I need to change the way I think about my in-laws. I find myself increasingly annoyed with them. I am critical of their choices, perceive differences in how they treat their children, struggle not to roll my eyes when they contradict themselves, and am just generally bugged by them. And since they haven’t changed in the 10+ years that I’ve known them, I can only conclude that it’s me that has changed. In any event, I am the only one I can control, and I want to like these people.
Really, on the in law scale mine are lovely people. They are very kind and friendly, they are supportive of their children, our political ideologies line up well, etc. They aren’t controlling and they don’t meddle. I hit the in law jack pot. And yet I am so annoyed by them. They talk incessantly about nothing, and interrupt people constantly. They change their minds all the time, so words lose all meaning in this house. They make impulsive and illogical life decisions, and they regret them later, but never learn. They are lucky to have a lucrative yet flexible job, one that lets them live anywhere, travel anywhere, and provides plenty of time to pursue other interests, but they frequently tell us how miserable they are. I know that it’s their life, and their decisions don’t affect me, but I find myself becoming increasingly critical of them (in my head), when I should just let it go and enjoy the time we spend with them.
I would love to have a really close relationship with them, especially my MIL, but I don’t know how to do that because we don’t have much in common. When I first started dating Boyjangles his mother tried to set up a girls-against-boys type of dynamic to align herself with me, and I refused to play. She is one of those people who is ruled by her emotions. She makes decisions based on how things feel. Boyjangles and I, on the other hand, are very logical. She and Boyjangles frequently argue about things. She’s into homeopathy, a bit anti-vaxxy, vaguely religious, and is afraid of just about everything, while he prefers a more evidence-based approach to life. Early on she would appeal to me in a “Men just don’t understand feelings” kind of way, but since I side with Boyjangles 100% my approach has been to stay out of it unless pressed, because I prefer not to argue. If I do give my opinion, she generally just starts feeling attacked because no one is on her side, so it’s a losing proposition.
So for the next few days we (parents, bro, sis, and me) are all under one roof for a reunion, and I need to keep from exploding with annoyance. His parents are beyond excited to have all their kids home, but his mom is also hurt because bro and sis needed to cut the visit short, one for work reasons and one to go see a friend. I understand the hurt - bro and sis make no effort to visit unless there is a family reunion and tickets are bought for them. For some reason, the in-laws never call or visit their children either, despite the fact that nothing makes them happier than spending time with their kids. We’ve asked them why, and they say it is because they don’t want to intrude. We’ve tried to (nicely) explain that there is a lot of space between intrusion and showing interest, but to no avail. Boyjangles has also tried explaining to his sibs that they should visit their parents because it makes them happy, and they won’t be around forever. But that is a whole ‘nother issue. When my MIL realized this morning that sis was leaving early, she wailed, “So everyone will be gone by Saturday?”. It was all I could do to not snap, “Boyjangles and I will be here until Monday, per instructions”, because I know that we don’t count. Why? Because we make a strong effort to call and come visit, and as a result are not exciting. Family is important to us, and we have flexible schedules, so we see his parents 3-4 times a year. In addition, it is clear to me that Boyjangles is his MIL’s least favorite child. This has to do with the logic v. emotions thing - the other children are more emotional and more artsy, which MIL values. But it also means that Boyjangles is their most financially stable child, and will likely be responsible for his parents as they age.
I try hard not to say anything, not even to Boyjangles, because it isn’t helpful. He knows his parents are annoying. If anything I try to calm him when he gets annoyed and remind him that we are here for a short time and should make the most of it. But how do I stop the constant stream of sarcasm and eye rolls running through my head every time they open their mouths? How do I change my thinking so I can focus on the positives - they could be a million times worse! How do I just let it all go?