists.  I've asked him not to say these things.  My wife has asked him not to say these things.  They are regularly said in front of our son, in public, and with our windows open (we live in a neighbourhood that is predominantly Indian, middle-eastern, and black).

- These visits happen when my wife's family tells us they will.  They call my wife and tell her that they're coming.  This year they also gave her an itinerary for a ten day trip to Florida that they had planned for them, my wife, and my son.  My wife wants to keep her parents happy, and tends to just agree with whatever they say . . . but I totally lost it this time and we had a big argument about the trip.  We compromised, and now are going to take a week of vacation to go to places around where we live.

- When the in-laws aren't here, their stuff still is.  Microwave ovens (2 - not counting the one that we actually use in the kitchen), extraneous pots/pans, popcorn maker, George Foreman grills (2), Hot plate, clothing, suitcases (as many as 10, but I managed to make them lower that down to 2 last year) . . . these are all things that are in our house.  In addition, they get their mail sent here year round (my wife has to go through it all and tell them if any bills need to be paid) because they change addresses regularly in the Philippines and don't want to switch their billing address.

- My in-laws exclusively use our home phone while they're here.  They are on the phone a lot.  Going through the last 50 numbers that called, 6 of them were for me or my wife, the rest for our in-laws.

- I don't actually want my in-laws to clean our house all the time.  I have a place for things and know where they all are, but stuff gets lost when they move things around.  I don't like or want other people going into my bedroom.  The in-laws also over clean things . . . the day before they came my wife and I cleaned all the bathrooms.  The day after they arrived the in-laws came they decided that all the bathrooms needed to be cleaned.  I generally will use vinegar/water/baking soda and a lot of scrubbing.  My in-laws let harsh chemicals sit for hours and it leaves the house smelling very bad.  We asked them not to use these chemical cleaners a couple years ago, but they appear to have forgotten.

- It's nice that my in-laws cook for us (and they're good cooks), but I like to have control of what I eat.  We'll normally do a day or two of vegan/vegetarian meals a week, but when my in-laws are cooking it's meat every day.  We don't get raw vegetables ever (always cooked in some kind of salty sauce), and I don't feel like I get any say at all in what we'll be eating. 

- Dishes.  Each meal that we have will use every single dish in the house.  This is because each meal has to have soup, a main course, rice, and some sort of vegetable.  The meal is cooked and then put on dishes to serve with a separate serving utensil for each dish and a separate dish for each sauce rather than simply putting food on plates and taking it to the dining room.  When you couple this with the fact that my in-laws refuse to use the dishwasher (I will load it, and then they will take the dishes out and wash them by hand) it makes for a very involved clean up ritual every single night.  I've asked them to use the dishwasher, and I've asked them to just put the food on plates rather than use serving dishes.  Because of this, I've just said "fuck it" and don't bother helping with dishes any more.

- My in-laws are the cause of 2-3 really big arguments between my wife and me, every year.  This is pretty much the only thing that we ever fight about.  The last argument happened yesterday in the morning, was about the slamming doors all night long again and the in-laws certainly heard some of it.


Stuff that I'm definitely doing wrong and need to somehow fix:
- I don't know how to make the in-laws listen to me or my wife.  If I try to bring something up in a joking manner, it's usually laughed off.  If I try to bring something up more seriously, it is also usually laughed off.  I want to set out rules/guidelines for the house, but I don't believe that they would follow them.

- I am a very introverted person and don't like to be around people all the time.  When I come home I don't want to have to be "on" all the time.  Because of this I tend to hide as much as possible when my in-laws are around.  I will go to my room and read, go in the basement and work out, or just get out of the house and do something outside.  I'm sure this comes off as unfriendly.  It's not intended to be - I just don't want to be around guests.  It's particularly bad because I have zero, nada, zilch in common with my wife's parents so even when I do try to make awkward conversation there's really very little to say.






Is there some way to save my sanity, make the relationship with the in-laws a bit better, and get them to back off a bit at the same time?  My default tactic of avoidance is not working and I'm seriously losing my shit here.

In-laws don't listen, ever.  As one example, my in-laws asked what colour they should paint the living room in their home in order to sell it.  I said beige or something neutral, so they painted it pink.  Any serious conversation I attempt is always turned into a joke, so I stopped trying.  My parents are very similar, maybe an age thing rather than an in law thing they are both late 60s early 70s.  Also with the racist stuff "Remeber we would go to the store and ask for N***** (the racist term for black people) babies!" Says my dad, right. In front of my 4 year old....perfect thanks for introducing that term to him.

GuitarStv

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #27 on: August 14, 2017, 06:12:33 AM »
2. Take the doors off the hinges.
3. Prep your own food and serve it side by side with their food.

# 2 was my first thought. Pull the pins on those hinges when you're going to bed and take the bathroom door into your bedroom :)

# 3 is something I do all the time.

My Filipino in-laws had been in the US for over 30 years by the time we got married, so we really had very few of those issues. MIL definitely drops the casual racist comments, but my wife jumps on those right away.

I'm a picky eater at the best of times, so when the pig-in-a-box came to the house for Thanksgiving, I ordered pizza. I just made a joke of it, and nobody was offended.

Dude, give lechon a try . . . it's surprisingly delicious!  My main issue with the food is just that I get no say at all in what we eat.  Actually a whole bunch of the issues really seem to stem from a lack of control.  I'm a quiet person who likes to stick to a schedule and probably has a small predeliction for being a control freak.  This is a bad combination for the extended in-laws visit.


As an update - the in laws have decided to take a week long trip to the US so we get a bit of breathing room for the next little while.  I haven't actually seen them since my wife and I had the last argument.

Adventine

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #28 on: August 14, 2017, 06:47:03 AM »
2. Take the doors off the hinges.
3. Prep your own food and serve it side by side with their food.

# 2 was my first thought. Pull the pins on those hinges when you're going to bed and take the bathroom door into your bedroom :)

# 3 is something I do all the time.

My Filipino in-laws had been in the US for over 30 years by the time we got married, so we really had very few of those issues. MIL definitely drops the casual racist comments, but my wife jumps on those right away.

I'm a picky eater at the best of times, so when the pig-in-a-box came to the house for Thanksgiving, I ordered pizza. I just made a joke of it, and nobody was offended.

Dude, give lechon a try . . . it's surprisingly delicious!  My main issue with the food is just that I get no say at all in what we eat.  Actually a whole bunch of the issues really seem to stem from a lack of control.  I'm a quiet person who likes to stick to a schedule and probably has a small predeliction for being a control freak.  This is a bad combination for the extended in-laws visit.


As an update - the in laws have decided to take a week long trip to the US so we get a bit of breathing room for the next little while.  I haven't actually seen them since my wife and I had the last argument.

Lechon can be polarizing. I actually don't like it at all. Give me a good roast calf instead.

GuitarStv, your in-laws have taken matters into their own hands and have come up with their own solution. It isn't a coincidence that you haven't seen them since your argument with your wife, and now suddenly they're off on an out of town trip. It's a very Filipino/Asian way to defuse a tense situation while allowing all sides to save face.

This week-long break would be a good time to:

1. Try out the door-related solutions proposed in this thread
2. Eat what you like (and maybe batch cook healthy dishes that your parents-in-law might be willing to try)
3. Patch things up with your wife.
4. Talk to your child about the racist comments.
5. Depending on your conversations in #3-4, book an AirBnB.

iowajes

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #29 on: August 14, 2017, 07:11:02 AM »
Honestly, you had me at racist comments.
I'd tell them that stops, or they are out of the house.  That is unacceptable.  Especially with children in the house; but really, at all.  NOT OK.  Obviously your wife would have to be onboard- but I do not associate with people who act like that (hopefully not with those who think like that, but I suppose if they moderate themselves around me, I don't know) and I don't care if they are related to me. They would be out.

As for the rest, well- with extra people and stuff in the house, there isn't a lot you can do about clutter. 
I think for meals, I would try to set up a schedule so everyone gets a night where things they like to eat are available. Or cook a separate meal and eat it, but that doesn't really help the too many dishes comment.  It's pretty common for me to eat something different than my husband though, so this isn't weird to me.

Doors- can you just wear earplugs? Or you'll get used to it. It's only 6 weeks... :(

Unplanned visits. Learn the phrase "That doesn't work for us."  Use it.  Again- your wife needs to be on board.  If they have keys, change the locks. Don't leave doors unlocked and don't let uninvited guests in. (Might require pretending not to be home. Heck, might require not being home at least one of the times they tell you they will be there and you say no.)

And I'd do my best to plan activities that get you out of the house when they are there. I wouldn't care about appearing unfriendly as long as you are friendly when you are around them.


To use a very southern phrase that my sister is constantly telling me (which cracks me up, because neither one of us are religious, but it is just very Texas thing to say) "Give them some Grace".  Just let a few things slide. Pick your battles.  It might even help with your wife if you are a bit more forgiving about your lines in the sand.  "I can deal with the cooking mess, but they have got to stop X."  Or "they can come visit unexpectedly, but the racist comments are NOT acceptable in this house"


Linda_Norway

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #30 on: August 14, 2017, 07:16:56 AM »
As an update - the in laws have decided to take a week long trip to the US so we get a bit of breathing room for the next little while.  I haven't actually seen them since my wife and I had the last argument.

Maybe they are worried for your marriage, as they heard the fight and have now taken the hint.

I suggest you cancel your home phone and switch to using cell phones instead. Maybe should offer them a prepaid phone, but at least they can buy their own prepaid cards.

Is it a crazy idea that you would move to a smaller house without a guest room? Or would they just demand to stay with you anyway? With a smaller house, at least you would have a valid excuse for renting an airBnB.

About ear plugs. My DH is allergic for pollen and for cold, dry weather and during these periods he snores a lot. I don't like putting these yellow ear plugs into my ear. I have bought silicon ear plugs that are fitted to my ears. They are really easy to get in and they work very well. And they also sleep well. 

If your wife does not want to stand up to her parents, would she be okay with blaming it on you? My DH and I have the agreement that we can blame the other to get some result from a third party. MIL did this when she bought a new coat. She regretted the purchase, went back to the store and told them her husband didn't like it. Then she got the money back. Can you not take the role of the bad sun in law, while your wife is still the nice daughter. She can blame on you that they are no longer allowed to stay in the house.

KCM5

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #31 on: August 14, 2017, 07:50:28 AM »
My in laws come for extended visits, too. Not Filipino/Asian, though, so we don't really have the extreme cultural conflicts that you're having.

One thing that I like, is we always schedule a break. Either we go away or they do for a few days somewhere in the middle of their visit. Your in laws have scheduled themselves a break now - make sure you do it every time they visit.

Also, I have learned to let things go. I'm generally pretty good at that, but for some reason my mother in law was driving me crazy. With space and time, I've learned that its really my problem, not hers. Some of those things you just need to let go - I'm thinking of the cooking/cleaning. Obviously racist comments should be brought up immediately. I'm actually not a fan of just kicking out anyone that says something racist. Tell them they're wrong. In front of your child. So he knows. And discuss racism with your child privately. My racist in laws are actually pretty good at keeping it to themselves, so we don't generally have this problem.

iowajes

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #32 on: August 14, 2017, 08:06:31 AM »
Obviously racist comments should be brought up immediately. I'm actually not a fan of just kicking out anyone that says something racist. Tell them they're wrong. In front of your child. So he knows. And discuss racism with your child privately. My racist in laws are actually pretty good at keeping it to themselves, so we don't generally have this problem.

Let me clarify the "kicking out" I've suggested.  That was based on the OP's
Quote
  I've asked him not to say these things.  My wife has asked him not to say these things.
That they have ignored them and keep saying racist things, and in front of a child, is the reason I would kick them out.

But I agree with you- bringing it up, and in front of the child, is a good strategy.  Don't just bring it up privately.

NeonPegasus

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #33 on: August 14, 2017, 08:25:34 AM »
- Doors - Yeah, keep looking for solutions to the mechanical issue. For the sleep issues, might I suggest melatonin all around? That may help them with jet lag and help you and your family sleep better. It is mainly good for getting someone to sleep rather than keeping them asleep but helping your ILs get over their jet lag should reduce night time noise.

- Racist jokes - keep fighting the good fight. That's a battle worth having and I agree that you can't tolerate that crap around kids.

- Visits out of your control - Let this slide. If they choose to visit when you're not there due to prior engagements, that's their problem. If you don't have prior engagements, the only thing you're pissed about is the control aspect.

- The in laws' stuff. Is this actually causing a storage issue? If not, I'd let it go. If so, start thinking about storage solutions.

- Mail. Have them automate as much bill paying as possible and otherwise, it sounds like a pretty legit thing on their part. Your wife is handling it anyway so ignore it. Not your monkey, not your circus. I can tell you that it really pisses me off when my husband gets mad about things that are not under his purview. If I'm handling something and not bitching about it, why do I have to hear him bitching about it?

- Home phone use. Why is this a problem? Are they running up a bill? Otherwise, ignore it. It's probably a novelty for them to be able to talk on a phone and not have it cost by the minute.

- Cleaning the house - Give them a cleaning caddy with approved cleaning supplies. Anytime you come across a cleaning supply you won't tolerate, chuck it.

- In-laws cooking. Maybe put in a few requests for something they make that you really like. And if you want raw veggies, cut them up and add that to the dinner spread.

- Dishes. "Because of this, I've just said "fuck it" and don't bother helping with dishes any more." YES! Good job.

- My in-laws are the cause of 2-3 really big arguments between my wife and me, every year. I'm sorry about this. It has got to be very frustrating. From what you've described this will continue to be a problem unless you can relinquish control and stick to the things worth battling for. Your wife likely feels caught between a rock and a hard place and backing down some will be a kindness to her.

It is important that your wife do some work to mediate between you and her parents. I think it would be helpful if she explained to them that you are introverted and need personal quiet time every day so they don't feel slighted or ignored and so you can get the time to recharge that you need.

Dicey

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #34 on: August 14, 2017, 08:27:08 AM »
My brother's wife is Chinese and has lived in the US for less than 7 years. When she came to the US, she could not get permission for her son to leave, so he lived with his grandma and step-grandpa until the mess could be resolved. It ended up taking nearly five years. Two years ago, when he was about 10, he finally got cleared to leave China and they were reunited. During the years they were physically separated (the dad's  alive, but not in the picture),  the grandma compensated by doting on the boy to an extreme degree. The kid was never required to lift a finger, literally.  One day my brother mentioned that when he peed, he didn't even bother to aim, because his grandmother always cleaned up after him. He was overweight because she fed him constantly and he never exercised.

Once he came to the US, he thrived under his mother's discipline. He's lost weight, learned to be responsible for himself, including learning how to aim, done well in school, and his fluency is off the charts. He and my brother get along quite well and like to go to baseball games together. They are really doing remarkably well as a family. She has become a US Citizen and my brother plans to adopt her son.

Grandma & step-grandpa have visited several times. The visits are always a challenge because they speak zero English, but the most recent one takes the cake. They stayed for NINE WEEKS! I thought my brother was going to die.

- They speak no English.
- They don't drive.
- They gave all their friends at home my brother's land line number. They yell into the phone for hours at a time, day & night. She pounces on every phone call. If the caller speaks English, she simply hangs up.
- Grandma spoils her grandson, so he's backsliding, gaining weight, etc.
- Grandma and her husband fight.
-  SIL and her step-dad don't get along either.
- My brother has many extreme and life-threating food allergies, including to peanuts and shellfish. They have Zero Respect for this and cook these trigger items frequently.
- Same aversion to the dishwasher and affinity for harsh chemicals as your in-laws.
- My brother is neat and organized, but not in an extreme way. He does his own laundry and cleans up after himself. Grandma follows him around, touching everything he touches, undoing what he does, rehanging his laundry and no amount of intervention deters her.
- My SIL is self employed and my brother works a flexible schedule. They alternate so one of them is home in the afternoons. SIL tried taking her mom to work with her, but MIL was completely disruptive, so no respite there.

This list is far from exhaustive, but you get the idea. At least if they're racist, he doesn't speak enough of the same language to know it, so there's that.

I'm posting to commiserate and to follow to see what coping tips are offered, so I can pass them on. I love my brother. He loves his wife and bonus kid (we all do), but another visit like this last one could literally kill him. They just left last week and the thought of their next visit is enough to give him hives. Oh, and his wife doesn't feel she can tell them they can't stay that long next time.

It sounds like Philippine and Chinese in-laws have much in common ;-). Hang in there!


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Sibley

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #35 on: August 14, 2017, 10:32:54 AM »
My brother's wife is Chinese and has lived in the US for less than 7 years. When she came to the US, she could not get permission for her son to leave, so he lived with his grandma and step-grandpa until the mess could be resolved. It ended up taking nearly five years. Two years ago, when he was about 10, he finally got cleared to leave China and they were reunited. During the years they were physically separated (the dad's  alive, but not in the picture),  the grandma compensated by doting on the boy to an extreme degree. The kid was never required to lift a finger, literally.  One day my brother mentioned that when he peed, he didn't even bother to aim, because his grandmother always cleaned up after him. He was overweight because she fed him constantly and he never exercised.

Once he came to the US, he thrived under his mother's discipline. He's lost weight, learned to be responsible for himself, including learning how to aim, done well in school, and his fluency is off the charts. He and my brother get along quite well and like to go to baseball games together. They are really doing remarkably well as a family. She has become a US Citizen and my brother plans to adopt her son.

Grandma & step-grandpa have visited several times. The visits are always a challenge because they speak zero English, but the most recent one takes the cake. They stayed for NINE WEEKS! I thought my brother was going to die.

- They speak no English.
- They don't drive.
- They gave all their friends at home my brother's land line number. They yell into the phone for hours at a time, day & night. She pounces on every phone call. If the caller speaks English, she simply hangs up.
- Grandma spoils her grandson, so he's backsliding, gaining weight, etc.
- Grandma and her husband fight.
-  SIL and her step-dad don't get along either.
- My brother has many extreme and life-threating food allergies, including to peanuts and shellfish. They have Zero Respect for this and cook these trigger items frequently.
- Same aversion to the dishwasher and affinity for harsh chemicals as your in-laws.
- My brother is neat and organized, but not in an extreme way. He does his own laundry and cleans up after himself. Grandma follows him around, touching everything he touches, undoing what he does, rehanging his laundry and no amount of intervention deters her.
- My SIL is self employed and my brother works a flexible schedule. They alternate so one of them is home in the afternoons. SIL tried taking her mom to work with her, but MIL was completely disruptive, so no respite there.

This list is far from exhaustive, but you get the idea. At least if they're racist, he doesn't speak enough of the same language to know it, so there's that.

I'm posting to commiserate and to follow to see what coping tips are offered, so I can pass them on. I love my brother. He loves his wife and bonus kid (we all do), but another visit like this last one could literally kill him. They just left last week and the thought of their next visit is enough to give him hives. Oh, and his wife doesn't feel she can tell them they can't stay that long next time.

It sounds like Philippine and Chinese in-laws have much in common ;-). Hang in there!

Oh god, I'd deport them after a week.

At least with the food allergies thing, maybe tell them that they'd be thrown in jail for murder/attempted murder?

GuitarStv

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #36 on: August 14, 2017, 10:50:29 AM »
I've heard stories like yours before dicey, in some ways those are better scenarios to be in.  The in laws in that case are so awful that I'd gave an easier time telling them just to get out.  My inlaws (for all the aggravation they cause me) really are trying in their own way to be good to us.  There's a lot of alternating between feeling rage and shame that you were angry in the first place.

CupcakeGuru

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #37 on: August 14, 2017, 02:07:13 PM »
2. Take the doors off the hinges.
3. Prep your own food and serve it side by side with their food.

# 2 was my first thought. Pull the pins on those hinges when you're going to bed and take the bathroom door into your bedroom :)

# 3 is something I do all the time.

My Filipino in-laws had been in the US for over 30 years by the time we got married, so we really had very few of those issues. MIL definitely drops the casual racist comments, but my wife jumps on those right away.

I'm a picky eater at the best of times, so when the pig-in-a-box came to the house for Thanksgiving, I ordered pizza. I just made a joke of it, and nobody was offended.

Lechon in a box!!! That is my dream Thanksgiving dinner!

Apples

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #38 on: August 14, 2017, 02:34:26 PM »
Sound like you and your wife really need to have a heart to heart about boundaries with your in-laws.  Lay the ground rules.  What's acceptable?  For you and for her.  What's not?  What are the actions you can take when your in-laws inevitably cross those lines (three warnings then xyz happens?)?  You two need to agree on those boundaries. 

I recommend checking out Captain Awkward for a lot of good scripts to get you comfortable with setting boundaries and sticking to them. As a college kid, I basically set boundaries after someone crossed what I hadn't realized was a boundary, I was hurt, and I struck back.  That's really a terrible way of going about things.  Captain Awkward gives a lot of good example conversations to get you comfortable with the language you can use to set a boundary and keep it.  There's a difference in ticking people off because you struck out at them (even if to you, you're just getting back at them) and people being mad that you're enforcing a boundary with them.

Zamboni

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #39 on: August 14, 2017, 10:56:40 PM »
You have my sympathy . . .  I don't like hosting company for more than a couple of days and simply would not be able to cope with the situation you are in.

Imma

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #40 on: August 15, 2017, 12:09:10 AM »
Sounds very familiar to me ... my FIL married a Philippino woman and she really is the dominant person in their marriage. She's a good person and she's really nice to us but she drives me crazy sometimes. At least we're lucky in the sense that's she isn't my s/o's mother, he wasn't raised in that culture, so he has no problem standing up to her, but we do try to not insult them too much. But all your issues sound familiar, so I think there's definitely a cultural problem, not just an in-law problem.

They are moving back to retire in the Philippines in a few years and maybe we need to make it clear beforehand we don't want extended stays at our place (we are the only close family they have over here). We live in an 800 square foot house so that would be a disaster.

Noodle

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #41 on: August 15, 2017, 11:58:39 AM »
Wow. You have my sympathy! As a fellow introvert and space-lover, six weeks of family I'm not even related to by blood sounds like the worst kind of hell.

That said, I think you can make the situation much on yourself.

Setting aside the racist comments for a moment, I think you can help yourself in a couple of ways.

1. See if you can find a way to mentally reframe your reaction to your in-laws. I'm not trying to shame you for getting upset or saying your feelings aren't warranted, but they aren't all that helpful in making it through the visit and there may be ways to feel better. We have a lot more control over our feelings that we think we have (witness the entire field of cognitive behavioral therapy.) I suspect right now they are driving you so crazy that every irritating thing they do adds to the pile, and ratchets up your stress level. If you can start telling the story of their visit to yourself in a positive way, for instance as your wife and son having people in their life who love them so much that they spend a lot of money to travel halfway around the world and give up six weeks of sleeping in their own beds every year, or imagine yourself someday if your son moved overseas, married a person from a totally different culture and the experience of visiting him when you could tell you were driving his spouse bananas (and maybe worrying about losing access to your grandchild), maybe it will help you feel less agitated and personally upset. That will give you mental space for the next step...

2. You mentioned in a later post that you like to control your environment and feeling that you have lost the ability to have choices about your environment is hard. But you do have control!  In the television show Game of Thrones, the characters are constantly throwing around the phrase "Winter is coming" meaning both that cold weather is literally coming and also that bad things are about to happen. Your "Winter is coming" every year, so give yourself permission to figuratively put up the storm windows and gas up the snowblowers...by which I mean--instead of spending four more years nagging your inlaws about banging doors to no effect and a lot of frustration, be proactive and use one of the million sound-dampening solutions out there to quiet the doors. (I have a noise sensitive neighbor and found little sticky bumpers to put on my doors which has really quieted them down.) Find a space outside the house you can go to, whether that's an Air BnB, a co-working space, or the gym. Start a tradition that you go out of town for your annual visit to your parents/fishing trip/yoga retreat "while Grandma and Grandpa are there to help with the baby." Or take advantage of the fact that most grandparents love unsupervised grandchild time to do some spoiling to plan an annual couple trip. Or encourage your wife to go with them on a trip while you stay home and "take care of the house." If they ask for your time and space for mail concierge service/household good storage/dishwashing etc, let your wife handle it or set the boundaries so she doesn't have to. Not your circus, not your monkeys. If you have to, buy more cookware/dishes and put them somewhere inconvenient so that you have clean items when you need them. Make your big meal lunch, for which you personally meal prep a great big salad. The point is, getting people who are older/from a very different culture/not your family members to change is probably going to cost more in terms of emotional consequences than it appears your wife is willing to take on. So think of their visit as a logistics challenge to be solved, not an endurance challenge to be survived.

Now, about the racist stuff. That's your call about how to handle it, but I have a couple thoughts...first, that parents have far more influence than anyone else, especially grandparents who are only around once a year. So if you're worried that your son will pick up their attitudes, that's not all that likely--frankly, the kids he meets at school will probably be more influential. In fact, as he gets older and more articulate, he may be able to push back in ways that a son-in-law can't because grandkids get a lot more leeway. My nieces age 10 are very conscious of fairness and freely call out family members when they think someone is being unfairly treated. If it's just about not wanting to hear that in your home, I totally get it, but I would be inclined against the banning that some people are suggesting. One thing you might think about is that a lot of people struggle with how to call people out about racist or sexist comments and don't speak up when they should. Learning how to do that at home (exhausting as it is) and seeing it modeled by his parents is not such a bad learning opportunity for your son; neither is learning that good people that he loves can behave badly, and how to handle that cognitive dissonance.

Good luck with it all!


TrMama

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #42 on: August 15, 2017, 02:30:31 PM »
Are your IL's Canadian citizens? If so, are you sure they're not defrauding someone by having their mail delivered to your house? I wouldn't want any part of that and might start redirecting things myself.

The lack of sleep thing would put me right over the edge. Though it would likely start WWIII I'd probably take DS and stay at a nice quiet hotel for a couple nights. You'd both get some sleep and the ILs would start taking you seriously because you've removed the thing they care about most, access to DS. I realize this is using a child as a pawn, but not much else seems to get through to them. I'm also completely comfortable with my ILs thinking I'm the biggest bitch on the planet. PPs have suggested much more diplomatic solutions that you may want to try first.

For the PP who needs tips for his/her brother's ILs who don't speak a common language, he can use Google Translate on his phone. It works with the phone's voice recognition app so no one even needs to type anything. The phone will play the translated phrases for everyone to hear.

sequoia

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #43 on: August 16, 2017, 07:25:48 AM »
Wow... <speachless>

I would make a list, and have a good detailed discussion with wife first to make sure you both on the same page.

I would then have a sit-down with everyone, and tell how it is going to be. It is our house, and this is what the law is going to be from here on out. You do not like it, do not come here anymore. Yes it may sounds rude, but everyone need to respect your rights in your home, or they are not welcomed.

Cassie

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Re: Living with in-laws for extended periods . . . help
« Reply #44 on: August 16, 2017, 02:11:31 PM »
After your inlaws are gone maybe have a few sessions with a therapist to help you guys as a couple map out an effective strategy that you can both adhere to.  That way there are no winners or losers. You are in a tough situation and even as an extrovert I could not handle this type of stuff.  Hugs:))