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Old 02-01-2012, 04:16 PM
Location: Connecticut
1,144 posts, read 1,760,781 times
Reputation: 1338


i really feel very badly for your husband but the long and short of it is he needs to make a life without his parents in it - i had to do this with my brother and somewhat with my father - there is no reason to allow anyone to treat you that badly - i see it as a form of mental abuse since they dont treat the girls the same way and have taken in a neighbor's son - i know you think i make this sound so easy and i know it isnt but your husband needs to know he has done nothing to bring this on - he needs to build up some self esteem so he can move away from them - there is no reason for anyone to be treated that way -
my mother passed away when i was 13 and had to deal with 2 stepmothers that wished i would just disappear off the planet - my father favored my brother so i was no where - i learned to make my friends my family and got on with my life - your husband is very lucky he has you - i wish you all the best -
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Old 02-01-2012, 04:26 PM
5,210 posts, read 8,839,663 times
Reputation: 5865
Chickenfried - that was my initial take on this whole thing, too. Different people, different lives, different values - stop judging and try to get along.

That would be all well and good if it wasn't for, what appears to be, a real manipulative/punitive streak in these in-laws. It looks as though MIL (mainly) is trying to guilt her son into taking on the responsibility, at least in part, for his disabled sisters. She doesn't ask her son directly to help out, instead she "punishes" him for not doing so like a good little boy.

I think this sort of thing calls for a different kind of approach, IMO.
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Old 02-01-2012, 04:29 PM
4,749 posts, read 3,480,743 times
Reputation: 3223
Originally Posted by peppermint View Post
Also, we have never been involved with their care. I think my MIL resents this. I suspect that she wants us to invite the SILs to our home more, that she wants us "vacation" with them, and just be more involved. This is something we have never done. We don't send them money, haul them around to appointments or invite them to our home. We do not enable them at all. I think this is resented. I also this is why my MIL invites them to our home. The last time she did this we told her no. We'll be doing this again.
It probably is resented on some level. And it goes to show how people mess up their relationships with others, particularly within families, because of these things called expectations.

One reason why I've become closer to my older half-sisters (from my deceased father) in recent years is because I've come to realize that they don't expect anything from me, which is different from what I perceive from my mother's side of the family now. I get the feeling that there are expectations. The expectation to live near them. The expectation that I would get married and possibly have children with someone they had known or approved of early on. The expectation that I would engage in a certain line of work. "Oh, come out here, I could get you in contact with so and so." Or "You could always get a job in this field, and this area's booming with them." Look, I know it's well-intended on some level, but it's a total disregard for whatever I and my partner have decided for ourselves.

Expectations then lead to perceptions, and then they start feeding a firestorm of other grievances based on comparisons with other people. Well so and so always spends X amount on christmas. Or so and so was always here. Or she always calls at least once a week -- how come you only call once every couple of weeks (well, how come they hardly *ever* call me at all?). The point here is, expectations are the sort of thing that people can get hung up on. I try not to expect things. I haven't received a true christmas present or birthday gift per se from my brother in years. I still give them at least something, though. Because I don't want to keep score. I try not to anyway. Sometimes it's hard, though. But in your own case, try to not expect much. Try not to keep score. Try to just pick up wherever you guys can.

2) My in-laws created an environment based on guilt and manipulation in which my husband grew up. His mom knows how to pull his strings and make him feel terrible. I am a very opinionated, vocal person. I don't play these stupid games, but I have tried very hard not to react to my in-laws because it's not my call. My husband has to deal with them. At least, that was my feeling. I have recently decided that he can have any sort of relationship he wants with them, but I'm not going to allow them to make me feel bad or be used anymore. Therapy should help my husband work through this and help me be supportive but not a doormat.
It's expectations. They expect (want) certain things from him. Maybe it's just being closer and having more influence over the lives of their children. Who knows...just don't expect them to change. They're not going to. You can only change how you deal with their nonsense.

Originally Posted by peppermint View Post
Finally, I just want to add that I don't hate my in-laws. I don't think they are monsters. I think there are a lot of issues, but many of them are personal and not for me to address. I'm just trying to figure out how to navigate with/around them. My husband and I have discussed kids, and I know that this isn't going to get easier or go away. Probably, kids will bring out new problems and issues. I was just hoping for insight from all of you, which I have gotten.
They're not monsters. There are issues. People get more and more issues as they get older.
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Old 02-01-2012, 04:47 PM
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Reputation: 5865
I think the OP's in-law problems go well beyond "keeping score" of who gets what from whom on Christmas.
Or who thinks who should be working for X company, who should be married already, who should have kids, who should be skinnier, who needs to gain weight, etc.

That stuff is annoying but pretty typical.

Withholding critical information about a parent's health (while informing everyone else in the world) is a message. And, in this case, it appears to be a punishment for not "doing as told". Or at least that is sure the way it looks.
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Old 02-01-2012, 06:15 PM
Location: Nebraska
4,179 posts, read 9,146,338 times
Reputation: 9523
I sooo can relate.
My DH is the 'black sheep' of the family, yet was always the one called whenever his parents needed anything - from getting his sister away from an abusive husband, and taking in her children when she went off on one of her jaunts and abandoned them, to fixing their cars and cleaning their house. His parents never gave us a kind word or any help at all, but praised and worshipped all of their other children, heaping money and time and anything else they wanted on them. He would do any and everything for them, they even started vicious lying gossip about him (according to them, he raped his sister, he raped his brothers wife and fathered her first child). We cut off all communication with them.

Fast forward 30 years. His dad died of a sudden heart attack 8 years ago, and the funeral was the first time we had seen the family in years. We have not seen any of them since. His mother has Altzheimer's and his brother has to take care of her (we refused). His other brother (the one with the wife my DH supposedly raped) stole his parents' nest egg and promised to 'invest it in commodities" - his mother is now living solely on her SS check. He calls us every other year or so to try to get us to give him money. His daughter (that DH supposedly fathered) is now a grown woman; she and her children prefer to visit us than to visit her parents. The SIL - whom DH supposedly raped - has accused a half-dozen people since then of raping her including her own father, and has spent her life in either drug-induced hazes, in jail for stealing from her SO's, or trying to finagle still another faked disability claim. Her children - whom DH and I had to raise when she abandoned them - call us Mom and Dad.

We live, happily, productively, and contentedly, 1700 miles from all of them. When his mother calls every 6 months or so and suggests she would like to come see us, we give her the phone numbers of local motels and tell her we are 250 miles from the closest airport... we ensure that she will never come out to see us.

Who needs dysfunction and drama? We have a great life together, great kids, and the few relatives we have whom we like, like us and are welcome here. The rest can keep right on yipping and whining and gossiping - and stay away.

YOUR lives are more important than what damaged people try to do to themselves - and to you. Live Drama-free!

Last edited by SCGranny; 02-01-2012 at 06:18 PM.. Reason: My "o" sticks!
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Old 02-01-2012, 09:12 PM
2,319 posts, read 3,978,626 times
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Well, I do think there is some sort of line between issues that can be worked out and handled and those that can't. We have spent over ten years accommodating them. From the petty to the more important. We put our collective foot down about the SILs visiting and staying for an undefined period of time.

I will admit to things that we have done or failed to do that might have annoyed them, beginning with my husband (then boyfriend) staying over at my apartment which was a HUGE no-no to not having children to moving ten hours away. I do understand that these things are a big deal to my MIL. The latter two are/were non-negotiable. We didn't do any of it to hurt anyone.

My MIL does have a lot of personal issues from (apparently) narcissism to anxiety attacks to low sef esteem to some sort of issue with men. Once you add some religion to the mix, you get a hot mess. My youngest SIL is easy to pity. She could be a beautiful woman, but she's obese and won't spend any money on decent clothes (she won't spend more than $5 for any article of clothing unless she's been given money). She has never been on a date or even gone on a trip by herself. She's 30 years old, and she has told me how badly she wants to get married. Well, my goodness! Why did you just buy a house with your sisters??? I can't think of any man who's going to jump into that mess. (Random info: the oldest sister has repeatedly told us she will have to "check out" any man interested in her sisters before they are "allowed" to go on a date with them. Gag.)

Anyway, I think it's time to draw some lines in the sand, especially as it pertains to my SILs. Dealing with my MIL and FIL is trickier, and I have left it to my husband. I don't think it's unreasonable to "correct" my MIL when she blabbers on and on about the neighbor guy. It's very passive aggressive, and I think she would knock it off if I called her on it. At least, she wouldn't do it around me.

I am enjoying reading everyone's comments. I am horrified at the treatment some of you have suffered. It makes me feel silly. At least on C-D, we can have a little camaraderie.
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Old 02-02-2012, 09:34 AM
20,015 posts, read 10,676,458 times
Reputation: 11290
I would never go home if I was him. You guys should just send Christmas cards once a year with a long, obnoxious Christmas letter about how great your life is.
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