Phoenix, AZ

"She invited herself on a trip for my husband and me; he won't say she can't come," woman on mother-in-law

Amy Christie

*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission

Making sure you keep a friendly relationship with your in-laws can add stress and pressure to your marriage, and sometimes, even the special occasions you're looking forward to might be gone because they feel like spending more time with both of you.

Would you agree to have your in-laws on a trip you've been planning as a couple, or could you just tell them it's not ok and they have to stay home?

How far can politeness go when you get the impression they don't care about your happiness but rather want to use every chance they get to tell you what your mistakes are?

My friend Siena, who lives in Phoenix, Arizona, has been married to Patrick, her husband, for three years. They had several issues to fix before they could get married since they couldn't afford to pay rent at the time, and Patrick's parents weren't excited about having Siena as part of their family at all.

"They didn't like me from the first visit to their home in Phoenix. But we weren't going to live with them, so I didn't let that bother me. Me and Patrick just had part-time jobs when we got engaged, but we didn't want to wait a lot before we could get married. Mom and dad helped us pay rent for the first six months so we could be together sooner and have a happy relationship," Siena said.

Her parents supported the couple by covering half their rent for an apartment in Phoenix, and after six months passed, they both had full-time jobs and were able to afford to live there without needing more money from them. On the other hand, Patrick's parents only visited them once, and they spent two hours telling them the place was full of dust, that the plates weren't nice enough, and they avoided tasting what Siena had cooked for them.

"I felt offended. I'd spent two hours cooking lunch for all of us, but Tessa, his mom, refused to even taste it. She just said it smelled unusual and that she'd already eaten and wasn't hungry. His dad kept quiet and agreed with her every time," Siena said.

Even though his parents didn't come to see them again, Patrick still wanted to go to their place. He asked his wife to come with him, but after five visits during which she and his mom argued about cleaning times, the right way to do laundry, and how often the carpets had to be changed, they both decided he could go on his own.

"I have no problem with Tessa, but she puts all her energy into criticizing me. It would be great if she could just realize I have a different way of doing things, and she doesn't need to correct me. I have my own parents for that, and they're happy with the way the apartment looks. They also like my cooking, as do all my friends. I don't know why Tessa just won't make an effort to improve our relationship," Siena said.

Things went on this way for two years, with Tessa and Siena only meeting once a year and doing all they could to avoid talking or even looking at each other. And even if she'd wanted to have a close relationship with all of her husband's family., Siena gradually realized it wouldn't happen.

She is pleased that his three sisters are friendly and often invite her for lunch or to go shopping around Phoenix.

"It wasn't like all his family didn't like me. I get along so well with his sisters, and they're confused about why Tessa won't give me a chance. I think once we have kids and she's a grandmother, things might change," Siena said.

The couple has been doing a lot of overtime lately to save to buy a home in Phoenix. And since they're very close to being able to get a new place, they planned a four-day trip as a way to celebrate their efforts and to spend more time together.

"It's been months since we went out on a date. And I want to still have our relationship as a priority. Working is ok, and we needed to do that, but now we're almost there, and we deserve to rest for a bit and get closer," Siena said.

What she didn't expect was her mother-in-law's idea about their trip. As soon as Patrick let her know they were leaving next week., Tessa said she was coming too. And she wouldn't accept any of his explanations as to why this was more of a couple's trip and not just for sightseeing.

"She invited herself on a trip for my husband and me; he won't say she can't come. He did come up with some excuses, but she didn't get it. I'm wondering if I should just go see her and tell her clearly there's no way I'm having her on this trip. Enough is enough," Siena said.

Her parents advised her to talk to Tessa and point out this was a trip she and Patrick had planned because they had no time for dates. Siena doesn't want to make their relationship worse, but she won't miss out on this chance to be with her husband and make more happy memories together.

What do you think about this situation? Is it fair for Tessa to just decide she wants to come on the trip and not listen to any reasons against it? Should Tessa focus more on her relationship with her daughter-in-law and avoid further arguments and tension?

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Amy Christie is a passionate writer and journalist, always striving to bring out the positive and create meaningful connections.

Dallas, TX

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