They expect too much from their son
One set of Mississippi in-laws think nothing of asking their son to drive to their house -- 40 minutes each way -- several times a week to water the plants when they're out of town. "If he goes after work, it takes so long that he doesn't get home until well after the kids are in bed," his wife says.
The problem here may only be cluelessness: "Grandparents probably didn't have such an overwhelming experience when they were new parents, so they don't always understand the stresses on families today," says Kohl. One solution is to tell them what your lives are like, so they realize that the kind of favor they're asking is hard to provide in your circumstances. Once they get the picture, they'll probably stop asking.
But maybe not: "Asking too much of a married son with a family can be a way for parents to keep their son in their lives and control him," says Newman. And a son who complies with unreasonable requests -- even when they cause an obvious strain on his own family's resources -- may need some help in getting past the guilt of saying no. If the in-law requests keep coming, try to come up with a compromise your husband can live with: For instance, the Mississippi dad could tell his parents he'll be glad to help out on the weekends, but it would be better to get one of the neighbors to lend a hand during the week. Or hire a neighborhood teen to make the drive for him once or twice while his parents are away. Whatever your situation, your husband will be letting his parents know that he wants to help, but on terms that won't make your lives impossible.