Feeling like a political prisoner at the in-laws’ house
Adapted from a recent online discussion.
My husband and I have planned a vacation in a few months that includes spending several days with his parents. I love his parents. In the 10 years we’ve been together, they’ve been nothing but pleasant.
That is, until about two years ago when they both retired, giving them way too much time to spend watching the news and on social media. My mother-in-law spends all day on Facebook. Both have become very vocal in their political beliefs, which are on the opposite end from where my husband and I sit.
We are going to be spending at least three, possibly more, days in their home on this trip. I would shorten it, but my husband only gets to see them once a year. A hotel room is not an option as the small town they live in doesn’t have one and the closest are too far away to be practical.
I combated the political talk on our last visit with a “no politics” rule, which mostly worked. But they’ve only gotten worse since then. My husband can’t have a 20-minute phone conversation with his mom without it turning to politics. It’s all she has to talk about.
I know this trip is months out, but I’m already starting to stress about it. Any suggestions will be helpful.
– Political Prisoner
I’m sorry. I think we all can relate at this point.
But: By dwelling on this now, you’ve extended an uncomfortable several days into months of stress.
No matter how bad it is, it’s just a few days, and will end. Even if your means of coping is to stand in the middle of the room and yell STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT until the gathering descends into total mayhem, it’s just a few days, and will end.
It will be fine.
You will be fine. Maybe miserable for a while, but fine.
So you have two options for handling the trip in a rational manner: Either put off thinking about it until you actually embark on the visit, figuring you’ll just tough it out — or spend a day or so discussing a few strategies with your husband now so you don’t have to think about it anymore. “I’m stressing about this. I want to make a plan early so I can be free not to think about it again.”
May I suggest:
— Leave the room. Every time. Go for a walk, do the dishes, grab a book and retreat to the guest room.
— “Please, let’s not talk about politics.” Repeat verbatim as needed.
— Talking about politics. It might unravel quickly, but maybe that’s preferable to mounting tension and weather talk.
Whatever you decide, just decide. Torturing yourself for months now over a few days then just defies logic and wears you down.
And as with anything stressful, try finding a positive side, too, even in a small way — like with your in-laws. Where do you agree? Or tune up your coping skills. What calms you: good books, movies, music, dance, exercise, friends, comedy, yoga, meditation, good deeds? Why just get by when you can get better.
Would it be better if his parents were pestering you about having children?
Ooh, I think I know this one: