Reorg of family relationships!
You know, I've spent a lot of time and energy getting my house in order lately (physically speaking!) and I realized after attending a family event this weekend, that it makes sense to get my idea of what's best for me regarding these relationships in order as well. What struck me most about the weekend is that the boxes and ''systems'' that families use to relate to each other that worked so many years ago, often need makeovers as well.
It was an interesting experience, and illuminated clearly how as a family we have evolved in different directions and ways. We all operate differently. For example, the event was a HUGE wedding that was absolutely ''meant to impress''. For example, the wedding program which had listed under Wedding Party, 82 (yes, eighty two!) of the family's ''closest friends and relatives''. (I eloped and had a wedding for two, so I am not interested or impressed by this type of affair. It seemed obscenely excessive to me, but hey...Whatever floats their boat, you know? I'm a ''live and let live'' kind of person.) We did find that we had been listed on the program as Reception Attendees, which is a job we had politely refused when asked only a few days before the wedding. Had we not refused, my dh's mother would have had to sit alone at the reception. Obviously, we were ''included'' before we were ''asked''. The way we were asked seemed to offer the option of refusal, which we exercised very politely. We weren't actually needed, as there were a total of 6 Reception Attendees listed. (You know sometimes, excess is simply too much!)
We didn't realize what a problem it was for them, until we experienced a complete (and pointed) lack of interaction from most of the family members, one in particular I haven't seen for eight years. I tried to engage in conversation, where I was ignored, and physically turned away from twice. My dh felt shunned and ignored by his brothers, as he chose to sit with his mom so she wouldn't be left alone. The next table over, the family was fussing over the grandfather of the mother of the bride's family, while pointedly ignoring the grandmother of the father of the bride. We could only apologize to dh's mother for being part of the reason she was so ignored.
We heard from his mom later that the others were so hurt by us, which completely confused me as I thought we'd been pleasant and happy to see everyone. What I learned is that the Perception of Family is more important than Loving One Another. The other obvious lesson is that Size Matters! (In case you didn't know, Size relates directly to how important you are, and a visual marker of how much $$ you have to spend.)
After much contemplation, the only thing we can figure out is that because of age/experience/time, the relationships have changed in a way that's frustrating for them. Years ago, we used to welcome this part of the family to our home, where they would stay happily for days, taking advantage of my penchant for planning. This meant the refrigerator was stocked with ready to eat food which had been lovingly prepared, the house was clean, the linens fresh, and all they had to do was show up for their vacation which was good to go. They'd scatter their things to the winds, use my laundry facilities nonstop, and veg out in front of the tv like they would do if they were at home. We did expect a little bit of energy to come back our way however, and learned over time that this wouldn't be the case. They might leave a few dollars on the mantel to ''cover their share of food'', which made us feel like a free full service hotel, that didn't require them to engage with us. It was great for them...not so good for us. We don't operate on the ''Just Show Up'' plan anymore, nor have we ever needed taken care of. Our role as caretakers was shelved by us quite a few years ago. I can imagine that it doesn't feel too good when your family quits being the satellites that revolve around your planet!
Anyway, it's obviously more convenient now to be a victim and talk about their ''hurt'' than to give any energy back. Evolution involves some work, and not everyone wants to evolve. All of these Feelings are being related to my MIL, who feels obligated to share them. I wouldn't think of burdening her with my emotional stuff about her sons; the last thing I'd ever do is make her feel bad! I realize that I needed to ''organize'' my thoughts about my family and make it okay to send that old ''Stuff'' with them packing!
Forgive me please for making this so long. There were other incidents equally bad, so believe it or not, this is the condensed version! Here's what I'm wondering...Has anyone thought about this aspect of organizing your life? Has the physical act of putting your ''house in order'' affected the relationship aspects of your life as well?