Wife of the stepson wonders about siblings-in-law

TeaforeverybodyApril 29, 2013

Hello, I am married to the stepson and come from a very close, non-divorced family. I really am very much a "family" person and have tried to get closer to my inlaws. My husband's stepmom agrees to some visits, but backs out at last minute so it is just me and husband's dad and little sibs. She is not receptive to my attempts to spend time or even have an email friendship. It is really important to me to get to know my new adolescent sisters-in-law (technically, my husband's half sisters) - I hope one day they will be close. I made them my bridesmaids and made sure the stepmom went down the aisle and received a corsage and all of that. I feel like my husband's father is VERY passive (he just does whatever the chicks tell him to do) and my step MIL is nice enough but more interested in her own nuclear family. Only when I remarked, did they even seem to notice that no pictures of my husband were on display anywhere in the house. They have a giant and gaudy family portrait of their nuclear family and only now have pics of my husband out. It is almost like they think he stopped existing after graduation. They were very involved in the rehearsal dinner for the wedding...which I REALLY appreciated. But now I never hear from them. I have to initiate all contact. I want to bond, I like being close to family. My mother in law is the sweetest person on earth and we are very close. Phone messages to step mother in law and father in law go un-returned, ignored. emailed step mother in law weeks ago asking for information about where my sister in law will go to college and what the plans for graduation will be. Haven't heard from the parents. The sister in law emailed me with her college choice. but she doesn't know her schedule of events. I feel like we have to demand to be included. They didn't even tell us when they celebrated my husband's father's birthday. What can I do other than pester them into telling me stuff? I want us to be a family that communicates but I feel like it is all on my end. :(

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It's all very well for you to "want", but you can't compel someone who does not wish to pursue a relationship with you to do so, no matter how right you think you are. Pestering and demanding to be included will only get their backs up and make them think of you as "that pushy b!tch what's his name married".

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 2:59PM
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yikes. that is quite a name to throw my way. I doubt they would go that far, but I'll take it under advisement. Anyway, it seems my husband was cut out of their idea of nuclear family long before I arrived. I hope I can make some changes. It was amazing when I remarked on the photos. His youngest sister looked like she suddenly understood, she went racing upstairs and brought down old photos from my husband's childhood to show me. I don't think it is beyond repair with the Step MiL. I am and will continue to give her space, but came to this forum to vent and seek advice. I do wish they would keep us involved in the sisters' lives. They are his sisters' too. sigh.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 4:26PM
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Have you discussed your plans with your husband? Does _he_ want more contact with his sisters/father/stepmother? If he doesn't care one way or the other, then I really think you are overstepping the bounds to decide to engineer this relationship.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 11:57PM
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" I feel like my husband's father is VERY passive (he just does whatever the chicks tell him to do) "

Interestingly this might also describe your husband. You never mention what he wants. Is he just doing whatever you tell him?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 12:24AM
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Those are good questions. He does indeed have a tendency to be passive. I am helping him with that as I don't want to be a steamroller. He wants the relationship but had given up fighting for it. They are overly used to shutting my husband out. Something that hurts him deeply, not my words in his mouth, but his. I've encouraged him to keep fighting for a space in his own family. His sisters want a relationship, but they are busy with LOTS of sports. The step MIL suggests things for us to do with the girls, but never follows through. So, I'm not just engineering something out of thin air. I'm trying to build. It seems to be a complicated family. Like they all are! Any suggestions for dialing down one's expectations, or for connecting more? Lately I put in about a 3 week pause and contacted them again yesterday when it came time to invite them over for hubby's bday. Do y'all think 3 weeks is an adequate time to give someone space and not feel like you are crowding them?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 11:54AM
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My 2 cents suggest you back off a bit more. This is husband's relationship/s to make or break. If these younger siblings are adolescents (one going to college soon) they are old enough to focus on building ''bonds' with their brother without having to have Dad and SmIL always in the middle.

If one is always busy with sport events, take advantage of that. Hubby can go to an event now and then and show some interest in what little sister is doing. Maybe invite the younger one along on occassion...event and a pizza afterwards. Give them all a chance to just meet up and hang a bit without pressure or agenda.

A phone call now and then to the sisters or a text. Simple things. "I saw you won your event, congrats". "Good luck Saturday on your _______, will be thinking of you".

One does not necessarily always have to be in someone's face, so to say, to reach out and just say 'hey'. Summer is approaching, maybe one afternoon plan a backyard BBQ, no special reason to gather, no pressure just "we'd love for you to join us".

You really can't compare how things are in your own family to how things are in husband's family. Each family is different and do things in different ways. You can't force yourself in and expect them to be or even want to be exactly the way your own family is. What ever dynamics buildup husband's family have been in place likely a long time. it's very likely who they are, so to say, and how they desire to function in their family role.

You've not noted how much time husband spent with his father and SM while growing up. For instance was husband a 50/50 visitor, a three weeks in summer and Christmas break blah blah. Whatever it was, however closeness and amounts of it could all be playing roles in what and how the relationship is today.

They obviously love their son. They helped toss the wedding and do show a willingness to share companionship...they just don't seem to be doing it up to your preset standards and expectations.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 5:49PM
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That is true, and very good advice. I think his childhood arrangement, to answer your question, was something like certain nights and then two weekends a month...but the parents always got along (Birth mom babysat for ex's babies sometimes!!!) and lived within walking distance, which was good for my husband. But he and Step MiL never really got a good rapport during my husband's childhood. She is nice but kind of a perfectionist, and it is hard to be perfect with a kid who wishes his mommy and daddy would get back together. Anyway, they are good people in many ways and you are so right that I am coming to the table with my own ideas of how I want to be treated, how I think my hubby should be treated. I think I just needed to hear that I need to let go of my ideals and meet them where they are, thank you. Tthe way of peace and harmony is probably not looking to them to fill any sort of emotional need. I need to appreciate what they do offer and meet them where they are, at whatever level that is. Thanks. And with the sisters, we do try to go to games and things. And he has managed to take them out to the movies a couple times since we moved back to the state three years ago. It is just that the girls are raised in such a way that their mother is in charge of the schedule (for example, they do not even do their own laundry yet). So it can be hard to get information on when I can go see them - the kids just say "ask my mom." But I just need to let go of the frustration. I know it is not malicious, they are nice, well meaning and sadly, just very self-involved people. As my husband says, "I love them, but sometimes they kinda suck." I'll breathe deeply and do my best to let go of my own wishes/idea of how it should be. Gratitude is the open door to abundance, right? I need to be grateful for what IS there.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 8:09PM
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" I hope I can make some changes."

In my experience, the ONLY thing you have any ability to change is your behavior and your response to situations. Big mistake on your part to believe that you can change others. being a do-er and achiever, which it sounds like you are, will NOT work with personal relationships.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 5:44AM
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Your husband should probably be reaching out a bit more. When a parent has a second family there are sometimes issues with the older child finding their place within the family. I think this may be the case here. Why doesn't their dad make any decisions? Would you ask permission to hang out with a teenage almost college age sibling of yours? Probably not. If there were no pictures displayed of your husband or any of him with his dad's new family then his role in the family is what the issue may be.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 12:49PM
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