DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: I grew up in a house where, while there were plenty of fights, there was also plenty of respect. My wife’s family isn’t at all like that. Her parents go at each other all the time, and when they’re not picking on each other, they turn their nastiness on others.
I’ve put up with it for years, but now I am to the point where I don’t want to go there, and I certainly don’t want our toddler going there. So far they’ve mostly left him alone, but I can see how tense even he gets whenever he’s around them.
I know my wife is very conflicted about this, because she’s a good person and wants to stay in touch with her parents. When our son and I are with her, it takes a little of the edge off the visit for her, which is what makes it so hard for me to tell her I don’t want to continue exposing our son to the nastiness in her parents’ house.
How can I break it to her I want out of the visits for myself and our son without putting even more on her? --- MY IN-LAWS ARE HORRIBLE
DEAR MY IN-LAWS ARE HORRIBLE: It’s unlikely your wife is unaware of how difficult it is to be with her parents, even if you’ve never openly discussed your feelings with her. She may be able to tolerate a toxic environment out of love for them, but it may be time to gently, yet firmly, let her know you believe it’s better for your young son to have limited exposure to such difficult people.
Your first duty is to your child, and hopefully you wife will agree and either visit her folks without you two along, or find ways to keep connected with them that don’t involve everyone having to be in the same place at the same time. Video chatting may be useful here, along with perhaps getting together with only one grandparent at a time, preferably in a public enough place to inspire less venom.