A woman has taken to Mumsnet to ask if she is being unreasonable to object to her boyfriend’s father joining them on holiday.
In the post, user peanutbutterandprosecco describes how she is going away to France next week with her boyfriend to meet up with some of her partner’s best friends, and sister, whom she has never met.
“He announced this morning that his dad (80) wants to come and ‘it’s ok if he comes with us in the car isn’t it’. He is arranging separate accommodation but the journey is long & I was looking forward to that journey as just us… I’m also working my arse off at the moment. haven’t had a holiday abroad in 3 years and probably won’t again for ages.”
She goes on to explain that the father will know all the guests really well and she’s only met him a couple of times, including an awkward moment where she pulled him up on some sexist comments, and he’s been quiet around her ever since. He has now backtracked and said he doesn’t have to come, but she explains: “I’m now feeling like this holiday will be pretty weird as we will have his dad there with us a lot I expect. Am I completely unreasonable? “
A 26-year longitudinal study found that marriages in which the husband reports feeling close to his in-laws are more likely to last for the long haul.
Psychologist and and research professor at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research Terri Orbuch conducted the study with 373 same-race couples who were between the ages of 25 and 37 and in their first year of marriage when the study started in 1986.
“These ties connect the husband to the wife”, said Dr Orbuch. “They say ‘Your family relationships are important to me because you are important to me. I want to feel closer to them because it makes me feel closer to you.”
The couples where the husband reported being close with the wife’s parents had a 20 percent lower risk of divorce over the next 16 years, however when the wife reported being close to her in-laws, the risk was 20 percent higher.
The reason? Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Dr Orbuch said he believed it could be because after time the wife starts to see this closeness as meddling, and struggles to set boundaries with the in-laws. It can also be difficult for the wife to be seen as anything other than a wife or mother. The husband, however, can find it easier to exist outside of the father and husband role.
Opinion was split fairly evenly on Mumsnet, 47 percent to 53 percent, with the majority believing the wife was not being unreasonable.
Representing the majority, one user said: “I would be very hacked off. Where is the discussion, the consultation? Is this not your holiday as much as his? I would be assuming he has not considered how you would feel about it before telling his dad it was ok, putting you in a very difficult position and that is OOO.”
Coming in with a slightly less supportive opinion, one user said: “He’s your partner’s father, he’s 80, his daughter and lots of other people he knows will be there. It may well be his last trip ever, so yes I do think you ‘re being unreasonable. I also think telling an 80yo off for being ‘a bit sexist’ is a bit OTT. There are ways of doing things without causing someone to walk on eggshells around you.”
One user suggested an alternative solution: “I assume his dad will need to sit in the front of the car? I think it would annoy me to be made to sit in the back if not driving, or sitting with his dad if you are. It would mean you and your partner would never be sitting together during the (presumably) several hours long journey – it’s always harder to speak to someone in the back if you’re in the front. earlier or later by train?”
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