January 7, 2014

Strings Attached

In the 19 years of my relationship with my husband I have learned that I should not be responsible for the intricacies of managing the connections with my in-laws. They had a relationship with Mark for 25 years before I came along. Why should I step in and make things happen for my husband who is a grown man?

I know many wives do this. And their husbands let them. I did for awhile too. I am really good at remembering dates and I would remind Mark of his parents' birthdays, and make sure he got them at least a card.

But sometime after having children I realized I was a parent now too and didn't need to keep mothering my husband. I had actual babies to worry about.

It's not as if he made sure I remembered my parents' birthdays or thought of gifts to give them for Christmas. Nope, that was all on me.

So I decided that Mark's relationships with his family members were his responsibility.

I had to tell his father too when he got in the habit of emailing me with questions for Mark. I can understand that my father-in-law is hard of hearing and using email is easier for him. I also understand that my husband would rather use the phone, so these opposing preferences present a problem. However, my father-in-law has high quality hearing aids and can pick up the phone and call his son.

Unless Mark is lying in a hospital bed, I don't need to be a middle-man.

Another problem has presented itself in the past few years. Mark's step-mother has called me twice a couple of days after Christmas complaining that we didn't call them on Christmas Day. I think both of the years in which this happened, we had guests for the Holiday and were kind of busy.

See, she feels it is the kid's job to call the parents on Christmas. And she is apparently pretty hard over on this.

I, on the other hand, think it shouldn't matter who calls whom. If you want to talk to me on Christmas, call. If I happen to think of it first, I'll call you. As long as we connect, it shouldn't matter who dialed the digits.

She called me again this year, two days after Christmas. She said, "We've been waiting. You're the kids."

::begin rant::

It is so completely frustrating to be scolded like that. Especially when it's not even my fault! I actually did remind Mark to call his dad. We had guests, we were doing things and he forgot.

I think these expectations are stupid. We are parents now too and busy making Christmas special for our kids. I think YOU should call if it means that much to you! And actually, all that should matter is that we talk sometime AROUND Christmas and the New Year. To check in, to talk about the gifts that were exchanged, whatever.

Why does it have to be FORCED?

It makes me feel like the gifts they send to us have strings attached. In fact, I have tried to get them to NOT give me anything before because of this. I stonewalled when asked what I wanted for Christmas last year. They wouldn't leave me alone until I gave them some clue as to what I might like.

This year, I told them about household items we could use. Nothing personal for myself. I just can't handle the sense of obligation that emanates from them.

When Mark's step-mother called this year, I cordially said I was sorry we hadn't called yet, but at that moment Mark had just gotten home from dialysis and wanted to take a nap before going to work. She said, "Well, it's the kids we really want to talk to." Oh. Well then call the kids!!

::end rant::

Cordiality. Obligation. Strings.

That's all I feel. It doesn't feel good, and I don't know what to do about it, IF there's anything I CAN do about it.

I don't think they have any idea I feel this way. Because of other difficulties in the relationships over the years I am always completely cordial and polite to/with them. I am beyond gun-shy of making waves.

So I sit here and bite my tongue the hardest I've ever had to bite it. I do that for my husband and my children. But it bugs me so much.

(I am 99% sure they don't read my blog, by the way. If they do read it and never say anything to me.....well that's just oogy.)

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