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My wife's parents often take a specific type of expensive vacation (it's like a timeshare). They asked us last year to save time in 2019 for us to go with them on a Christmas trip.

We found out over Thanksgiving that they had rescheduled the trip to Christmas 2018 and invited my family (our families are very close), but without asking me or my wife if we were even interested in moving the trip. If she had asked, we would have said no.

Reasons for saying no to rescheduling include

  • we are already taking one of these trips next year, and I'm not sure if I want to use up more than half of my vacation on two very similar trips;
  • we have other vacations we'd like to take;
  • in 2019, one of us will be back in school and it will be easier to take a week off.

But these aren't the points we want to make with her family, since we're not necessarily upset about that, it's more that my wife's mom rescheduled without us, just assuming that we would make it work. And now that both our families are going, it'll be really rude of us to make a scene and not go, but again, that's part of the reason we're upset because now we're cornered. We're also pretty young and worried she's not really treating us like adults.

Her mom is very aggressive trying to schedule these trips, and it sounds like what happened is my family was like "Oh sure, 2018 would work," and she jumped on it. We also heard rumors she might have made special arrangements to make things work for all of us.

Her mom is likely to respond to any concerns with "You just don't want to spend time with us," and suggesting we take unpaid time off to come with her (not happening, and not really the point).

Right now, we're thinking that if she's going to be very stubborn about this, we'll go to keep the relationship intact. But, we want to have a conversation about it first. We would like that talk to maximize our chances of having a discussion about rescheduling, and hopefully get the trip moved to 2019.

How do we have this conversation with her parents?

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    I edited it. But while editing I had a thought: Are you sure the vacation she's planning for 2018 is the same one on which you're supposed to go? – Tinkeringbell Nov 27 '17 at 20:46
  • So, you are willing to go on the rescheduled trip but want to make it known that it's inconvenient (and try to convince them to reschedule back, but ultimately will accept it if they don't)? Or are you considering not going? – Maxim Nov 28 '17 at 18:22
  • @Maxim Well, all of the above. – Azor Ahai Nov 28 '17 at 18:23
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Your mother-in-law sounds a lot like my mother. Even though I've been living independently for a handful of years now, she often expects that my young(er) age is reflective of an extremely flexible schedule.

Ultimately, she thinks she's doing the right thing - you're all family, after all! First show her you're appreciative of her efforts.

(Name), we're really glad you've put so much effort into scheduling a trip where both of the families could come together for the holidays, we know that that takes a lot of work to get everyone on board.

Then, express your concerns calmly, but honestly.

However, we really wish we would've been asked about the date change first. We had agreed to taking the trip in 2019 because it was going to be much more convenient for us. With one of us in school, it would've been easier to get time off. Plus, we're already taking a similar trip in 2018. We still want to spend this time with the families, but wanted to express that we really would've appreciated the schedule change being discussed with us first, since we also have to account for how our personal lives affect scheduling. If it's still possible to schedule the trip for 2019, that would be strongly preferred by us.

Try to avoid saying 'you' in this speech, as it might make her feel targeted (when she probably feels as though she was doing something great by scheduling a time that worked for everyone).

At the end of the day, she may or may not understand how much of an inconvenience this is for you and your wife. However your scheduling ends up, expressing your distress about not being included in the rescheduling discussion may very well help prevent this situation again in the future.

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You don't have to explain. All you have to do is say:

Sorry, our plans for 2018 are firm. Maybe if you'd asked (pick a time -- two months ?) ago we could have rescheduled, but it is simply too late now for us to reschedule. If you can re-reschedule back to 2019, that would be perfect!

And stick to it.

We just can't reschedule 2018 at this late date, but 2019 is wide open. Let's talk about something else!

Don't say anything more than that. Stick to the mantra. You give in on this, you will be giving in on things for years to come. Your mother-in-law will get huffy, but she may learn a lesson.

Plausibility: People do make plans for trips that cannot easily be cancelled a year in advance. Your mother-in-law has, you can too.

As for breaking the relationship, a mother is not likely to break a relationship with her daughter because her son-in-law is a p---- (as she may think of you from now on), but a crack may develop in the relationship allowing it to be reshaped in a form more to your liking.

And you be the bad guy on this one. Your wife is probably accustomed to deferring to her parents -- you say you are both pretty young -- and it will probably be easier for you to stand firm

PS You don't explicitly say what your wife wants, but you say "we", so I assume you and she agree on this issue. If not, you need to edit your question.

In Summary Instead of long explanations about how you want to be treated as adults, just behave like adults and don't allow your parents or in-laws to schedule your play-dates.

  • Thanks for answering, but: 1. Yes, we agree on this issue, that's why I used "we" throughout my post. 2. This might be helpful advice for someone else, but we want to have a conversation with her, not just refuse to go and deflect for the next couple of years. 3. It would be dishonest to insist our plans are firm, as technically nothing is. – Azor Ahai Nov 28 '17 at 17:54
  • @Azor-Ahai Her plans are not any firmer then yours, if she expects you to reschedule you can ask the same of her there is nothing dishonest about that. But yes, when refusing to go you should explain why – Maxim Nov 28 '17 at 17:59
  • @Maxim "Sorry, our plans for 2018 are firm" is just a lie. I don't want to do that. – Azor Ahai Nov 28 '17 at 18:06
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The problem is that you want your wife's parents to respect your time and plans which they currently do not appear to. Thus you want to convey that the rescheduling is disruptive but hopefully without ruining the relationship.

If you decide to go on the 2018 trip and don't make a scene for the sake of the relationship, then from their point of view they were right to assume that they can reschedule and expect that you'll just make it work, because that's what would happen: you'd make it work without too much fuss. Even if you tell them how annoyed you are they can dismiss it (from the description it sounds like something they would do) since in all really meaningful respects everything went according to their plan.

Not going would of course convey the message strongly but carries the biggest relationship risk.

One compromise could be to agree to go, but make it clear (in a public discussion with as many other family members present) how and why this was disruptive to you and that you are doing everyone a favor by rearranging your initial plans, and that next time there is a high chance you won't go along with new plans unless the change is presented early and you are involved in the discussion. This seems like making a scene, but you pretty much have to, as right now you opinion is not viewed as important enough (you found out after everyone else, it seems) and you need to shake things up to jolt people into taking you seriously.

You also want other family to know, so that they are more reluctant to just accept changes on your behalf in the future.

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