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FIL issues

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

I am having a hard time coping with a situation that occurred with my FIL on New Years Day. I am not sure where to even put this post, so maybe it needs to be moved? And I am hoping that writing this out and hearing what other women think about it will help me process this and do what I need to do to move beyond this and just get over it.


FIL flew down to visit us a for an unplanned visit for three days while he was in the US dealing with his wife’s fathers death. They live overseas and typically we only see them once a year. This visit was his second this year. The last visit wasn’t so great either, and I posted about it before.


But this visit was utterly horrible. He threatened me physically and for that he got thrown out of our house on New Years Day. I am going to try and write out what happened in the most concise way possible, but please forgive me in advance because this post is going to be long.



My FIL is a very intelligent talented artist. He is also an alcoholic. I’ve never felt that I was liked by him and he often says snarky disrespectful things to me, especially when he is drinking.


On New Years Eve, he had drank two bottles of wine by himself. ( My husband and I don’t drink, we bed share with our son and we just don’t want to drink at this point in our lives. )


So my FIL was slightly drunk and we had started talking about vacations and we discussed our plans to take our son back to my home state for a visit, and my FIL said that it would make no difference to our son, since his intelligence level was less than my FIL’s dog and our son wouldn’t remember anything anyway.


I took great exception to his comment, I fully disagree and there is no way on earth that his dog is smarter than our son. And I said this in the nicest way possible under the circumstances. But he insisted that his dog had a bigger vocabulary and greater intelligence level than our son. This is when I wisely excused my self from the table…I told him he was drunk and rude and I wasn’t going to listen to him. So I went upstairs to bed and tried unsuccessfully to read, I hardly slept that night, as I was fuming mad.

FIL then continued to argue with DH about it. He relentlessly insisted that his dog has a greater intelligence level than our son.


The next day things were tense, FIL was trying to act like nothing had happened and I just tried to keep busy and ignore his presence, I really didn’t even want to look at his face. Nothing was said all day about the night before.


I fixed dinner, while we were all eating my son kept wanting to play with the ice cubes that were keeping the shrimp cold, so my DH got him some chipped ice on a plate to explore while we all finished up eating. Me and my son were sitting across from my DH and FIL. I had been avoiding looking FIL all day but I noticed some strange facial expressions so I looked at him and he was giving my 18 month old this weird bugged eyed mean look, as if to say to my son, “you better stop doing that” I nonverbally tried to get my DH’s attention to what his dad was doing, but he didn’t notice. Right about then, my son made his noise for needing to potty (we EC) So we finished up dinner and my DH took my DS upstairs to potty while I cleaned up.


Pretty much as soon as he gets me alone, FIL comes over to me and I tell him to go find some place else to relax, go away and leave me alone. But instead he continues in the most condescending way possible, that he was “sorry that what he said upset me” He wasn’t sorry about what he said…just that what he said upset me. I told him, that his apology was BS. And he blew up. He rushed at me with his finger jabbing me in the face, backed me up against the kitchen counter from the dining room. Shouting in my face ‘shutupshutupshutupshutupshutup” Then I ran into the family and started yelling for my husband to get FIL out of house.


So my DH took him to a hotel and he stayed there until he left for NJ on Monday. On the way there he said to my DH that he had some choices to make in regards to me, and my DH told him that his choice was made a long time ago. And how disappointed he was in what his dad had done.


During the ride, FIL admitted to my DH what happened, but now FIL is minimizing it and not acknowledging what he did at all and blaming me saying that I said horrible nasty things about him and that I am essentially a raving lunatic . DH was there during the altercation and heard everything I said including me calling FIL’s apology BS and he knows I didn’t say anything nasty to him and told FIL that.


FIL’s wife sent my DH an email that essentially said how dare he pick my side over his dads and that I owe FIL an apology for all the horrible things I said and did to him. Obviously he didn’t tell her what really happened. My DH sent her a thoughtfully and carefully worded email that outlines what happened and her only reply was a curt thank you, so who knows what is going on with them know, and to be blunt I don’t care.


For me, this is going to be a cut off, since he will not acknowledge what he did, or accepts responsibility for it then there is no way I ever want to be around him again. I come from a family background of physical and verbal abuse where my boundaries where totally ignored and I simply do not put up with anyone violating my personal feelings of physical safety. It is a total deal breaker I don’t let people threaten me or physically intimidate me. Ever.


DH says his dad has never done anything like this before, but FIL has been estranged from his entire family for the past 20 years and noone knows why, and it's never been talked about, it some big family secret, so that makes me wonder a bit.


I would never ask my DH to cut off his dad, and I think he needs to have contact with him, but there will no contact with me or my son. Me and DH disagree about contact with my son, but my feelings are if I don’t feel safe around the man then why would I allow my son to be around him?


Well… that’s it in a nutshell, bless your heart if you read all this. I don’t know if this is a plea for advice, a venting rant, or what it is, but just getting it out there helps maybe? This past week has not been so great, my DS is extra clingy and needy and has been crying more than ever before and my energy level is super low and I feel crappy, my DH is wounded and I wish I could just make it all better for him.

post #2 of 19

Nope, contact with child over.  End of story.  I wouldn't let someone into my house who threatened me or so blatantly disrespected me - family or not.  Sorry this happened, but don't feel bad for sticking up for yourself or your child.

post #3 of 19

End of contact.  Done.  Finished.

There's a post somewhere here about when my MIL pushed me.  We cut off contact for a long time and now see them maybe once a year at the most and always with a third party and I'm never alone with her.  BUT I could defend myself against my MIL.  You could (probably) not do the same with your FIL.  Big difference for me.


Good for your DH for standing by you and getting him out of the house!  It can be so hard for our partners to see what their parents have become instead of seeing the parent they remember.



post #4 of 19

Another one to say no contact with your son and any future children.  He obviously has as little respect for your son as he does for you and there is no way any child should be around people like that at all.  What would happen if he snapped like that if he was in a room with your son and went after him the way he came at you?  No way, too much of a danger.

post #5 of 19

I agree with the others. No contact with you or with your son. In this instance, I think I'd expect my DH to not have contact with this father too. As far as your son goes though, no contact-period! I'm concerned what he would have done had your husband not be home. Thankfully, he was. I'm sorry your family had to experience this. I'm so upset for you!

post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies, it means a lot to me, and helps me keep focused. I'm still in shock that this happened and  I feel so bad for my DH, he is caught in the middle and this has certainly changed how he sees his dad. And thanks for reading, I know it's so long and I am grateful to have a place I can be heard and understood.

post #7 of 19

Hugs, mama! As the child of an alcoholic who didn't get dry until I'd left for college, let me tell you what I've learned: you can never trust an alcoholic. Everything they say has to be taken with a HUGE grain of salt. I moved several states away 15 years ago and it's one of the best things I ever did. I have very little contact (email, holiday cards) with both parents, even though my father was the alcoholic, my mother's behavior was very bad as well.

Edited by Tradd - 1/5/11 at 7:33pm
post #8 of 19

I also agree with no contact with your child(ren).


Your FIL sounds like my uncle, the stuff about the dog was exactly the type of "thing" he would start at gatherings. 

post #9 of 19

Talk with your husband and decide on some boundaries. "Holiday cards only" sounds like a good level of contact. Your husband can visit FIL in the other country, IF he wants to. If FIL asks to see your child, offer  a public place, for a half hour, IF he is sober (think McDonald's). Obviously FIL would come to you, not the other way around.


With a long term alcoholic, there could be massive brain damage... or it could be just an awful personality. Either way, he is not safe with you or your child. No longer welcome to stay in your house. No need for you to ever go visit them. The MIL sounds like an enabler, so she gets the same treatment.


If your husband has difficulty setting boundaries, he needs counseling. You need to protect your child rather than try to smooth over any "hurt feelings" on the part of the in-laws.

post #10 of 19

I would remind dh how his father said his child was dumber than his dog.Does he really want his child spending time with granddad? I would not allow it.


<<<But he insisted that his dog had a bigger vocabulary and greater intelligence level than our son>>> 


Cut him off 100%

post #11 of 19
Originally Posted by SleeplessMommy View Post

The MIL sounds like an enabler, so she gets the same treatment.


If your husband has difficulty setting boundaries, he needs counseling. You need to protect your child rather than try to smooth over any "hurt feelings" on the part of the in-laws.


Yes to the MIL statement above.  In my family, my grandparents were the enablers.  They could not see the situation for what it was, all they could see was a bunch of relatives giving their son a hard time for no real reason, picking on druncle again.


Excellent advice about the counseling too.   Or look up Al-non (I don't think I spelled that correctly) it is a great (free) resource.

post #12 of 19

May I offer some gentle feedback?


First of all, I agree with the PPs.  Your FIL was way out of line.  No excuse.  I don't blame you at all for not wanting him in your (or your child's) life.  The fact that he physically threatened you was completely wrong.




If I read your post correctly, what set the whole thing off was the fact that your FIL, under the influence of 2 bottles of wine, said his dog was smarter than your son?!?  


That's it??


Then he was making faces at your son 24 hours later at dinner?


Granted, that is not a kind, thoughtful, nice, or even accurate thing to say and he never should have said it.  But, honestly, I don't know why that would set you over the edge.  I mean, it is such an outrageous thing to say.... why did you give it any weight at all?!?!?  


If some drunk guy said something dumbass to me about my kid, I suspect I would fall over laughing.  I mean, why even give such a ridiculous statement and your FIL an ounce of your attention?  By reacting the way you did you gave this guy power over you, and your reactions and your feelings.  Why give him that satisfaction??


Kind of like when my 8-year-old nephew told me I was ugly and he hated me because I scolded him one time.  I mean, of course he didn't hate me.  He was just being argumentative.  I didn't give a ridiculous statement any weight that it didn't deserve.  I knew it wasn't true, so what did I care what he said??


I'm sorry if I am not offering you the support that you are (probably) looking for.  But it might be worth a thought as to why his idiotic statement bothered you so much.  

post #13 of 19

i don't think anyone wants to hear from a family member that they think their dog is smarter then their child. i would be upset too, this is coming from grandpa not an 8 year old who just got a lecture. sure he was drunk, but i wouldn't care, i would be pissed off too. the fact that he got to stay the night after that is a amazing. i would have given his drunk butt the boot that night, and honestly if dh's dad had ever said/did anything like that to us he would have chucked him out too. 

yes he has a drinking problem and yes it causes SERIOUS brain issues so even knowing that, i wouldn't care. he is an adult he should act like one, he can't say no to the drink and then gets nasty... well tuff. you made that bed you gotta lie in it, no contact AGAIN, and MIL can lie in that bed too. 


i feel bad for your dh, that is a HUGE bunch of yuck to have to deal with. ((hugs)) to both of you.



post #14 of 19

Of course no one wants to hear such an asinine statement about their child, especially from a grandfather.  Of course he was out of line.  Of course OP was pissed.


I am not arguing the fact that FIL was wrong, wrong, wrong.


But why let such an idiotic statement.... one that you know to be false.... ruin your day so completely??  How much more empowered would the OP have felt if she had been able to say something like, "That's ridiculous FIL, and you know it!  Har har har.  You've obviously been watching too much Animal Planet.  Say, speaking of TV...." and move on??


Or, if she's feeling snarky,  "Well, both the dog and DS are smarter than you, so there's that.."


Or, if she's feeling devilish, "How do hamsters figure into this equation?  What about goldfish?  How about guinea pigs?  So let me get this straight... a dog is smarter than DS, but DS is smarter than a hamster.  Got it."


Or, if she wants to behave, "FIL, you're drunk and you're not making any sense.  Im going to bed!  See you tomorrow!"  Then have a good laugh under the covers with your DH about how ridiculous your FIL is.  I mean, really... what could he come up with next??


Or, "Really.  That's interesting.  Hmmm.  Never knew that." while she knits, reads a magazine, cleans the kitchen, plays Solitaire.  Rinse, repeat.  The equivalent of "pass the bean dip."



I guess I just don't understand why OP got soooo stuck on this for so long. I mean, fuming all night long?  Losing sleep?   I hate to hear of ANYBODY who dwells on toxic people and situations.  Life is just too short.

post #15 of 19

I assume this was just the latest and greatest from FIL. If there was no background, I'm sure it would have been a lot easier for the OP to go "what the hell?," roll her eyes, and drop it (even if wicked humor isn't her style). But some people are just mean, and we have to hear their mean crap all the time and often one day we just snap - and when the meanness is directed at your CHILD is a really good time to snap, IMHO.


Someone who is part of our larger blended family is a little like that. She has a big mouth and says mean, judgemental things freely, and feels perfectly in her rights to do so. Even things like describing how ugly her adult child was as a baby, right in front of the child in question and a dozen other people. And no saving grace like "but then you grew up to be the beautiful woman you are now" or anything like that. Coincidentally, a few weeks ago she was going on about how dogs are smarter than men. In front of her husband, her ex husband, and various other men in the room. I missed a comment she directed at my daughter about her being an "ADD" kid (which, by the way, is not remotely true, and was said because DD was excited about opening PRESENTS, hello?) and someday I have no doubt I'll hear one of these comments and bite her head off. That's what happens with mean people, they reap what they sow.

post #16 of 19
Thread Starter 




I have put up with snarky rude comments directed at me for the past 8 years from this man and his wife and never said a word. the one time I say something and he flies into a rage.  If it didn't happened then it was bound to happen at some point. this man has never liked me and has never really tried to get to know me. He has called me a wicked witch that would melt in the rain, he called my son a brat the last time he visited, he mocks my son's emotions and then he gave my son "the look"  as my DH called it, which is something his dad did when they were misbehaving, But  by no means is this man all bad, he was a good dad to my dh, he is a listed artist, very very talented and educated, well travelled. But he is also very arrogant and condescending and when he drinks too much, (even if they are $30 bottles of wine) he becomes insulting and rude.


Sure, I totally wish I had been able to just ignore him and not be bothered, but that isn't what happened. I let it bother me and I finally spoke up for once and called out his BS, and he showed his true colors.


And now he is totally denying he even did it, it's all me, I am a raving lunatic who threatened him and called him nasty names. Thank god my DH was there and was witness to what happened.


I really wish I was better at letting things go and not letting people get under my skin, but I didn't deserve to be threatened.



post #17 of 19

Damn straight. You should be able to say "that's not ok" without being physically threatened. Heck, even if he was completely innocent and you were totally out of line, you shouldn't have been threatened like that. No, this is not your fault - the onus is not on you to blow off your FIL's rude remarks.

post #18 of 19

He's an alcoholic. Most of what he says and does is going to be irrational. And as a pp said, your MIL is an enabler. There is no way to have a normal relationship with an alcoholic: he will justify, shift blame, rationalize, threaten, and lie. That's what alcoholics do. Cut off contact. If your DH wants to have a relationship, that's his call.

post #19 of 19

Originally Posted by Belia View Post


 it is such an outrageous thing to say.... why did you give it any weight at all?!?!?  


If some drunk guy said something dumbass to me about my kid, I suspect I would fall over laughing.  I mean, why even give such a ridiculous statement and your FIL an ounce of your attention?  By reacting the way you did you gave this guy power over you, and your reactions and your feelings.  Why give him that satisfaction??



I agree with this but I would have kicked him out after the physical threat. No way you are going to get in my face in my house and I am going to kindly say goodnight. 

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