Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Talk with husband about adapting a strategy to handle in-laws

Trouble with in-laws? Talk with husband about strategy

Q: Every time we visit my in-laws, I end up snappish and short-tempered, which obviously isn't the side of me I want them to see. When I brought this up with my husband, he said he understood, and that I didn't have to go on the next planned trip.

While I appreciate his letting me off the hook, I don't think avoidance is a permanent solution. What I'd really like are some coping techniques or attitude adjustments to decrease my stress around them.

For what it's worth, they're not bad people. We just have radically different political views, biorhythms, interests, parenting philosophies, etc. They drive my husband crazy, too, but since it's the environment he grew up in, he adjusts fairly easily — which is probably part of what irritates me.

Vacationing With In-Laws

A: You have one answer sitting on the other end of the couch: Your husband adjusts, so don't growl at him — learn from him. Ask what strategies he uses.

And, you have another answer in you. When people don't drive us crazy, it usually means we're getting what we need from them (or we just don't care). So, when people do drive us crazy, that usually means we want something from them that we aren't getting.

Now think about your in-laws with the goal of figuring out what that something is — and giving up hope. Give up on their ever understanding you, being interesting, not being awkward, serving edible food, approving of the way you raise your kids, saying, "You're right." Hope stymies acceptance.

Also, don't underestimate avoidance as a permanent solution. Boycotting is extreme, sure, but . . .

You can make the visits a wee bit shorter, a tad less frequent, a smidge more structured (a movie, a play, another venue when conversation is similarly discouraged). After a day or two, you can spin off on your own to visit a friend who lives somewhere (remotely) nearby. You can become Super DIL, and go grocery shopping (alone), weed the flower beds (alone), do the dishes (alone) . . . especially when politics erupt.

In other words, you can control the dosage more, and more good-naturedly, than you think. A fresher you can then focus on where your interests do overlap.

Consider cooling your criticism of son's girlfriend and waiting

Q: My son is in a serious relationship with a woman who is, in my opinion, very rude. But she probably thinks I'm uptight; we have had words over whether it's okay to have her stomach showing in public and her forgetting to say "thank you" after I treated them to an expensive dinner. When is it appropriate for me to insist on correct behavior, and what things do I have to just let go?

Son Has a Rude Girlfriend

A: Hm. Hard to top the rudeness of commenting on someone's attire, insisting upon being thanked and calling attention to the price of a meal.

But, I'll play: You don't get to re-raise this woman to your liking or make the rules "in public." You do get to make rules in your own home.

You can also back off. If this couple is breakup-bound, your harping will actually delay that; if they're altar-bound, your harping will hurt you a lot more than it hurts them — and a lot more than her navel annoys you now.

Comments
Your guide to St. Pete Pride: What's changed for 2018

Your guide to St. Pete Pride: What's changed for 2018

Pride weekend kicks off in St. Petersburg Friday with a free concert hosted by a RuPaul’s Drag Race star, a parade along the downtown waterfront on Saturday and an expanded expo of vendors and art on Sunday in the Grand Central District that ga...
Published: 06/19/18

Tell Me About It: Mom/daughter dynamic feels controlling

Q: I am afraid I may be a controlling mom of my young adult daughter, but we have a dynamic in which she seeks me out often, solicits my advice, and makes me too important in her life. I admit to offering that advice because it is hard for me to draw...
Published: 06/19/18

Tell Me About It: Regretting staying too long in bad romance

Q: I recently broke up with someone after two years. Even though there were things that bothered me while we were together, I would convince myself I was overreacting, he didnít really mean it, etc.Now that itís over, I feel like a fool for not havin...
Published: 06/18/18

Tell Me About It: After years of depression, a diagnosis

Q: Iím 33 and have dealt with depression on and off since my adolescence. I grew up in a household with every kind of abuse you can think of, but I didnít start seeking help until my early 20s via talk therapy, and cut ties entirely with my abusers. ...
Published: 06/17/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of June 18-24

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of June 18-24

St. Pete Pride: One of the largest Pride celebration in the Southeast happens this weekend, bringing a rainbow of activities. Things set off on Friday with the free SP2 Concert at North Straub Park, hosted by Coco Montrese of RuPaul’s Drag Race...
Published: 06/15/18
Updated: 06/18/18

Tell Me About It: Pregnancy news confirms estrangement

Q: I just found out my son and his wife are going to be parents. Iím very excited and somewhat confused and a little hurt: Sheís seven months along. I donít know why the long wait to tell me. They live in another state, and I havenít seen them in abo...
Published: 06/15/18

Tell Me About It: Sister must face her poor choices in men

Q: Last night, I received my umpteenth call from my sobbing, devastated sister (mid-20s) over yet another semi-hookup-flirty-thing guy that didnít work out. He is moving away and she found out via an announcement at work, not from him.This is a years...
Published: 06/15/18
High-tech nighttime lagoon show coming to Universal Orlando this summer

High-tech nighttime lagoon show coming to Universal Orlando this summer

A gliding, wraith-like figure of a Dementor from the Harry Potter films enters Central Park, and the exteriors of the surrounding buildings immediately are covered in a layer of ice, a sign of their power to drain happiness out of the air around them...
Published: 06/14/18
Things to do this weekend: Fatherís Day, Maroon 5, The Illusionists, Mr. Rogers film, fireworks at Busch Gardens

Things to do this weekend: Fatherís Day, Maroon 5, The Illusionists, Mr. Rogers film, fireworks at Busch Gardens

HolidayFatherís Day: Sunday brings us a day to honor the guy who cheered us on, called us down and blamed us for his bald spot. Itís Fatherís Day! A number of local attractions are offering free admission for dads if at least one ungrateful progeny t...
Published: 06/14/18

Tell Me About It: Group resists suggestion of sober vacation

Q: I have a friend I have known since high school who has recently been in recovery for drinking. He is about six weeks into an outpatient system and has been doing well. A group of friends including my friend in recovery have been going on two campi...
Published: 06/14/18