What to Do When Mother in Law Picks Inconvenient Time for Holiday Gathering

Updated on November 10, 2015
J.M. asks from Hinckley, MN
31 answers

We live in the same town as both my parents and my husband's parents. In the past, for holidays, we try to divide the day between the two families (lunch at one, dinner at the other). Lately, however, my mother in law has been planning her meal for mid afternoon (2:00 or 3:00). I am not sure why. This makes it difficult to split the day. And my parents eat meals at normal times - like noon and six. Talking to her about this would not go well. Anytime we do that she pitches a fit and claims we are selfish and showing preference to my family - even if we would just tell her that mid afternoon times for meals make planning difficult for us. She seems to want us with her for every holiday and for the entire holiday. If we do anything with my family instead she complains about it for years. My husband does not ever want to address things with her because responds like this. So we typically tell her we will come when she wants, then try to find another time to spend with my family, often on a different day because he doesn't want to upset her. It bothers me, though, to continually be accused of being selfish when she is so inflexible and demanding about holidays. In addition she always talks to her own daughter first to find out what works best for her - such as when she is going to her in-laws' and works around her plans. The same consideration is not ever given to my side of the family. This year she has made thanksgiving dinner reservations for 2:00 at a restaurant. I am dreading the conversation with my husband. If I host she complains that I don't cook the food she likes, invite all the people she wants, she sits in the corner with a blanket and doesn't talk to anyone, just acts like she is miserable, tells me how much more she enjoys holidays at my sister-in-laws house, tells me I need manners lessons, tells me how my parents are socially inferior to her (they are both upper middle class) tells me I'm inferior to my husband, to her daughter, etcetera. So she is not a lot of fun to be around either. What do I do? My husband just defends her and says nobody is perfect, including me.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers


answers from San Francisco on

How frustrating. I hate it when adults, especially older adults, act like children :-(
What worked best for us over the years was we did Christmas Eve with my family (either brunch or dinner depending on what day of the week it was) Christmas morning at home, just me, hubby and the kids, then Christmas afternoon/evening with husband's family. That way we got to enjoy time with everyone and not have to feel rushed going from one place to another, that would just suck :-(

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Norfolk on

When you can't please everyone/anyone - it's time to please yourself.
It's time to take back the holidays and make them your own.
Your husband needs to figure out who he's married to.
One hint - it's not his Mom.

Can you consider a fun little trip for your family and not get involved with either side at holiday time?
If either side calls/invites you - tell them you'll all be going away on a ski trip (or what ever will be fun for you).
Or start seeing them the weekend or two BEFORE Thanksgiving (or afterward) - so you are free for your own plans on the holiday.
If not, then maybe Hubby can go to his Mom's and you can go to your Mom's and the kids alternate who they go with each year.
With your MIL's attitude - I'd have told her where she can get off a LONG TIME ago and not worry about her fits and drama one little bit after that.
(If Hubby objects - throw a little of your own drama his way.)
It's not something the kids need to see or learn about.
If she's not fun to be around - then DON'T BE AROUND HER.

You could always just have your own Thanksgiving and not invite anyone while they are all off doing their own thing at their own times.
Then you can invite everyone over for Black Friday left overs dinner the next night or on Sat or Sun.
It takes the pressure off for the main day.

Gamma - when two adult people marry - they form a new family unit and previous family units (their parents) take a step back in importance from the position they formerly held.
That's a healthy family dynamic.
You know "The Wedding Song"?
" A man shall leave his mother and a woman leave her home."?
Because they are forming THEIR NEW FAMILY - and so as a couple they should BOTH make a plan for dealing with their parents - and this guy isn't doing that.
And he NEEDS to.
Since he's caving into his Mom and her wishes, he's not backing his wife - his chosen partner in life - and THAT'S why he's wrong in not putting his own family unit first before his mother.

Marriage counseling is needed very badly.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

Omg. The scheduling part didn't seem all that terrible at first since everyone lives close by and shuffling would simply have to be done to fix it, but the other stuff in last few sentences...um....you're civil to this woman because?

I was civil to my horrid MIL for years when I was still married. Then one day I realized: I didn't have to be. I did not have to let her visit my home. I did not have to go out and see her. My husband didn't like it when I quit compromising and living in torment every time there was a conflict, but the strain of dealing with her was worse than his occasional disappointment with me. Now we're divorced (not because of her). Phew. I have no contact with her.

If she truly has said to you that you and your family are inferior to her and her family, then I'm sorry. You're not under any obligation to cater to her anymore. Go be with your family on the holidays and he can be with his. You and your husband have each other the other 8,750 hours per year. No need to be polite to vicious people.

If that is not an option because deep down you believe you should spend all holidays with all people and couldn't abandon your husband for a few hours: Then own it. Grin and bear it. You really can't change it.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Stop going to other people's houses for the holidays or dragging your kids to two places. Why not give Thanksgiving to your MIL and Christmas to your parents, then split it next year? Or ask your parents to do Thanksgiving on Friday this year since your MIL is being a complete pain.

We have done both before because my sister has both sets of parents in one area. I do not so it's never a problem for me, but when my sister has to compete, we try to make it easier for her.

I do know that even if both sides of the family lived here, there is no way I could drag the kids to and from all day - that takes away the relaxing part of the holiday for them. People have to learn to deal with not having everyone all the time. I'm sorry you are dealing with this.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

oh dear. it doesn't sound as if there's a really good solution available. so all that's left is to pick the best of the bad options.

my family AND my in-laws were much more understanding than yours, and would try to schedule things so that we could visit both. when we were young and didn't have kids that's what we did. thanksgiving at my in-laws, then over to my parents' for dessert. christmas morning at my parents, then a meal with my in-laws in the afternoon. we even kept it going for a bit when we had a baby.

then we got stuck in a snowstorm on the way home and had to pull over, it was just ghastly. there i was in the back seat trying to nurse an overtired fretful infant, while we prayed the plows would come along and let us get our old car back on the road and home. and that was it. the next year we started having christmas at our house. anyone who wanted to visit us could come, and we'd visit everyone over the holiday season, but christmas morning was at home.

we continued to split thanksgiving for a long time, until the grandmas got old enough that having someone else take over was welcome and not an intrusion.

young as i am, i'm kinda looking forward to handing that one off to a future DIL<G>.

it's a shame for you that your husband is so cowed by his mom, but lifelong family dynamics are really hard to break. obviously he should be the one to call her, but if he absolutely can't, here's what i'd do. call her with my cheery face on (faces can be 'seen' through a phone) and say 'nelliebelle, your plan to have thanksgiving at the restaurant sounds grand! i'm sure you will all have a marvelous time, and no clean-up! bartholomew and i won't be joining you this year, we're going to have our own dinner here with the kids, just us. we'd love to see you on friday- would you like to come over for pie and coffee? no? we'd be happy to come see you. oh, i'm sorry you're disappointed, it's just really hard to please everyone, isn't it? but we're all doing what's best for us, and i'm sure it will be a great thanksgiving all round. yes, we're going to see my parents, not quite sure when (it's really none of her business, is it?) well, enjoy your meal, we'll be thinking about you (quite true<G>.)'

call. don't text or email.

i mean, if she's going to be miserable and whiney and complainy and sulky anyway, let her do it out of your purview, right?

and your dh needs to accept that however important it is to have a happy mom, having a happy wife takes precedence. if he's not willing to take point, he needs at the very least to have your back.

ETA i DO think that 2 or 3 in the afternoon is pretty much the perfect time for thanksgiving dinner. it's a huge amount of work, and i'd be up all night trying to get 'er done by noon. i invite the family to start showing up between noon and one for yakking and hors d'oeuvres (and slave labor- they can set the table and whip the cream!) and we plan to sit down between 2 and 3. thanksgiving isn't an ordinary meal day.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

"My husband just defends her." Ahh, this is a helpful statement to help me understand the dynamics. I get it, I really do. You would like some changes and when you try to discuss it, your husband resists. First , it's time for a quiet discussion about planning for future years. It's not about your mom or his mom. It's about agreeing and making a plan, or agreeing to disagree and you planning to spend holidays separately. Accept that he loves his family, offer to spend one holiday a year with them and see how he feels about it.

Never say a bad word about his family. It's not helpful, however true it might be. His family is what it is, not his to change. His mom is not going to change. Absolutely true that it would be wonderful if the dynamics were different, but you cannot change that. He does not need to defend you. You do not need to defend yourself. Stop trying. Just nod at rude behavior, and move on. Walk to another person and start a lovely conversation. Poor behavior that does not get attention, tends to decrease. But whether it does or not, I recommend that you give yourself permission to consider her a socially-challenged person and not give it another thought. Accept it.

Nothing I have printed is easy. But it is doable. And it's a lot easier than trying to change other people. Cause that is not going to happen!!! All my best.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

I'm starting to write my answer after reading only the title. I have not yet read any of the rest.

When someone picks a time/date that doesn't work for you, you decline the invitation (or summons, as the case may be) or if you want to try to work something out, you decline that time/date and offer alternatives that will work for you. It does not matter if it is a friend, a family member, an acquaintance, or whomever.

Okay, now I'll read the rest...

My previous advice still applies in general. So what if talking to her doesn't go well? You need to nip her hissy fits in the bud. It is okay for her to be mad at you. Just because she's someone's mother does not give her special privilege to be a snot. The earlier you deal with this in your marriage, the easier it will be.

I was going to suggest alternating years, or hosting yourself if it was physically possible, or celebrating on alternate days but you've addressed those ideas and tried them.

The BIG thing is this is that you have a marriage problem. If you and your husband are not a united team on the same page, you're in for years of misery and resentment. It sounds like you need to find a couples counselor to work out the issues regarding his mother. Someone who can keep the conversation on topic and not let it devolve into accusations and arguments.

It isn't even about Your Family vs His Family because you should be concentrating on Our Family, the core of which is your own household. You, him, any kids that come along. Your assorted parents are peripheral players now, not the main characters. You have to do what is best for the Core.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I guess I don't understand why a 2-3PM mealtime is impossible. So you go to their house from noon-4, and then go to your parents from 5-9. Just eat lightly at each house, if you don't want to be overly full (which would be true regardless of if the early meal was at noon or 2). Are you making mountains out of molehills because you don't like her?

To be clear, maybe you have good reasons to not like her (the entire second half of your post). But that's not the question you asked. You asked what to do when your MIL picks inconvenient times for dinner, and to that, my response is: it's not that inconvenient, just roll with it. Maybe you have real battles to pick with her, but this doesn't seem like one of them.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

The fact that you give in to her tantrums and come when she tells you to is why this continues to go on.
Plan your holiday how YOU want it. And if you can't make the meal at her house, tell her what time you will be there, and ignore all commentary attached to it. If she tells you not to come, as a result, don't go. Period. The only way you'll stop this behavior from her is if you stop enabling it.
And apparently it'll have to be you that does it, since your husband won't.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Your mil probably picks 2 or 3 for Thanksgiving for the same reason I do; I don't want to get up at 3 am to start a huge turkey cooking and then rush around to get food on the table for noon.

Maybe its time to split your holidays by doing Thanksgiving dinner at one house and stopping in to visit and have desert at another. Or having Christmas eve at your inlaws and Christmas Day at your parents. Your mil shouldn't expect everyone to work around her schedule but because you always have she doesn't see it as her problem.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

The insanity must stop. If she schedules at a time that isn't convenient for you then you have two choices either to rearrange your schedule to accommodate or just bow out gracefully. If or when she throws her usually fit, you don't reward bad behavior by giving into it. Acknowledge her feelings but don't alter your plans or apologize for a decision you have made that you agree on. If you and your husband can not agree on how to make the holidays a more peaceful and less stressful time as it relates to his mom then you have a much bigger problem than an unreasonable mother-in-law.

If I were you I would stop accommodating her crazy. If we have agreed to go to my parents at x time earlier in the day after we are finished there or perhaps the next day we would see her or not at all if she is being unpleasant. I actually had to do this with my own father because sometimes he was a bit much and over the top and when he was being like that I NEVER rewarded his crazy with my presence.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

You don't have to go to every fight you're invited to. Your husband doesn't want to engage her because he realizes it's pointless. I suggest you do the same, because she just cannot be appeased. This is not about how terrible you or your parents are - although that's what she says. It's about HER and her underlying insecurity. Anyone who sits in your house sulking because she doesn't like how you cook or who you invite, then you're done with inviting her for this.

My husband has children from a prior marriage. He was supposed to get Thanksgiving (pick up kids at 2 PM which was incredibly inconvenient from the standpoint of preparations but we did it). Every year, he picked them up and brought them to our house - but they were already stuffed because his ex made them eat at her family's house at noon! Very passive aggressive. In your case, it's mostly aggressive.

I say that you alternate - one set of parents gets Thanksgiving at the time/location of their choosing. If it's your MIL's year, then you go at 2 PM to the restaurant and you are a gracious guest. That year, the other set of parents makes other plans with other relatives or friends. Whoever got Thanksgiving doesn't get Christmas. Next year, reverse it. Or, put in there something at YOUR HOME on your schedule - and I'd consider not inviting your MIL because she insults everyone and makes it clear that she is miserable. If your MIL is invited (which you should re-think), if she sulks in the corner, you pay her ZERO attention. She can ignore you, refuse to eat, whatever, but she cannot criticize you or your parents especially in front of your children. If she does, your husband has to step in and drive her home and tell her that her grandchildren are going to resent her if she talks like that. Next occasion, do not invite her - if she complains, he tells her (you don't) that it's because he listened to her say how much she hates it and he didn't want to subject her to it.

If your husband allows her to say that you aren't good enough for him, he's the problem.

And don't get into the "socially inferior" argument by defending it and saying your parents are upper middle class. That just buys into it and insults everyone else who is being judged by their income level - you don't really want to do that, do you?

If your husband is still defending her about what goes on in YOUR home, I suggest YOU go out to Thanksgiving dinner with your own parents, or to their house, without him. I doubt he'll want to do that every year. You can also decide to turn over the cooking to him to make her happy since you've been told so much that you are terrible, and he seems to remind you that you're not perfect. You can't allow him to treat you like a doormat. If you are still engaging in this debate with her, though, I think you have to stop. Say nothing. You cannot win.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Ugh. I would say "thanks, but we're having dinner at my parents' house at noon so we won't be able to make it. Have a wonderful day, and perhaps we can get together on Friday or the weekend instead." And leave it at that.

Don't rearrange your life for someone who is totally inconsiderate. If your husband is unwilling to address this, then just decline and move on. Let her pout and let it roll off your back.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Wow. I would host Thanksgiving. If she chooses to be miserable so be it. I am glad I am the way I am. If We are cooking for a holiday or not cooking, I tell my 4 kids to figure out what works best for them and just let me know what time for dinner or where we need to be and a time. It has worked well all these years. We are easy. I remember trying to please everyone and vowed I would never do that to my kids. We do not get hurt or insulted if one family has to go elsewhere. Life is too short. We make it work good luck. Hope you can come to some kind of compromise.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

J., your MIL and mine could be twins. I read your first post because your experience is so similar to mine.

From your last question, it sounds to me like she has a mental illness. Pretty sure mine does. She's been upsetting our plans for 20 years and finally my husband put his foot down last year and we did our own holidays. It didn't go over well (at all) but quite frankly, they haven't even when she's had her way and at least we felt united.

My husband has been struggling with his mother his entire life. Unlike your husband, my husband supports me though - I can't imagine how hard this must be for you. We had couple counselling early on because my MIL was so difficult. I thought it was me (just not adjusting well to this demanding emotional mess of a woman) but you can't deal with people who are irrational and unreasonable.

So - I agree with the moms below - you decide what works for you, and stick to it and have your husband support you. Whatever you decide - it shouldn't be the MIL who decides what is right for your family. Be united, have your husband deal with her.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

I'm probably in the minority here, but I just let my MIL pick it. We've always let her have Thanksgiving Day and then my family gets together on Saturday. I don't see the big deal.

Christmas becomes a bit more complicated with various schedules, but I think most people do tend to be more flexible about getting together on days other than Christmas Day.

Why lock yourself into the idea that Thanksgiving can only be celebrated on Thursday. Isn't spending time with family the most important part? I'd rather spend a few relaxing hours at each place on different days than try to cram both into the same day ... even if you do live in the same city.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I think you have several choices. First, your husband should talk before a holiday and tell her what time he was hoping to spend with his side of the family. He can tell her that he was hoping to spend mid day (noon to 3:30) with his side of the family and dinner time (4 to 7:30) with your family. She will perhaps throw a fit but it's not your problem. You and your husband can set healthy boundaries and eventually she will grow used to it, although I'm sure she will complain. Another idea is just go at 2pm, eat a very small plate and leave at 4 with your apologies. She truly sounds like a gem (sarcasm). I'm sorry. It must be very trying to have her over and to hang out with her. My MIL is a perfectly nice person, but it is my own mother who is the difficult one. I honestly now think of her as a toddler having her fit. I set boundaries and I stick to them. She either comes around or not. She says the most inappropriate things. I just tell her immediately that was rude and inappropriate to say. Or do not say such things around my kids. Or that was very selfish...I call her out on it. Your husband needs to do things like point out to her you spend time with her each holiday. You split the time between two families. You are making an effort and he does not appreciate her complaining. Her complaining makes him want to spend less time with her. She is being rude by saying xxx. If she continues to be rude he is going to take his family and leave early. He needs to say these things...calmly and kindly. Your husband needs to grow some balls and set boundaries with his mom bc this would be his job. PS - I would just go and eat a teeny amount and then leave at 4pm. PPS- I commend you for making an effort all these years.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

It is time for you and your husband to be grown-ups. I am not trying to be unsympathetic but think about what your children see and experience.

First of all, families need to have some traditions of their own. Until two years ago, we had never had a holiday at our own house. We alternated Christmas and Thanksgiving between my in-laws house and my parents house. We didn't mind it and set the ground rules when we were engaged so both sets of parents knew what to expect. Then 2 years ago, we moved, three blocks from my parents house but couldn't afford the airfare to go to my in-laws for Thanksgiving due to new house poverty. We invited everyone over to our house for Christmas. My in-laws drove down and stayed with us. My grandma (about a mile away) hosted everyone for dessert after Christmas Eve mass. We hosted Christmas morning (everyone brought the stocking Santa had left for them at their house and we opened together) and hosted a huge Christmas breakfast. Then my grandma, my siblings and my parents went to my parents' house where they opened "tree presents" and my family did that with my in-laws at my house. In the evening, my mom hosted dinner. It was wonderful! I loved not having to travel with Christmas presents (first time ever!) and we had quality time with all involved. My boys loved having all of their grandparents at one time. Last year, we went to my in-laws for Christmas and my mother in law adopted some of the things we had done the previous year.

What I am saying is create some of your own traditions and memories. Thanksgiving in a restaurant with my little boys would be a nightmare and a 1/2. I might suggest that you have Thanksgiving at home and invite your inlaws, etc for dessert afterwards. Or alternate holidays, even if you are close together you could say Easter here, Thanksgiving there, Christmas here, NYE there...etc. Have your husband help you, tell your family how tough this has been on you and I am sure they will support it and then inform your inlaws and children.

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Take a moment and try to read your own post as if you're reading a stranger's post.

Look for these red flags:

"My husband does not ever want to address things with her"
"...he doesn't want to upset her"
MIL "tells me I'm inferior to my husband, to her daughter, etcetera"
"My husband just defends her and says nobody is perfect, including me."
"I am dreading the conversation with my husband"

The issue is not really her, it's the fact that her son is just her son in all these scenarios. He is not your husband -- he's her boy. Does he ever defend you when HIS mother calls you inferior to him? That alone would be enough in many couples to spark a very, very serious talk about a husband totally lacking respect for his wife and tolerating her being abused by his mother. He might try to defend himself by saying that he agrees with you that his mother is difficult, critical and negative, but if he DOES nothing about that, he's only tacitly encouraging her. He can agree all he wants but he needs to act like your husband and not just her scared son.

Yeah, he's scared of mommy. Yet he's not scared of upsetting his wife, or interested in compromising to make her happy.

This isn't time to deal with her. It's time to deal with him. Sit down and tell him what you told us here: t's time to be your own family, you, him and the kids, and your own family needs to take precedence over his--or yours. His sister gets consideration for her family's preferences but your family --not just YOU, him as well -- does not get the same consideration. Tell him that he does not speak up for your when his mother complains and criticizes when you host and tell him how that makes you feel. And then tell him that you are proposing that from now on, Thanksgiving be traded off year by year -- not within the same day. No more "We'll see both families and have two meals." One year is with his mom; the next is with your parents; and the third year, you and he host and invite anyone you want--your folks, his folks, friends, the mail carrier if you want, but every third year you host.

If he whines, tell him that married grown-ups realize they cannot keep everyone happy all the time, and that includes their parents. His mother is going to throw a hissy fit, and your own parents might not be thrilled but I would bet your parents are going to understand and accept the idea of rotating holidays while she can't.

Since Thanksgiving is now so close, I would go ahead with the plan for this year and still see your folks that evening or whatever. But after this, you let everyone know early, months in advance, how things will be next year for YOUR family.

You don't mention kids but if you have kids, it won't be long anyway before they are old enough that they start to balk at dashing around to different houses on the same day or they want to go play ball or hang out with friends around the holidays. If you start taking control of the holidays now you'll model for the kids that families share and don't try to dominate each other over who goes where and when. And your kids do not need to be exposed to MIL on every holiday being critical and negative toward you --they certainly don't need to hear (and eventually they WILL hear it) your MIL actually saying their mother is inferior to their father. Time for dad to step up and be dad and husband and nip that for good. Less exposure to grandma at holidays, where she clearly thinks she's queen bee, would help.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I looked at your previous question, posted several years ago, which says you have 3 teenage kids. Were they young teens then? Are they still at home? What do they like? Do they enjoy certain foods, football, helping to decorate the tree? A special Christmas breakfast? What will they tell their own kids someday about family traditions?

I'm assuming they're not married yet. Have you established any of your own family traditions (I mean, you, your husband, and your 3 kids)? Do you like to cook, or do you prefer eating holiday meals at a restaurant? Either one has its merits, and it depends on the family. Some families buy some things pre-made and try to make the cooking part as easy as possible. Some families just love spending the day cooking everything from scratch, and that's as important as the eating part. Some would consider spending all day in the kitchen to be torture, and love to eat out. Think about which you and your husband prefer.

Since you live in the same town as both sets of parents, why do you need to eat the holiday meal with them? Why can't you drop by and give them a lovely pie, or have coffee with them, or simply eat a meal with your husband, and kids, and perhaps a few friends of theirs?

And about the time issue, many families eat their big Thanksgiving meal in mid to late afternoon. To say that your parents eat at a "normal" time, like noon or six, is not a justifiable statement. That may be the traditional time when your parents eat, but that doesn't make it "normal", nor does it make another time "abnormal". Is it possible that you send a subtle message that your parents do things in a "normal" way?

You don't have to host everyone. You can simply have a family meal with your own family (meaning your kids) and make sure to visit both sets of grandparents/in-laws frequently.

Of course, all this assumes that your husband values the family he and you have created, and wants his children to grow up with fond memories that were created for them, not just to see holidays as a scheduled set of dinners and stress.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Life is too short to let other people hold you an emotional hostage.

It's high time you and your husband sit down and talk together BEFORE the remaining holidays and decide what you want to do. There are several options, but alternating holidays between families or hosting at your house are two of the most practical.

Your husband is trying to take the easy way out by not working with you. He just wants to give in to his mother because that is the easiest thing for him to do. When you two married, you became a family unit. You two are a team, and you should work together as partners to solve problems like this. Yes, this is his mother, but being a mother doesn't give her the right to control your lives around the holidays (or any other time, for that matter).

You know in your heart and mind that you are not being unfair, so why allow your MIL to dictate how you feel? If you invite her to your house and she behaves like a spoiled child as you've described, LET HER! Let her sit in the corner with her blanket and be miserable with herself, but DO NOT allow her to dictate what you feel! If she doesn't like your food, she is free to bring some dishes she prefers. If not, that's fine too, but you must stop tip-toeing around this time bomb of a person. She is controlling everyone with her temper tantrums, threats, insults, and obnoxious behavior. You keep giving it to her demands, so she keeps doing what works for her.

Time to be responsible for your own behavior and choices and let her be responsible for hers.
If she pitches a fit, that's on her. Ignore her and continue with your meal, celebration, whatever.

Or, alternate holidays. Certainly, limit the time you spend with the MIL. For example, if you choose to do Thanksgiving with her, meet at the restaurant just before your scheduled reservation, eat, spend a little time after the meal, and then leave. It might still be early enough to go to spend some of the evening and have dessert with your family.

Remember just because your MIL behaves badly and says rude, outrageous things, does not make those things reality (e.g., MIL saying you are inferior to her and her family, accuses you of not spending enough time with her). Learn to let crazy talk go without giving her the response she's looking for. You just validate her when you respond to her nonsense.

If someone treated me this poorly, I would not spend a second more with them than I had to. I'd make an appearance, smile, and get out as fast as possible. If your MIL can't or won't look at her own behavior and see why you (and others) don't want to be around her, there's not much you can do to change that, but you certainly don't have to be tortured by long visits with her, either.

Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Pick one entire day to be with one or the other and switch every other year. Let her complain, but if it doesn't work for your family then it doesn't work. I'd also consider the source on the whining and complaining and ignore it. Tell your DH you refuse to allow her to ruin any more holidays, either there or in your home.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

One approach that MAY help is to ask her ahead of time..."Mom, we're working on our holiday schedule and can do lunch or dinner if you want. My parents are going to do the opposite of whichever you choose. Would you like us here early for lunch or later for dinner?" If she pulls a 2 or 3 reply...say "we can visit after then. How about we come at 5 and just visit?"

Another option is to alternate...this year go to MIL at 2 and next year go to your parents. If you travel for Christmas do the same (the opposite of where you went for Thanksgiving). Or alternate Thanksgiving and stay home on Christmas (let them come to you).

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I agree with Mynewnickname- 100%.

I'd also add that, after all these struggles - if your parents did 6:00 it would work just fine, right? So you don't eat a whole lot, just spread it out over the day. Sounds like it would work, to me.

This is a family dynamic issue that all of us who are married or have multiple holidays to attend, have to maneuver.

I do think you have issues with your MIL that are valid (sounds like she'd drive me crazy, to be honest, and that your husband caters to her when she is verbally abusive is beyond me) but, again, I don't think this is a battle that needs fought.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

My first thought is that if it's "inconvenient" then don't go. We were invited to a BBQ over the summer and they said they were eating at 2pm. Who eats that late? It kind of puts you in a bind if you are like most people who eat lunch between 1130-1230. So I understand how that would put you in a bind because you would turn around and eat again at the other party at dinner time.

I don't understand why your husband doesn't see this as a problem? Do the other family members that go to your MIL's house like to eat at 2pm? Maybe you can rally all of them to say the same thing and she will have it at noon to make EVERYONE happy.

Otherwise, I would just eat lunch at noon at home, go have a piece of pie at 2pm with the in-laws and eat dinner with your family at the regular time. If anyone has a problem with it, I would tell them it's the best you can do and be happy you are still going at all. JMO. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Once we had kids it was just too hard to split the holidays. Also, I came to think that it was rude to do so. (We would go to my in laws first but not eat too much because we were going to my mom's then we would get to my mom's and not eat much because we already ate at my in-laws. Thanksgiving is a lot of work and I think everyone thought we should eat more) Now we always spend Thanksgiving and Easter with my parents, Christmas Eve with my in-law and everyone comes to our house on Christmas Day.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

Host everyone at your house. Make it potluck.
When she tells you that you didn't invite the people she likes, remind her that this is your house and you make the guest list.
When she tells you how much more she enjoys your sister in law's house, tell her that she can got here if she prefers.
When she says you need manners lessons, hand her a copy of Emily Post with the page bookmarked and highlighted on which Emily explains that complaining about other people's manners is rude.
When she insults your parents and you, tell her that your parents managed to raise a daughter that her son finds acceptable to be the mother of his children.
Eventually, she will shut up. If you're lucky, she will either learn to behave or stop coming around.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Fayetteville on

So sorry! Situations like this make holidays suck! You and hubby need to get on same page.

What is your relationship like with SIL? Could you talk to her about a more accommodating time? Doesn't she have to eat 2 dinners too?



answers from Los Angeles on

Well since she seems to be controlling & unreasonable, if she sets the time for 2 or 3pm, go to your parents' house first then be a little late to hers since she's so inflexible. Sounds like talking w/your husband won't do any good. When she comes to your house & sits in the corner w/a blanket acting miserable telling you how much more she likes holidays at your SIL's house.....ignore her. Smile and walk away. Since it seems like you can't get your husband's support (I know what that's like...not in this situation but.....) stop trying. Just try to find a way to try & get along as best you can in this situation w/everyone. Be fake with her if you have to. Don't let her harsh words (that you're inferior to your sister-in-law, husband etc. get to you. Let these hurtful, mean directed words roll off your back like water off a duck's back. Look at the big picture (your kids, their health, your health as the blessings they are). Ignore her as best you can, remain a good person, smile when you come in contact w/her, pray for strength in dealing w/this stuff. Don't plan on your husband's support, just be kind, assert yourself in a calm way, do the best you can etc. You say your husband defends her. That is to be expected....it's his mom. Don't worry, just try to do the best you can. If she ever says again that your parents are "socially inferior to her" calmly tell her that is incorrect and not kind then walk away. Best of luck, hang in there, do the best you can, don't expect too much in the way of changes or support from hubby. Just try to live a good life.



answers from Las Vegas on

first of all, you are right, you aren't perfect, but you are perfectly you :) and that's a good thing!!!! in terms of holidays, we never do TWO meals on the same day, we just split the holidays up.. for example, this year, my husband's cousin is doing Thanksgiving... her husband's family is doing Christmas Eve, which we aren't invited and it's fine by me as we are dong Christmas at 5:30pm at our house.. Three days.. three different events..All that running around from house to house is too much... UNLESS you space it out, which your MIL does not.. you mentioned already finding a different date to spend with your family.. as mentioned, just split the holidays.. MIL takes Thanksgiving.. SIL takes something and you take the other... DONE...
you can't change your MIL, she will think what she wants... so work on letting that go... otherwise, you ll be frustrated every holiday... and it will ruin your experience..



answers from Oklahoma City on



Who decided the WIFE gets to decide this all on her own. Seriously? Moms, is it really like you're saying?

If HE wants to spend the holidays with his family he's not on his wife's side? He's a momma's boy? He is undermining his own family? Seriously?

If he has a good time with his family and is bored beyond words at your family activity maybe he is really trying to support you by going to your family first, making plans with YOUR FAMILY every single year first, and his family gets pushed to when YOU want to go over. You might even make alternate plans with your family but do you whine about it? Do you throw it in his face when you're talking about what to do on the holidays? Do you say I always leave my family to go to yours and I like my family better?

To me it seems like you and hubby need to sit down, like I said below, and YOU need to listen to him and accept maybe he likes his OWN family more than he likes yours. It's supposed to be that way, right? He was raised with these people and loves being with them as much as you love being with your family.

I think it should be 50/50 if you can't decide. You don't like her and she doesn't like you. Why not stay home or go to your parents by yourself and let him go where he wants to go. he'd probably enjoy the day more if he wasn't being pulled by you towards your family and then resenting having to leave your family to go to his.

This is why you guys have to have an honest and open conversation. He might hate going over to your parents house but does it to please you. He might hate going to his mom's house and having her act like that because she didn't get put first.

Both of you have to be completely honest and then go from there.


I'd tell my husband to tell me what he wants to do. I'm sure he DOESN'T like being in the middle.

I would talk to your parents too. Are you the only ones that come to their house for the holidays? If so then see about inviting them out to eat with the whole group. That would set mother in law off wouldn't it?

I do have to say though, on holidays I don't know anyone who eats their big family meal at 6pm. Most are done with their big family meal by 4 or 5. Then if they get hungry before bedtime they go sneak more dessert or a turkey sandwich.

If this was me and I had to choose between my family and his I'd choose his because I like his family better. I enjoy my time there more and I laugh and hug and just overall love my time with them. If I felt that way about my family and not his but he felt that way about his family then I guess we'd split it and I'd go to mine and him to his. Kids with the one that has the most kids they enjoy being with.

Then after we ate and finished up and spent some time with my family we'd gather up and go to his family's house.

In all honesty I can't see eating 2 huge meals in one day like that though. My mom got us either the weekend before or the weekend after and his family got us on Thanksgiving. Mostly because it took us a couple of hours to get to my mom's house then driving back. Plus we had to work on the day before and I had my child care business back open for limited kids on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I had regulars that would have to take off work if I wasn't open so I opened for them on their regular hours.

Also, why not give out a calendar to both parents and start having some holidays at your house and invite both families? It doesn't have to be on the day either. It could be the weekend before or after. There are many things you can do. Some of them alienate mom's on both sides, some of them appease one but pushes the other aside, so you and your hubby have to sit down and decide what's what. You can disagree on this too.

All in all I'd make my decision on what "I'm" going to do after talking to hubby and the kids. If they all want to go to his family for the holiday and don't really want to go to your mom's then you might have to accept that and let your mom know you'll be going over there on the day of. I'd feel bad about that though. It's hard for sure.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions