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Long story short, this has been dragging out a few years but my in-laws (mother, father and brother in law) all dislike me.

They are a very opinionated family and these troubles started about 5 years ago, they all (at one stage or another) make comments about how we should be raising our kids, asking my wife is she is happy in her marriage, and generally intruding in sacred places where people's comments are not wanted.

My wife and I are happy with our marriage, but her family is not happy with me because eventually I started biting back at her family, defending our marriage and defending myself (as initially my wife didn't want confrontation as she wants a relationship with me and her family, even though she knew what they were doing wrong). Things have changed and my wife is much more vocal in defending our marriage now.

We have tried to work this out with her family many times but it hasn't worked as her mother does nasty things like gossip about us to our common friends and relatives, and spreads poisonous untrue rumours simply because she dislikes me.

She posts nasty messages on facebook, and has sent nasty emails to my wife abusing her, myself, and our marriage.

My wife still has contact with her brother. He is very opinionated but she is used to his behaviour and accepts it. I find her family very toxic, and it's hard for me to cope with it. I certainly don't think I'm perfect but I have limits to being a doormat and deserve some basic respect.

I don't know how to deal with this all as my wife chose to stop communicating with her parents to reduce the strain on our marriage (and even then they keep abusing us), but I have a feeling that this is now hurting my wife as she is afraid that if they die she will have regrets not communicating with them.

She has hinted that maybe I should get thicker skin and cope with the abuse from her family, but this is hard for me because her mother openly tried to brainwash our kids against me by saying poisonous things, and has even tried to turn my own mother against me. I flatly don't trust her. I've spoken to her before and asked her nicely not to say nasty things about me and my wife, and she said she wouldn't, but despite that she continues. My wife and I have asked her to respect the boundaries of our marriage and what we are willing to tolerate (in terms of acceptable behaviour), but she responds by saying "I can say what I want to you, and if you don't like it than you don't have to take it on board". She basically refused to compromise on anything to show us respect, giving us a take it or leave it attitude.

I don't want to come across as a martyr as I'm not perfect, but I am easy to get along with and other than her family don't know anybody that dislikes me as I'm pretty easy going.
 

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You may want to consider your wife’s family as being mentally ill and treat them that way. It may be narcissism, paranoid schizophrenia that sort of thing. It is a case of being somewhat aloof and detached from them. It is a matter of having good and effective boundaries against their abuse.

You need these boundaries for yourself, that is exceedingly important to your psychological and emotional health. So sit down and create yourself some boundaries. These are in essence rules which protect your values. And then sit down with your wife, discuss and create a set of boundaries that protect your family from your wife’s family.

The thing for you to do is to detach from your in-laws as much as you possibly can such that their words and actions do not hurt you.

Take a look at Relationship Book, Self Help Relationship Book For a Man, Best Manual for Men and create those boundaries. You may not even be aware of the need for boundaries for yourself and your family so take a look at http://talkaboutmarriage.com/mens-clubhouse/35517-four-stages-competence.html.
 

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I have found that many times I have to balance good and bad in people and accept what I don't like due to the greater good they bring to the table.

Does your wife's family give you money? Do they provide babysitting? Do they give you a place to live or drive you or your family around? Maybe they cook for you and bring over dinners to give you and your wife a break from all the work you have to do. Do they pay for your vacation? Maybe they pay for your kid's private school? I know a lot of parents do this kind of stuff and I was wondering what they might be doing for you.
 

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Being nasty back doesn't make things better.

Distance the communication, but when communication does happen, be polite and courteous.. Doesn't mean you need to see/talk to them all the time.

She has taken steps to rid the toxins.. Sounds like you guys are on the right track together.

If she chooses to cut all ties, be there for here.
If she has valid reasons why she wants them in her life, compromise on how much is healthy for you and her.
 

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I think that ultimately, it is your wife's role to deal with her family. You need to support your wife, but stay in the background. When you get married, your spouse and children become your #1 priority. Anyone, including parents and siblings, come second. It sounds like your wife is trying to do the right thing. It can't be easy distancing herself from her own parents.

Take the high road. Support your wife. Make sure that she knows that putting her husband and children first is a noble thing to do. It is her family that are alienating themselves from you, not the other way around.
 
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