overbearing inlaws

pattybagsMarch 24, 2011

It's been a struggle. In laws don't respect boundaries and its frustrating.

If I ask them not to feed my pets, they do it anyway, in front of me, behind my back, they do whatever they want, and then they'll lie about it. As if I can't see that my dogs are at their feet eating food they are dropping. We finally decided to kennel our animals anytime they are around since they do not respect anything we say.

I can't cook on my stove without them taking over. They literally push me out of the way and take over. I've lived here for years, and have yet to be able to cook on my stove without them pushing me out of the way. It doesn't matter how many times I tell them "I got it", they persevere. My husband used to argue that they're "just trying to help" --- I explained to him that in my world, no means no. And when someone says no, you respect that. People should not have to say no more than once. Taking over someone's kitchen is not "helping", it's trying to "control" a situation that isn't yours to control. Our marriage counseler put it this way - their intentions are good, their methods are bad. Bottom line, they need to respect boundaries. But they get really defensive. If you try to tell them something, the entire family has to chime in with their defensive attitude and excuses that they're just trying to help, and how I should appreciate that they are trying to help, and how I'm too sensitive. They label EVERYONE who disagrees with them as 'too sensitive', including other "in laws" in the family who express their opinions like me. The "in laws" in their family are the problem, not them (in their eyes). Narcissist???

We invited them on vacation with us. Huge mistake. All I heard the entire vacation was how I wasn't allowed to carry a water bottle. They'd physically grab it from me. I got so irritated, I'm not a child, I don't need anyone's permission to carry my own water bottle. My husband can see that I'm getting irritated, but they persevere. I don't want to ask "Daddy" for my water bottle every time I need to take a drink of water.

Same thing if they are at my house. If I take out the garbage, they talk to my husband like I'm not supposed to be doing that. If I say I have to mow the lawn, they will try to prevent me from doing it. Again, I'm not a child or invalid. I'm an independent woman, and I like my space.

I've visited their home. I was in the shower. They had a guest stop by, and they yelled up the stairs continuously until I came down to greet them. My hair was still wet. In my family, you shower and make yourself presentable before you meet people. You aren't dragged out of the bathroom to "meet" someone. Bathroom is private time. You don't disturb people when they are in the bathroom, and if I can't shower and take care of my personal hygiene when I'm spending the night at someone's home, then I don't want to go there anymore.

If I want to drive my car separate to a family gathering (because they stay until 4 am, but I want to get home at a decent hour), the mean grandmother makes comments that "real families drive together". Seriously? I can't take my own vehicle somewhere without being chastised and ostracized from the family??? They practically force codependence.

The mean sister in laws have absolutely no respect. For ANYONE. They will barge into our bedroom without knocking. They will attempt to "spy" on my husband and I, lurking outside the door if we are having a private conversation. They whisper to other people when I am around. I was not raised in a family where it is acceptable to whisper about anyone, in front of anyone. It's rude.

And the grandmother. Mean spirited. Extremely mean spirited. She will criticize and find fault with everything I do (me and another in-law), and will do it repeatedly. I don't spend holidays with them anymore. It's not fair to me (not to play the "it's not fair" card, but I have self respect, and I don't want to spend my holidays with people who don't have the decency to treat me with the respect I deserve). I have made a meal for her, a favorite meal of hers, and for two years, every time I talked to her, she had to go out of her way to tell me it wasn't good enough for her. I will never make a meal for someone again who is that ungrateful for a meal someone puts in front of them. Completely ungrateful.

I am terrified to bring a child into this overbearing family. My husband is a wonderful person, so unlike them, and he sees it too, but is at a loss how to deal with them. They don't respect anything he says either.

I have been told I shouldn't have animals. Because they don't like animals. I love animals. I've had them my entire life. But for years, I have to hear about how I shouldn't have animals. Since when does my world revolve around what THEY want? And yet, they feed my animals every chance they get. But if I sneeze? Oh boy, then I have to hear about how it's "probably because of the animals".

I don't give two hoots about their opinions about me having animals. This has gone on for years....I can't stand it anymore.

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asolo

Don't know how easy or difficult it may be to leave this behind.

My first thought would be to show what you wrote to your husband followed by a discussion about how soon you'll be moving -- with or without him.

I can tell you anyone who barged into my bedroom like you described it would not care for the immediate consequence. Same with grabbing the water bottle. Speech is one thing. Physical acts are quite another.

People such as you've described won't respect boundaries unless they're compelled. If I wasn't able to leave for whatever reason, I certainly would compel them. And your husband is going to need to be with you in it. Nobody likes to defend themselves this way but if the choice is limited to defend or bear it...well, I guess you can tell where I'm coming down.

Must say it sounds like your husband's a bit wimpy. I think you've got a lot to straighten out before you're going to have any contentment.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 7:27PM
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popi_gw

Hi Patty

Do your in-laws live with you ?

You describe a bleak future and I applaud you for really thinking about bringing children into the picture.

You say your husband is not like his family, but surely he can "suggest" to them that this is your home and you want to do things your way.

It seams it is about respect. They just do not respect you and your opinions.

The drink bottle situation is ridiculous.

If I were you I would make changes in your life and stick to them. Is this the future you want ? Why stay with it ?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 12:49AM
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colleenoz

I concur with asolo's suggestion, tell your husband you're moving. If you can't move to another town I'd move to an unspecified address and not tell the in-laws where. If you have to, get a PO box in another state and give them that address (heave to PO forward the mail). If you want to visit with them make a big deal of "coming to town" and stay in a hotel. These people sound like the kind you have to get extreme with to give them the message.
(And frankly if ANYONE tried to take over while I'm cooking they would regret it.)

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 3:15AM
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mkroopy

Yep your husband HAS to take control of this situation...it can't be (and shouldn't be) your responsibility. If he doesn't start to stand up to his family on this, you are doomed to a lifetime of this insanity. All inlaws are a little meddlesome, its' to be expected, but what you describe is 100 times worse than anything I've heard.

And I agree with colleenoz...if I'm cooking and someone tried to literally shove me out of the way and take over, they'd be escorted out of my kitchen forcibly.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 11:58AM
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silversword

Agree with everyone above. This is ridiculous. The water bottle is beyond bizarre. It's one thing if they raised their son to hold open doors and carry luggage and they saw you schlepping all the bags and chastised him for not doing it.

Your DH needs to stand up for you, or you need to say you won't interact with them on those terms anymore. Best wishes to you. I don't know how you deal with it!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 1:11PM
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popi_gw

I know if this is a mixed culture marriage, things can be difficult. In my marriage there are clearly many family obligations on my husband's side, that are not replicated on my side. A few times this has caused me to realy reflect on the cultural differences.

I found myslef being extremely defensive about "my" family and not wanting any intrusions. I felt "my" family came before anyone else. I have mellowed over the years.

Perhaps these sort of issues are in op's situation.

For me I live where I was born, but a recent trip to my DH's country was a real eye opener about family obligations.

Let us know how you are getting on Patty.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 1:31AM
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lesterd

The only person whose behavior you can change or impact is yours.

You cannot and will never be able to change any of the in-laws or your husband. If you have expectations that they will change for you, you are making a big mistake and are setting yourself up for disappointment.

In your OP, you listed 2 things that you did to change your behavior (kennel the pets, you've quit making meals). I'd suggest that you identify boundaries that work for you, that you will live with, and that you will follow through on. If that means not inviting these people into your home or not spending the night at their home...or not socializing with them at all, then do it. They key thing is that YOU FOLLOW THROUGH WITH THE BOUNDARY you set.

If your husband wants to associate with them, then let him. Why do you have to go along? They won't take over your stove or barge in on you if they aren't in your home or if you aren't in theirs, for example. If you change your behavior so that you don't set yourself up for these encounters, then you are true to yourself and you get a message out. How they respond to it is their business and, again, something you can't control.

Define your boundaries and THEN LIVE WITH THEM, making sure your husband knows what they are. Don't back down. That's the only insight I can offer.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 5:02AM
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sylviatexas1

"Boundary trouble" sounds so benign...
but it isn't.

It's aggression.

I think you have to close & defend your borders, getting downright ugly if that's what it takes, &, as asolo said, you have to get away from them.

Aggressors do not change, & the only way to get on with living your life instead of constantly patrolling your borders is to be someplace where these people are not.

If husband insists on letting them overrun his own life, you gotta go without him for your own health & sanity.

I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 3:25PM
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homey_bird

I have found that a lot of the issues such as the ones you describe are often due to cluelessness. You speak about how your family would handle some situations and how they raised you. Similarly, obviously certain things are not considered rude by your husband's family, either due to cultural differences and/or just due to differences.

A lot of these matters get worse because you assume that the other party knows how to behave and has chosen not to, which may be wrong assumption. My suggestion is to first try to be a bit more proactive and assertive about what you want them to do. For example, if you see the sisters in law linger outside the door, go outside and calmly explain to them that it's not polite to eavesdrop on someone else's conversation, especially a couple's and that a couple needs space. If that upsets your husband, then tackle him separately.

Chances are that your husband will refuse to take sides in this affair and you will have to take matters in your own hands. If he does not want to get involved, then he should let you handle the situation.

Your decision on not having the child is right. I can predict that there will be insane competition from your inlaws to show that they love the baby more than you and vice versa. Unless you are extremely confident about forming a close bond with your child, you might want to teach your inlaws the concept of space first.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 1:27AM
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