My mother-in-law invited herself to the annual week-long summer vacation I plan for my parents. This trip is my Christmas present to my parents. It allows for my quiet relaxation, and for my aging parents to spend time with my young children. My mother-in-law also invited our sister-in-law and her family.
I do not want to plan every meal and excursion with five additional people in mind – this is supposed to be my relaxing vacation! My husband thinks "the more the merrier," but he is just avoiding confrontation and hasn't offered to talk with his mom about this. If I intervene it will probably be seen as another attempt by me to withhold her access to her grandchildren (not that she frequently asks to or is ever denied visits with them at our house). We did plan (and pay!) for a separate trip with her and our family already. How can I set her expectations that this is a trip for my parents without starting WWIII?
– More, not merrier
If your husband won't talk to his mother, do it yourself, sooner than later. Tell her you and your parents prefer small groups (that should make sense, especially after the last year). If it causes a conflict, maybe it's one that needs to happen. Not everyone is invited to everything. If she sees this as some attempt to keep her away, remind her of the other trip and offer to drop off the grandkids. Keep the conversation short and remind her, this is what's best for your parents. The end.
Because this is Love Letters, I want to focus on how you communicate with your husband about this. Yes, he’s avoiding conflict, and it would be great if he would speak to his own family about the trip. Ask him if he'll ever be willing to talk to his family about what's most comfortable for yours. If not, will he support you after you have these difficult conversations?
This can chip away at a marriage, so you need to figure out the system, even if you become the bad guy and he steps in after. The more isn't merrier for you. Him acknowledging that is a first step. Then you can ask, "What do we do next time?"
Tell him you don't want this to divide the two of you. You have to be on the same page – with a plan for how it works.
Readers? Do you communicate about these things with in-laws? How do your in-law relationships affect your marriage?