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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?

Shropshirelass Thu 06-Aug-20 08:49:30

If you don't want to go don't feel that you have to, you don't have to explain yourself either. Invitations can be accepted or declined.

Clevedon Thu 06-Aug-20 08:48:52

You have the right to say you don't wish to attend. Maybe pick a few to show willing? I too have suffered from anxiety and when it was particularly bad with panic attacks, people did understand. Good luck. Oh and definitely would not be going now during the pandemic!!

ForeverAutumn Thu 06-Aug-20 08:18:04

We're invited to lots of events. In our younger days we used to love gatherings and parties and catching up with family or friends but we have changed as we have got older and enjoy now living a quieter kind of life. Your SIL probably understands this and invites you because she doesn't want you to feel left out if you hear of events that she hasn't mentioned to you. My SIL will always be a party person and invites us to many things, we decline most of them but she is a nice person and invites us out of duty probably!

Tanjamaltija Wed 05-Aug-20 21:16:18

You are not obliged to give a reason as to why you don't want to / can't go, for the simple reason that you are not obliged to go. I do not go to places where I know I would feel uncomfortable - my husband goes, or does not, as it happens.

Nannarose Wed 05-Aug-20 18:07:21

I think you have lots of good ideas here. I do think you need to talk to your DH.

It may be a bit morbid (sorry) but he may find them important if you should die first.
I do think that an explanation of Menieres would be helpful, and would he go on his own? Explaining may feel a little uncomfortable, but people who don't know about it can't see the difference between a small group of understanding friends and a big gathering!

I have had experience of a family member who having turned down invitations for years, suddenly began to turn up after his wife died. I don't think she had a long-standing illness (we never asked). I know that he appreciated being able to pick up with people again.

I am also one who offers invitations in the expectation (and even hope!) that they will be turned down, but I want the family to know we think of them.

Rowsie Wed 05-Aug-20 17:58:00

It may be that your family feel they should include you as you do not have children of your own. Why don't you have a quiet word with them and tell them how you feel. You can say you would love to be kept up to date with how everybody is doing but do not feel able to attend all these gatherings.

littleowl Wed 05-Aug-20 17:04:12

You are not being unreasonable at all. It is nice to be invited but you do not have to accept. You can decline the invitation in a nice way. Explain that for health reasons you prefer to give it a miss and send a hand written card and thoughtful present instead.

Rachand Wed 05-Aug-20 16:55:45

I understand we’re your coming from, but family is family at the end of the day. Perhaps you could limit acceptance of invites to twice a year - and never a child’s party! Plus you need to tell your SIL this and why it’s hard for you, but are happy to see them every six months. Life is about give and take. Good luck

H1954 Wed 05-Aug-20 16:50:30


Who’s insisting she attends? hmm

my SiL insists on inviting us

Hardly the same thing, and certainly not bullying!

Ok, "manipulated into attending by his forceful sister" that's bullying in my opinion!

grandtanteJE65 Wed 05-Aug-20 16:31:25

No, you are definitely not being unreasonable.

I suggest that you tell your SIL that due to your hearing loss you find it very tiring to go to parties, so you no longer feel you can accept her invitations.

If your husband enjoys these events, then that is fine, but he should be able to appreciate that you would prefer him to go without you.

We no longer accept invitations from my late sister's children, as they quite frankly only invite us when they want something and then don't bother to be polite.

It is hard to say no, but it get easier once you have done it for a while.

Toadinthehole Wed 05-Aug-20 16:27:14

I haven’t read all the responses...but you’re both adults, just say ‘no’, for heaven’s sake. As parents of four grown up children and soon to be seven grandchildren, we love all the family stuff, and the last thing we would want is people being with us under duress. They may not like it either if it becomes knowledge for them. Apologies if this has come up in the past posts. You might find they’d guessed you didn’t want to be there, but no ones saying anything. We’re all too old for this. Just tell them.

Sheila11 Wed 05-Aug-20 16:14:51

Sorry, menieres

Sheila11 Wed 05-Aug-20 16:14:29

That was a bit harsh Grandma KT!

I think Nagmad you should tell the family about the Menderes disease, explain your,can’t cope with big family gatherings, assure them all you love them dearly and then you will feel free of the obligations.
I do feel in the Autumn of our lives we should be allowed to do what we want to. Our generation have spent so many years doing what is expected of us and the ‘ right thing’ and the youngerS do what they like from birth these days.
Do what you want - but tell them the reasons.

Rosalyn69 Wed 05-Aug-20 14:40:50

I don’t go to family get togethersvexcept once a year pre-Christmas. That suits me fine. I’m not sociable. Not everyone enjoys big get togethers and shouldn’t be made to feel bad for not enjoying them.

Helenlouise3 Wed 05-Aug-20 14:34:11

I would sit my sil down -or have a nice phone conversation with her. Tell her you're really grateful that she wants to include you in family activities, but you have anxiety attacks in many social situations. So while it's lovely to be invited, you hope that she understands that these gatherings are really difficult for you and that it sometimes becomes impossible for you to attend. There's no need to be nasty about it, just explain the reality of the situation

Maggiemaybe Wed 05-Aug-20 14:28:53

Who’s insisting she attends? hmm

my SiL insists on inviting us

Hardly the same thing, and certainly not bullying!

H1954 Wed 05-Aug-20 14:21:25

I can think of nothing worse than being press ganged into going to a party! Don't get me wrong, I love my grandkids to bit BUT to be invited to one of their birthday parties and have to be in the company of droves of other children horrifies me! I don't go and my AC don't expect me too either.

By her very insistence that they attend SIL is effectively bullying OP and her OH.

Stand your ground NagMad2016, you're an adult so assert yourself!

moggie57 Wed 05-Aug-20 14:20:38

refuse the invite say your health is more important .any way big get togethers are not allowed ...

Nannatwiglet Wed 05-Aug-20 14:19:48

Nagmad2016-you have made your feelings perfectly clear. You aren’t unreasonable &not ungrateful.
“SueDonim*-and others- hit the nail on the head...

Unless people have experienced Menieres,labyrinthitis or Vertigo, no one can appreciate how debilitating these conditions can be...(How well I know! )
Hope you can find a compromise with your SIL &family about the situation.
To some posters who have criticised - one doesn’t have to be female/male/be married/ single/have children or grandchildren to join Gransnet. Just read the “gransnetiquette”...!

Aepgirl Wed 05-Aug-20 14:16:25

I agree with you, Calendargirl, I think you or your husband should thank your sister-in-law for including you in family celebrations, but explain that it is not always possible to accept.

Who knows, at some time in the future you might be very glad to have somewhere to go.

Summerlove Wed 05-Aug-20 13:54:46

I guess I’m not understanding what’s so insidious about the invitations? Surely that shows that you are in appreciated member of the family?

That said, an invitation is not a summons, and you should feel free to say no whenever you want.

Phloembundle Wed 05-Aug-20 13:40:34

Menieres is a horrible disease and I understand why you don't like large gatherings, which make it particularly hard to have a one to one conversation when there is a lot of ambient noise. I never accept invitations if I don't wish to go and my friends know me well enough to know I mean no, and think no less of me. Explain to the family exactly what the problem is, and let that be an end to it.

Judy54 Wed 05-Aug-20 13:37:47

CC90 how unkindNagmad2016 did not say that she does not like children but that she does not particularly enjoy children's parties. You don't have to have children to read Granset nor do you have to be female. Whilst I agree that your SIL is kind to invite you Nagmad2016 you are not obliged to attend. It really is your choice so do what makes you feel comfortable.

endre123 Wed 05-Aug-20 13:34:33

Having menieres is a good reason to refuse noisy get togethers. A gift and a thank you card should suffice to explain your absence.

People should not be having big family get togethers now and it's irresponsible and dangerous. Local guidlines tell us how we can mix with "one" other family, the maximum number of adults as long as there's room for distancing. These secret family get togethers are one of the main causes of local surges in the virus. The sooner we get fines for breaking guidelines the better.

JaneRn Wed 05-Aug-20 13:33:14


I think if you tell your SiL that your health problems make it difficult for you to attend family gatherings she would probably be very hurt, since they do not stop you enjoying other social events. My view would be that if she is kind enough to keep inviting you, and she must like you to do this, then you should at least try to go sometimes. I think particularly at this time the most important things in our lives are friends and family. Please don't cut off contact with either.