Wow, this could end up being really long.. My DH and I have been together for almost 15 years and married for 6 years. His extended family has been a source of conflict almost since our first date (when he took me to meet EVERYONE at his brother's rock band concert here in our town). Yes, I met his entire family on our first date--this should have been a red flag. Furthermore, they barely even talked to or acknowledged me and I felt quite uncomfortable around them (usually I get along with most everyone). They just weren't interested.
At our wedding, his father didn't even mention me in his wedding speech, just droned on and on about how wonderful his son is. Honestly, no one really exists for DH's parents except their three children (who are perfect--their words). They truthfully have no friends and rely on the kids to meet their needs for socializing. Lots of subtle pressure there, and guilt on the part of DH in particular. He has always felt responsible for them and sees nothing wrong with the relationship.
Things really took a turn for the worse when I got pregnant with my first DD and started questioning the mainstream way of birthing, etc. I got a lot of negative, undermining comments from MIL. She was unhappy about not being able to see her grandchild being born. I knew if she were there it would have been all about her. Also, I wanted some privacy. She is the sort to smile to your face and then gossip hurtfully about you behind your back. And since she honestly doesn't have a single friend, she talks to other family members, which has hurt my relationships with them. I know I make different choices than she made with her children, but these are my choices to make and it hurts that she can't be respectful and that she needs to malign others in the family against me for being different.
To further complicate things, my FIL has a rather severe case of oral herpes. He refers to them as cold sores, and I wasn't convinced that he knew they were a communicable disease that can be particularly damaging to a newborn. I asked DH to have that difficult conversation with him about kissing the baby when he had a sore, etc. Everything seemed ok. Well, turns out he has been steaming about it for the past three years and disliking me ever since. When our second child was born both MIL and FIL came to visit and my husband asked them to wash their hands and FIL was acting really odd, not talking, not congratulating, nothing. He walked out as soon as he could and my husband and I were left wondering what was the matter. Well, the cold sore conversation (my DH was extremely gentle with him here) and asking him to wash his hands was apparently too much for him to handle and he blames me for all of it. Nevermind it came from DH, he knows DH would never ask anything of him and so I must be the source. He is right in that DH really has trouble with talking to either of them for fear of offending them. Asking people not to come over if they are sick is a really really big deal, for example.
The end result is that I don't want to interact with these people much and DH cannot understand why. My DH puts a lot of pressure on me to visit them for the children's sake and he has this unrealistic vision of us all hanging out and having a good time. Meanwhile, FIL won't even speak to me for the past year (since the handwashing episode) and MIL makes snarky and undermining comments about almost everything that I do (not circumcizing, not vaccinating, delaying solids, disagreeing with DH about something, you name it and she has an opinion about it). Part of the problem is that her undermining is so subtle and delivered with the biggest smile you can imagine that it is difficult to put your finger on, but feels hurtful and malicious nonetheless (as you can imagine, this indirect, passive agressive behavior makes her much easier for DH to defend).
I feel that I have gone out of my way to "fit in" with the family and I am extremely sensitive in trying not to offend them in anyway. Most of the time when we visit them I just sit there and don't voice my opinions on much anymore.
I guess I am at the point where I don't feel like I should have to be in that situation anymore. It is not going to improve. DH is still in denial about things and it has strained our marriage to the point of a likely divorce. I just feel very betrayed as he has defended their bad behavior for years and turned it back on me, blaming me for "hating" his family. He is finally starting to see some of the toxic behavior, but honestly my trust in him is so broken, I just don't know.
Sorry this is so long!!! Thanks for listening to all of that. I guess my question is: moving forward, is it reasonable of me to want to limit my face time with them in order to avoid the mental anguish they consistently cause when we get together? I want my kids to have a relationship with their grandparents as long as they are not being abused emotionally. DH continues to push the agenda of getting together more often because he thinks we just need to "have a good talk." I know these people and I know this is not a communication issue. And yes, DH and I have gone to at least 5 couples conselors over the years with no lasting improvements. Anyone BTDT and have some insight for me? I really appreciate it.