I feel resentment when asked to attend my mother-in-law’s birthday party

By Quyen Le   June 29, 2024 | 12:04 am PT
While my husband chose not to accompany me for my mother’s birthday, he now expects me and our children to join him for his mother’s celebration.

My husband and I, both over 30, reside in the U.S. He migrated here with his family at the age of 10, while I moved here 11 years ago. He is my second husband.

My previous marriage ended shortly after my arrival in the U.S., where my former husband had sponsored me. We separated due to his gambling issues and lack of responsibility, and I did not pursue financial support from him. I have one son from that marriage, and after our separation, I moved out to live independently and took sole care of my son.

I met my current husband online in 2015 when my son was eight months old. We began living together soon after. By 2017, I had become a U.S. citizen and initiated the process to sponsor my parents to the U.S.

At that time, as a single mother, my income was insufficient to sponsor my parents alone. A coworker, who saw me as a younger sister, spoke to her husband about financially sponsoring my parents, and I am immensely grateful for their support.

My parents arrived in 2018 and stayed with us for a year, during which time minor conflicts arose between my mother and my husband. Despite being hardworking, my mother often criticized and dominated my father. My husband, a generally good son-in-law, occasionally made comments that hurt my mother-in-law, leading me to tears on several occasions.

During their stay, my parents contributed to our household by paying for utilities and groceries each month. Although my husband and I were hesitant to accept their help, my mother insisted on contributing to avoid feeling dependent on me.

From my husband’s side, he would rise early on snowy days to drive my father to work, as my parents were new to the U.S. and did not have driver’s licenses. He also assisted them with driving practice every morning and evening, and they obtained their licenses within two months. As I said, aside from his occasional insensitive remarks, he was a supportive son-in-law.

After a year, due to her arthritis and inability to tolerate the cold, my mother decided to move with my father to a warmer state where they had no relatives. I tried to dissuade them but was unsuccessful, so I arranged a day to help them relocate and settle in. After that, I had to return immediately due to my responsibilities running a shop and caring for my two young children, with no one else to assist. It takes approximately 19 hours to drive from my state to where my parents now live, compared to about four hours to my in-laws’ house.

My husband has also shown filial duty. His parents separated a year after his arrival in the U.S., with his father starting new relationships and often traveling between the U.S. and Vietnam. His mother moved out to live with her boyfriend nearby and took on cooking duties for his siblings.

Since dropping out of school at 19 to work in a nail salon, my husband and his siblings have supported their father financially, covering his expenses whenever he requests money for travel or other needs. Recently, his father settled permanently in Vietnam, where they continue to pay for his rent, food, and medical care.

In recent years, my husband has managed our business alone on my mother’s birthday, allowing me to be with her, but not accompanying me to her place. Now, as his mother’s 60th birthday is coming up in a few days, he stresses its importance to me. He explains that my mother’s birthday coincides with our busiest season and, given her distant location, we cannot close the shop to travel there. However, his mother’s home is closer, making it feasible for us to attend.

I suspect that his absence at my mother’s birthday isn’t due to inability but reluctance. Despite our business occasionally closing for two to three-day trips, he chooses not to attend.

If he deems my mother’s birthday unimportant, I feel reluctant to celebrate his mother’s. She may be elderly, but my mother is also not young. If he cannot reciprocate my efforts, why should I accommodate his requests?

I am writing this feeling both upset and frustrated. You might think I am being calculating or selfish, but I merely wish to express my feelings.

Am I being too selfish or unreasonable?

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