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Family gatherings overload AIBU

(89 Posts)
Nagmad2016 Tue 04-Aug-20 14:17:44

My DH and I do not have children. We lead active lives living in the countryside and prefer to spend our time with animals and country matters. Living a distance away from the rest of the family was more by design than chance. Our lives have centred around each other and our many friends and we enjoy travel and live a good life. However, my SiL insists on inviting us, at every opportunity to their family get togethers, children's parties, anniversaries, Barbeques, any and every event. I suffer from social anxiety and have suffered from Menieres disease most of my adult life, leaving me hard of hearing and with a short attention span. My DH and I lead a quiet life and find these events very tiresome as we have little in common with most of the family and do not particularly enjoy children's parties, and all that they entail these days. I dread receiving an invite and am finding it more difficult to come up with reasons not to go.
My DH feels obliged to attend, but I am getting to the point where I just don't want to be manipulated into going by his forceful sister. I am at the age where I feel I should be allowed to say no, without feeling pressurised to do so. Is this so unreasonable of me?

Callistemon Tue 04-Aug-20 14:19:25

They shouldn't be having family gatherings at the moment, should they?

Cabbie21 Tue 04-Aug-20 14:43:43

You are not being unreasonable at all. An invitation is just that, an invitation, not a command. The pandemic gives us every reason to say No.
My DH does not enjoy family gatherings and turns down most invitations, but ( before lockdown). My family found it hard but have now accepted that is how he is and do not take offence. Could your husband go on his own?

ExD Tue 04-Aug-20 14:43:44

How amazing - a woman after my own heart.
It isn't happening so much at the moment but I've been attending parties and meals out and gatherings of all sorts for decades that my DH doesn't have the guts to refuse. So I know exactly where you're coming from.
We have a couple of good friends who are party-mad, any excuse for a party and they're throwing one. Even if I'm with him when we're invited and I jump in with an excuse as to why we can't (possibly!) come he'll talk over me and accept. If I start to say 'don't you remember we're going to 'somewhere else' on that day' - he'll say 'we can get out of that'.
Then we get home and he'll say words to the effect that he really doesn't want to go.
I get so FED UP with it.
I wish I had the guts to say 'you go, I'll stay at home' but I never do, and I feel pressured too.

Cabbie21 Tue 04-Aug-20 14:44:53

I meant to say that I go on my own, if it is something I want to go to.

GrandmaKT Tue 04-Aug-20 14:50:13

I don't think you are being unreasonable, but rather ungrateful maybe? They are family after all and I think it is very nice of them to include you. I'm sure your SIL doesn't realise that you find their family events tiresome. Why not be honest and tell her you just can't be bothered to go anymore? I'm sure the invites would soon dry up and you could return to your bucolic idyll.

Nagmad2016 Tue 04-Aug-20 15:04:51

I don't think they should, and throughout the pandemic we have been self isolating, but some people seem to think family members are ok.

allium Tue 04-Aug-20 15:05:03

Sympathise with you. Have as little to do with family as possible. Brexit didn't help either. I have two siblings I don't keep in contact with and and an elderly mother who is given a wide berth. Other than that have grandkids I keep in contact with and plenty of friends with similar interests.

Nagmad2016 Tue 04-Aug-20 15:13:22

@GrandmaKT. I know you think I should feel grateful, but you don't know my SiL. My DH won't go on his own so I feel like it isn't that important to him. If I wanted to go somewhere and he didn't I would go without him. I hope these responses are getting through, this is my first post so not sure how to respond to individual comments.

Nagmad2016 Tue 04-Aug-20 15:16:29

@ExD Thank goodness for that. I sometimes feel that I should be more family orientated but I did not have a very good family life before I was married and it has coloured my views on family. At least you can choose your friends. Their lives are so different to ours and I can't say I share their opinions on most things, and find we have very little in common.

Taliya Tue 04-Aug-20 15:16:36

You shouldn't be forced to go somewhere that is causing you anxiety. Maybe best to have a chat with your sister in law about your health problems and social anxiety and come to a compromise and just go to one or two family gatherings through the year or invite them to you once a year?

SueDonim Tue 04-Aug-20 15:25:20

I will assume you are speaking of invitations in non-Covid times and not right now! I think it’s generous of your SIL to ask you, when to be left out of things could be hurtful.

However, if it’s not enjoyable to you, then you shouldn’t be obliged to go. Having had a couple of bouts of labyrinthitis myself, I feel very much for you having Meniers - it’s a horrible condition. flowers. That alone would be enough to make me want to stay at home.

Maybe you could decide which get-togethers might be the important ones eg weddings and just attend those, sending a card or gift for the other occasions.

AGAA4 Tue 04-Aug-20 15:33:03

Nobody should have to go to a party that they won't enjoy just to please someone else.

Your SiL must want you around if she keeps inviting you so you do need to explain how you feel.

Corryanna Tue 04-Aug-20 15:40:40

Nagmad, you are quite right putting yourself first and if your SIL is approachable, have a word with her, explaining your health issues if you feel you want to. I don't think it's particularly generous of your SIL to invite you, as there are are other people going anyway. No, you shouldn't have to be there if you'd rather not. As SueDonim suggests, send a card for the birthday or whatever they are celebrating, I wouldn't bother with a gift every time.

welbeck Tue 04-Aug-20 15:51:41

life is short.
your life is yours to live as you wish, within the law, and not harming anyone.
read up on assertive communication.
find a few phrases to use, preferably by text/email to repel these onslaughts.
you do not have to explain, excuse or discuss.
keep it short. thank for the invitation, simply say, but we will not be attending on this occasion. hope you all have a nice time.

Lucca Tue 04-Aug-20 15:52:47

You could try this

sodapop Tue 04-Aug-20 15:52:52

I agree with SueDonim explain to your sister in law that your health issues make social occasions difficult and you need to limit them. I think you are right to feel your wishes are important too. Be careful how you approach this with your sister in law as she clearly wants to keep you involved with the family.

Lucca Tue 04-Aug-20 15:54:37

Photo not working sotry.

Grannybags Tue 04-Aug-20 16:09:26

I don't look forward to social gatherings either and I'm enjoying having the excuse of covid19 for the time being.

EllanVannin Tue 04-Aug-20 16:15:50

Wild horses wouldn't force me to any gatherings this side of the year---even to forgo my own octogenarian celebration.

ginny Tue 04-Aug-20 18:00:22

Nobody needs to go anywhere that they don’t want to , especially at the moment .

I am a little confused though as you say you lead an active life with friends and travel and then you say you have a quiet life and suffer social anxiety.

Just say you can’t go but send good wishes and a gift if appropriate.

Calendargirl Tue 04-Aug-20 18:27:51

I get the impression the OP likes to choose when and where she socialises, with friends, and it’s the family get togethers that she finds difficult. I can well understand she doesn’t want to go to endless family ‘do’s’ and kids parties. But SIL is probably trying to include them in all these activities, conscious they have no children or grandchildren of their own.

Why not have a good chat with DH, both compromise a bit, go to a selected few family events, and tactfully turn down many of the others? If you can get him to unite with you over this, it should be ok.

annep1 Tue 04-Aug-20 18:38:59

I too prefer to spend my time with my OH or our few friends or on my own. We're not great socialisers. I think if you say no quite a few times, that you have something else on or don't have much energy nowadays, invitations will gradually dwindle. But I wouldn't stop entirely. They are your husband's family so I think it would be a bit unkind.

welbeck Tue 04-Aug-20 19:18:09

they are probably inviting you out of a misplaced sense of duty, and you are accepting wearily for the same reason.
you are not a party person.
this is a waste of your time.
and if it's not duty, it's bossiness by SIL.
just. say. no.

Nagmad2016 Tue 04-Aug-20 20:22:47

SueDonim. You do understand how it feels to suffer from this condition. I have become so used to how I feel that I am able to adjust and others cannot see the internal battles that are going on. Sometimes I feel that they have little sympathy and that I am only invited as the 'other half' to my DH.