in laws

pattybagsMarch 29, 2010

Since I've been married for going on four years now, but in a relationship for almost 10, our life is one big stressball due to in laws.

they exhibit more cultish behavior than "family" behavior. Where do I begin?

There has been a total disregard and lack of privacy. They've walked into our bedroom without any consideration to knock first, there are friends of family who repeatedly ask us when we last had sex, how often we have sex, to the point that they will follow me around at a party repeatedly asking me when I'm going to have a baby, etc. and now that person's friend has taken me to a separate room and discussed invitro fertilization (referring to his sister) though I've never discussed anything of the likes with any family members or their friends, nor do I know this person on or near this level. It's to the point that I now avoid attending family gatherings around the holidays, I don't know how to deal with it anymore.

The sisters have "pretended" to be lesbians when out in public situations in order to attract attention to themselves, and they've sat around at their uncle's parties, literally twisting and fondling their girlfriends nipples in front of everyone, completely inappropriate behavior. The parents conveniently turn a "blind eye" to their behavior.

The sister has invited us out to her home, has gotten completely drunk and had sexual relations in a loft where all her guests, including her own brother, had to stay in the bathroom so that they (we) didn't have to listen to her having her ever loud relations with her coworker in the open loft. It's appalling. The sisters get naked in front of male relatives, including their own brother, walking around (in their 20's and early 30') without clothes on like it's nothing unusual. I want nothing to do with these people. And the family is in complete denial. The mother basically called me a liar, though she's SEEN her daughters getting undressed in the middle of the uncle's living room, in front of the father and my husband. The sisters lie about any other behavior I mentioned to the parents.

It trickles down from the grandmother. I'm told that if I don't do what they want me to do, when they want me to do it, how they want me to do it, and don't totally conform, they immediately feel threatened, they are so against any sense of autonomy it's completely abnormal, and I am told, "You are not the Christian girl I thought you were" and they find fault with absolutely EVERYTHING I do. It's complete hypocrisy in every sense of the word.

They stand over my shoulder telling me what to do, when to do it, how to do it, something as trivial as if I rinse a recyclable can, they tell me I don't have to do that. The grandmother will make condescending remarks in front of guests, and she will literally talk to me like a child, "did you say thank you?" Yes, I did. "well I think you should say it again" or, "You should say thank you, they do a lot for you" referring to her family as if they are on a pedestal and everyone has to bow down to them like they are godly. I'm not a child, I don't need to be told what to say, or when to say it and I am NOT the type of person to take anything for granted, everything I've had in my life I've worked for myself, and I certainly didn't grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth, yet they continually tell me what to say, how to behave, etc.

I feel like I'm walking on eggshells.

They devalue any and every outsider in the family, i.e. in laws, and treat the same their friends significant others. Everyone is the enemy and not to be trusted. It's to the point that it's similar to a prehistoric nature.

We purchased furniture for our living room, and the family got upset that we didn't consult with them first.

We got a dog, we heard about it endlessly for a year straight, from every family member, and every family member's friend. It's our home, it's our life, we can afford it and our pets are spoiled to death, it's not a matter of not being able to take care of an animal, and yet they constantly dictate how we should live our lives.

We had the wedding they wanted, including the guest list. We purchased a home before the wedding, because that's what their family endlessly insisted every time my husband picked up the phone to call them. This went on for months, did you buy a house yet? Did you buy a house yet? Then, when we did buy a home, they insisted that my name NOT be put on the deed. Can you believe that?

I have been bashed, ridiculed, ostracized, humiliated, manipulated to the point that we don't even know how to deal with it anymore.

We have dealt with family members who would get upset with us whenever we didn't do what they wanted us to do - Uncle would call us up every Friday evening to go out, though he was aware that I'm working full time and in accelerated courses on saturday mornings, yet, he'd get more and more upset if we wouldn't go out with him to the point that he'd threaten us and tell us, "It's going to reach a point where I won't ask you anymore". It's a constant use of "guilt" as a means to manipulate and control us.

My husband, when I met him, had this unnatural fear of saying no to people. To the point that he'd LIE for fear that people will be upset - something as trivial as a friend asking us to go out on a night that we already have plans, my husband would have to say we have plans, and then he'd add three other lies on top of that as "excuses" why we can't go out with them, as if saying we already have plans isn't a good enough reason.

When my mother was dying of cancer and I wanted to spend my last Christmas with her, the Grandmother sat there angry that I wasn't spending Christmas with HER family, and kept saying, "She should be here with the family". It's outright sick behavior with complete disregard for the needs of anyone else.

Can you believe that? I was furious, appalled, and there aren't even words to describe. I have spent MORE holidays with their family than with my own. If I do spend a holiday with my family, I get the constant guilt trip the next time I see them, and 101 questions about what I did. What business is it of their's what I do with my family and given their nature, I no longer share anything personal with them.

They have ridiculed my own family, without reason or just cause, and without ever meeting them. My husband once told them that my family doesn't have a lot of money, something as simple as that, and then Grandma kept talking about how, "What if her family wants to borrow money from you once you are married?" and constantly degrading my family. Again, it's putting their own family on a pedestal, and my family is just this lowly family so beneath them. My family has never asked to borrow money, it's ridiculous. That's how they think.

They have ridiculed me from the beginning, and immediately began to devalue me as a person, comparing me to another family member (in-law), saying "She's just like so and so, she can't be trusted. She's too quiet". This happened in the first month I met them, they hardly knew me.

Because I'm a reserved person that makes me a bad person? Because I don't conform to what they want me to be, do, and say I'm a bad person?

They treat you bad, and then they ridicule you for not wanting to be around them. It's this never ending self-righteousness about them.

The grandmother has criticized a pot of homemade chili I made for her a year and a half ago, EVERY TIME I see her. She continually tells me what she didn't like about it. It's never ending emotional abuse and ridicule and treating me like everything I do isn't good enough. Or, it will be innuendos, such as, "that's what GOOD families do..." as if my family is god awful.

If I want to take my car and drive separately, I get comments like, "we ride together because we are a family". This promotes insecurity and dependency, as if driving a separate vehicle makes you any less part of the family. It's lack of freedom, and control over your ability to come and go as you please.

Again, if you don't conform, they treat you like you've done something wrong.

They have absolutely no respect for anything we say. If I say don't feed my dogs, they'll do it in front of me, or turn their back and feed my dogs, turn around and tell me they didn't. It's so completely frustrating.

When I finally had enough with the two evil sisters constantly bashing and shunning me and treating me like I don't belong and like I'm not welcome (during a trip to their home out of state I was screamed at and told that I'm a piece of crap and I'm not good enough for their brother, just because my husband and I were upset with eachother and not talking to eachother much, not necessarily appropriate for a social situation, we could have handled it better, but nonetheless it was our situation to deal with), and they left all the lights on at night so I couldn't sleep, left the music on loud, etc. I was so appalled as I've never been treated that badly before. Upon arriving home, I sent an email stating how I felt about how they treated me, and in turn, they slammed me to ALL the relatives, and went around the entire family bashing me attempting to turn everyone against me, and then this sister forwarded the email on to every relative - cousins, uncles, mother, father, etc., which they later blamed ME for because I should have "communicated by phone". I was ridiculed and critized for the way I communicated by email, and I was told I should have picked up the phone and called instead, and yet the sisters never called me to discuss anything, and that was four years ago, we haven't spoken since. It's no repurcussions or responsibility for their own actions, it's always someone elses fault. Who are they to dictate the means by which I should communicate?

Then the nasty sister had the audacity to call my husband recently and ask him to pick her up at the airport when she comes to town here, implying that she's going to stay at our home. I said, no way. No apology, no contact with me whatsoever, the only thing they've done for the past years was leave messages on our voice mail during the holidays, and they'd pass the phone around from one family member to the next, saying hi specifically to MY HUSBAND, without any respect or regard for the fact that they are also calling MY house and MY answering machine. We finally had our home phone disconnected and they can contact my husband via his personal cell phone, as I will not tolerate them leaving messages, specifically ostracizing me, at my home number at this point. Not long after the sister event, other family members would approach my husband and say, "Don't you love your sisters?" as if he was supposed to "brush it all under the carpet" and forget that they treated his wife like a piece of garbage. Again, it's cultish behavior and they're trying to promote "total conformity". They don't want to take accountability for their own actions, it's like dealing with five year olds.

By the time we got a second dog, we made up a big elaborate story about how we "ended up" with the dog, as opposed to admitting that it was our free choice to get another dog, as pathetic as that sounds, just to avoid the family's badgering about getting another animal. I love animals, I've had animals my entire life. Every time I sneeze, I hear from the grandmother that my allergies are because of my animals, though it's completely unsubstantiated, and no matter how many times I state otherwise, it's never ending comments over and over and over, they don't shut up. It's ridiculous how they try to control every thing we do, I just can't deal with it anymore.

Then when our dog got old and started having health problems, which we took VERY good care of him and he was on appropriate medication for arthritis, etc., they badgered us for six months straight, you have to put him down, you have to put him down, and we'd hear it from every family member, every time we talked to them, including friends of family members if we attended a family gathering, to the point that we've avoided family gatherings because they just aren't pleasant, period. What business is it for anyone except a qualified professional to tell us when to put OUR dog down? I would NEVER do that to anyone.

When my mother was ill, and this was during my wedding planning, they would actually come into my house, which is a fixer upper by the way, and make ridiculous comments like, "what are your guests going to think about this? What are your guests going to think about that? Well, when I was your age, I'd come home from work and work on the house until 10 pm..." as if to imply that I'm just a lazy piece of crap. Are you kidding me? I didn't get home until 10:00 pm sometimes. Also, I'm working full time, I'm taking classes at my church to get confirmed so I can get married, I'm taking care of my dying mother, going to her house every morning before work, every lunch break, every day after work to feed her, give her medication, take care of her house, her dogs, etc., and they'd have the audacity to come over and complain that my house isn't "perfect" as if cleaning, painting and remodeling is a priority at this point in my life. Who in their right mind does that? And THEY were the ones planning on THEIR relatives to come over to my house before the wedding, nobody even asked me a thing about what I wanted, or if I was okay with that. It was so unbelievable, words can't even describe what I felt or the complete humility I felt at that time in my life. I cried every day.

I am a good person, I treat everyone with respect, I have good morals and good intentions, I don't believe in judging anyone that you haven't taken the opportunity to get to know, and if I don't like someone, they do not know it, I make everyone feel welcome in my home. I am at a total loss on how to cope with these people. It's total cult behavior, and I'm not conforming. I've never experienced anything like it in my life. It's so overbearing that it adds continual stress to our lives, and add to that the fear of having children in this family with every family member treating us like we're five year olds, attempting to control, manipulate and disrespecting us. I was raised in a household where people treat eachother with respect and courtesy. I don't have a clue how to deal with this. My husband is nothing like them, he is the odd man out.

And now, the family is trying to "push" me into having a relationship with the sisters, which I have no desire to do EVER. They try to manipulate me, when they are on the phone with the daughters they tell them that I said Hi, when in fact I did not, nor would I, and that is so inappropriate. Then when they have me on a call, they tell me that the sisters said hi. I say nothing. I've never gotten an apology from these god awful people, and their attitude is to just brush it under the carpet. No way. The sisters have treated me this way three times too many. Forgiving once is one thing, but repeated inappropriate behavior is outright abuse.

Now one of the sisters has a new boyfriend that she's moving in with, and the other sister is in a complete tizzy that she has no control over the situation, and has drilled the guy for three hours straight to the point that the other sister started crying. I mean, there are no boundaries, no respect for anyone. It's this innate fear of new people, new people are the enemy. And then she bragged to my husband that this guy was "respectful" the entire time that she was being disrespectful to him - i.e. she's proud of the conformity, or that he's not resisting her. It's appalling that she's PROUD of this. Words can't describe.

On top of this, the stress of this family is probably the reason for us not having children, but on top of that it's the fear of having children around such disrespectful, rude, controlling overbearing people.

Look up the traits of cult behavior, and there are so many things that point to this family. It's unbearable, and I've felt like I'm losing my identity because they're always treating me like I should be what they want me to be, though I have no desire or intent to change who I am. I just don't know how to deal with this.

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They sound positively awful...

How does your husband feel about their behavior?
Does he intercede on your behalf?
Would he be comfortable with less contact?
And would he be open to talking about it in counseling?
Seems like a good idea if you're wanting to someday bring kids into the mix.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 1:41PM
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Man do I feel for you. What a horrible situation to deal with. The first thing I thought when reading your post was so what if the family gets mad, let them. You and your husband both seem to care way too much what the family thinks of you. You said that the uncle was guilt tripping you about you all going out with him and threatened not to invite you again. Who cares if he gets upset and mad and you probably don't want to get invited again anyway so just let it go.

I am a very respectful person to my elders but at some point you just have to stand up for yourself. But you did have an idea of what you were getting into before you go married. There is no way in hell I would let anyone plan my wedding for me or tell me who I had to invite. Now of course I would want their input into my guest list but I would not be dictated on who I have to have there.

I would like for you husband to stand up to this family. He is the one that should put a stop to it. But it sounds like they broke him over the years and he is weak. I can't help but think of this family as a horribly wrong take on Everybody Loves Raymond. The entire thing about you all getting a dog is just ridiculous. But I am someone who resists control and will rebel. If they would have insisted on us buying a house then I think I definitely would have waited and not bought one just to piss them off. Not that that is the answer but my gosh these people are just.....I can't even find words for them.

I also say you and your husband should start switching of holidays. What my DH and I do is one year we go to his parents for Thanksgiving and my parents for Christmas and then the opposite the next year. We are lucky in that our parents live in the same town so even though we do that we still always make an appearance if for just a short visit to both of our families.

I don't really get along very well with my SIL either. She and I don't hate each other or anything we just aren't close and never will be. She has made some life choices that I just can't agree with. She is with a very abusive boyfriend who she had a child with and she dropped out of college and went into stripping because he wanted her to. She has also been arrested for marijuana and prostitution. We have argued because I think she needs to get out of the situation and not keep her son in that unhealthy environment. But still she has not ever been out right rude to me. And she would never undress in front of family even though she does it for strangers for money.

I really don't want to tell you to do, except to just not stand for it anymore. You don't deserve to be treated that way at all.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 2:22PM
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Oh boy, do I feel you on this one. My future in laws are very, very similar. Although, not nearly the same degree as yours - for now, anyway lol. It's so easy to say, just ignore 'em but it doesn't really work practically if you've got people that are insistent upon getting their way at all costs.

Since we announced our engagement it has been non stop control mechanicisms. I can literally count on once a week they try something to interfere in the wedding plans (because our wedding is different than anyone they have had in the family, you see -- so it gives them the right to interfere.) Future mother in law kept harassing my SO and saying "do you even want me to go" to our wedding because we're not having a wedding like one they've had before and she doesn't get to plan (control) it.

So I thought I'd give her something to do to get her off of our backs, did it work? Nope, she didn't want to do it. But when we said, fine we'll do it, she wants to do it again after we've made plans. But she doesn't tell us, she tells her daughter who calls us and proceeds to announce they are doing X. Not ask, announce. And then they get put out when we say no, we've already decided etc. It's a non stop circle.

And holidays? Oh boy, they expect us to be there with whistles and bells on for the entire holiday. Not just Xmas eve or xmas afternoon. ALL of XMas Eve and ALL of Xmas Day and ALL of the day after Xmas. And my family doesn't count, at all. DD's traditions do not count, her father does not count. It's FAMILY, you know, only THEM. They cannot be apart and we have to pretend that my SO and his brothers/sisters are tiny little children again. Future mom in law has apparently told other "family" that I have never felt "family love" before and thats why I don't want to do all their traditions that are set in to place to honor only their family. Which is funny, I meant to post about that to see if anyone else had trouble with inlaws accepting a stepfamily.

Every boundary put in place is tested, every single one. So, I dont know at this point. We're going to see a counselor to see if there is anything else we can do but it may just ignore and cut down on time with them. The only saving grace about this has been my SO. He's not always quick to point out when they are doing something manipulative, but he does know they do that and knows there ways and he is willing to stop it too. If only we could find a way lol.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 2:53PM
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This family sounds absolutely awful!!! Have you ever thought of taking your husband and moving out of state? Like maybe a few states over....or across the country! I would not want to be around those people and the way that they act.

Being a close-knit family is one thing, but this sounds like something completely different. I too would not want to raise any children around these people! I do not blame you!

I honestly think the only way you will have a normal life is if you get far away from those relatives of your husbands. How long have you been enduring them for?

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 3:53PM
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The thing I learned fast is there is no compromise with this family, it's their way or the highway. They don't appreciate any sacrifices I've made not seeing my family around the holidays, and like I've said, I've spent more with them than with my own, but they don't appreciate it at all. They expect the world to be handed to them on a platter.

And the holiday thing, we get the guilt trip if we want to leave early. You can't leave without eating breakfast, they give you the guilt trip though you have several hours to drive home, even if they know I want to see my family, or should I say ESPECIALLY if I want to see my family, I swear it's intentional. And breakfast is not quick toast or a bowl of cereal, it has to be a table full of fried and cooked food. There is no doubt in my mind they have done this intentionally, and they continue with LONG conversations throughout breakfast.

They force feed too. No matter how much you eat, you didn't eat enough and then you get dirty looks and negative comments about your appearance and how you are too skinny (which I am not). And, if you don't WANT to eat something, it's a guilt trip and nasty looks, "well, I MADE That for YOU" and more nasty looks as if you have to feel obligated to do things for them, including ingesting food you aren't hungry for or don't like. It's controlling. Its grandma forcing my husband to consume large amounts of her pie, but then she criticizes ME because my husband puts sugar in his coffee. It's always some innuendo about me not being a good enough wife, "well you just don't know" comments. And if you point out the obvious to her about the sugar and the pie (which has several cups of sugar in it), she'll respond by saying, we'll it's ok for him to eat pie. Of course, because this family lives their entire life by double standards.

I just cannot stand this woman, I think she is truly a mean spirit, and I don't mean to sound cruel, but I've never met someone so full of hate and contempt before, and one particular sister is JUST like her.

One of our friends just married someone who has an albino child. The Grandma remarked in typical derogatory fashion something to the effect that his wife gets social security for this child (as she should given that this child is and always will be handicapped). I mean, where do you get off? And then they all sit aroung gossiping how his fiancee is probably after his money. It's completely unsubstantiated, and mean, mean, mean. My husband DOES NOT talk that way about people. I couldn't imagine having kids around them. There are no words.

In his defense, my husband does stand up to his family, but you can't control people like this, it's not his ability to control their actions, he can only speak his mind, and he does, though it took him awhile to get there. After the third time his sisters treated me like crap, he put his foot down and all hell broke loose, and now he speaks up, for example, if Grandma scolds me because I took a piece of toast from the table during dinner that was supposed to be for "someone else". No joke. I wasn't allowed to shower at her house during an overnight stay because 20 years ago another in-law with whom she chooses to bash constantly took a shower and the basement backed up. She's really mean spirited, to say the least, but I have to be careful in speaking my thoughts because it's still my husbands family. I can tell it breaks his heart that they don't accept me, or anyone for that matter. He thinks the only way anyone would accept his wife is if she were totally subservient. That's not me. I'm independent, but also very respectful and quiet until I get to know you. Still, I think this is my means of coping, but I daydream at times about telling his family that they are just evil mean spirited *itches, and I'm not that way. I don't visit them often, and I will NEVER stay at the grandmothers house again, nor the sisters.

I feel bad for him too, this is really hard on him, but he was always the sibling that went along with whatever everyone else wanted and all the women in the family control everything, but he's that kind of person - laid back, funny, gets along with everyone. But they don't treat him the same, as I said earlier, they treat you differently if you don't do what they want you to do, it's another control mechanism. We don't really go "out" with the Uncle anymore, and most the parties we attend are holiday parties with family and friends, which can't always be avoided, but I've had enough of the overbearing baby comments. I think the decision to have a child or whether we're trying is between me and my husband. They just don't know how to mind their own business.

The whole thing before the wedding, I had bigger issues to deal with in caring for my Mom than to worry about the wedding plans and the house stuff, I didn't have the energy to focus on any of that, though it was overbearing nonetheless. I think if circumstances were different, I'd have handled it differently, but I just wanted it to be over with and focus on what mattered in my life at the time - and that was my mother. She was my first priority.

We always say, man, I never knew it would be this difficult, and I think for most people it isn't, but I would consider myself a complete failure if my children ever grew up learning this behavior, and that's what scares me to death. I mean, I had enough problems with my dogs, I couldn't imagine what it would be like with kids.

We are planning to pursue a family counselor. It's not going to change his family, but maybe they'll give us some techniques on how to cope with it. It's especially hard when you got it coming from every angle, so many different family members. Ping, ping, ping, ping, ping, ping...endlessly. It's NO FUN anymore. I tell that to my husband all the time. It just stopped being fun.

The worst part, my husband has always been close with his family, and he does feel disconnected, but he's tired of it too. I feel bad for him as much if not more than I do for myself. Not to play the victim, that's not who I am, but I am at the end of my rope and really can't tolerate this anymore.

Can you believe they consider themselves devout Christians??? It gives me an entirely new perspective on people who go to church religiously....I don't go regularly nor did I ever claim to, but I'll tell you, I was always taught not to judge a book by its cover, and to base your decision on someone based on who they are in their heart. Certainly going to church every day doesn't make you a good person, not that doing so makes you less either. I guess my point is, you don't have to go to church to proclaim your faith in god or to be a good hearted person, I'm better than they are and I don't have to go to church every day to believe it, I am confident with who I am, and maybe that's what they're threatened by. That's my take on the religion end of it.

Thanks for letting me vent here. I'm glad people are here to listen. And I hope your situation isn't as bad as mine, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 4:52PM
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honestly it would be justified to be estranged from these people, no contact. if your DH wants to keep communication with them, fine, but you don't have to. don't let them in your house and don't go to theirs. sorry, maybe it is harsh, but there is no way with people like this. life is too short. it sounds like corporal punishment what they do to you.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 5:18PM
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I think developing a REALLY thick skin will help some. Please know I'm NOT suggesting their behavior is good or even tolerable; they do sound hugely difficult. But it's also possible you've become sensitized (for good reasons!) and are allowing their behavior to bother you more than absolutely necessary.

It's interesting -- I did a little research project once on MILs and DILs and causes of strife between them. In the course of that research, I read a few scholarly studies (there weren't many), but one point they all agreed on was that most MILs truly wanted a good relationship with their DILs, and that many DILs were too sensitive to criticism, perceiving many remarks as critical when that genuinely wasn't their intent. Take the 'sugar in DH's coffee' thing. I guess I have a thick skin, but I wouldn't consider that a criticism of me as a wife. What - I'm supposed to monitor his sugar intake? He's an adult. I'd probably just say "He's OK" or You think? -- something noncommittal and then not worry about it at all. The force feeding? Probably a deeply ingrained cultural habit. Same with the 'too skinny!' comments. (If they force feed, they're probably mostly on the larger side, eh?)

Bottom line - You don't like them; you suspect they don't like you. (Though it doesn't sound like they hate you either.) That's actually OK, since they're not getting between you and your husband. In fact, that might even make it easier to distance yourself emotionally and keep everything superficially nice. (That's important, IMO) Plus, it sounds like your husband's got your back and that when it comes to his family, he's pretty much got his head on straight.

I think you'll come through this OK and that counselling could really help.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 7:13PM
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"The thing I learned fast is there is no compromise with this family, it's their way or the highway."

I would definitely opt for the highway.

Seriously, why don't you move away? Why would you continue to subject yourself to them?

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 7:49PM
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I have a question and a few comments -

First, does everyone attend every family gathering with their spouse, or should I say do you feel it's inappropriate to attend WITHOUT your spouse? With good reason of course, like, oh my spouse had other plans with thier family today, or whatever. I ask because, If I don't attend a family gathering with him, say if I have other plans and he goes alone, he says they all start to whisper. I mean, something as simple as a "Christmas in July" party, nothing exactly important from a standpoint of social functions. It's more or less a drinking and eating party. I'm wondering everyone else's standpoint on this - my husband is always with the belief that we should show up together, but perhaps his grandma has pounded that insecurity into his head over the years.

My family has always been very independent, so I don't see the big deal showing up at a function without someone at your side - to me, that's promoting insecurity. I don't need my husband at my side constantly to feel secure about our marriage. I get the strong family bond thing, but to look at it and assume that it's something BAD to arrive separately or for only one spouse to attend is a downright negative attitude, i.e. the whispers. We were painting one year, had plans to go to a family party, but of course being in the sun all day painting, I needed to shower. They wouldn't drive separate from me (and our destination is in the same city), they kept insisting that we'd drive together, and yet, they got upset because they had to wait around for me to get ready. It's a social drinking party that was scheduled at 6:00. I don't usually arrive at exactly the specified time unless I know there will be dinner or other specific plans, these parties aren't like that. It's just show up, everyone hangs around and socializes, drinks, and grabs some hor d'eouvres. I always take my own car from now on, it's ridiculous.

As far as other comments, I guess "opting for the highway" is an alternative, but truly I'd do that only as a last resort. I don't believe in running from my problems, I'd rather resolve it, but at the same time I'm realistic in that I do not expect them to change, the only thing I can do is learn how to deal with it, and hopefully counseling will help with that. It's so hard to establish boundaries when people have no respect at all for boundaries to begin with.

Also, speakig of reality, just getting up and moving isn't exactly feasible, especially in this housing and job market. There's so much more to consider such as established careers, other family members, other friends, way more complicated than a simple hey lets move I despise your family thing. I wouldn't want to move BECAUSE of his family, it wouldn't feel right. It doesn't change the fact that the are still and always will be my husbands family, and I certainly don't expect to pull him away from his own family because I don't care for them. I think a spouses role is to support their spouse, but alienating your entire family is pretty extreme, or expecting your spouse to alienate them is a lot to ask.

But, long term, we do plan on moving, though not for these reasons. Meanwhile, I have to deal with the problem as it's not going to go away.

And, chuckle, yes, Grandma is a little thick and LOVES to eat. It's her whole life. I probably am overly sensitive, but the distinction is that when it reaches this level, there really is NO distinction between mild or harsh criticism, it's ALL criticism, no laughs, and that's when it becomes no fun and just wears you down. Seriously, there have been times that I have been laughing with someone, and she'll walk over and abruptly tell me to do something, as if she doesn't want me to have a good time. I just think she genuinely has a mean spirit, she loves to hate people. Grandma or not, young or old, mean is mean is mean is mean. I don't enjoy being around mean people, and I get embarrassed when I see that they treat other people that way. I've never met a family like this before, who lives their entire lives in a tangled web of total hypocrisy and mean spirit.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 1:55PM
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Assuming that this very long post is for real:

"We are Borg" is a Star Trek phrase.

The Borg are a vast conglomerate in which there are no individuals;
the conglomerate is always conquering new planets & "assimilating", consuming, absorbing the residents to increase its power.

Once someone has been assimilated, that person no longer says, "I am so-and-so", indeed, no longer has the concept of "I".

If you ask one of the "units", "Who are you?", the reply is "We are Borg".

Those who resist assimilation are destroyed.

Get out now & "opt for the highway", it's the only way to keep yourself as an individual separate from this vast conglomerate.

I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 1:55PM
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Trust me, this is my life, it's very real, and yes, I do type a lot to vent my frustrations..does my post seem that outlandish? Geez, maybe it's worse than I thought.

I am not a troll, and pattybags not my real name for purposes of preserving my identity.

Nice analogy though. Maybe I should get a "We Are Borg" t-shirt to wear when they are around. LOL. My husband will get a kick out of that.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 2:08PM
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No. I don't attend every family function with my DH nor does he with me.

If I were you, I'd disconnect.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 2:11PM
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I did have the thought that maybe the long post was steam blowing out a pressure cooker, but I definitely wouldn't make a funny out of this.

It isn't cute, & it isn't funny, & it wouldn't be good to have your husband think that it is.

As silversword said, disconnect.

I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 2:16PM
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Deafness and density can also be great assets. They can't actually make you do something you don't want to do, so sweetly insisting on doing what you want so you don't trouble them then completely ignoring their protests. So long as you're sweet (but *dense*) there's not too much they can do about it.

You're in the South right? (I'm learning to just love the South! So long as you're sweet on the surface, you can get away with practically anything here!)

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 2:33PM
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Sweeby, I'm not in the south. :)

I have walked away from time I took my car on my own, practically ran out the door because I knew I'd get hounded, then when I arrived at my destination, they were there, immediately they started to say something to me and I swiftly walked away and completely ignored the issue. I think they got the hint, but that was one of the easiest family members.

The rest of them will hound.

Short of counseling and without the entire family getting involved, I don't know how much good it will do other than giving us a means to cope, but I agree, I have to keep my distance. This year, I have already told my husband, "I have plans" during all the family gatherings.

I guess over the years, I feel like I've lost my identity. Not that I've changed who I am, I am true to myself, but I feel...confined, inhibited, and sad really. I need to get my identity back.

Thanks everyone for listening.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 4:38PM
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That's sad Patty. You do need to get yourself back!!!

I like Sweeby's suggestion. When they don't want you to have your own car, say something like:

"oh, thank you so much, but I wouldn't want to inconvenience you.... I don't want to intrude... I wouldn't want to make you go out of your way for me... I don't want to be a bother."

Finish with a smile, as bright as you can make it. Play dense. Sweet. And dense.

Repeat until they shut up or walk away. (or you can walk away. as long as you're smiling and making verbal noise that suggests you wouldn't ever want to inconvenience them, you look like spun sugar)

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 4:48PM
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Works on kids too!
If you make sure they hear you, then sweetly give an answer/instruction and LEAVE before they get their whines out -- you win!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 6:27PM
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Maybe I'm just in a bad mood tonight but it doesn't sound like anything you do will EVER make them happy - so why try...?? I would personally try my hand at some amateur acting and strive to be the most repulsive daughter/sister-in-law that I could be!!! Maybe, just maybe YOU could drive THEM screaming in the other direction!! Give them some reasons to pray that you WON'T come to the next holiday! Why grow thick skin? My goal would be to dish better than them all!

But again, I'm feeling a bit cranky tonight!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 10:08PM
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It's so wierd it doesn't sound real to me.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 10:13PM
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Reading your, I think it was your second post, what I got out of it is that they like to guilt trip you and your DH. You know what that only works if you let them. Don't feel guilty and it sounds like you and your DH would be fine. Let it go, if they want to make their comments then let them. Just don't let it get to YOU. You can not control how these people act but you can control how you respond and how you feel.

Guilt trips only work if you allow them to. You need to get to the point that you do not care what they think.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 10:58PM
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Maybe I'm in a crabby mood, too, but I think lonepiper is onto something.

I have a "friend" who says the most spiteful, hateful, ridiculing things...
until I jump down her throat.

Then she behaves herself.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 3:19PM
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I do believe it is real.

My best friend has a family like that, her own mother, stepfather and grandmother. Evil people. Her own grandmother used to call me and ask to talk to her granddaughter about losing weight because she is so FAT and looks ugly. she is not a small girl but certainly is not obese or ugly plus how did grandma expected me to handle it?

more so grandma would call my best friend and say: I even called finedreams to complain about you being fat.

they always embarrass her in public and put her down.

yes she is not allowed to take her own car or have her own vacations with her DH, everything has to be with mom and grandma. If she does go on vacation with DH then they say she must have a lot of money and should share with them. I don't want to hijack but there are people like this. I believe it is true.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 6:30PM
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Ok, so for others to think it is weird to read it, imagine how I felt when I first met them. I get that it may sound off the wall, but who could honestly make this up? I have to laugh, my gosh, I WISH it were all a joke.

I was so absolutely confused when I met them, not only am I in the beginning stage of my relationship with my now husband, but the confusion with the fact that I AM A GOOD PERSON, and yet, everything I did in their eyes was wrong, and after so much of that you begin to question yourself. It's difficult enough to learn the dynamics of a family, but a family like this is just overwhelming. Like I said, I never met a family like this before. I recently made the cult analogy to my husband as a joke, then I started thinking that their behavior really is cultish.

Sylvia, one thing I noticed about the Grandma is she does back down when the other "outsider" (I'll call her "Suzy") in the family stands up to her, but it's short lived. That marriage had years of problems because of the Grandma, and they finally moved out of state. When I first met the family, they'd all talk about the Suzy and bash her constantly, behind her back of course. And I thought, oh my gosh she must be a terrible person. Then, I met her, and she was totally nice to me, and I could tell she felt uncomfortable around the family. That's when things started to click, and I slowly began to realize that Grandma feeds everyone with her negativity, and I think the daughters learned this from the Grandma. So when I finally had the blow up with the sisters, and the family came back to me faulting me and blaming me for how I communicated with them by email, I was so completely frustrated and I went off on a tangent about all the nasty things I felt about this family, and told them how I think they treat people with such disrespect, especially Suzy. My husband grew up with it his whole life, and was so used to it that he never realized it until I started pointing it out. He knew his sisters were rude and warned me, so I don't mean it like he's completely oblivious, but when I asked him if Suzy had ever been rude to him, he said no, and then I started to point out how your family always bashes her, but it never seems justified, then he started to pay attention, and realized much of it was a fabrication from Grandma's negative attitude. Suzy is like me, she isn't really one to conform, though she's not rude either, but everyone has a breaking point. From what I hear, they've had a lot of marital problems and I suspect it's because of Grandma and the family. I mean, come on, anytime you are in the presence of people who whisper when your back is turned, you CAN tell, you can sense it. That's what the sisters have done to me, and I suspect they've learned that from Grandma.

I get what everyone is saying about be nice and gently disagree, but they are so persistent it's irritating. And, you can't have a conversation with one person, they all have to chime in together, so it's like you against all of them. When I get frustrated, you can see that I'm frustrated. And they get defensive. I've learned to start walking away, when I can, but sometimes I regret not saying something, and at the same time I don't want to be "that person" at the party who crashed it because she blew her stack. LOL.

Lonepiper, I do agree - I'll never be good enough, and my attitude is changing to the idea that if you don't like me for who I am, too bad, get over it. I suppose my distancing myself from them is my way of rebelling. If I get visibly angry with them, I get the "well EXCUSE me" attitude, and then they won't come over for a year, which frustrates my husband that they ostracize us. So, it's a viscious circle. If my husband didn't have a close bond with his family, I could care less, but again, I also have to think of his needs, so I try to be the bigger person.

Txnursing, it's not that we let the guilt trip get to us, it's the anger that follows it that I can't stand. It's like dealing with a five year old. The Uncle is the worst. It'll be like this - he'll ask us to come over. My husband will say that we have plans with my family. Then he'll insist on my family coming over. THAT appalls me, as if my whole family is supposed to change their plans because what Uncle has going on is more important or better than what my family could possibly be doing. Seriously, that's his attitude, and he's very pretentious, everything is about "image" and he acts like people want to live his lifestyle of entertaining everyone all the time. Sometimes we just want to sit home and watch a movie. Screw your image if you are a nasty person, right? He doesn't ask us much anymore, but now it's like we've been ostracized. We get invited to family functions, more or less like it's expected of him, but that's it. And, he's given me the cold shoulder since I didn't go up during a holiday and kiss his family's butt after the sister incident - they wanted me to "brush it under the carpet" and swallow my pride once again (oh, and this was an "intervention" that took place at a mutual friends house). I stood my ground, refused to spend the holiday with the family, and this is the end result. My husbands friend said to me at that time, why do you always have to swallow your pride and they just keep treating you like crap and it's supposed to be ok? Honestly, it's reached a point where I'm bordering on despising them, but I think that's a good thing because a healthy attitude in this situation can only be one of, "I don't give a crap" what they think.

silversword, your response made me laugh. I wonder what they'd do if I plugged my ears and did the, "la la la la la la la la" as I walk away. *Chuckle*

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 1:26AM
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"why do you always have to swallow your pride and they just keep treating you like crap and it's supposed to be ok? "

Good question. After my DH just wasn't treated well (and I'm talking ignored rather than mistreated) and he didn't feel comfortable with some of my family, I told him he didn't have to participate anymore if he didn't want to. He got a free-get-out-of-family-activity pass. He's welcome, but if he doesn't want to go, and I feel obligated, I will make whatever excuse necessary to excuse his non-attendance.

He has gone with me before (since I gave him the out), but we both feel better going knowing that he chose to go rather than "had" to go. And he, in turn, always says he will go if I need the support. He thinks I am being generous, and I think he is being generous. It's made us a lot stronger as a couple, and I recognize that it's their problem, not his.

I think you and your DH need to have a talk. It's completely unnecessary to spend time with toxic people.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 12:16PM
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"why do you always have to swallow your pride and they just keep treating you like crap and it's supposed to be ok? "

I don't think you do;
in fact, I think "turning the other cheek" just gives these people the chance to slap that one, too.

For years, I thought I could reason with people, make them see that what they were doing didn't make sense *& that that would make them change*.


With dogs & with people who enjoy conflict, only actions beget actions.

You can say "no!" to a dog all day long, but if he has your cat's head in his mouth, chances are he won't drop it until he's entirely finished with it;
you have to grab him & pry his jaws off it & throw him to the ground & sit on him until he submits.

If you & your husband insist on staying in this family, then you're going to have to pry Grandma's jaws open, extricate yourself, smack her down, & sit on her until she submits.

&, as someone said above, it will never be over;
you'll have to do it "on demand" for the rest of your life because when Grandma's gone, her understudy will step into her place.

As silversword said, it's time for the 2 of you to have a talk.

& you can tell him that he *can* cut ties with blood relatives;
sometimes it's the only way to live one's own life "relatively" unharassed.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 1:47PM
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It sounds to me like you are trying to respond with politeness and civility to people who are neither of those. That has to stop. Even if you do not disassociate yourself from these people physically you MUST emotionally. It is very difficult for someone who was brought up with reasonable, well-mannered people to deliberately NOT be polite and courteous but that is just simply not going to work in this situation.

I am not suggesting that you be flat-out rude, but that you not bend over backwards to be agreeable either. If someone asks you extremely personal information, calmly respond that it is personal and you do not wish to discuss it. And keep repeating just that, no more, if they press the issue. If they are maliciously gossiping, calmly walk out of the room or out of the house. If they are blatantly rude to you, calmly respond that their behavior was offensive. Do not be drawn into arguments. Do not, under any circumstances, start justifying yourself, your family, your husband, or your behavior to them.

These people are emotional bullies and all bullies view any politeness as weakness. It does not matter if they do not like you; I don't think they like themselves. Trying to please them is pointless so stop trying.

Best of luck to you! The best that you'll ever get from the in-laws is tolerable, where you don't end up bursting into tears at the thought of a visit. Maybe soon it'll only end up seeming like having dental work done.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 2:41PM
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