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Discussion Starter #1
I need some perspective.

My wife likes to have one of her siblings over at our place and they usually stay for several weeks. I feel I have come a long way in our rel’p in accepting her need to be with her family as this used to be a sore point for her since I would explain -now I know this to be insecure and wrongheaded- to her that a H and W should strive to create their own separate family and not necessarily have constant contact with their parents/siblings. So because I love her I have worked hard to learn to accept her need to be close to her family), in fact, I like her family just not too long and not too close.

Now, I encourage her but, by the same token, I tell her that I won’t necessarily be able or willing to spend that time directly with her sibling (and her, together) frequently as they tend to put me on edge if I am with them for extended periods. Ok, so far so good.

Again, it is not that I dislike her family, rather it is that I can only handle so much time with them (I find their idiosyncrasies to be aggravating as would anyone, I suppose given such proximity and protraction) and several week stretches for me, especially since I work from home, are distracting and if too intense provoke anxiety in me.

Now the problem. I feel that my w tends to behave more authoritarian when around her family (she is incredibly protective or the point of aggressiveness) and it absolutely irks me. Her family had a tradition of internal alliances that worked against unity, though this is based on my own observation, and I readily concede I am no expert to comment on their behaviours.

I find that even if I get out of the way, when she is stressed by work and especially around her sibling she overreacts to minor inconveniences she pins on me. I choose to disengage from her afterwards until I feel I have calmed down. Then when she is calm and wants to discuss things rationally I explain how she upset me. Yet, I still even afterwards find it difficult to want to reengage with her after these outbursts and it takes me some time to get past the hurt from her overreactions. Should I be feeling this way and I am I taking things to closely to heart? Am I overreacting? Perhaps I need ic to work through my own insecurities?
 

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Maybe she's reacting because of the stress created by her siblings being there AND your reaction to them?

If it's just because the siblings are there, you should explain that if she can't control herself, the siblings shouldn't come over.

If it's the stress of you not wanting them there, I think you need to suck it up a little more since it's your reaction that she's reacting to.

But disengaging and engaging later is a smart idea, unless she blows up in front of her siblings. If that's the case, I'd verbally lay her out in front of them so she gets the same feeling you do.
 

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I don't see where you need IC and it doesn't sound like you're unreasonable at all. It is natural for people to adapt their personalities to the "audience" around them, and it sounds like your wife's adjustments aren't necessarily good for your marriage.

Have you tried talking to her about how her behavior changes? What is her viewpoint on this?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Maybe she's reacting because of the stress created by her siblings being there AND your reaction to them?

If it's just because the siblings are there, you should explain that if she can't control herself, the siblings shouldn't come over.

If it's the stress of you not wanting them there, I think you need to suck it up a little more since it's your reaction that she's reacting to.

But disengaging and engaging later is a smart idea, unless she blows up in front of her siblings. If that's the case, I'd verbally lay her out in front of them so she gets the same feeling you do.
I know that I get on edge when they visit, so I purposely try to give them space when I feel I am nearing the limit of my patience (note: I do practice mindfulness and remove myself from the stimuli), typically I relocate away. Yes, I feel that certainly she does think of my feelings and it affects her but it is the manner of her overreactions that tends to phase me.

As to your suggestion to upbraid her in front of her family, this is something I would not ever willingly do (though I have occasionally done so when we squabbled in front of them in the past and have come to regret it since I feel ashamed afterwards); I feel it is not good/responsible to involve others in your conflicts, plus I wouldn't be able to think clearly as I would feel too conspicuous.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I don't see where you need IC and it doesn't sound like you're unreasonable at all. It is natural for people to adapt their personalities to the "audience" around them, and it sounds like your wife's adjustments aren't necessarily good for your marriage.

Have you tried talking to her about how her behavior changes? What is her viewpoint on this?
I have and she seems to appreciate that I have made some progress in learning to accept them since our early days,and truth be told she has become more attentive to my sensitivities but when I did confront her about this recent episode, she said she couldn't recall her outburst though she apologized nonetheless.

I appreciated the apology but I still feel that she is not showing enough control over her own outbursts, especially when around her family. More problematic perhaps is my own tendency to take these outburst to heart under these circumstances. There is something alienating (alliances?) about being the odd man out when in-laws are over and there is a not very private conflict between spouses.

Can anyone suggest some literature dealing with insecurities that might help? Perhaps my own feelings of alienation are interfering with my ability to get beyond the conflicts?
 

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I know that I get on edge when they visit, so I purposely try to give them space when I feel I am nearing the limit of my patience (note: I do practice mindfulness and remove myself from the stimuli), typically I relocate away. Yes, I feel that certainly she does think of my feelings and it affects her but it is the manner of her overreactions that tends to phase me.

As to your suggestion to upbraid her in front of her family, this is something I would not ever willingly do (though I have occasionally done so when we squabbled in front of them in the past and have come to regret it since I feel ashamed afterwards); I feel it is not good/responsible to involve others in your conflicts, plus I wouldn't be able to think clearly as I would feel too conspicuous.
She could feel defensive/embarrassed about your lack of interaction with the siblings and that makes her angry.

As for upbraiding her in front of her family, you don't have to go that far. A simple "I don't appreciate your talking to me that way in front of your sister" in a calm tone in front of her sister draws a line for her not to cross. That's all you're trying to do there.
 

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Having "guests", particularly in-laws for several weeks at a time has to be difficult. When they are there for those extended periods, do you & your wife still have quality time together? I mean away from the house? Or are all the activities as a group?

I think Chris is on point, but think you also need quality time together or you loose some of that "team" spirit. Not sure if I'm getting that said correctly, but hopefully you get the point.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
No, we never seem to have alone time. In fact every time she is around them I feel as though 'they' are the team and I am an appendage. She makes it painfully obvious her intention is to be with them. I don't ever feel like she wants 'us' time when they're around and when I've said this in the past she'll accuse me of wanting to monopolize her, which is totally false. I like the fact she's close to them, but pardon me if I feel like an appendage, let alone that appendage!
 

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Your wife sounds like a very immature woman who wasn't ready to be married and understand what marriage really means. Her family doesn't respect your marriage either.

What to do? IDK. She's convinced you that your way of thinking is wrong, and that her individual needs trump yours and yours overall as a couple. She needs some therapy.

ETA: She wants to live like wolves. Pack life. I wouldn't be down for that.
 

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In rereading this, several things pop out.

  • When the in-laws visit, your biggest concern is how she essentially disregards and disrespects you, particularly in front of them. Is that true?
  • Is it only for extended visits (e.g. more than 2-3 days) or anytime they visit?
  • You originally said "one of her siblings". So is it just this one person or others as well? If just one, I'm guessing a sister. If so older or younger sister & what is the age difference?
  • You get apprehensive and create distance as a result of the previous history. This in turn, creates more separation between you & the rest of her family (or just the one sibling). So it is a cycle that started a ways back and just feeds on itself. Sound right?
The reason I'm asking all these questions is to see if different strategies may be more helpful. For example, if it is just one sibling, you might try to establish a repore with just that one. If it is anyone in the family, that's a whole other animal. Perhaps approaching the "leader" might work.

I'm just throwing out ideas without anything to back them up, but it is your W's behavior that seems to be the primary stress point. So establishing an "ally" in the family may help. It could also backfire severely if your W interprets this as trying to get her family to side against her.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
In rereading this, several things pop out.

  • When the in-laws visit, your biggest concern is how she essentially disregards and disrespects you, particularly in front of them. Is that true?
  • Is it only for extended visits (e.g. more than 2-3 days) or anytime they visit?
  • You originally said "one of her siblings". So is it just this one person or others as well? If just one, I'm guessing a sister. If so older or younger sister & what is the age difference?
  • You get apprehensive and create distance as a result of the previous history. This in turn, creates more separation between you & the rest of her family (or just the one sibling). So it is a cycle that started a ways back and just feeds on itself. Sound right?
The reason I'm asking all these questions is to see if different strategies may be more helpful. For example, if it is just one sibling, you might try to establish a repore with just that one. If it is anyone in the family, that's a whole other animal. Perhaps approaching the "leader" might work.

I'm just throwing out ideas without anything to back them up, but it is your W's behavior that seems to be the primary stress point. So establishing an "ally" in the family may help. It could also backfire severely if your W interprets this as trying to get her family to side against her.
1-essentially
This behavior is not most of the time but it is frequent enough that I am having second thought about having kids w/h

2-whenever they're around

3-all her family members

4-i only get distance when her behavior kicks in and i dont have an issue w/particular person. i get along with all of them mostly. definitle a cycle-how do i break it?

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I'd start by doing the opposite of what I'd normally do. Different approach will acheive different results.
Totally agree, but I don't want to try different things that DON'T work. I want a strategy that will be effective at least in making ME feel better; I'm to the point where I'm tired of being concerned about her feelings.
 

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Perhaps you can break it one step at a time. Do a bit of "pre-game" work just before the next visit. Have a heart-to-heart with your W, saying you will make a conscious effort to be a positive part of the whole family and she, in turn, will make the effort to be respectful to you in front of them. If you or she have a problem during the visit, make an agreement to discuss it privately. Frame the whole talk around wanting to make the visit a positive one for everyone - be part of the whole family and feel part of the family.

Even if she does not keep her end of that, keep yours. Hopefully the next visit is one of the shorter ones.
 

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Totally agree, but I don't want to try different things that DON'T work. I want a strategy that will be effective at least in making ME feel better; I'm to the point where I'm tired of being concerned about her feelings.
How do you know if they work or not if you don't try them? It could be a series of things. Just be sure they're the opposite of what you've been doing thus far because THAT isn't working.

I wouldn't cower off when she gets all snappy and disrespectful in the presence of her family. That's a start.
 

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If it's a long visit, I might be inclined to have a work emergency to deal with somewhere in the middle. Easy for me to have one of my servers crash;)
 

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Basically your wife is shet testing you. To stay away from the wounded, emotional side of things read Awareness: Amazon.co.uk: Anthony De Mello: Books. He’ll teach you how to switch into a different type of consciousness, detached such that you don’t react and do get too see things, what’s really going on, very clearly.


What’s actually happening is your wife is trouncing your boundaries and you don’t really know it until it’s too late and you don’t know how to defend them. A read of http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hold-Your-Nuts-Relationship-Manual/dp/0979054400/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1346613764&sr=8-3.


Humour, make her laugh when she shet tests you, is really a good way ahead but if that doesn’t work tell her you’ll put her over your knee and smack her bum next time she plays up.
 
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