General chatter - MIL Issue - Need Advice!!! Argh

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01-12-2009, 11:18 PM

Ladies, I need your help. I am having a major moral issue here with the MIL, and I don't really know how to handle it. I figure some unbiased positions, both from a MIL POV and a DIL POV will help to balance out my emotions.

here goes...

So, about 2 weeks ago, we were over the in-laws' house. New Year's day, FILwas out of the house, so it was me, my husband, my BIL and my MIL. So, we're just sitting and talking, and this is the discussion that transpired:

MIL: So, our 30th anniversary is coming up.

DH: Yes, we know, Ma.

MIL: I am having a party.

DH: Oh, are you? Are you planning it?

MIL: Nope, you are. I want the whole thing... tent, catering, invite both sides of the family.

DH: Oh...

Okay, now here is some background. First of all, BIL has no job. So, that leaves the entire party planning up to us. Second of all, my job isn't very secure at the moment. Lots of changes going on in the company. We have 2 car payments, student loan payments, and $850/mo rent.

Now, I'll be honest with my feelings... I am angry. I am angry at the way she "asked", basically demanding that we do this for her. This is not a first time incident... every time her birthday rolls around, up to 2 months in advance, she is telling us "Yup, so you're gonna take me out to dinner". This type of attitude reeeeally rubs me the wrong way. There's more back history here, but I'll keep it out, trying to just stick to the story at hand.

Because of her attitude, I really don't want to throw her the party. The DH and I figure it will cost us about $600. DH is using the money for the main reason why we shouldn't throw the party... however, he made sure to point out tonight that we were planning to go to Vegas this summer, which would cost more than $600.

Now, I have a few moral issues. First of all, I feel guilty about going on vacation now- because now we can't use the money as an excuse not to throw the party. So... now my only reason for not throwing the party is because I think she's rude. Probably not a good enough reason, right? Second of all, I feel guilty spending this much money on my in-laws... and not on my own parents. So, if we were going to spend $600.00 this year on the in-laws, then we should also spend that on my parents. That's $1,200- definitley can't afford to go to Vegas if we give away $1,200.

This whole situation is just making me angrier and angrier the more I think about it, and I don't know what to do. It's like a vicious cycle of guilt and anger, and I don't know what to do.

Help! How do I handle this?

01-12-2009, 11:27 PM
Giving a party for someone is a gift, and that gift should be the giver's idea. Do you & your DH have a history of giving into your MIL's every demand? The more you give into a demanding person, the more they will demand. You have no obligation to do this for your MIL ... you don't need to give an excuse for why you don't want to. She doesn't have the right to put you in that position, MIL or not. JMHO ... I feel for you; family relationships can be difficult.

01-13-2009, 12:06 AM
All I can say is good luck. My first ex MIL was worse than that. She refused to even touch or even pick up her own grandson. It had something to do with the fact that she felt that because I was from KY and not upstate NY I wasn't good enough nor what our child because of me. So to make a long story longer I always stuck to my guns around her. Maybe that will work for you sticking to your guns that it.

RN BSN 2009
01-13-2009, 12:17 AM
$600 is way out of line. A 30th anniversary is a big deal, but I'm sure if OTHERS would pitch in, it wouldn't be so much of a financial burden on you. Also mention that if it truly is a gift, then the idea would've came from you guys! She can't oblige you to spend such a large sum of money.

01-13-2009, 12:22 AM
Okay... a 30th Anniversary is a big deal. I agree that the way she "asked" for this party was way out of line, but we can't pick family (or family in-laws ;))can we?

I think that you can explain to her that you'd like to do something, but that you can't afford to throw an expensive party right now. You don't need to go into detail, and it's none of her business if you do go to vegas.

Maybe make some food, or try inviting a few people/friends pot-luck style to get everyone involved in having a happy little party.

01-13-2009, 12:25 AM
LMR, wanted to pop back on to ask if you're very beholden to this woman somehow? Has she done a tremendous amount for your and your DH, that she would expect you to be at her beck and call, so to speak? Does she feel she has every right to expect you to do what she wants? Just wondering ...

01-13-2009, 12:31 AM
She has done a lot for us in the past, they did help to pay for most of our wedding. However, the DH and I both know her motivations here... she has some rich relatives that got an Anniversary party, so she wants the same thing. DH says she has some kind of complex about how much money they have (and they are not hurting, trust me)... she just always feels she has to "prove herself" to other family members with more money... to be like "here, look what I got from my kids"

01-13-2009, 12:32 AM
Faerie, while I would love to say the potluck is a good idea (it would be in my book)... this is a woman who, when I told her my bridal shower was going to be at a lake, said she would be "appalled" to have her family subjected to something like that, and wanted MY shower moved to an indoor venue. So, I cancelled my bridal shower and never had one. I did stick to my guns that time...

01-13-2009, 02:08 AM
This makes me so sad....I was emotionally manipulated by my mother for years and it is so wrong..

I say let her know you can't afford it but you'll certainly help with arrangements if she wants to pay for it. To demand you spend your money on her during these harder economic times is horrid....and selfish...

Take your vacation with your husband, because you both need to have a treasured time together away from the hustle and bustle of life. You don't have to explain why to her or answer for what you do. Especially if your husband, her son, doesn't want to do it---this means a lot.

Take care and take care of your own little family. My mother passed away several years ago, and I honestly have to say I don't miss her. This is what she did by the way she treated me!

01-13-2009, 06:52 AM
I think its fair enough for her to want a party to celebrate their 30 years together and even OK to get the family to make arrangements. However I don't think the full burden of the costs should be on you alone. If it were me I would say, yes, we'll be delighted to arrange but can't cover the full cost and will need some help. What about FIL, is he more aware than MIL what a burden it would be on your finances to stage the kind of party she wants?


01-13-2009, 08:51 AM
I honestly have to say - after having a "small" wedding... catering can be pricey - we spent $3,200 for just 40 guests... Of course that's in Canada, and things are a little more expensive... but for a whole shebang - family, friends etc. that would be beyond your "budget".I don't think $600 could even touch the cost of it.

You say she has rich relatives... do you have contacts? Can you explain the situation to them? They may be able to help out - in the meantime, you can do the arrangements - go the dollar store and spend about $20 on decorations etc.

But I have to agree.. she is deffinately way over the line. To demand that you're throwing the party, when she KNOWS that things are not financially stable for you and DH, is just plain selfish.

Faerie, while I would love to say the potluck is a good idea (it would be in my book)... this is a woman who, when I told her my bridal shower was going to be at a lake, said she would be "appalled" to have her family subjected to something like that
I don't get it... if she says she would be "appalled" to her family subject to that... how the heck does she feel about dumping the whole thing on just one family member... that's even worse! I think it should be a whole family thing, as it's the family celebrating your parent-in-law's 30th anniversary.

01-13-2009, 09:51 AM
We sort-of went through this also, except my hubby had 2 other brothers to share the cost.
It was a 50th anniversary and my MIL planned the whole thing and we had to pay for it. It was a sit down dinner at a private party place where they have weddings and reunions, etc. When I saw the final bill, I thought Oh, that's not too bad to split 3 ways. Then she said there was $300 worth of champagne that we had to pay for also. That about threw me over the top. But, somehow we found the money to pay for it. I think it was about $350 for each of the 3 sons. I was really upset about it also. I wasn't working at the time and my 2 kids were really young and we just didn't have that kind of money sitting around. We had gotten some money for Christmas that year and we used that.
We, the daughters-in-law, had just wanted to have a reception at the church with punch and cake, etc., but she didn't want that. She wanted a more intimate setting with just close family and friends. I think it was still about 50 people though.
So, in the long run and in hind-sight, I guess it was worth it because about 3 years later, she had a heart attack and died. And she did alot for me, so I shouldn't have complained. We just didn't seem to have the money at the time, but we worked it out.


01-13-2009, 10:20 AM
Yeah if my MIL came to us expecting us to do that I'd laugh in her face. (My MIL told me the day after Katrina hit that this is what my family gets for living in a place like New Orleans.....if my DH wasn't there I would have punched her in her face) Tell her you'd be happy to plan the party but you can't contribute much $$-wise. It's none of her business about your upcoming vacation and if she found out then tell her yeah....we deserve a vacation!

After being guilted into doing things by my mom I will never let another person try to be that controlling over my life. You can still show them that you love them without bending over backwards for them.

01-13-2009, 10:53 AM
Umm my MIL and my mother would never do such a thing. If someone throws a party, they should pay for it themselves but they can help others to pitch in and help.

Also $600? that won't go far, I'd say it cost well into the thousands. My grandparents are having an anniversary party, they are paying for the entire thing but its going to be well over $10k for it. And I wouldn't consider it fancy but between music, rentals, food, etc.

01-13-2009, 07:32 PM
Maybe I am a bit rednecky, I had my graduation party about a month ago. We had 2 large wing platters, and 2 large sub sandwhiches from walmart, several bags of chips, cake and snowflake dollar store paper plates and plastic cups and all for about $60, and we fed like 40 people and everyone had enough to eat.

Maybe if space allows have it at your house or similar venue. Hook up and Ipod to a iHome radio and have a playlist set up and get some food like those listed above and party down.

It shouldn't be about the food, or the band or the etc etc. It should be about everyone being there to celebrate a great milestone in marriage.

P.S. I do agree she did go overboard with telling you guys to throw her a party. I'd give her the finger and told her to do it herself. I would be fuming and the audacity of someone telling me that.

01-13-2009, 07:50 PM
If you decide that you would have wanted to throw her a party, if she hadn't asked for it so inappropriately (because of the things she has done to help you out when you needed it), I would try to forgive the crappy way she asked - and throw her a party, but throw her the party YOU are able to throw for her.

Tell her that you will be planning the party, and that it's all a "big surprise" that no, she can't help plan her own party. Assure her it will be "great" and she will love it - and then plan a wonderful party, but one you can afford.

My husband and I spent less than $5000 on our wedding, and none of the guests suspected. In fact, we were complimented profusely on the "expense" we went to on our catered meal because we had "splurged" on appetizers before the buffet, a gorgeous large (Walmart) cake, and a beautiful bread table. We saved 2/3 of the normal catering budget (no we didn't hire health department rejects), but we lived in a relatively large city and we used the small town caterer that my sister had used (so we knew their food was awesome). There were able and willing to make the commute and we spent less than $1200 to feed 110 people. And the catering was our largest expense. My mom made the flower arrangements, we made all of the centerpiece decorations. We used the Knights of Columbus Hall and got a discount because my dad was a member.

There are tons of great books on wedding and party planning on a budget. Check them out from the library and get some inspiration. You can be creative and give her a party that will seem as extravagent or mo so than her friends, simply by being your own party planner.

Your brother in law may not have a job, but he can definitely participate in the planning, and the work involved in cutting corners with the budget ,especially if you're going to be creative. Creativity and customization impress guests more than money, so start thinking what would be special and might even be costly if you didn't do it yourself. Is BIL handy with computer software? He can start gathering family photos of the couple throughout their marriage, with their children growing up... and scan them to create a slide show, or create a large poster, or even just a photo album to display at the party.

There's no reason you can't organize a beautiful party that will impress the heck out of MIL on a shoestring.

You can be offended that she didn't ask nicely, and you can even refuse to do it, but if they've helped you out a lot, and just in the name of family politics, it's not a terrible thing to do for peace in the family. And who says you have to spend the exact amount on your parents - is it going to be their 30th anniversary too. If you don't throw your MIL a party for her 30th anniversary and your parents would like one, are you going to refuse to help host it because you didn't do it for MIL's 30th?

Family politics can be difficult, but to quote a comedian my husband is fond of "you can be right, or you can be happy," but you might not be able to be both.

01-13-2009, 07:59 PM
oh ex bf's family and mother were obsessed with money I ex and his mother...most of his family had poor credit and money management skills..however still loved to live large..going to the spa..celebrating birthdays seriously like it was Xmas...fancy dinners...all of it. This caused SO many issues in my relationship with my ex...because my family didn't base things on how much $$ we had and being so freakin extravagant with gifts. Anyways...I feel your pain my dear!

If I were you I'd make it quite clear to her that you have NO issues with helping with the arrangements but financially you are in no position to pay for it...especially if it is just you and your husband paying. I cannot believe she would demand that you do this.

Secondly it's none of her concern about your vacation and that is something you and your husband have been saving for..DO NOT use your vacation money on something like being manipulated into paying for this whole anniversary shindig. If she finds out tell her that it is something you both had planned and it is a gift to yourselves.

Wishing you lots of luck!

01-13-2009, 08:03 PM
My sentiments exactly! Kaplods took the words right out of my mouth! There are tones of online sources also. Especially when it comes to ordering favours etc. And remember to ask for deals if the party will be in "off season". Is there a college or uni close by with a chef school? They may have amazing catering prices. Often they have nice meeting/banquet rooms. If it is going to be during warm weather. You can do outside without a tent rental. Have an area with large tree canopy? Hang twinkle lites or pretty oriental paper lanterns. Hope this helps a little.

01-13-2009, 08:05 PM
I can totally see a party on a budget. My wedding cost around $2k and it was great and people had fun. Most importantly, I loved it. Of course I wouldn't have loved a super expensive wedding but I had a friend who had a $30k wedding a couple months prior and if I had wanted what she had, I couldn't have had it on the budget I set.

My concern is the MIL that wants an anniversary party because her rich relatives had one and she wants 'the whole works'. I couldn't imagine 'the whole works' on a shoestring budget. I've also known people that if you don't live exactly up to their expectations, then they'd be unhappy. I'd hate to see someone spend time/effort/money on a party and then someone be extremely unhappy because it wasn't exactly what she wanted.

01-13-2009, 08:07 PM
Agree with Angela...DO NOT use your vacation $$ for the party! Bottom line is YOUR marriage needs to be cared for too. Vacation is time to nurture your marriage. Its like after having kids all the advise it to remember to keep your spouse a top priority even when it is inconvineint. You can also give her choices. Would she rather wine/champange for toasts ONLY (the bar should be cash) or would she rather an elaborate dessert trolly? Knowing what is important to her will give you more insight on where you can cut corners. But remind her if you are the only one paying that she will not be able to have it all. And that you wish that you would be able to give ALL of it to her but unfortunately in this economy it is unrealistic. You could also have an elegant tea (british high tea)! Afternoon receptions are nice, maybe you have a conservatory nearby that would be nice.

01-13-2009, 08:19 PM
You've gotten great advice. I agree with the previous posters:

1) $600 is much too little to satisfy someone who wants the whole thing.
2) Tight times do not call for dishing out money that you may need.

So, I recommend offering a drop by tea and cake (no gifts please), hosted at one of your houses. Let her accept that or reject it. But you'll have put a realistic offer on the table that meets the requirements to celebrate 30 years.

Good luck in a sticky situation.

01-13-2009, 11:02 PM
My fil passed away about 9 years ago but my mil wanted a party in Las Vegas this past year for her 75th birthday...she demanded that her 3 daughters and son and us spouses all go...demanded!

But then she paid for all of it and I mean ALL of it....rooms - transportation - her birthday dinner. We all met....she gave us our room keys, said "see ya later at dinner" and split to be with her "machines/tables". I love my MIL ;)

How about you tell your MIL what you can afford to do within reason, then "work" wioth her on what she really wants and convince her she needs to pay for the EXTRA!

My brothers and sister and I...mostly I!....bought my mom and dad a '74 Harley Davidson Hog for their 25th wedding anniversary....but that was in 1978....when they used to run around $2,500 brand new!