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Outnumbered and Anxious

biteback's picture

My DH has just informed me that he’s invited all his kids and grandchildren over for lunch next Sunday. I am already getting feelings of anxiety. There are three adult daughters and one son who will be visiting with their children. The daughters are not bringing their husbands. I have had to put up with many family gatherings, in the past, when it’s been a “them and me” situation.  I always feel very lonely and left out. Don’t get me wrong, they are all lovely people. Are these feelings of mine normal? Should I be making more effort? Or do I need therapy?!! 

2Tired4Drama's picture

Do nothing to prepare for or facilitate this get-together.  Nothing. 

Even though these people/skids are "lovely" and don't appear to be mean to you, they are not there to see you - they are there to visit your DH.   You are exactly right when you say "them and me" and don't forget it.

If your DH tries to get you to help with the visit, tell him that you will leave all planning (meal prep, house arranging, etc.) to him since he knows them best. 

On Sunday morning get up very early and leave the house.  Go visit a friend, go for a walk, whatever.  Don't come back home until late.  On the way out, cheerfully tell your DH that you have other plans for the day and hope that his visit goes well.  

Then leave. 

Winterglow's picture

This exactly I-m so happy

He didn't ask your opinion, he didn't consult you in any way, therefore it's logical to assume this was a "his" family event. Let him do it all and you go and have a nice day, doing something interesting, with someone whose company you enjoy. Consider this a day off Smile

piegirl's picture

I spent WAY too long doing all of the prep for adult skids and then feeling resentful that it was a 'them and us' situation. Spare yourself the extra heartache!! I don't necessarily think you need to go out if you don't want to...I always find a nice comfy chair with a big glass of wine works for me Smile

Kes's picture

He's "informed you" that his family are coming over - and what are you - chopped liver?  Do you not get consulted rather than "informed" after the invitation has been issued?   I would "inform him" that I had other plans on Sunday - "oh, didn't I tell you? well I'm telling you now!  Good luck with the cooking!"  

somethingwicked's picture

Ask this man who is so comfortable manipulating your time if he is planning to cater the family gathering or if he is cooking?

Ask him if he is hiring a maid service to clean the house the day prior or if he is plannng to clean ?

Ask him if he has any ideas to entertain this lot or if he is hiring a clown with outstanding animal balloon making skills.

Don't let anyone hijack one moment of your life.If you cannot be a part of this for any reason then say no and plan to be gone that day.AND let him know there will be consequences if he pulls this crap again ~ like  you'll also  invite  some of the family from your side  that he does not particularly care to be around.Make it a throwdown gathering.


Rags's picture

Hmmmm?  Nope, do not lift a finger or say a word to help with this gathering.  I would not leave the house either.

I would be obviously present and just as obviously not lifting a finger.  See how daddy does preparing the Luncheon for his brood without your coordination or participation.

Be relaxed and watch the trainwreck unfold.  If he asks you anything, answer with "Your event, you make it happen."  

Enjoy the disaster.

tog redux's picture

Oh - you just remembered that your good friend invited you out on Sunday! Have fun at the lunch, DH. (And have fun cleaning the house and buying the food).

biteback's picture

Thanks for the advice. So, here’s an update.  DH has booked a nearby restaurant for Sunday lunch and has been making a real effort to help around the house. The planned get together was actually supposed to be taking place at his son’s house, but crossed wires meant they all thought they were coming here. He couldn’t really “get out of” the situation. So, not entirely his fault. However, I’m still unhappy that whenever we see any of the skids, it’s always (and always has been since we’ve been together - 5 years) all of them together, or not at all. The skids live all over the country - so it’s never easy, but I would really like to get to know them individually. It’s impossible when they all visit together.  I’ve only spent time with them as a large family group - about twice a year and most of those times, their BM has also been present! (DH split up with her many years, and a few partners, before he met me, but she seems to have some control).  DH agrees with me about this and has suggested individual visits, but it seems they use the visits to see us as an excuse for a family get together - not just to catch up with their dad.  At least the BM can’t come this Sunday! 

Hesitant to try's picture

Biteback, it IS hard to connect with people in a large group. I find that to be true even with my own family of siblings and their families. Since it sounds like you like the skids OK, I hope you can find opportunities in the future to connect with them 1:1. I know that's always my preference too.

sammigirl's picture

Sounds like your DH was thinking ahead by arranging the restaurant.   My DH never thinks of such conveniences. 

I hate having my grown SD here to visit.  They live in neighboring Stares, therefore have to travel to visit. There are other family members here they also visit.  

After 35+ years of hosting and letting myself be used, I  no longer host or accommodate my adult stepkids.  My DH is disabled and they come to our home to visit.

We are able to go to a restaurant,  which I like doing.  DH nor his kids ever suggest it.  I feel comfortable on these mutual grounds; although none of it makes me uncomfortable now.  I am over it.

I set boundaries for myself.  I am civil, but do absolutely no hosting.  DH is on his own.  For six years I have not fixed a meal, offered a cold/hot drink, etc.  No invitations of any sorts from me.  It is up to DH to have them visit.  This works well for me.

I blame myself for putting every effort into making everyone but myself comfortable .  Long story, why I totally disengaged, but I should have never engaged; I should have just turned it all over to DH from day one, 40 years ago.

biteback's picture

Thanks. It helps to know that others have experienced similar things. I’d be interested to hear your story. 

Penny19's picture

I know how you feel when you said you don't feel a part of that. There's no emotional bond. If not for your DH, you would have never met these people or be friends with them. I really feel left out when they all talk about when they were little kids and things that happened long before DH and I met. I have disengaged to a degree but I find it very hard to be rude. When these gatherings happen, I figure it's making my DH happy. I try to be polite, keep a lid on my anxiety and just like a root canal, think it'll be over soon. It's money in the bank relationship-wise because I may ask something in return.

sammigirl's picture

You are doing a good job.  I am not rude, I also try to understand the happiness it brings my DH when his kids visit.  

I know it is better for it to be in DH's complete control.  He sees it for what it is now also.

Disengagement needs to be as it is needed.  This is how I deal with it.  All is much better for us, since I took myself out of DH's and SD's relationship.  I feel the world was lifted off my shoulders.  No more responsibility on my part.


SacrificialLamb's picture

My adult SDs used to always talk about the good old days when DH and I first got together almost 20 years ago. Then one day one of them asked me why I never got upset when they talked about when their parents were married. My response was "oh, did you think I did not know DH was married before and had kids?"  I should have added "and why are you TRYING to upset me?"

At that time, I thought by me being open minded and accepting, they would eventually accept me as part of their family. Nope. The eldest made it clear, when she was 40 told her father I was not her family. Awesome, I obliged her.  I have not seen her in almost 5 years.  

You look out for you. The above posters are correct that these skids want to see their father and you are an appendage they may or may not be polite to. If you are comfortable with that, then spend time with them. Otherwise, tell your DH to have fun and it would be best if they have their Holy Original Family Celebrations without you in the way.


sammigirl's picture

For years I heard about everything in DH's past, good and bad.  SD purposely would bring up the good ole days.

Six years ago, I disengaged from DH and SD's relationship.  I now make it obvious I have had enough.  Depending on the situations how I do it, but I handle it immediately and cut it off.  It hasn't happened for quite some time now.

I don't care, any longer, if they leave me out; but at the same time, I don't have to be put in a position being forced to listen to it AGAIN.

I take it one event at a time.


bertieb's picture

I understand being left out. I hate when SS tells the grandchildren "Tell grandad what you got on your report card!" or "Ask grandad if you can have a snack first." and on and on. I don't think it's purposely leaving me out, it's just that I'm not the one they are there to visit and I'm not considered even a relative. The aunts and uncles by marriage are more considered relatives than the stepmom! It took fivev years before MIL stopped commenting on how I must be overwhelmed by her large family, like I was a guest and had no family of my own. 

I get lonely at these gatherings too, I miss my kids even more (who live at opposite ends of the country). The saving thing for me is the kids like me and don't realize any difference so they always hug me and talk to me just like grandad.

sandye21's picture

It's not so much that you have to endure the 'tales of yesteryear', it is the 'de ja vu' all over again and again and again that gets to you.  For YEARS I had to listen to the same tale over and over again about how DH caught toddler SD in his garden picking strawberries and eating them, "How adorable!"  "How cute!"  But as an adult her tastes changed significantly to the point of leaning over the kitchen island to snarl at me, "I HATE strawberry jam", as I was pulling my home-made strawberry jam out of the cupboard.  If I had to listen to the 'adorable' strawberry tale today I'd be tempted  to throw a freshly made jar at her not-so-adorable head.  LOL

Rags's picture

My SIL is the ancient history story queen.  Most pathetically, she tells stories in the first person that she was not even alive to witness.

"Remember when GrandPa was building the house on the homeplace farm and fell through the ceiling?"  Umm, No. And neither do you.  You weren't born yet.

When she goes into the liteny of endless "Remember when" stories about shit she was not even alive to witness it is like fingernails on a chalk board for me.  Most irritating is that when the people who were actually there are talking about it and she goes into her "look at meeeeee" remember when stories.  So, everyone else shuts up and lets her run with it. I just ask "Ummm, you weren't even born yet so how could you remember it?"  Then she shuts up,  pouts and those who were talking about it get back to their conversation.  This has been going on since I married my DW when SIL was 9 years old.  She is now 34 and still does this shit.


Merry's picture

DH and his kids do the "memory lane" game too. I think it's a pretty normal thing, but it's also a way to exclude you.

I had a major meltdown after an hours-long display of exclusion, where even SD's husband left the room and SS left the house. I was stuck. I even tried to participate at one point, knowing full well I wouldn't be welcome, but I had to try to change the dynamic or lose my mind. Turned out DH told me, essentially, that I couldn't join their game.

Eventually we left, meltdown ensues. Excuses, excuses, more excuses. Finally he got it through his thick head that I actually WAS being actively excluded, and he was one of the Mean Girls participating and encouraging that exclusion.

Hasn't happened since. Not that they don't do the Memory Lane thing at all, it's just reasonable and we move on.

Anyway, have you told your DH how you feel so excluded and invisible when this goes on? He needs to change the dynamic or limit the first family history wallow and demonstrate that he values you now as his partner.

sandye21's picture

I agree DH needs to set the stage as far as exclusion and limiting first family history.  I hope the OP's DH isn't like mine - so afraid of alienation by the skids that he will sacrifice her dignity.  You nailed it on the head when you wrote that a DH needs to demonstrate to both you and the skids that he values you as his partner.  Because this seems to be what the real problem is in a lot of cases - how much he values you.  This is the litmus test of a good or bad marriage.