Carolyn Hax: How to help her daughter with tough in-laws, empowering her spouse

Dear Caroline: My daughter is married to a great guy who has a spoiled little sister. His mother allows him and takes his side whenever there is a conflict. My daughter goes through cycles with her family where things are quiet but then the sister stirs up conflict. My daughter has a heart problem exacerbated by stress.

My generous son-in-law often takes them on family vacations and pays for everything. It has now gotten to the point where they are upset if he and my daughter leave without them. Her husband knows his family can be difficult but doesn’t want to deal with it. My daughter says she wants to avoid most gatherings with her family altogether. She agrees with him and their child getting together. Is this the best way to handle this?

worried mom: Whichever way is best, it’s not about you or me.

Or his sister, or the rest of his family.

It’s better if both, the swingers, agree that it’s better. If you give me a vote (you can’t) then I’ll take it a step further and say the best way is for both of them to start prioritizing their marriage over one’s family of origin or the other.

That their centers of gravity are always with their own families, as seems to be the case, is a bigger problem than any overindulgent sister-in-law – although the former can certainly make the latter much worse than it is. would have been otherwise.

And maybe it’s just that I’m writing this on a Monday, but I don’t see what’s “awesome” or “generous” about inviting but refusing to deal with a family he knows to be “difficult” in general and particularly unpleasant company for his wife.

We all have things we don’t want to deal with. If we’re going to give in to that impulse and knowingly neglect them at someone else’s expense, then at best we’re typical, not great.

Except to brewers who travel for free. To them, his negligence is quite impressive.

But this is all academic unless your daughter asks your opinion. If she does, start by asking his what she thinks is right. Then ask her if she explicitly shared this idea or plan with her husband. So ask why not, if not.

In other words: deal with it by encouraging him to approach him to include it, so that they deal with things like this as a unit. Phew. And so she recognizes, if he refuses, that his refusal is Problem Zero.

The exception to this coupled framework being, of course, when you see signs of control and prejudice. In this case, you stop promoting “unity” – rather think and speak clearly, with evidence, on behalf of the one who is hurt.

Dear Caroline: Our wedding was a few weeks ago. It was a beautiful event that included an outdoor ceremony followed by a move indoors to host appetizers, cocktails and a full dinner with choice of entrees. The cost of booking the venue with all the caterers was not cheap and based on a per person rate. Our wedding invitations were sent out three months in advance, said the wedding included cocktails, dinner and dancing, and included pre-addressed and stamped RSVPs. We submitted our tally and paid for the venue based on the RSVPs we received.

We were disappointed that a number of people were surprised not to show up on the wedding day, especially when we later found out they were ‘just too busy’ to attend or had d other thin excuses. It cost us hundreds of extra dollars.

Is there a way to word the invitation that lets people know we’re PAYING for them to attend, without sounding like a stingy? It’s too late for us, obviously, but maybe others would benefit.

I mean, you’re 100% right: it was horrible of your loved ones to do this to you, and you deserved your guests to treat you with care somewhere in the same ballpark as the care with which you prepared. to welcome them.

But the idea that one line on an invitation worded like this can reverse the effects of the crumbling of society? It’s an “Oh, honey” moment [pat, pat]. Either they live in protective bubbles or they know you paid through your nose.

The best advice I can give to couples is to factor this “loss” into their budget – and their emotional expectations. Horrible as it sounds, it happens constantly now. (I know we’re all tired, but stop doing this.)

So why publish a letter with a hopeless non-response? Because your letter, thus formulated, has a better chance than me of breaking through some impulse of rudeness for the future benefit of others. Thank you for trying.

And for what it’s worth, you don’t look like a “cheapskate” at all.

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