Yes, the in laws themselves get all the blame, but the truth is that drama can come from the couples themselves. So, let’s not automatically blame the in laws, especially the mother in law. And let’s take a hard look at the couple and see the possible drama they might be initiating. And there are four points I want to make. And here in part 2, I will cover the last (though not final) 2 factors, putting the responsibility on the couple themselves.
[Factors #1 and #2 were covered in part 1]
- The couple can feel pressures and obligations
Let’s postpone our talk about the in laws and parents who are good at creating pressures and obligations. Now is the time to look at the couple who generates these pressures and senses of obligations from within themselves. And so, the in laws and parents could be the nicest people on earth, but the pressures are now arising from the couple.
Here is a short list of pressures and obligations
Spending holidays together
This sense of obligation is understandable. Holidays are family times, and so there is a natural pressure to spend time with the extended family. And this can get stressful when schedules need to be juggled and priorities need to be set and sensitivities need to be addressed. Take for example, Thanksgiving. It is a time of the extended family. And the tradition is to spend time together on a specific Thursday night. Now, it may be physically and geographically impossible to spend Thanksgiving with the parents and the in laws on that traditional Thursday night for dinner. If in laws and parents live in different parts of the country, then it’s a very complicated and sensitive decision. And if the parents and in laws in very close to each other, then it really becomes complicated and sensitive. Which parents gets the prime time dinner at 7:00? Which parents end with a Wednesday night dinner instead or a Thursday lunch? And so, the couple heaps stress upon themselves trying to manage the complications and sensitivities of holiday visits.
Added to this complication might be the wife who wants to spend time with her family and expresses discomfort in spending the holidays with her in laws. And in many cases, the husband just wants peace in the home, and so he accommodates to his wife. This is easier said than done. The holidays may play out as the wife wants, but the drama may have just begun. Of course, it could be reversed where the husband insists on spending time with his side of the family. And that creates another set of in law drama.
Sending grandchildren to visit
This is also easier said than done. How does the couple manage time between the parents and in laws? The couple might enjoy time with one set of parents / in laws as opposed to the other. And sensitivities and obligations abound in this kind of situation.
Living close to the parents / in laws
The parents and in laws might not say anything, but the couple feels the pressure and obligation to live close by, especially if the aging parents and in laws have growing needs. Again, this is about the couples feeling the pressure. And pressure can lead to drama. That’s the point.
Attending the same church
This is a classic sensitivity. Maybe nothing is said out loud but the pressures and obligation are generated by the couple themselves. And it may be that the church is more suited to the demographic needs of the parents and in laws and not to the young couple. And the couple can begin to stress, knowing that it will hard to leave that church to find a more suitable church.
Helping out financially
There are many complications here, but the fact is that the parents and in laws are slowing down and retiring. And their financial needs may be growing which can include medical expenses and in-home care. And so, this can lead to major stress and sense of obligation.
And this kind of pressure and obligation has led to the couple often being described as part of the Sandwich Generation. The couple feels caught between the pressures of raising their own children and the obligations of taking care of their aging parents and in laws. And so, the children represent one slide of bread and the parents/ in laws represent the other slide of bread and the couple is the hot pastrami in the middle! And this feeling of being sandwiched by pressures and obligations may not be coming from the in laws and parents. It’s coming from the couple themselves and end up become in law drama. And so, this post on in law drama is about the couple themselves generating that drama. And some of it is understandable.
Here is the last point (though not final) on this matter.