Gransnet forums


Family gatherings overload AIBU

(90 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?

Nagmad2016 Tue 04-Aug-20 20:28:14

ginny. I do enjoy friends as they are long term and know my problems and accept that I may cancel at short notice. I cannot cope with being around a lot of people and noisy events. Unfortunately, family affairs seem to involve loud music and worst of all, discos.

ginny Tue 04-Aug-20 20:38:44

So maybe explain your problem to the family as you must have done to your friends.

welbeck Wed 05-Aug-20 04:28:43

why should she have to explain anything.
she is not a prisoner in custody.
she doesn't need a good enough reason, or a letter from the doctor. she is an autonomous person. she has the absolute right not to have to suffer needlessly, just to humour people who don't know or care about her.
if they did, they would have noticed that these events are an endurance not a joy, and stop badgering her.

ginny Wed 05-Aug-20 07:29:49

No OP doesn’t have to explain if she doesn’t want to.

However, perhaps the family may understand. Maybe they do care about their relatives and that’s why they invite them.

Hetty58 Wed 05-Aug-20 07:57:30

I have a longstanding back injury problem. It can make travelling, sitting, standing and walking extremely painful.

Therefore, I always say I'll attend if I feel up to it, on the day. I can't predict how I'll be.

I can just pop in for an hour or so, too, then leave if my back plays up. Nobody expects me to suffer.

I must say, it's very useful in limiting my obligation to go or stay at these events. More sociable relatives always invite me, thinking (mistakenly) that I must be so lonely and upset to miss out.

My problem is genuine, but I also have a ready excuse to stay away if I don't feel like going.

Perhaps you could develop a 'dodgy back' too?

Xrgran Wed 05-Aug-20 09:59:37

You have a great excuse. Another idea as you love animals take a large unruly dog next time and you won’t be invited again.

Why are they doing these gatherings during Covid?

Coco51 Wed 05-Aug-20 10:06:53

Maybe you could be honest with your SIL and tell her how anxious these gatherings and invites make you feel - you don’t have to tell her that you would not be interested. She probably thinks that she is making sure you don’t feel left out and adrift from the family.

Madmaggie Wed 05-Aug-20 10:13:23

You have my sympathy, nothing worse than having to endure social gatherings you really don't wish to attend. My DH says things like 'you'll like it once you're there' and have in the past been badgered into going just to please others. What I'm trying to say is, start pleasing yourselves more. Just say, thanks for thinking of us but its not our thing so we wont be there, I hope the weather stays fine for you though. And rapidly change the subject & get off the phone fast (cake in the oven, boiling pan, window cleaner to pay, must dash - cheerio, nice to hear from you, byeeee. put phone down )

Nanatoone Wed 05-Aug-20 10:18:00

There are so many people who feel left out when not invited to family events and here you are complaining that they include you and your OH. That sounds mean but you get my drift. Of course you shouldn’t go if you don’t want to or if it makes you anxious but there are kind ways to refuse an invite rather than some of the suggestions above. Letting your SIL know how difficult it is for you to attend will probably bring relief all round as I suspect it’s obvious that you don’t want to be there. They are asking out of politeness and inclusiveness, you are going for the same reasons but you can and should address this kindly with your family. I’ll bet any kind of money that it is noticed that you are not there willingly (having experienced this with a relative or two), everyone talks behind their back but no one actually wants to stop inviting out of politeness. Please do everyone a favour and just tell them. Good luck.

NoddingGanGan Wed 05-Aug-20 10:19:22

Just decline politely. It's not, "obvious" as someone suggested, that your SIL wants you there, she may well do but she may also be issuing, "duty invitations" for all you know and heave a sigh of relief when she recieves a refusal. smile As for not having to explain, it is really rude to not give a reason for declining an invitation but if you don't feel comfortable telling the truth, make something up; just make sure you won't get rumbled! grin

FFFF Wed 05-Aug-20 10:22:30

Why not stretch the truth a little and sat how much you have appreciated your time together in the past (better to have been invited than ignored) but as your health conditions deteriorate you feel that you cannot continue as you have in the past. Maybe ask SIL to send you some photos of the event...

Marthjolly1 Wed 05-Aug-20 10:31:25

I used to be a real party girl but I have to say that gradually over the past few years I've begun to realise that I no longer enjoy social gatherings, even more so when music and dancing is involved. I find the chatting quite difficult and tiring. I often only hear background noise and havent a clue what people round me are talking about so totally sympathise. It does spoil things. Nowadays I only enjoy social events of 4-6 people. I would explain to you SiL that although you would love to be at the party it would be quite difficult to enjoy. Surely she would understand this. Perhaps arrange to meet for lunch instead? Good luck.

CarlyD7 Wed 05-Aug-20 10:38:07

I can sympathise. I used to dread the invitations but was too polite to refuse. However, now, if I'm put on the spot I'll say "I need to check my diary and that's at home" (if out) or "that date rings a bell - can I get back to you?" And then reply No, sorry, we're not free" (I never give an explanation). Also, I never do it in front of DH as he's always too anxious to keep everyone happy, so he agrees, forgetting what happens when we go (he stands in the corner and doesn't talk to anyone, and then, on the way home, says he's SO glad it's over). Very occasionally I go to family occasions but it usually reminds me why I don't. At the moment, they may be inviting you out of politeness, and the fact that you always go gives them the signal that you WANT to keep receiving these invitations. The only way you're going to break that cycle is to start refusing some of them. PS If it's children's parties you particularly don't like, you can start with those.

Dibbydod Wed 05-Aug-20 10:38:43

Just from a different perspective .....
I find this all very contradictory, as on one hand you say that your life is centred around travel ,the good life and your many friends , but then you go on to say you suffer from social anxiety , are hard of hearing a with short attention span , so how have you coped in those situations?
I take it that your SIL is aware that you both enjoy your holidays and socialising with your many friends , so , one would assume from that that you would enjoy the family gatherings also , so no doubt this is one reason why she keeps sending you family invites .

Apricity Wed 05-Aug-20 10:49:03

Why is is so difficult to say, in the nicest and most gracious way that, while you so appreciate the invitation, you are unable to attend. You may or may not want to give a reason eg. ill health, prior engagement, coronavirus, sick animals, flying saucers, whatever. Maybe send flowers, a hamper, wine etc as a contribution to the celebration. An invitation declined graciously is surely better than a resentful or reluctant attendance.

It's your life and up to you to spend your time how you choose. I do think as we get older it is one of the privileges of age to have those choices. Most of us have spent decades focussing on other people's needs. These later years are ours.

4allweknow Wed 05-Aug-20 10:50:31

At times family can be overbearing especially when your own life is totally different from theirs. Can understand with you having Menieres, anxiety issues why you find it difficult to go to party type gatherings. Just explain you find gatherings stressful, you feel you can't take part and that you may only accept invites to a few special occasions and hopefully enjoy them rather than just turn up and endure. If family doesn't like it then you know you have tried to be reasonable and let them get on with it without your attendance.

Torbroud Wed 05-Aug-20 10:58:57

Just say no thanks we have a prior engagement/ commitment

Rocknroll5me Wed 05-Aug-20 10:58:59

Tell them you have dizzy spells there is nothing to be ashamed of. Put your foot down and say no to your husband. Stop being a martyr it is not good for you. Ménière’s disease is awful.

Bluedaisy Wed 05-Aug-20 11:09:31

Nagmad2016 I completely understand how you feel as I’ve been in that same position for years. Even as a child I hated parties and would never go to them and if my parents made me I’d promptly be there for 10 minutes and physically vomit because I felt uneasy being there. We marry the husband as far as I’m concerned NOT the whole family and wider circle of cousins etc. My husband has always been the type along with 3 of his 4 siblings who would go to the opening of an envelope! That includes funerals too. As I’ve got older (64) I’m now of the opinion I spend time with whom I want and not because it’s expected of me to tag along. Before anyone criticises me we all have the right to spend time with who we want doing what we want. I too have health problems and cannot dance due to disability nowadays nor do I drink, so find the parties a complete waste of time and energy which I don’t look forward to going too, they just fill me with dread. Why put yourself in that position? Nowadays as soon as we get an invite and if I don’t want to go I simply tell my husband to go on his own if it’s that important to him, which he’s now happy to do as opposed to dragging me along moaning and having to take me home early “not feeling well”. Of course I go to the ‘important’ events and funerals but not anymore than I feel I have too and it works out ok, he dances and apparently has a good time and I enjoy a night in on my own or go out with a friend for a quiet dinner And catch up. My advice is each to their own, we are not all party animals. One person’s idea of fun and family is not always everybody’s and as the saying goes ‘life’s too short’ to spend it with people who you might be related to through marriages but wouldn’t necessarily be friends with if you hadn’t married him! Why not sit your husband down and tell him and your SIL that you’re sorry but not going to put yourself especially in your current condition through anymore of these parties unless you’re feeling better, not to take it personally and he has your blessing if he wants to go alone.

Gingergirl Wed 05-Aug-20 11:15:06

I think this is part of life whatever age you are but no, I don’t think you’re obliged to go to everything you’re invited to and family occasions are often stressful in comparison to being with friends (who after all, we actually choose). Why not go to a few but not all. Maybe your husband can go to a few on his own and you could just ‘not be able to make it’. Sometimes, you could politely turn down the invitation, and sometimes you could go, at least for a little while. It doesn’t matter what opinion the relatives are able to make your own decisions but even though I know how awful it can be, I think perhaps it might be good to go to a few events.

lovebeigecardigans1955 Wed 05-Aug-20 11:19:04

The difficulty may be that if you tell SIL that you feel anxious she'll just dismiss it with, "Oh don't worry, you'll be all right," as she can't see inside your head and feel your worry.

As has been mentioned I think it best to say that you'll go if you feel up to it but not to expect you. Then on the appointed day exaggerate your symptoms to DH and insist on staying put. It sounds like DH isn't listening and needs a strong talking to as well.

Maggiemaybe Wed 05-Aug-20 11:22:25

Why not take a deep breath, come (half) clean, thank them for thinking of you over the years but explain that you no longer enjoy loud gatherings for the medical reasons you’ve given? We’ve had honest responses from friends who “don’t do parties” when we’ve invited them and we’ve been glad of their honesty - who would want guests who don’t want to be there?!

If as you say you have nothing in common and find their company tiresome, the feeling is probably mutual and they’ll be relieved that they don’t have to keep involving you.

omega1 Wed 05-Aug-20 11:24:32

My hubby is one of eleven children so there is always so much emphasis on "the family" and get togethers which I hate. I thought I was the only one who fel like this. Reading your post and the comments has been very reassuring that I am not the only one who feels like this so thanks

Joesoap Wed 05-Aug-20 11:29:38

I sympathise with Nagmad 2016, I often go to things with my Husband for the sake of peace in the home, I often say I dont want to go to various things,but then there is a row, so I reluctantly go, and have to admit most times I do enjoy myself,but being forced into anything is not pleasant. Dont go because of the vius risk, they will understand I am sure

inishowen Wed 05-Aug-20 11:30:37

Before we had grandchildren we were invited to a kids Halloween party. It was awful for us. We weren't used to the noise and mayhem of little children. Now we have 4 grandchildren i happily go to their parties because I've had time to get used to small children. However a friend of my husbands recently asked us to a barbecue and he has little kids. I really didn't want to go and husband went alone. At 68 I am old enough to say when I don't want to do something. I too have a few health issues.