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Discussion Starter #21
His issues aside, for you personally, I would suggest you do some introspection into why you let them bother you. Almost every time, it's an insecurity/low self esteem issue. And that's something you can work on. If you truly love yourself, you can laugh at their pathetic attempts to drag you down.
You're so right. I'm not proud to admit that I've become very controlling when it comes to this issue :( I'm working on it but it's a very much a work in progress. I know 100% that my controlling behaviour stems from the sheer anxiety that this causes me. My concerns are valid though - my husband called off his engagement to his first wife and changed his will (they were living together de facto) after pressure from his parents. They obviously reconciled and went on to marry but the damage was done.

It's almost comical - hubby lets me know he's heading to the pub after work on a Friday night and will be home late and I'm all "Have a great time honey!". If he were to say he was going to his parents I'd freak out completely hahaha. Ridiculous.

I love my husband so very much, he is my world and I would never want to or intentionally cause him any hurt. I think I need to drop my end of the rope so to speak. My resentment is at least something that I can do something about. His, I cannot.
 

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Hey all, long time TAMmers will know that my inlaws and I have huge issues. They are what brought me to TAM in the first place.

My husbands first wife was treated appallingly too, and my sister in law has had a string of failed relationships due to disapproval from MIL. Just for context.

From day dot I've never felt comfortable with them. Ever. They are way too nosy, over involved in their adult childrens lives and don't respect boundaries. Things boiled over four years ago when my SIL pulled me up via email over something that was none of her business, and there were inferences from her about me that were untrue. As usual, hubby did nothing so I defended myself and bit back. Things went from bad to worse when she dragged their parents into it. Had it remained between the three of us (she cc'd my husband, trying to get me "in trouble", didn't work lol) it would have been resolved fairly quickly but now the damage is beyond repair. I've not seen or spoken to them since. Hubby continued to see them occasionally, which caused issues in our marriage as he never addressed the issues with them nor pulled them for awful things they said about me. He's gone two years without seeing them now. He talks to MIL on the phone sometimes, but that's all. That's the short version pmsl.

I am unable to tolerate him spending any time with them until he deals with this. I feel that it tells them that what they did and said was ok, and is also ok with my husband by default as he's spending time with them. It also gives them exactly what they want - time with him on his own without me, where they can get into his head and manipulate him. He's also thrown me under the bus when he's spent time with them since this happened, either by responding out of context or leaving bits out of the discussion. I feel so betrayed and heartbroken that he won't defend me, and actually puts me in a worse position. I don't understand how he can willingly spend time with people who hate my guts for no good reason. When he was seeing them after this happened, things would be tense in the lead up to the visit and then we'd argue when he returned. I won't allow them in our home, he would go to them.

He loves my family, and they love him back, but if any of them spoke to/about or treated him the way I'm treated by his family, I wouldn't hesitate to put them in their place. It wouldn't be "Please don't say that..." it would be "How fkn dare you talk to/about my husband like that". We'd argue it out and move on. This has dragged on for four, almost five YEARS. Ridiculous.

My concern is for my husband. His parents are elderly, and I worry for him should something happen to them. I don't want him to have to live with regrets and wishing he'd spent more time with them. I want him to fix things with them so that he can keep a relationship with them. I've said this to him NUMEROUS times, the only thing I ask is that he has my back, puts them back in their box and makes it clear that he will not tolerate any badmouthing of me. I NEED that from him. My concern is 100% for my husband, and our marriage, something I've also been completely honest with him about. He knows that I don't want a relationship with his family, but that I want him to have one.

Do I just say "eff it" and let it all go? Do I stand my ground and insist he do what I need him to do first? If I let it go, how do I get over the feeling of betrayal when he spends time with them without having my back? It was gut wrenching and hurt me terribly when he would continue to see them as if nothing had happened. Our lives are much more peaceful without them in it, but I worry for my husband (and only him, the inlaws can get effed, including the sister) if something isn't done to repair this. Given that they're elderly we don't have the luxury of time. Then again, my MIL...ugh...that cow will live forever.

Help.
Do you live in funnel web territory? If so, it seems that the Lucky Country has a pre-built solution to your problems!

If not, surely redbacks, salties, snakes or drop bears are available, yeah? Or, maybe they can tragically die in a wildfire - thank you firehawk!
 

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From where I sit at the moment, the consequences if he doesn't stand up for me are the situation continues indefinitely, one of his parents dies and he's faced with huge regrets, pain and slowly starts to blame me and our marriage crumbles. The possible consequences if I let it go are my hurt turns to resentment which festers and our marriage crumbles. I'm so torn.
I am truly sorry you are in this position. I've been there myself. Maybe that's why reading ^^this^^ saddens me so much.

All I can tell you, at this point, is to work on letting go of as much hurt/anger/resentment as you can. After all, forgiveness isn't so much for the people who need it as it for our own well-being.
 

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I resent my husband for spending the past 10 years progressively losing more and more money in his career, and it's a direct correlation to his low self esteem and inability to stand up to jerks who rip him off. I can't even pay monthly bills anymore on my salary and his is hit or miss - but he always makes sure to have enough to pay his 4 or 5 American Express bills every month. They are some sort of ego trip for him. I can't make him earn more money, but I can put some of our monthly charges on those AmEx bills; at least I know they'll get paid.

My point is, you resent your husband for not overcoming his FOO inability to stand up to his parents, just like I resent mine for HIS weakness. But if you know you're going to have that resentment, and until you can fix yourself so it no longer affects you, at least find a way to get some self-satisfaction. Encourage him to see his family; and each time he goes, treat yourself to a spa day or something. Over time, it just might stop triggering you.
 

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It is very much a work in progress... in some ways you are fortunate because you know exactly what is stoking the fires yet less fortunate because the perceived lack of control sets the pace instead.

You want them to see you different and you want them to see your husband different.

Can this happen that they will? Not until your husband finds the courage to reteach them how to treat him, and through him how they treat you.

This will only come when being presented with choices, perhaps ultimately one of where the losing of his presence overcomes the need to control.

Your husband has a difficult task, that he cannot be honest with his parents and the damage they have caused hurts not only you, but them.

Is it true, is it kind, and is it necessary?

This is how respectful communication starts... there are many kind ways to tell people the things that the things they are doing is hurtful. Perhaps you could ask your husband to sit down with you and present a discussion that will accomplish all three from your part of the experience.

It will have to be practiced because it may be ran in circles with many distractions to escape the ownership of all involved but keep your fair expectations fair while you communicate your boundaries clearly and consistently without being sucked into impatience and your part will be rewarded in your heart.

With such rewards, you may begin to see more compassion than resentment for such suffering in their lives.

Can you imagine how it is to live like that?

There is so much suffering that it touches you... a life built on unstable foundations.

Your husband will need courage, loving kindness to you both.
 

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While not an exact analogy, this has a similar feel to dealing with my ex wife who is diagnosed NPD. Nothing recently, but there were a number of times where my ex said or did something, and my wife had deep issues with how I dealt with it, namely refusing to engage my ex in any way shape or form, even to defend myself or my wife. The thing is, any engagement with my ex is nothing more than engagement for the sake of engagement, back and forth arguing, actual resolution to anything impossible, and the engagement only ends when we stop. So what we end up with is just a bunch of time spent being angry and hurt, and nothing actually accomplished or gained.

Dealing with people like this, there will never be some Oh Hark! moment where they realize the issues with their behaviour and how it affects other people. They don't and never will, and like just aren't capable of getting it. You'd be way better off dealing with a brick wall.
 

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His issues aside, for you personally, I would suggest you do some introspection into why you let them bother you. Almost every time, it's an insecurity/low self esteem issue. And that's something you can work on. If you truly love yourself, you can laugh at their pathetic attempts to drag you down.
I believe it's quite normal and acceptable for you to want to cut off your own contact with the people that have treated you so poorly. So, all the advice to cut yourself out of the picture while allowing your husband to continue his relationship with them on his terms is viable.

That said, you must recognize that he is caught in the middle, unable to make both his wife and his original family happy at the same time. No matter how stoic he may be on the outside regarding the situation, I guarantee this is an emotional burden for him. I would bet money there are times he "picks you" over maybe doing some incremental engagement with family. Other times - which are more visible to you because he's gone - he picks them over you. He's literally in a no-win situation.

Given the situation, it is perfectly justifiable for you to draw the line in the sand. It's a matter of self-preservation and self-respect. It does not disqualify you from being a good wife.

But if one were to aspire to be a "great wife," there would be another level of empathy and compassion you could try to reach. Recognize that you two are a unit, that he can't control their behavior and that he does likely wish for the opportunity to having both them and you in his life without having to "pick sides." While such a level of empathy is rare and uncommon, a "great wife" would try to recognize that these in-laws somehow, someway produced an environment that created the spouse that you love. That's gotta count for something, right?

He didn't pick 'em. He can't control them. But, for better or worse, he is stuck with them. You can either make it more difficult for him to carry that burden of sustaining a viable relationship with them, or you can take proactive steps to lighten the load for the man you love. In the face of ill treatment, can you be the "bigger person" for the sake of your husband? If you can, that means all the difference between being a "good wife" or a "great" one.
 

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... He's gone two years without seeing them now. He talks to MIL on the phone sometimes, but that's all. ... My concern is for my husband. His parents are elderly, and I worry for him should something happen to them. I don't want him to have to live with regrets and wishing he'd spent more time with them. I want him to fix things with them so that he can keep a relationship with them. I've said this to him NUMEROUS times, the only thing I ask is that he has my back, puts them back in their box and makes it clear that he will not tolerate any badmouthing of me. I NEED that from him. My concern is 100% for my husband, and our marriage, something I've also been completely honest with him about. He knows that I don't want a relationship with his family, but that I want him to have one.

@frusdil,

You can not make your in-laws be considerate people. You also can not make your husband "have your back" and defend you. I suspect you know these two statements to be true.

But may I partly challenge you on one thing? You also can not make him "fix things with them" or want to have a relationship with them, no matter how old they are. I understand that they are of an age where any holiday could be their last, or any year could be their last. But speaking as someone who has a limited relationship with my own parents (my dad is an alcoholic and my mom beat me), maybe he realizes they are toxic and that for his own and your own mental health, the best he can do is a phone call now and then.

It is reasonable for him to have a boundary with them, and no matter how old they are, if they choose to trample all over the boundary, then the consequence of that choice is they only get phone calls. Honestly, maybe a phone call is being generous! Some people never, ever do choose to behave in a healthy, civil way, and the result of their choice to avoid their issues and continue in their dysfunction is that they lose that opportunity for true familial closeness.

My dad refuses to admit he has a problem with drinking--it's my fault for "bringing it up." My mom refuses to admit that an adult hitting a child until the adult is tired was "beating"...as well as refuses to admit that she has a mental illness and needs counseling. They most likely will not admit their issues, as they've had them as long as I've known them. So the result of their choice to deny is that our relationship is distant--and I think I'm being SUPER generous with as much as I allow!!

So just bear in mind that your husband may actually recognize the truth that they are EXTREMELY toxic to you and to his family, and thus for his own and your own mental health, all he is willing to offer is a phone call now and then.
 

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@frusdil,

But may I partly challenge you on one thing? You also can not make him "fix things with them" or want to have a relationship with them, no matter how old they are. I understand that they are of an age where any holiday could be their last, or any year could be their last. But speaking as someone who has a limited relationship with my own parents (my dad is an alcoholic and my mom beat me), maybe he realizes they are toxic and that for his own and your own mental health, the best he can do is a phone call now and then.
That's my problem though, I suspect he does want some form of relationship with them, and that there are times when he does miss them, even though they stress him out, his mother in particular. They are very critical people, judgemental and have very high expectations, if you're not perfect, you're not good enough.

I wish he hated them and would just cut and block them, life would be much simpler, lol.
 

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I don't envy your husband and to be honest, I think what he's going through in all this is much worse than what you're going through. I can't imagine being stuck in the middle of my family and my husband. My MIL hated me for "stealing" her baby away. .
Been there, done that.

It's harder for your husband than you think.

All your contempt is only making it more difficult for him.

I ended up completely dropping the sledge hammer on my parents. I know you think this would be a great solution and think your husband should do the same. Take it from
someone who went down that road ..... It isn't the best way for anyone.

Breathe In .... Breathe Out. Your the only one that can let them have that much control over you ..... and then take it out on your husband.

Anyone on this forum that knows you understands you love your husband.

How comforting would it be for your in-laws to know they are driving a wedge ...

Don't do it ..... let it go.
 

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My concern is for my husband. His parents are elderly, and I worry for him should something happen to them. I don't want him to have to live with regrets and wishing he'd spent more time with them. I want him to fix things with them so that he can keep a relationship with them. I've said this to him NUMEROUS times, the only thing I ask is that he has my back, puts them back in their box and makes it clear that he will not tolerate any badmouthing of me. I NEED that from him. My concern is 100% for my husband, and our marriage, something I've also been completely honest with him about. He knows that I don't want a relationship with his family, but that I want him to have one.
When you say you want him to fix things with them do you say that thinking that his parent are going to change or do you want you husband to continue to put up with bad behaviour from them so he can just have a relationship with them. Unfortunately we don’t chose our parents and while it is nice to have family unity and have everyone get along sometimes it is not possible and is more harmful than it is worth.

It sounds like things are not going to change in his family, and he can either accept it and move on, even if it means distancing himself from his parents, or he can continue to bring these people into his life that do not respect you, his wife and ultimately him.
Maybe your husband realizes this about his parents and is choosing himself not to have a relationship with them and by you not accepting his decision and pushing him to talk to his parents you are essentially asking your husband to take his parents “crap” for lack of a better word.

I know how he feels, I had to cut my sister out of my life as she was toxic and caused chaos in my family, and when I say family I mean my husband and my children because as an adult that is the only family the has my number one loyalty. If my extended family is healthy and can contribute to my family in a positive way than great, but if they can’t then it’s time to say goodbye.
 
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