Sad about drawn-out tense relations with in-laws

siobhanny5September 3, 2007

I'm just sad over my relationship with my husband's family. After many years of genuine trying, I've cut my contact down to minimal interaction, which helps me, but is not so great for my husband. They now needle him about where am I, why haven't I shown to such-and-such. My own extended family is sparse and scattered, so it doesn't help that I have little family of my own. I don't know how to deal anymore. Does anyone else feel this way?

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What happened in your relationship with them that makes you not want to be around them?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 8:48AM
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More info would be helpful. Are we talking dangerous/nutzoid or annoying or boring or....what?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 12:37PM
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I wud love to hear from everyone...i am in the same boat. The issue of in laws is an never ending problem between me and my husband and the one which makes our realtion very sour day by day. Well my problem is they dont want to live with and my fellings for them are same. My inlaws want to treat me like a servant which i refuse to be treated as and such on going stuff.
I apologise to the OP for bringing in my problems with hers. but I might also use some insights.


    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 3:40PM
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siobhanny5, yes, unfortunately, there are others with situations like yours. It's not easy for anyone involved, I'm afraid. It sounds like they've hurt you pretty deeply, though.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 4:05PM
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Sorry to have been cryptic. I was in a sincerely sad mood when I wrote my post. I'll try to make this brief, but I married into a family that's very domineering and suspect of any "outsiders." They do everything as an extended unit, from holidays (of course) to vacations together (not really my thing). The background: My husband lived at home when I married him (our first mistake), and his mother threatened to kill herself several times after we got engaged many years ago. She sought therapy and while she didn't jump off any bridges, she's lived to make our and her lives miserable. Her ex, my husband's father, and she have been living out a tortured relationship for thirty-plus years of on-again, off-again romance, although they divorced decades ago, and have dragged each other through court over the years. When they're on, they're happy. When they're off, they're angry if we've been socializing with the other. Worst of all, though, may be that FIL has been very critical of how we've raised our special-needs child, and at one point HE ceased speaking to US for nearly a year over it. He's also criticized DH and I about our weight, asking why had we let ourselves go (hello, stress?); and has sat in our modest home, asking when we're going to get a bigger house (not in the cards right now, not that we have any problem with our home). Whenever I'm shocked by these comments, my husband says he's just so used to his father being an idiot that he doesn't listen to him anymore. (I do take some comfort in that!) Adding to matters is my husband's brother and his wife are competitive people who've used our difficulties to emphasize their own wise decisions, i.e. their children do not have our child's problems because they were smart enough to space out their vaccinations. (This is not why my child's had issues.) My sister-in-law gamely convinced my mother-in-law to invest her entire life savings in their house, and my mother-in-law lives there and acts like the mom, so if I say, "My daughter wants to tell you about the clown she saw this week," my MIL's response is, "Well we saw a clown too. We saw lots of clowns when I took the kids [meaning her other grandchildren] to the circus." It's a one-upmanship between "her" kids and our kids. "We have that toy, too." "We've been there, too." Etc. My MIL's never forgiven me for taking her son away, and now it's affecting my kids. Her other son is now the good one because "he took me in" (took her and her several hundred grand in cash).

After many years of enduring the barbs, the drama, the put-downs, it hit me a few months ago: Why am I spending any more minutes of time than necessary around these folks? Hasn't many years of this been enough? Do I do this so I can feel bad about myself? Or how I'm raising my kids? So I can feel bitter? The few times I've spoken up, it's only added fuel to the fire, ricocheting around this tight-knit family that I had a problem with something someone said, with everyone excited by the latest drama. So, I just stopped going to things, except on rare occasions. My husband is a gem of a man and father, but loathes confrontation, and this hasn't been easy on him, because of course they're circling their wagons and instead of being genuinely concerned, seem to relish this new opprtunity to find chinks in our marital armor. For my MIL it's proof I'm a bad DIL. For BIL and SIL it's evidence that they know how to handle the family and DH and I do not. For FIL it's proof that I don't like the annoying MIL. Everyone has an agenda all the time, and I'm just so tired of it. My husband and I used to complain to each other more about things, but it got tiring. After I kind of made the decision that to survive in this marriage and family, I need distance, the only problem is my husband is now in the middle. :( I'm not sure how else to continue in this family unless I expose myself less to their criticisms and drama. And I understand that for my husband to freeze out his own family, as bad as they can be at times (and they are not ALL bad--who is?) would not be fair and would create more stress for him. I can say I feel happier since I've seen them less (I posted on a rare day that I saw them). I have a good little family, a rewarding career, wonderful kids and husband, and a very good life. Since I don't see them as much and am not reminded as much in all that I and my family are lacking, I've had greater peace. But I do think my husband feels worse, and that makes me sad. Any advice for me and for us?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 8:29PM
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You may actually be doing the best thing right now. As you've discovered, you can never be the good guy, you will never get her favor and she will always manage to make situations about her...even if they're not. She sounds like a classic narcissistic personality, actually. If you'd like to read up on what that means and how to be strategic in dealing with them, I've found 'Why is it Always About You?' by Sandy Hotchkiss to be helpful. I have someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder in my extended family, so we have to continually deal with that.

I'm also reminded of a thread on the forum entitled, 'Parents,' in case it's helpful for you. It's last post was May 28, 07, and it's called 'klimkm, can you explain?'

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 9:41PM
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Your problem isn't with your in-laws -- they're nuts. Your problem is with your husband. You two need to get on the same page.

My hope for you is that you both will RUN, not walk away from these destructive so-and-so's. You're all grown up. You can do anything you want. Suggest you distance youself from these people. "Blood" doesn't cover the divide you've described. These people are toxic.

From your description, I'm thinking this wouldn't be too difficult for your husband either.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 10:14PM
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Sounds to me like you're doing the right thing Siobhanny -- Your "moment of truth" was right on target. And yes, while not having you by his side makes things a little more difficult for your husband, having you there and constantly exposed to that kind of garbage isn't easy either.

You can't change them, so all you can do is change the way you handle them -- which you've done. Sad, but smart.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 10:18PM
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Sounds like you have a similar situation like mine, except I only had to deal with my SIL and FIL. DH's mom left when he's a toddler and FIL has never remarried so the 3 of them were very tight. Both FIL & SIL never thought much of me from the beginning of our marriage. The last straw came 2 years ago when we visited FIL on thanksgiving and he used the occasion to attack me with verbal abuse of how bad a wife I am in his eyes, that I'm just using my DH as my meal ticket, etc, in front of everyone at the dinner table. I fought back with equally nasty words out of anger. DH has never spoken to either his sister and dad after that incident. I feel relieved and much happier now that I don't have to deal with them at all, but at the same time, I also feel guilty for being the source of this animosity between DH and his family. I told my DH many times, out of guilt, to reach out to his family and that it's okay for him to keep in touch with his family without me. DH told me he will never speak to his family again until they apologize to me in front of everyone who witnessed the abuse that thanksgiving day. In the end, eventhough my guilty feeling is still there and I suspect will never completely go away, I realize that life is not perfect. As long as DH keeps putting me and our marriage as his first priority, I will do the same with all my heart. Even if it costs him his family.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 1:44PM
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halfdecaf are NOT the "source of animosity" and difficulty between your husband and his family. That source predates your entrance into the system - you just inherited it, unfortunately. I want to urge to to do your best to let go of the guilt you're carrying, because it sounds to me like it's misplaced. You are fine, as long as you feel confident that you're doing your best to build and nurture the relationship between you and your husband (and it sounds like you are). You know your father in law's words weren't the truth, and you know that you and your husband love each other. There's nothing to fault yourself for there. Your husband is doing the absolutely right thing by letting his father know that verbal abuse to you - without even the courtesy of apology - is unacceptable to him. Just continue to let him know how much you appreciate his advocacy - and let go of that guilt!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 3:45PM
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