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Discussion Starter #1
My husband and I have two sons, ages 2 and 4. My husband's sister has two daughters, ages 2 and 5. For nearly five years, we have been dealing with a very painful issue involving my husband's parents behavior. In short, his parents play favorites with the grandkids. This has been extremely difficult because my husband has always been considered the "favorite" child of his mother, but in so many ways, she has rejected her "favorite son's" children. Examples of favoritism include watching the girls one day per week so her daughter and daughter's husband can work. My husband asked if she could help us on that day and she suggested we hire someone instead. My husband literally drives by her house to drop our kids off at daycare since the daycare is on her street. I have had the most difficulty with her ignoring our boys when the girls are around. She will only hold the girls and is just generally much more affectionate with them. When we visit with the boys, we will talk about what the boys are up to and she always injects the girls into the conversation. Recently, my husband took a day trip with his parents and our boys in an attempt to have them spend quality time together. My MIL quietly invited daughter's family. What was supposed to time spent with the boys turned into ignoring the boys because the granddaughters were around. I find it difficult to attend any family parties because it hurts me to see her only holding or playing with the girls. She is pleasant enough to me, but it all feels so phony. I have not handled the situation very well with my husband. I've been highly critical of her behavior and have attacked my husband over his inaction. He would rather keep the peace and go on with the way things are. He is hurt but he is not willing to discuss this hurt with his parents. I have started not attending family functions because I no longer feel emotionally safe in such an environment. I know this bothers my husband, but he will not protect me or my son's feelings, so I feel it's best to not go. My husband's birthday is coming up and as a tradition she always hosts her kid's birthday in her home. I would prefer to not go and to instead do something with just the four of us. Interestingly, she is very pleasant and kind to the boys when the girls are not present.
 

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Ugh, unfortunately I have this on both sides, my mother, my aunt, my grandmother and MIL. The only thing that worked was to dismiss them from our lives because our child, even at a very young age, caught on to what was happening and it bothered him.

Some people are just too destructive to have in you life, even if they are family:(
 

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I find it odd that you would want this person to watch your children, since you don't like her or what she is doing.

Now, not everyone is a good person in this world. Your husband accepted the benefits of being the favorite child, and never stood up for his sister....Now he is seeing the downside of it.

She is who she is, a person who operates by playing favorites. Getting her to be something different at this old age is a waste of your energy.

The question is, even though it hurts your feelings, is it destructive or harmful to you children? I'm not sure it is from what you describe. But, if you feel this is destructive or harmful to your children, then you need to keep your children protected from those who can harm them with or without your husband's agreement.

If it is just hurtful to you, and not destructive to your children (i.e in the big picture it is better for you children to have her in their lives), then bite your tounge and accept her as she is.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
I think it is destructive to my children. They always seem so defeated when they're around her when the girls are present. Am I being destructive by not attending family functions?
 

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My grandparents on both sides favored my cousins over me and my siblings. Sometimes it hurt our feelings. But we got over it. Family is family. One thing that helped is that my parents didn't pretend like it wasn't happening. They talked about it with us and around us. They kvetched about it, even. We always knew our parents were on our side, at least. And we learned to deal with it. Our grandparents lost out. They had the opportunity to have a good relationship with us and they messed it up. And now, my paternal grandmother complains that I don't take my baby son to visit her. Well, I wonder why, grandma?

The thing is... you can't shield your kids from the unfairness of life and other people. Use it as a teaching moment, if you can. Maybe it's a good time to use it to build empathy in your children for others less fortunate than themselves. It can be a life lesson about the harmfulness of discrimination.
 

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I think it is distributive to my children. They always seem so defeated when they're around her when the girls are present. Am I being destructive by not attending family functions?
Keep in mind that it's good for your boys to have a good relationship with their cousins. You don't want to ruin that opportunity for them. With being so close in age, family functions can be a great time of fun for the cousins to play together.

Don't plant the seeds of resentment between the cousins. It's not the girls' fault that their grandma favors them.
 

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I think it is too hurtful to the children, who will definitely pick up on it. I think it would be better to avoid the MIL. The children will not feel rejected, and later on you can explain why you cut off contact.
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I find it odd that you would want this person to watch your children, since you don't like her or what she is doing.
I guess I just want her to become closer with my boys and since she watches the girls for free, we thought she'd also be willing to help us. Maybe a part of me felt the favoritism would become a non-issue if she watched our kids part of the day. But, her decision just emphasizes her favoritism, which makes me want to pull away even more.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I think it is too hurtful to the children, who will definitely pick up on it. I think it would be better to avoid the MIL. The children will not feel rejected, and later on you can explain why you cut off contact.
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My husband would never allow cutting off contact. As it is, he becomes furious when I bring up the issue. It's hurtful and he cannot handle any criticism of his mom. I have felt completely unsupported with this. He does not make waves. He's actually very passive-aggressive like his mother. This has been the only problem in our marriage.
 

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I guess I just want her to become closer with my boys and since she watches the girls for free, we thought she'd also be willing to help us. Maybe a part of me felt the favoritism would become a non-issue if she watched our kids part of the day. But, her decision just emphasizes her favoritism, which makes me want to pull away even more.
You can't get her to be something she's not. Not going to happen.
 

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My husband would never allow cutting off contact. As it is, he becomes furious when I bring up the issue. It's hurtful and he cannot handle any criticism of his mom. I have felt completely unsupported with this. He does not make waves. He's actually very passive-aggressive like his mother. This has been the only problem in our marriage.
Here's what I think based on what hyou post, altough I could be wrong.

I think she is a flawed person and you are hurt becuase you love your boys and don't want to see this.

However, all factors considered, I don't think it's harmful to your children to have a grandmother who favors them less than other grandchildren. I think you are hurt, but your children are probably not being hurt too much, and they will have more to lose by you cutting off contact with the family than to gain by it. In fact, it can be a teaching moment to your children about right and wrong, favoratism, how people in this world are etc.

But, I still stand by the fact that if anyone's behavor is harmful or destructive to your children, they must be protected from it. And Mom's protect their kids... so you overrule your husband on it (if the harm factor is there).
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Here's what I think based on what hyou post, altough I could be wrong.

I think she is a flawed person and you are hurt becuase you love your boys and don't want to see this.

However, all factors considered, I don't think it's harmful to your children to have a grandmother who favors them less than other grandchildren. I think you are hurt, but your children are probably not being hurt too much, and they will have more to lose by you cutting off contact with the family than to gain by it. In fact, it can be a teaching moment to your children about right and wrong, favoratism, how people in this world are etc.

But, I still stand by the fact that if anyone's behavor is harmful or destructive to your children, they must be protected from it. And Mom's protect their kids... so you overrule your husband on it (if the harm factor is there).
I suppose you're right. I of course see it. It's obvious to me. Two other family members made comments about it to me as well. I just don't want my boys' self esteem impacted. These types of seeds are planted early. It's my hurt though. I remember when we told her I was expecting my second child. She was not happy. She kept saying we will "survive" this. We were happy to be pregnant! Then of course, she wanted to know right away if we told my husband's sister. I believe MIL was upset we were having a second child before her daughter was. She was extremely distant until she found out a month later her daughter was expecting. It was very sick and again my husband didn't stand up for me or our family. My other SIL (husband's brother's wife) told me she was disturbed by the manner in which my husband's mother told her we were expecting. Supposedly, she was very sad. But then I'm kissed on the cheek when we visit and everyone is supposed to act like a happy healthy family.
 

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Your kids self esteem can easily be manged by you and your husband, by making his mother the defective, wrong person and making sure the kids realize it has nothing whatsoever to do with them personally.

Regarding "what to do", I would maintain a cordial but distant relationship with them to the point where their actions do not rise to a level of importance in your mind so what they do or don't do is of little consequence to you.
 

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Your kids self esteem can easily be manged by you and your husband, by making his mother the defective, wrong person and making sure the kids realize it has nothing whatsoever to do with them personally.

Regarding "what to do", I would maintain a cordial but distant relationship with them to the point where their actions do not rise to a level of importance in your mind so what they do or don't do is of little consequence to you.
Thank you. I pray I can do that. Seeing her eats me up inside. This occupies a lot of my thinking.
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My husband would never allow cutting off contact. As it is, he becomes furious when I bring up the issue. It's hurtful and he cannot handle any criticism of his mom. I have felt completely unsupported with this. He does not make waves. He's actually very passive-aggressive like his mother. This has been the only problem in our marriage.
I have a feeling your mother in law is engaged in a covert war with you, and a weapon she is finding to be effective is using the grandchildren as pawns in her game.

I will wager she engages in other slights with you. It is somewhat common for the mother to perceive the wife of her favorite son as competition.

A husband who chooses his mother over his wife will generally use the excuse that he doesn't want to "make waves" or choose sides. But he has chosen sides. The rule is that the wife comes first.

Everyone knows what's going on and the failure to have it out in the open is a huge advantage for the mother in law. She is not accountable for it and the primary target (you) is blamed for trying to bring it up.

In order of priorities, the husband is first. If he won't acknowledge what is going on and validate your feelings, then it is time for an ultimatum with consequences. Make sure that you focus clearly here. The point is not what your mother in law is doing. The point is the refusal of your husband to acknowledge your feelings and give you some empathy.

No discussion. He either gives you that empathy or the hammer comes down with the consequences. You'll find that this breakthrough alone is going to pave the way for negotiating a strategy with MIL.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I also would appreciate some help with regard to my husband. I feel unsupported because he won't confront his mother. He said something once and she just denied everything but did say she'd try to change. She didn't and here I am looking at my husband feeling angry and unprotected. the only reason he said anything a few years back is because a video showing my niece being aggressive and physical with my son was posted on Facebook by my other SIL. MIL told us that it wasn't her place to discipline her granddaughter even though she was the one who brought my son to her daughter's house where the video was recorded. She told us, "my daughter doesn't like me to tell her daughter no." It was a very bad period in our marriage as my husband just said the video wasn't that bad.
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My paternal grandmother refused to watch my brother and I even though I'm the first and oldest grandson and my brother the second oldest. My father loved his mother even when she would outright reject his children.

One time my dad abandoned my mom and us to screw around with another woman. My mom begged grandma for help watching us so she could work. My grandmother said "that wasn't her problem". My mom was forced to get food stamps for a few months just to survive with us until multiple family members on my moms side "convinced" my dad to come back. Thankfully my mom was an amazing resourceful woman with great friends and family that helped during this time. She also made sure we didn't know what was going on. I only found out the full extend of this years after my fathers death.

My grandmother died five years ago and one of my aunts asked me if I was going to attend the funeral and say something. I said, please take my condolences. I have nothing else to do with my fathers side of the family.

My mothers side is different though. Warm loving people with drama but I care about many of them sans one uncle who is an ahole.

In short, don't ever beg for a family members love. If they want to have a relationship with the kids great. Don't allow your kids to suffer the rejection. It can VERY hurtful. I don't hate my grandmother RIP. I am indifferent to it because my mom did not allow me to see her rejection. I thank my mom for that. Protect your kids.
 

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I also would appreciate some help with regard to my husband. I feel unsupported because he won't confront his mother. He said something once and she just denied everything but did say she'd try to change. She didn't and here I am looking at my husband feeling angry and unprotected. the only reason he said anything a few years back is because a video showing my niece being aggressive and physical with my son was posted on Facebook by my other SIL. MIL told us that it wasn't her place to discipline her granddaughter even though she was the one who brought my son to her daughter's house where the video was recorded. She told us, "my daughter doesn't like me to tell her daughter no." It was a very bad period in our marriage as my husband just said the video wasn't that bad.
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Do not confront your MIL about this. You will not get genuine love for your kids. The sad fact is some grandparents do this crap and yes, love some grandkids more than others. If they want to do this then the consequences will be a much more limited relationship. Don't play head games but do not beg for love or favors from your MIL and work with what you got. Remember the door swings both ways.
 
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Everyone knows what's going on and the failure to have it out in the open is a huge advantage for the mother in law. She is not accountable for it and the primary target (you) is blamed for trying to bring it up.

In order of priorities, the husband is first. If he won't acknowledge what is going on and validate your feelings, then it is time for an ultimatum with consequences. Make sure that you focus clearly here. The point is not what your mother in law is doing. The point is the refusal of your husband to acknowledge your feelings and give you some empathy.

No discussion. He either gives you that empathy or the hammer comes down with the consequences. You'll find that this breakthrough alone is going to pave the way for negotiating a strategy with MIL.
Totally agree with this. She would prefer it not to be out in open, and because this is the case, I feel inclined to just blow the door open, let it be known I'm fully aware of what she's doing. Not doing this I feel will continue her negative behavior. I already confronted he once and she flat out denied it. Our relationship has been very awkward since then. At this point, I have nothing to lose. I believe she is afraid of her daughter, which is part of the reason she bends over backwards for her.

What should the consequences with my husband be? Either he has empathy for me or what?
 
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