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Would appreciate feedback on letter to my FIL

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 

So, I posted in this forum earlier ("In-Law Issues--Really Long") and thought about posting this letter there, but felt bad about making people read so much...so thought I would post this separately. I would really appreciate some honest feedback about this letter I am thinking of sending to my FIL. We just had DS first birthday this weekend, and my FIL continues to completely ignore me. For the whole long backgound story, if you feel up to it, please see my previous post. I would especially love input from psychologists/counselors if there are any out there. I do not want to escalate things, but do feel the need to address this issue. I have waited for DH to step up, but he has not. Things have really degenerated to a bad place, so there is not anything to lose by writing to them. Here it goes, and thanks in advance:

 

FIL,

I am writing this letter because I can see that you have some strong negative feelings for me. This is unfortunate, and you are certainly entitled to your opinion. DH told me that you apparently were very hurt when he tried to talk to you about cold sores, and that you blame me for that uncomfortable conversation. Also, DH and I asking people to wash their hands when visiting our newborn apparently did not sit well with you. This saddens me. Do you really want DH to feel uncomfortable talking to you about things that are important to him? Because I know that is the case. And do you really think it is fair to put the blame on me for anything we do that you don't like/don't agree with? We are all adults. We should be able to have these difficult conversations without so much fallout. I don't feel I deserve this silent treatment from you, and honestly it is making getting together with you and MIL very uncomfortable lately. As an example, I did not attend your birthday party because I figured you would appreciate my absence.

 

FIL, we gave you two beautiful grandchildren, and you wouldn't even say hello, good-bye or congratulations to us the first time you visited after DS was born. I was really hurt by that. Also, I noticed that you sent DH a nice email apologizing to him afterwards, but you did not include me in that email in any way. I gave you the benefit of the doubt for that oversight, but I now see that omission was purposeful. I know you love your children very much (don't we all), but they are grown-ups now, making decisions that you are not always going to agree with. And it is NOT fair to blame the in-laws for that. We are all people and we all deserve to be treated with respect, not just your kids.

 

 Honestly, over the years, I have often felt that I didn't really exist for you. That you weren't interested in getting to know me...didn't even mention me in your speech on our wedding day.  I have done nothing to deserve this current silent treatment from you, and have always tried to be kind to your family. I do not always feel I have received reciprocable treament in kind. I think you and MIL believe that I give preferential treatment to my dad/family, and that I try to keep you away from the kids. This pains me because I have gone to great lengths to try to make things equal between the families (holidays, visiting, etc.) But I feel I will never win on this issue no matter how equitable I try to be--it will not be enough. And I think a lot of the issues stem from DH's difficulty in talking to you both for fear of offending someone.  I can now clearly see why.

 

In all honesty, lately DH and I have had to limit our visiting. There have just been too many hurtful interactions and comments. We very much want our children to have good relationships with their grandparents, but if you continue this behavior, we will be forced to further limit our visiting time for our own peace of minds. You may think I am a bad mother, wife, and daughter-in-law. Like I said, you are entitled to your opinion. However, these are our ground rules for getting together:

 

1. Common courtesy and politeness, like saying "hello" and "good-bye." I won't let you treat me like I don't exist in front of my kids.

2. No rude comments from either you or MIL that are aimed to hurt me, or undermine DH's and my parenting choices. We ask you both to respect our choices, even though you may not agree.

3. We ask that you and MIL not talk negatively about me to others in the family, or about decisions DH and I have made together that concern only our family and that are "different" from decisions you have made. We hear about it, and it has caused damage to our relationships with others in the family, as well as with you both.

4. Let's try to talk openly and directly about things that are happening/have happened that bother us so they do not fester into something they are not.

 

I hope you find the above agreeable. Moving forward, I want to say that everything DH has said to you or MIL (that you didn't like) HAS come from him. I wish he could reassure you of that. I  also wish we could reassure you that you and MIL are important to us and we want to have a strong, healthy relationship with you both.

 

Me

post #2 of 33
This is an honest, heartfelt letter and I'm sure it made you feel great to get all that out on paper. However (putting on my editor hat here), I think it's too long and rambling. From what I can infer about your fil from it, he won't be willing to read this much writing from you. I would shorten it considerably and leave out some of the specific complaints in favor of general statements. Also, I think you should leave anything between your dh and his father out of it entirely. That's up to him to take up with his dad. Here's my revision. (And good luck!)

FIL,

I am writing this letter because you've made it clear that you don't like me. When our family does something you don't agree with, you blame me, by refusing to speak with me. As the children get older, they will notice that you don't treat their mother with respect. That's not ok. You are certainly entitled to your opinion about me. However, the ways you express that opinion are impacting our entire family. It is inappropriate for you to comment on parenting decisions dh and I have made together. Those decisions were made carefully and deserve your respect.

You have never seemed interested in getting to know me over the years and that saddens me. I have always tried to be kind to your family and am disappointed that you don't have the same approach to me. Your attitude is affecting our family. Lately, DH and I have had to limit our visiting. There have just been too many hurtful interactions and comments. We want our children to have good relationships with their grandparents, but if you continue this behavior, we will be forced to further limit our visiting time for our own peace of minds. You may think I am a bad mother, wife, and daughter-in-law. But you are not entitled to treat me with the disrespect I currently receive from you.

Below is a list of my expectations for our future interactions.

1. Common courtesy and politeness, like saying "hello" and "good-bye." I won't let you treat me like I don't exist in front of my kids.

2. No rude comments from either you or MIL that are aimed to hurt me, or undermine DH's and my parenting choices. We ask you both to respect our choices, even though you may not agree.

3. We ask that you and MIL not talk negatively about me to others in the family, or about decisions DH and I have made together that concern only our family and that are "different" from decisions you have made. We hear about it, and it has caused damage to our relationships with others in the family, as well as with you both.

4. If you have something to say to me, say it directly and respectfully.

You and and MIL are important to us and we want to have a strong, healthy relationship with you both.
post #3 of 33
I like the revision better. However, it seems that they may find you controlling (and a big "rule maker" ie. washing hands:eyesroll). It seems that it might be better to omit the "rules" section and say that you would like to get together to make peace and find a commonground that you both agree on. UNlikely, but at least you wouldnt be setting the standards.
post #4 of 33

Anything like this needs to come from your husband or they aren't going to respect it.  My ILS aren't disrespectful to me at all, but they do think that anything negative comes solely from me, even though DH handles stuff with them.  I'm able to laugh it off with DH because they aren't negative to me about it.

 

I really think this will only fan the flames.  I think your husband should rewrite this from his POV and sit down with them alone.  Talk to them about how they are disrespecting his chosen and made family and his wife and how he won't stand for it.  And then outline the rules you've both agreed on and the consequences of their actions.  I think that that's the only way they will hear your message..

 

 

post #5 of 33

I just read your previous thread and this one. I think it's great that you have been able to write this down to help clarify your thoughts. But I agree with Neetling -- actually sending this letter will not help the situation at all. You starting point needs to be counseling with your husband. If you don't do that then the letter will be a complete waste of your time.  

 

In your other thread you said that your in-laws say their children are perfect. No wonder your husband doesn't want to confront them -- it's wonderful when someone thinks you're perfect! You need to get counseling and work on the fact that your husband seems to think that it's perfectly OK for his parents to treat you this way. The complete lack of respect for you from your husband and his parents is breathtaking and outrageous. Focus on the marriage first.

post #6 of 33
Thread Starter 

Thank you all for your replies! I just wrote a long response, acknowledging each responder, and then DS somehow navigated me away from this page and I lost everything I had written. om.gif I will try to respond again later, but really appreciate the time you all took to read through the letter!!

post #7 of 33
I don't know anything about the OP's history, but given what others are saying, I tend to agree that a letter like this should come from her and her husband jointly - better still, just from him.
post #8 of 33

this would not go over well -- look at it from the recipient's point of view. you are being condescending to him. he won't like it. guaranteed.

my dad does not like any of the inlaws. never has. well, a few he likes better than others. but for the most part, he doesn't.

there will be no changing him.

i imagine, there will be no changing your FIL. certainly not by sending a letter with rules of engagement. he will hang onto this letter and use it as a reason to hate you further, forevermore.

do not send it.

instead... as hard as it is to hear this, and even harder to do... seriously hard... you have got to just live the way you want to be treated and stop expecting him to be anything other than what he is.

if you lower your expectations... really really low... you will not be so disappointed.

you do not have to love your FIL. you do not have to be loved by him. some people in our lives are just... what they are. it is not your fault. stop thinking that there is something you can do or say to change things.

seriously -- i would predict that things will improve GREATLY for you the minute you *let go* of all expectations that things will "get better." (because they won't get better. and you are, unfortunately, making it worse for yourself by trying to make it better.)

if that makes any sense.

signed, not a counselor. but BTDT from the school of hard knocks.

post #9 of 33

I got a letter from my brother's wife- supposedly with his consent. THey were not as nice as you, and I've followed the problems you've had with FIL.  Let me say this- DO NOT SEND THIS. No matter how nice or to the point your letter is it WILL be taken the wrong way. It will be looked at as More of your "antics" or whatever they call your unacceptable behavior. I understand your need to write this letter, but sending it will have negative consequences. You will think that things will change, but they will probably get worse- that's if he even reads it! 

 

 

post #10 of 33

I already responded to your previous post, but just thought I'd add my thoughts here.

I agree with most of the others that sending the letter is not usually a good idea. My mom is a letter sender and it has caused much bitterness between her and whomever she is writing to. Regardless of how she intends her words to sounds on paper they are twisted by the reader's perception. I began sending her letters back because they caused so many more issues. Now we only "discuss" things by phone that way we can be sure to get the meaning across. If you're right about how your FIL feels then he will already have a negative in his head so everything you write will sound nasty to him. If I was the person receiving the letter the tone sounds a little condescending (i.e. "I've tried to be nice, work things out...and you have been purposely hurtful", "we are all adults" implies FIL hasn't been acting like one) and I don't have a negative association with you. 

 

Now if it's just for your peace of mind you could try having it come from your DH, but since his father has never gotten a letter from him about how his behavior they will still suspect that it came from you. So you'd still be the bad guy in that situation. What about a phone call from your DH. Using your letter and whatever else you discuss ahead of time as a template for how the conversation will go. We did this, I sat with DH as he made the call and we had a couple of points to make written down so they wouldn't get forgotten and some examples of things done/said to deflect any excuse that FIL/MIL gave for their behavior. In our case it didn't change much because like elliesmom said you can't change people, but they did for the first time think that maybe DH wasn't happy with them since he actually made they call and talked to them. 

 

If you decide to send a letter shorter is definitely better. I agree "rules" sounds like you're talking to a child which would probably be offensive. Also #2  is a bit vague and it would be easy to say we are never intentionally rude or try to undermine you. When you read your letter try to imagine their reaction to each point and then think about if you would want to change the wording.

Good Luck.

 

 

post #11 of 33

If you send it, change "I will not let you treat me......" to "You may not treat me". Make it exclusively about their choices, not your potential responses.

 

I do think that whatever you do, you're going to learn what you need to learn and get to the next level. I would also tend to think that this is a marriage problem, not an IL problem.

 

When you realize that it's OK to let these people go, then you'll start getting free of it at an accelerated pace. The real decision is whether you want to keep the husband, and if so, what needs to be done to make that viable. You are trying to fix the whole web, but it's wisest to start with your own strand(generally speaking).

 

 

post #12 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by yarngoddess View Post

I got a letter from my brother's wife- supposedly with his consent. THey were not as nice as you, and I've followed the problems you've had with FIL.  Let me say this- DO NOT SEND THIS. No matter how nice or to the point your letter is it WILL be taken the wrong way. It will be looked at as More of your "antics" or whatever they call your unacceptable behavior. I understand your need to write this letter, but sending it will have negative consequences. You will think that things will change, but they will probably get worse- that's if he even reads it! 

 

 


Ditto Ditto Ditto

 

BTDT, still going through it to an extent.  Our letter was written by DH and sent by DH.  Made  no difference and everything said was completely twisted.


Write the letter, get it out of your system then shred it.  But don't send it. 

 

post #13 of 33

I say, clarify your intentions for a minute....If you're 'over' the relationship with your husband, and he either fixes it pronto or you're out, go ahead and send it.

 

 

If you very much want the husband, and have some patience left for him and his personal growth, I really like the 'letter as phone call template' idea. Either way, it sounds like you and he need to take a complete break from these folks while you and he make choices about your priorities. Yours, his, any shared goals, etc, can be edified through this situation. If his primary loyalties are going to remain with his parents (it happens!), the sooner you know it, the better. If he's just having a 'hiccup' and getting kind of stuck, you have a chance to be a very good friend to him right now, while he resolves it with little delay.

 

Relationships, IME, do not bear extended dilly-dallying on the part of the 'stuck' partner. He's got to poo or get off the pot, and the choice has to be his. If he's not going to choose, and makes YOU choose, well, relationships don't bear that very well, either. Ugh. I feel for your situation, I really, really do. I get way too easily attracted to adult orphans now because of my own past in dealing with this sort of garbage.

post #14 of 33
Thread Starter 

You have all given me some very good advice and I really really appreciate it. I have decided to not send this letter. It was helpful to get it all out and clarify things, but I agree with you all that sending it will only cause additional fallout. With that said, thank you Zinemama for the time you took to make those needed changes to the letter--it did read better that way. I like the using it as a template for a phone call from DH idea a lot. He and I are starting therapy (again) this week with someone new. And like so many of you said, any message like this needs to come from DH to be effective--I see that more clearly now.

I got the letter idea from Susan Forward's books "Toxic-In-Laws" and "Toxic Parents" but now realize that the "confrontation" in person or by letter that she recommends really applied to toxic parents, and the toxic-in-laws book was more about dealing with things in the moment that they happen, and hopefully getting your spouse to run interference for you. So, I am straight on that one now.

I absolutely agree with you AttunedMama about my DH. I am not getting any younger at this point, and things need to change. I hope this time in therapy will be different. Thanks again for your good advice.

post #15 of 33

I hope the counseling helps you and your husband get to a better place together.

post #16 of 33
Thread Starter 

OK, one last question for you wise ladies. We thought about waiting until counseling on Friday, but DH and I both agree the sooner the better for the phone call from him, since we just went through last weekend together with the ILs and it didn't go well at all. Remember, DH and I have never said one word to either of his parents, not one word about their behavior, so this is a big deal. For the entire past year, FIL won't even look at me--and DH finally can no longer deny there is a problem.

So, the issue is DH agreed to call his parents, but he wants to do it alone. I would like to be there. I think he will spend all of the conversation basically trying to make them feel better and apologizing rather than dealing with stuff. I do not want to be a control freak, but I also think it would be good for our marriage to "do this together" with him on the phone and me just sitting nearby, without necessarily letting the IL's know that I am there. He thinks this is lying to them, and is having a problem with not outright telling them that I am there. What do you think--should I just let him handle it? He has really let me down on this one over the years, and I wish his response was more proactive...that he wants to make things right in our marriage and he wants me there to show me how he can "stick up for me." But what I am getting out of this is, once again, he is more concerned about them and their feelings, and about his loyalty to them. I guess I am worried this will be just another example of him not dealing with it, and I am at the point where I'd like to know that so I can make some decisions about our future together. Thoughts? 

post #17 of 33

Tell him to please wait until the counseling session. Remain disengaged with ILs until then. Let the therapist know that the relationship is in crisis, and that this issue is central to that.

 

There's no reason to deal with them right now...or, do they live in your house or something? If not, it's just drama to HAVE to not let it wait another minute. He needs professional help to do this and would be wise to open himself to the therapy session and be vulnerable.

post #18 of 33
Thread Starter 

AttunedMama, I was leaning towards waiting too--thanks again for your sound advice.

post #19 of 33

Well I had to be there when my Dh made the call because his parents could manipulate him too easily. He tried it on his own first then I made him tell what he said which basically amounted to nothing. He did spend most of the time trying to not make them feel bad...skip forward to conversation where I was there and he knew he had to be firmer so he was. That conversation made some progress. He never told them I was in the room, it wan't important if I was there or not. Maybe this is something you could bring up with the counselor? You know reinforcing the we do this as a team; this theme was central to our counselor. 

post #20 of 33

I haven't read the other replies yet, just the letter. It seems like, by the end of your letter, that the purpose of this is to make ammends, fix the problems and move forward right? But I think it's too long and goes into too much depth about things that happened a long time ago, and that might cause a reaction in him different from what you're aiming for. My advice is to accept that maybe those things were to purposefully hurt you. Maybe he doesn't like you, but if that's the case, accept it and move on to the current issues. (I'm sorry if this sounds harsh :( I've had problems like this with my MIL who hated me for the first few years and was manipulative to every degree) But if you just accept that these kinds of people are the way that they are, and choose not to let it affect who you are, all their manipulative behavior looses it's effect and only hurts themselves. At that point you can be untouched and seeing the way it hurts themselves will make you feel bad for them for being caught in that trap. hth and is not just a ramble.

 

Opinions for the letter;

1. deal with the emotional aspect and write the letter when you can do it with no emotion other than love for him as your fil

2. don't bring up past incidences, it will just start a fight and keep the focus from your main and current concerns

3. don't accuse him of things such as not liking you (he'll only say you're wrong and waste your time and energy by simply saying "that's not true" even if it is)

4. bring up your main point and your main point only

5. instead of saying he needs to change say we (you and he) need to change

 

My version;

 

Dear FIL,

 

You and and MIL are important to us and we want to have a strong, healthy relationship with you both.   I have been thinking lately about how our current relationship is not what I would like to have with the grandparents of my chiu  I have giving some thought lately to some things that I feel are hindering our ability to have the kind of relationship with you that we would like to share.  Dh and I both feel like it would be best for the kids if we made some changes to the way we treat each other. Since we feel misunderstoof by you, I think it is safe to say that you probably feel misunderstood by us.  We would like to be able to get together with you often and genuinely enjoy each other. We also feel like it is important for the kids for this to happen. Our requests are that you come to us with any questions you have about the decisions we have made as parents. We feel strongly about the choices we make and give a lot of thought to them. If you feel like we have done something in error please talk to us about it. We would love to share our reasonings with you and hear your insight.

We think that a good, loving, tolerant and respectful attitude among the four of us is important for teaching the kids about love, respect and family. We are willing to make every effort to acheive this with you and MIL. Please know that we love you and you are both very important in our lives.

Dh and I are doing the very best we can to raise our kids purposefully. We work together and are enjoying sharing this hard job together. Thank you for being a part of it.

 

With love and respect, ME

 

 

This is the main point I hear coming out of your letter. Some of the statements in mine might not apply to your situation or you might not want to say them. But if you are going to confront him with this I suggest showing very clearly 1. that you and dh are willing to work to make the relationship work, 2. that you respect FIL, 3. that they are important to you and 4. that you and dh are a team that is not to be divided in order to conquer (only don't be controntational about it)

 

hth, good luck!

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