My husband (27M) is the youngest of 3 kids (50sF and 32M) from his dad (70M) and is the only son of his somewhat-narc mom (70F). As a result, he is the golden child of both of his parents while the other two children are ignored. This actually doesn’t impact us much because of the other sibling’s life in different states, as do we. They haven’t all been together in years and I actually have never met my husband’s sister in 5 years of being together.
Anyway, we are getting ready to visit his parents for the holidays and I need help setting boundaries. He is treated like an only child and therefore when we visit their world centers around us. As the youngest of 5 siblings, I’m used to having a fair amount of alone and decompression time when I visit my family; I need that time to relax, stay happy, and get my own stuff done.
However, with his family, everything revolves around my husband and I. We wake up around 8am but his parents wake at 5. They wait for breakfast and as they are disordered eaters on very strict schedules who eat minimal food, they are starving and antsy by the time we wake up. The minute they hear us stirring they start asking through the door if we are ready for breakfast yet, and it feels so rushed.
I don’t have time to wake up and I have to be friendly and nice and immediately eat. I’m not much of a breakfast eater so this drives me little nuts. Then, they try to come with us for every minute of our day and his parents are constantly arguing with each other which gets to be so overwhelming. They also get wildly stressed out at the tiniest things (e.g. a missed turn) and it just gives me so much anxiety.
For meals, we have to plan out exactly where we are going to eat and exactly what time, every single day for every single meal. Sometimes I just want to do things with my husband and grab a bite if I get hungry without having to focus it around them. I hate the expectation that our schedules revolve around each other completely— I find it stifling and overwhelming, and it makes me dread going there.
I do love them and I think it’s important for my husband to maintain a good relationship with his parents even though their behavior towards the rest of the family is very toxic. I just don’t see how we can ever spend more than 2-3 days with them at once if everything is focused on us being together constantly.
When we’ve tried to talk to them about it, it seems like things go in one ear and out the other. For example, to stop with the demanding breakfast routine (and try to get them to stop waiting 3+ hours for us to eat when they’re extremely hungry) we tried telling them we don’t typically eat breakfast so they can go ahead and eat without us. They still waited for us and asked for four straight days if we wanted breakfast anyway, and kept persisting. And kept making comments about us not eating breakfast throughout the day.
So we begrudging sat down and continued the same routine—nothing was accomplished. Every time we’ve asked for some time to do our own thing or to spend the day running errands together, etc. it’s led to them needing to know exactly when we would be done so that we could immediately go back to being the center of attention after. I feel horribly ungrateful saying this because it’s an obviously better treatment than the siblings who get no love or attention from them, but it’s just overwhelming and I feel so suffocated!