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To what extent should a boyfriend stand up to family?


goldberry
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Most of the time he notices it, but doesn't say anything.  He gives DD a look or rolls his eyes. So he sees it but doesn't understand why it upsets her. And probably isolated incidents would not, but since there has been a pattern, she's sensitive to it. 

 

In our household, when we have visitors or guests, we don't expect them to be just like our family. (i.e. the way we act, speak, interact, deal with things).  Someone would have to be either incredibly rude, incredibly mean, or otherwise for us to say anything that would make them feel out of place.  We would never assume they would just know how we do things, etc. DD gets looks but also comments for things she thinks are normal.  She is happy to do things another way, but how would she know that?  It's always done in a way that seems to draw attention to her being an "outsider" or "not doing things right'", if that makes sense.   She always feels like she's on her toes, being found not up to par.  That's one example of things that go on.

 

So, no, not a huge deal, and certainly not like what some people deal with.  But enough that you might think, yeah, I'd rather not hang out there. So boyfriend is "let's hang out more at my house" and she is "I'd rather not so much." 

 

Just thinking out loud here. Maybe this isn't your situation at all.

 

My mom came from a very large family. A year after I got married, my bachelor uncle had his first marriage, rather late in life. I was pretty shocked at how "the family" treated her. She's from another country and has an exotic name, so they changed a couple consonants and called her "Sh!t-thong" behind her back, and making her feel unwelcome to her face. It was bad. Really opened my eyes. But the spouses (like my dad) who married into the family let it slide, and didn't say anything other than joke that that's how they were treated when they joined the family. It was a weird rite of passage, I guess. I'm not saying anything against large families! But maybe some families develop an insider/outsider dynamic and you have to go through a hazing process to get in.

 

In which case, RUN.

 

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I wish they had met 4 years from now, when he is more of an adult so she could see if this is a maturity issue rather than his character.  If it's a maturity issue, it'll get straightened out.  But if this is his character, then she'll have in-law troubles for a long time.

 

I know!  DH and I have said so many times that at this age, you don't know if they are growing "out of it" or "growing into it".  The good news is they are good at the talking out part.  So maybe there's hope.

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Just thinking out loud here. Maybe this isn't your situation at all.

 

My mom came from a very large family. A year after I got married, my bachelor uncle had his first marriage, rather late in life. I was pretty shocked at how "the family" treated her. She's from another country and has an exotic name, so they changed a couple consonants and called her "Sh!t-thong" behind her back, and making her feel unwelcome to her face. It was bad. Really opened my eyes. But the spouses (like my dad) who married into the family let it slide, and didn't say anything other than joke that that's how they were treated when they joined the family. It was a weird rite of passage, I guess. I'm not saying anything against large families! But maybe some families develop an insider/outsider dynamic and you have to go through a hazing process to get in.

 

In which case, RUN.

 

 

How horrible!

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I don't know how else to explain it...in my neighborhood/circle of friends, including boyfriends, if you weren't specifically invited, as in, "would you like to stay for dinner?" then you weren't invited to dinner.

 

Maybe it's unique to my area, that people don't assume they're invited unless they are specifically asked.

 

My kids still have friends where sometimes they eat with their friends' families and sometimes they don't. My DD's one friend will say, "My dad will be home in a half hour" and that's the code for "it's time for you to go!" We laugh about it. This same family has also had her stay and eat.

I guess if the boyfriend/girlfriend is not actually going to be welcome for dinner even if they are sitting right there in my living room I would at least have the courtesy to thank them for coming and escort them to the door or have the significant other do so.  It seems really incomprehensible to me that they would just get up and go eat but not make the person feel welcome in joining them or be escorted to the door politely.

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Where?  I don't see the OP even mentioning that she asked her daughter at all what happened.  Was the original post different than what is there now?

 

 

 

 

Tangerine, this was my response to Crimson's comment that DD was "involving me in something that was none of my business."

 

From what I can tell, DD has been very clear to him exactly what the problems are and why she feels the way she does.  They actually have good communication, he just disagrees that he has any role in this situation.

 

DD was upset and I asked what was going on.  It's normal to vent to your mom I think, also she sometimes looks to me to tell her whether or not she is being unreasonable. (Which I have been honest with her about on other occasions.) She just wants some perspective, she doesn't want me to get involved in the situation.

 

 
Apparently that equals she was "pouting" and then trashed her boyfriend.  Go figure.  
Edited by goldberry
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I was raised similar ... and I tell my kids to notice if the people they're visiting are getting ready to eat, and if so, scat. In my culture, it's embarrassing for people to hang around until they "get themselves invited" to eat.

 

If the person is from out of town, different story of course.

 

The person who has invited the person over needs to inform the cook in advance if an additional person will be at table for dinner. It's not something you spring on someone at the last minute.

 

I don't really know where that comes from, but I do relate to it.

 

The good manners flow both directions. I also teach my kids not to overstay their welcomes! But especially considering bf/gf situations, I count it a blessing to get to know my kids' friends better.

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From the mom's perspective, she may not know if this is just the first girl friend among many that he will have before he finds a wife, and so she isn't going to commit to being "family" at this point. Because it sounds like this is his first girlfriend? If they get engaged, that may change.

first girl friend or last, she is treating the girlfriend poorly. This is emotional abuse. Abuse doesn't change from getting closer, it generally gets worse. Maybe the boyfriend will grow up enough to be a good partner some day, but that isn't now. Daughter needs to learn how to handle being mistreated. She should definitely not tolerate it.
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Just a comment on the immaturity issues... I totally agree.

 

The thing is when two young people (who are legal adults) are determined that they are going to pursue a relationship, you can only recommend so many times that "they wait" and that "they are too young" and that they "should break up until they are more mature".  At some point it's beating your head against a wall.  When she does ask for my advice, I am honest about "this is pretty common for boys this age" or "this is a maturity issue" or "this is because you both don't really have any life experience".  I try to refrain from adding "and that's why you should not even be in this relationship at this age!"

 

I've already said that, she knows my opinion on it.  If I did that every single time, why would she ask my advice at all?  And maybe my advice could be useful.  That's the path I'm choosing.

Edited by goldberry
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My family is the same way...if you're around, we'll feed you, mealtime or not, if you're hungry.

 

But that is not everyone's family culture. Shrug. What can you do? You can't force your way into a family and impose your will upon them.

Just jumping off of your post on the meal tangent. Neither of my kids have dated yet but they do have friends over. I have invited these young people repeatedly for meals but they always turn me down. And my kids don't always eat with us now that they are teens. So now we just go ahead and eat even if kids are hanging out. No one seems to mind since they keep coming over to hang out.

 

Anyway- total tangent but just an illustration of how teens can respond to the family meal thing.

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I don't know how else to explain it...in my neighborhood/circle of friends, including boyfriends, if you weren't specifically invited, as in, "would you like to stay for dinner?" then you weren't invited to dinner.

 

Maybe it's unique to my area, that people don't assume they're invited unless they are specifically asked.

 

My kids still have friends where sometimes they eat with their friends' families and sometimes they don't. My DD's one friend will say, "My dad will be home in a half hour" and that's the code for "it's time for you to go!" We laugh about it. This same family has also had her stay and eat.

 

This would also be how it was in parts of my family.  A gf or bf would not be the same as a spouse unless it was at the level of engagement, and would be treated like a friend with regards to meal time.

 

So the expectation would be, if you don't get invited to the meal, you leave when you see people getting close to serving, otherwise you are being rude.

 

Now, over time there might come to be a different expectation with a particular friend as they became more integrated into the family. 

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I was raised similar ... and I tell my kids to notice if the people they're visiting are getting ready to eat, and if so, scat.  In my culture, it's embarrassing for people to hang around until they "get themselves invited" to eat.

 

If the person is from out of town, different story of course.

 

The person who has invited the person over needs to inform the cook in advance if an additional person will be at table for dinner.  It's not something you spring on someone at the last minute.

 

I don't really know where that comes from, but I do relate to it.

 

In my family if you are still in the house when dinner is served then you are automatically invited to dinner.  Especially if you are dating that person.  However, I have dated people from families where this was not so.  I was escorted to the door politely when dinner came around.  That was their family dynamic.  No worries.  

 

It seems to me that if a boyfriend/girlfriend is inviting their SO over that they should inform the parents and ask if it is o.k. if they stay for dinner if it looks like the SO will be there near dinner time.

 

Or if they don't intend for SO to stay for dinner then the person who did the inviting should then make it clear to the boyfriend/girlfriend they invited that there will be a specific time when dinner is served and that they will need to leave at that point.  

 

Different families have dinner at different times.  I would expect the significant other to make it clear to boyfriend/girlfriend when dinner will be and escort them to the door before dinner is served if SO is not welcome to stay.

 

Failing to communicate that and just leaving them sitting in the living room seems really rude to me.

Edited by OneStepAtATime
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I guess if the boyfriend/girlfriend is not actually going to be welcome for dinner even if they are sitting right there in my living room I would at least have the courtesy to thank them for coming and escort them to the door or have the significant other do so. It seems really incomprehensible to me that they would just get up and go eat but not make the person feel welcome in joining them or be escorted to the door politely.

Perhaps the family with the person sitting in the living room has different ways of handling it and was handling it in a way that they felt was clear the visit was over. And perhaps they were genuinely confused as to why the guest didn't leave.

 

Some cultures just don't come out and say, "It was nice having you! Let me get our coat" Some personalities just don't come out and say, "It was nice having you! Let me get your coat!"

 

There have been threads here about getting people to leave when a play date is over, or the evening is over and it is getting late. Advice varied from direct to hint dropping.

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goldberry, what are these high school graduates (I assume) pursuing in other areas of their lives? Are they working, do they have plans for higher education, that sort of thing? I'm just wondering how time is spent beyond hanging out at bf's house. I ask because I'm wondering if they have additional ambitions or if their lives are currently consumed by the relationship/plans for marriage.

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Perhaps the family with the person sitting in the living room has different ways of handling it and was handling it in a way that they felt was clear the visit was over. And perhaps they were genuinely confused as to why the guest didn't leave.

 

Some cultures just don't come out and say, "It was nice having you! Let me get our coat" Some personalities just don't come out and say, "It was nice having you! Let me get your coat!"

 

There have been threads here about getting people to leave when a play date is over, or the evening is over and it is getting late. Advice varied from direct to hint dropping.

Well, you have a point.  Different cultures can be vastly different in determining how to communicate.  It might seem incredibly rude from their viewpoint to come right out and say the person must leave.  They may feel that the announcement that it is dinner time is clear enough and the other person will take the hint and leave.

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I'd tell her she needs to seriously consider how she will feel if he never stands up for her, or for her children.  This is a pattern of behavior for him that he refuses to take responsibility for the way his family treats her.  That is HIS problem, not hers.

 

Exactly the same way she should be the one to run interference if your family were suddenly acting abusive towards him.  There are ways of doing this without dishonoring his parents, and if he doesn't know that by 19 he may never know that.

 

Frankly I'd tell her that in her shoes I would give him an ultimatum - either he needs to stop his family from being so rude by standing up for her instead of rolling his eyes at her, OR he needs to accept that she will NEVER happily spend time with his family for the rest of their lives OR he will need to break up with her because he's never going to be the kind of man she wants and needs and he refuses to change this aspect of his personality.  Three choices, all leading to short term unhappiness in favor of long term happiness.  But frankly what she chooses is her choice.  If she decides to stay with him after giving him that sort of choice, she needs to love him the way he is and accept he will NEVER defend her the way she will want him to.  Which might be something she can accept.  But will she be able to accept it when he refuses to protect and defend his daughter from his mother as well?  I personally would not. What kind of life she will accept and be happy with is up to her.

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I guess if the boyfriend/girlfriend is not actually going to be welcome for dinner even if they are sitting right there in my living room I would at least have the courtesy to thank them for coming and escort them to the door or have the significant other do so.  It seems really incomprehensible to me that they would just get up and go eat but not make the person feel welcome in joining them or be escorted to the door politely.

 

I think where that is the expectation, it's considered kind of rude to ask someone to leave.  So you say something like "Oh, we are eating now" and you expect the gest to say Oh, I should go too."  Then you'd see them to the door.

 

And really, even having to announce the meal might make them feel like they were "pushing" out the guest which is awkward.

 

If they were really sensitive people, they may have been trying to be as polite as possible, but the problem was the gf wasn't picking up the signals so they could play out their role in the script.  She had a different script, so they could never get synchronized.

 

ETA - ha - I should have read on, you just said this!

Edited by Bluegoat
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Once, my son's GF dropped by with him unexpectedly at family mealtime. Their dinner plans with friends had fallen through, and now they were going to spend the evening watching movies at her parents' house.

 

They both have special medical diets (not the same), so in order to both be accommodated, on this occasion, he needed to eat at home before they left, but she'd be eating at their next destination (her parents' house - she also lives at home, when he wasn't expected for a meal) and she couldn't eat what I was serving, anyway! 

 

So she felt very weird about it, but I said, "Look, these special diets are a case of 'it is what it is,' so if you two don't mind, I don't mind. Please never feel like you need to eat or NOT eat at my house, just to please me; we'll talk about what we all need as we go."

 

Rather than leave her to sit in the living room alone, I left DH to lead the meal with our boys in the kitchen, and I said I would sit in the front room with her, which she graciously allowed instead of making a fuss about not keeping me from my dinner. We sipped tea and chatted. I got my dinner after they left.

 

Seriously! This is not hard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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goldberry, what are these high school graduates (I assume) pursuing in other areas of their lives? Are they working, do they have plans for higher education, that sort of thing? I'm just wondering how time is spent beyond hanging out at bf's house. I ask because I'm wondering if they have additional ambitions or if their lives are currently consumed by the relationship/plans for marriage.

 

Edited, too much personal info..

 

DD is starting school in the fall and has a degree/career plan.  BF works part time at a decent job and has a school/career plan. 

 

 

Edited by goldberry
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I don't necessarily read that he needs to move out to be a grown up or break up.

I think these conversations are great and bode well for them. Feeling out families and boundaries takes time at any age.

 

I would be encouraging them to do more alone, rather than just tagging along with his family and with him naturally slipping into 'child at home' mode. And I would encourage dd to just be friendly and normal and try not to write off/catastrophize future MIL. Who knows what her deal is!

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(quote deleted for privacy)

 

So if they get married before at least one of them graduates a future degree program, one of them will have to either give up a goal or try to make a change of schools.

 

That's what I'd be generating conversation about, more than what's going on with the other mother (though talking about relationships is important).

I understand it's hard, though.

Edited by Seasider
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Sometimes it isn't that I wouldn't be happy for someone to stay for the meal, but that I have only planned enough for the people usually there.

I used to enjoy watching the Bob Newhart Show. Emily was confronted with unexpected and clueless dinner guests all the time. She just divided up whatever she had made, even if they each only got 1/4 pork chop and one spoonful of potatoes. LOL

 

If we have one extra person and there's truly not enough, dh and I discreetly divide one meal between us, and go back and make omelets or something, after they leave. If there are several people, I can whip up something fast from the pantry to extend the meal. Informal but it works.

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I used to enjoy watching the Bob Newhart Show. Emily was confronted with unexpected and clueless dinner guests all the time. She just divided up whatever she had made, even if they each only got 1/4 pork chop and one spoonful of potatoes. LOL

 

If we have one extra person and there's truly not enough, dh and I discreetly divide one meal between us, and go back and make omelets or something, after they leave. If there are several people, I can whip up something fast from the pantry to extend the meal. Informal but it works.

This reminded me of a dinner when I was a teen.  Mom got a call from Dad about an hour before he was supposed to come home from work.  Turns out Dad realized that several Egyptian officers who were working with Dad (Air Force) had nowhere to go for dinner and Dad invited them to join us.  All of them.  I don't remember exactly how many came but it was more than 5.  Mom somehow managed to pad the meal with various things in the cabinets/refrigerator to cover the extra guests.  It may not have been the most conventional meal but we had a marvelous evening.  :)

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So if they get married before at least one of them graduates a future degree program, one of them will have to either give up a goal or try to make a change of schools.

 

That's what I'd be generating conversation about, more than what's going on with the other mother (though talking about relationships is important).

I understand it's hard, though.

 

The "plan" - as far as I have been informed! - is that if they get married after a couple of years she will transfer back to the local school to finish her degree. She was not willing to stay local for him right now, but said if he was ready to get married she would be willing to transfer back.  He should be finished with his associates by then, or plans to work full time and finish school evenings/PT.  She's told him she won't drop out of school, so he's going to have to have a way to be the primary supporter if he wants to get married before she has her degree.  They have discussed it anyway.  Who knows?

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Just a comment on the immaturity issues... I totally agree.

 

The thing is when two young people (who are legal adults) are determined that they are going to pursue a relationship, you can only recommend so many times that "they wait" and that "they are too young" and that they "should break up until they are more mature".  At some point it's beating your head against a wall.  When she does ask for my advice, I am honest about "this is pretty common for boys this age" or "this is a maturity issue" or "this is because you both don't really have any life experience".  I try to refrain from adding "and that's why you should not even be in this relationship at this age!"

 

I've already said that, she knows my opinion on it.  If I did that every single time, why would she ask my advice at all?  And maybe my advice could be useful.  That's the path I'm choosing.

 

What's that saying from Mark Twain? Something like, "a man who carries a cat by the tail learns something that he can learn no other way?"

 

Point being: you've said your (wise) piece. Neither one of them is listening (I wouldn't have either, at age 18), and this may be something that one or both will just have to learn through repeated unpleasant experiences. Whether that means they break up or get married (and then have to work through it - or not - then), some fires people have to learn are hot (by touching them, over and over).....

 

Best of luck to you (and them) and it's great that you are trying to keep the lines of communication open. 

 

P.S. Another pithy quote that may help here - "Good judgment comes from experience. And experience? Well, that comes from bad judgment......."

Edited by Happy2BaMom
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Well, you have a point. Different cultures can be vastly different in determining how to communicate. It might seem incredibly rude from their viewpoint to come right out and say the person must leave. They may feel that the announcement that it is dinner time is clear enough and the other person will take the hint and leave.

That's pretty much what I said in my first post about this type of situation.

 

In my circle growing up, if a family member at a house i was visiting said, "we're eating at 500" and didnt specifically follow up with an invitation to stay, I knew to skedaddle.

 

It WAS considered clear enough that I wasn't invited to dinner.

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This is very true and I totally admit it, even though we tried to avoid it. 

 

Re: the mom, when the two first started dating, the mom confided in me that she was so not ready for this, that she had no idea how to deal with it, that she was so freaked out by it she was referring most things to her husband to deal with.  Boyfriend was 18.  We are both pretty conservative families, but ... wow.

 

:grouphug:  goldberry  :grouphug:  I'm sure you've done a great job. It's just the nature of different families sizes, and not a lot you can do about that.

 

Parenting adult children sure isn't for sissies, is it?  :crying:

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I hate to derail the thread, but the deal was, we were 22 and 25, he still lived at home, we spent a lot of time together because we were taking classes at the same school and studied together. We also worked at the same place. In my family, my mom always made enough for leftovers and unexpected guests so I found their customs odd at the time. It's only since I'm grown and have grown kids that I realize it may have been a mismatched culture thing.

 

Then again, after we were married, his mom walked into our new house without knocking and came looking for us in our bedroom. So, maybe she just had issues :lol: We moved many states away after a couple of years.

Edited by Barb_
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The "plan" - as far as I have been informed! - is that if they get married after a couple of years she will transfer back to the local school to finish her degree. She was not willing to stay local for him right now, but said if he was ready to get married she would be willing to transfer back. He should be finished with his associates by then, or plans to work full time and finish school evenings/PT. She's told him she won't drop out of school, so he's going to have to have a way to be the primary supporter if he wants to get married before she has her degree. They have discussed it anyway. Who knows?

Hrm. That may very well take care of it. That's a lot that has to happen. If they make it through all that, they may be ready.

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I hate to derail the thread, but the deal was, we were 22 and 25, he still lived at home, we spent a lot of time together because we were taking classes at the same school and studied together. We also worked at the same place. In my family, my mom always made enough for leftovers and unexpected guests so I found their customs odd at the time. It's only since I'm grown and have grown kids that I realize it may have been a mismatched culture thing.

 

Then again, after we were married, his mom walked into our new house without knocking and came looking for us in our bedroom. So, maybe she just had issues :lol: We moved many states away after a couple of years.

 

:ohmy:  :scared:  :svengo:

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In the book "Toxic Inlaws" it was spot on that each spouse needed to deal with their own parents. For example, I only ever saw my MIL because of my DH. And MIL only abused me because of my relationship with my DH. The abuse is about DH and MIL. In our case, MIL made it clear that she will never stop attacking. It started with small things while we were dating and escalated to abuse while when we got engaged.

 

Abuse is abuse. And if your daughter is currently a victim of abuse, then the boyfriend is guilty and responsible for expecting her to continue to be abused, putting her in that situation, and belittling her for not wanting to be abused. What is happening now when they are only dating will be multiplied big time once married. I know it is very painful to leave a close relationship, but a lifetime of this is worse. Sometimes, you just need to yank the bandaid off.

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That's pretty much what I said in my first post about this type of situation.

 

In my circle growing up, if a family member at a house i was visiting said, "we're eating at 500" and didnt specifically follow up with an invitation to stay, I knew to skedaddle.

 

It WAS considered clear enough that I wasn't invited to dinner.

I get that.  I was not seeing it from that perspective when I first read your initial post regarding this.  Honestly, from my perspective, it seemed inconsiderate for the SO to just leave her sitting there and not say anything one way or the other, even if the rest of the family was just expecting her to take the hint and leave but once I let your posts percolate a bit I did think through it more.  That's why I said what I said when I said it.  I know from personal experience that different cultural/societal/family backgrounds/customs can make it hard to communicate expectations and many things can come across as rude even if that was not the intention.

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This post brings up so many emotions in me (not good ones) that I had to take many many deep breaths to calm myself down.

 

How does the mom treat her son's other friends?  Or is this behavior saved just for your DD.  Has your DD's bf asked the same of his mother - that she get along with his gf?  If so, why not?  This does not have anything to do with him living with his parents.  Would he accept rudeness from his mom just because he was dependent on them.  And I feel bad that he has put the burden of the mother-gf relationship on your daughter.  And if it fails then the blame falls on your dd.

 

I read where you said that the bf was the logical one and your daughter was more emotional (maybe you didn't say it but I got that impression).  That's how it was between DH and me - I walked out of every conversation (regarding how I was being treated by his family) feeling that I was making a big issue out of nothing and that I should be the one making "adjustments".  20 years later I realize that this is me - if it is important to me - logical or not - it has to be addressed in the relationship.  Looking back I realize that DH's family felt like it was a huge privilege for me to be married to DH (and that rubbed off on DH too for a while) and I had to be the one who needed to make the change/put up with their attitude. 

 

Sorry to go off topic but I needed to vent for a few sentences.

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This post brings up so many emotions in me (not good ones) that I had to take many many deep breaths to calm myself down.

 

How does the mom treat her son's other friends? Or is this behavior saved just for your DD. Has your DD's bf asked the same of his mother - that she get along with his gf? If so, why not? This does not have anything to do with him living with his parents. Would he accept rudeness from his mom just because he was dependent on them. And I feel bad that he has put the burden of the mother-gf relationship on your daughter. And if it fails then the blame falls on your dd.

 

I read where you said that the bf was the logical one and your daughter was more emotional (maybe you didn't say it but I got that impression). That's how it was between DH and me - I walked out of every conversation (regarding how I was being treated by his family) feeling that I was making a big issue out of nothing and that I should be the one making "adjustments". 20 years later I realize that this is me - if it is important to me - logical or not - it has to be addressed in the relationship. Looking back I realize that DH's family felt like it was a huge privilege for me to be married to DH (and that rubbed off on DH too for a while) and I had to be the one who needed to make the change/put up with their attitude.

 

Sorry to go off topic but I needed to vent for a few sentences.

:grouphug:

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I have no idea why anyone cares that her daughter is 18 and talking to her about this relationship issue.

 

If that's a sign of immaturity then just about all us need to mature some bc I think we have all vented about relationship questions of all kinds here and I don't think that's one bit more mature than my kids talking to me about their relationship struggles.

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In the book "Toxic Inlaws" it was spot on that each spouse needed to deal with their own parents. For example, I only ever saw my MIL because of my DH. And MIL only abused me because of my relationship with my DH. The abuse is about DH and MIL. In our case, MIL made it clear that she will never stop attacking. It started with small things while we were dating and escalated to abuse while when we got engaged.

 

Abuse is abuse. And if your daughter is currently a victim of abuse, then the boyfriend is guilty and responsible for expecting her to continue to be abused, putting her in that situation, and belittling her for not wanting to be abused. What is happening now when they are only dating will be multiplied big time once married. I know it is very painful to leave a close relationship, but a lifetime of this is worse. Sometimes, you just need to yank the bandaid off.

 

This seems like really strident advice for the situation. Abuse? It sounds like the mom is just unwelcoming and somewhat rude. Even the daughter doesn't sound like she would use that word.

 

Patterns can change. My in-laws were mildly horrible to me when I first met them. When we announced at Thanksgiving dinner that we were getting married, they coughed and looked away uncomfortably. Fil refused to look at me or talk to me the first three times I visited (and they lived far away so that was well into the relationship - we were living together at that point - and it was not a religious objection to that - fil is Unitarian). They are SO not like this to me now. Like, not at all. I mean, they still, especially mil, have their quirks. And they do some things that make dh and I both annoyed. But they're very welcoming now, very kind, very loving and not at all toxic or horrible. Now that I know them a lot better, I've really come to believe they were people who need time to adjust to changes and who are not always very in touch with their feelings.

 

I think the situation in the OP could get better or worse... but it sounds like they're dealing with it reasonably well for two brand new adults in their first serious relationship... even if his mother isn't doing so well for her first adult child.

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I have no idea why anyone cares that her daughter is 18 and talking to her about this relationship issue.

 

If that's a sign of immaturity then just about all us need to mature some bc I think we have all vented about relationship questions of all kinds here and I don't think that's one bit more mature than my kids talking to me about their relationship struggles.

 

I don't get this either. It's bizarre. Of course "venting" and "processing" with *anyone* whether it's a parent or a friend can turn unhealthy in the wrong dynamic. But why would anyone assume that it's immature? That makes no sense. Everyone should have a loved one to talk things out with. Goldberry sounds like she's doing a great job listening and advising without overstepping or nagging.

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DD feels (and I agree) that he is the one bringing her into this family, so he does have some responsibility here.  She is also looking forward to a time they might be married and wondering if this guy will stand up for her.  Is that reasonable to think?  Thoughts or experiences here?

 

That is a reasonable thing to want and expect from a partner.  I married into a similar family.  I'm divorced in large part because of this same issue.  It would take too much time to list all the issues it caused and the ways that it affected our relationship but I can say without hesitation that if one of my daughters were ever considering making a relationship permanent under similar circumstances I would strongly advise against it.

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YES! And that's what she was doing actually.  But he was "I want you all to get along, and spend more time together.."  They do "get along" in that there is no arguing or bad feelings or outright rudeness.  I don't blame him for being young and uncertain how to handle it.

 

And oh yes.  I do know they are both lacking in maturity in many areas.  I advised her and would have loved for her to wait longer before getting so serious.  The horse has left the barn.

 

  

She can and does, she just doesn't choose to spend a lot of EXTRA time there.  Times in the past where they have gone back to his house after a date for example, to hang out or watch tv, something weird always seems to happen. She's around the family in plenty of other circumstances.

 

I know you don't want to get too specific, but I'm having a difficult time picturing what's happening when your dd visits her boyfriend's house. If his mother isn't rude or nasty, I'm having trouble figuring out what the problem is. I guess what I'm saying is that I can't figure out if the "something weird" is actually being directed toward your dd, or if the boyfriend's family just has different ways of doing things so your dd feels uncomfortable (but it wasn't an intentional thing on the part of the boyfriend's mom.)

 

BTW, if you didn't want me to quote your posts, just let me know and I'll delete the quotes right away. :)

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Well....I marrried the first born son (from a homeschooling family, with 4 younger sisters) when we had just turned 20. I was treated fairly terribly and they spoke to DH a few times about how "I was his queen, but not special to them" but still had random other girls crying at our wedding because "I was SOOO lucky to marry into this special family". Turns out I was expected to assimilate into the family like another daughter.

 

I met them 3-4x before we married as we were at school out of state. After we were married and travelled back to his family I was treated like another child and given chores, tasks for preparing meals etc. I happily went along. When more serious conflict came, DH was quick to privately take my side and defend our family unit but we both were trying to please and keep peace. MIL went behind our backs to interfere in our wedding and obviously lied and manipulated. And we tolerated it. It was both of our responsibilities really, and you can't expect 19 or 20 yr olds to know much better. You have to learn yourself sometimes 😜

 

Fast forward 21-22 years...turns out his mother is NPD or at least exhibits many strong characteristics. Looking back it's absolutely clear. At the time she just came across pushy and manipulative and the entire family cowered around her. Now it's obvious and toxic.

 

My point? First it's hard to get married to the firstborn male and be the first to "steal" a child (eyeroll) and forge that path- it just is. There is no easy way to break the family in. 😜 Second it's difficult to decipher a "new" family system and takes time to see whether it's high functioning dysfunction, abusive or just different and a 19 yr old first born male isn't a reliable source or help. Third doing all of that when very young, inexperienced and immature changes everything.

 

Just my experience and perspective.

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Most of the time he notices it, but doesn't say anything.  He gives DD a look or rolls his eyes. So he sees it but doesn't understand why it upsets her. And probably isolated incidents would not, but since there has been a pattern, she's sensitive to it. 

 

In our household, when we have visitors or guests, we don't expect them to be just like our family. (i.e. the way we act, speak, interact, deal with things).  Someone would have to be either incredibly rude, incredibly mean, or otherwise for us to say anything that would make them feel out of place.  We would never assume they would just know how we do things, etc. DD gets looks but also comments for things she thinks are normal.  She is happy to do things another way, but how would she know that?  It's always done in a way that seems to draw attention to her being an "outsider" or "not doing things right'", if that makes sense.   She always feels like she's on her toes, being found not up to par.  That's one example of things that go on.

 

So, no, not a huge deal, and certainly not like what some people deal with.  But enough that you might think, yeah, I'd rather not hang out there. So boyfriend is "let's hang out more at my house" and she is "I'd rather not so much." 

 

 

  

I know you don't want to get too specific, but I'm having a difficult time picturing what's happening when your dd visits her boyfriend's house. If his mother isn't rude or nasty, I'm having trouble figuring out what the problem is. I guess what I'm saying is that I can't figure out if the "something weird" is actually being directed toward your dd, or if the boyfriend's family just has different ways of doing things so your dd feels uncomfortable (but it wasn't an intentional thing on the part of the boyfriend's mom.)

 

BTW, if you didn't want me to quote your posts, just let me know and I'll delete the quotes right away. :)

I think her above post kind of gives more clues.  

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Thank you for this...

 

I know where the lines are, because thankfully my own parents towed those lines.  There was a time in my younger days when they told me, "you're married now, you need to deal with this with your husband" and they were right.  There were other times, though, when I was glad for their advice and perspective.

 

yes and no.   I've a friend who deeply regrets not listening to her dd (and telling her - you need to work things with your dh) when she made complaints about her husband.  she didn't find out exactly what was happening for another 20 miserable years.  her dd was being abused by her now ex.  she'd been "feeling her out" and barely touching on the details.

 

Your later post suggests that there is no overt rudeness?  I think that I had this fantasy that my ILs would be like second parents to me.  I had to give up that fantasy and accept that being civil was just fine.  Fondness is going to take time and can't be forced. 

 

Editing because the first ten years were not civil.  It was only when MIL started to have dementia, that she became nice to me.  I didn't care that we weren't really friends.  Civil was such a relief! 

 

I had that too.  I had such a difficult relationship with my mother, I had fantasies about a close relationship with my mil.  she's nuts.   It took *years* but I have a good relationship with her now.   she has slowed considerably. 

eta: it's a very light relationship, but positive - I would never go to her for advice about anything.  I couldn't with my mother either.

 

From the mom's perspective, she may not know if this is just the first girl friend among many that he will have before he finds a wife, and so she isn't going to commit to being "family" at this point.  Because it sounds like this is his first girlfriend?  If they get engaged, that may change. 

 

this is a bad portent.  dh dated. a. lot.  so his sister (who lived with him) totally ignored all of his gfs.  she wouldn't even give me the time of day.  (no exaggeration.  I could say hello to her, and she'd ignore me.)  the day he told her we were engaged, she called me and tried to be all buddy  buddy sisterly.   .  . .  I still have a lot of reservations with our relationship. (it was just a sign of things to come.) we've been married for 35 years.

 

Maybe her adult boundaries include seeking counsel from her elders.  Should she ask her peers instead?

 

maybe they'll tell her to text her. ;)

Edited by gardenmom5
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I think her above post kind of gives more clues.

Thanks, but I read it and I thought it added more mystery. :)

 

It sounds like these are two families whose idea of what is "normal" are quite different. That's why I was hoping for examples. Is the dd being overtly criticized, or is it just that she feels awkward because she isn't getting the cues she needs to fit in with this family? And if she's not getting the cues she needs, I would blame the boyfriend and not necessarily his mother.

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My FIL is very unfriendly and unwelcoming to the point that I decided to avoid him a few years back. My husband seems to not see how difficult it is but he grew up in the dynamics that I see as wierd so maybe it's normal for him. I can totally see how things can be only subtly or moderately difficult in the moment but still be a major problem. We had profoundly different home atmospheres which is a major part of it. I wish I had seen it as a warning sign years back but I didn't realise it. Our kids haven't seen FIL in ages because I can't cope with taking them.

Edited by lailasmum
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There is only one reason it worked out in this department with my MIL.  DH moved to another country.  Otherwise, his mother is a jerk and would have driven me away.  I don't know if DH would have spoken up.  I'd like to think he would, but....

 

yeah....

 

I don't really have advice.  Just saying I wonder if I would have stuck around if I had to deal with her on a regular basis.  I'm leaning towards no. 

 

Same here. In-laws are safely on the other side of the world. I didn't meet them until we were already married. :laugh:

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This is very true and I totally admit it, even though we tried to avoid it.

 

Re: the mom, when the two first started dating, the mom confided in me that she was so not ready for this, that she had no idea how to deal with it, that she was so freaked out by it she was referring most things to her husband to deal with. Boyfriend was 18. We are both pretty conservative families, but ... wow.

The above quote about the Mom says quite a bit, really. She is passing off dealing with this to her dh. The son is passing off the responsibility to your dd. It sounds like this family has an unhealthy culture of avoidance. If he's just young and immature, that's one thing. If this is how they roll as a family, I would be very concerned.

 

Your dd seems like she has a good head on her shoulders. But, you can't drop sane (her) into a bag full of crazy (them). Eventually the sane one looks nuts.

Edited by MaeFlowers
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