How to deal with a negative person in my life - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-07-2012, 08:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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A few months ago my inlaws moved to our city.  They used to live a 6 hr drive away and we would see them about twice a year.  I could handle my FIL in those small doses.  Now that they live a 6 minute drive away I'm finding it increasingly difficult to deal with being around him.  

 

He is so so very negative all the time.  I don't know why, or what's at the root of it all.  I suppose it is likely that he is at least moderately depressed.  He is now legally blind and at some point in the near-ish future he will lose all of his sight.  I also feel like the move to a new city (big change) has been difficult for him.

 

But... while he is now more sullen/mean/rude/negative than ever, he has pretty much always been this way as long as I've known him (and dh says he's always been like this... but was harsher when they were kids).

 

Dh's mom is very sweet.  I really like her a lot.  They possibly have some sort of co-dependent thing going on (running on assumption, I really don't know much about it).  She does absolutely everything for FIL.  He cannot (will not?) even boil water to make himself tea, make a simple sandwich, do a load of laundry, etc.  Of course with his declining eyesight he has need of more help in his daily life, but really things haven't changed at all  as she's always taken care of everything.  I admit it pretty much drives me nuts.  He retired before her and she would work long days at a v. stressful job and come home and do all the cleaning and cooking (she would give him breakfast before leaving and would have a lunch all prepared for him before she left).  She stands outside the shower and hands him the shampoo when it's shampoo time and conditioner when it's conditioner time.  Etc, etc.

 

FIL is harshly critical of pretty much everyone around him.  Says mean things about MIL to her face and to others all the time (every time I've been around them), and blames her for all kinds of stuff that's not at all her fault (sometimes it's totally his fault, sometimes no one's fault).  Has zero patience with the kids.  Criticizes our parenting.  Criticizes everything about everything (nothing is good enough: the new church, the new apartment, shows on the tv, weather is too hot, too cold, etc, etc).  He seems to hate everything about his life now, but before moving here complained non-stop about everything in the city they used to live in.  He is constantly ragging on dh for finding him this "horrible" apartment (they wanted dh to find them a place to rent here for a year while they looked around for something to buy).  Everyone else, including MIL, who has seen the place finds it spacious, lovely, etc.  What can i say.  He seems impossible to satisfy and most satisfied when he's complaining about everything.

 

He also has a need to be the constant center of attention.  He monopolizes conversations, ranting and spewing negativity.  He often makes up totally crazy things (does he believe them - I don't know?).  He's homophobic and strangely racist (anti-immigrant... though he himself immigrated here close to 40 yrs ago), and makes up stories blaming "gays" or "sikhs" or whoever for all kinds of crap.

 

When we brought the kids over for MIL to babysit the other night (for an hour) he literally started bitching about how now he "won't get any attention".  He needs MIL to wait on him hand and foot 24/7 and resents when she gives any attention to her (their) own grandchildren.

 

His behaviour is so weird to me.  I don't get it, I don't know how to make sense of it, and I don't know how to be around it. 

 

MIL is not going to leave FIL.  I want MIL in my life and my childrens' lives.  I would be happy to never see FIL again, but, as far as I can see it, that is not going to happen.  They come as a pair.  She won't leave FIL to visit us here because he "needs" her (ie. would guilt her out the wah-zoo).

 

Ick.  I hate the dynamic.

 

Anyway... how to cope?  How to find empathy for him?  I know he is not happy.  How could a person act like that if they were happy?  I feel awful that he is losing his sight.  That must be so very difficult.  And I understand that it must be a big upheaval moving here.  I'm trying to keep these things in mind and let everything else roll off my back.  But he's just so damn unpleasant to be around.  And the way he treats his wife is (IMO) gross.  I haven't gone into much detail but it is bad enough that my dh says that he prays that his dad will pass on before his mom so at least she'll get some years without him.  :(

 

Help!

 

 


Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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Old 01-10-2012, 02:24 PM
 
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Wow, I'm so very sorry you are in this position! What a sucky, no win situation! What is your MIL's take on the situation? Do you even know or does she just accept that this is her life and that's that? Is this something you can discuss (or your DH can discuss) with her? Are there things she does on her own that you could accompany her on, such as grocery shopping? Maybe you and her could correlate your shopping so that you can visit with her and she can see the grandkids without such a cranky man to ruin it. I'd also try to set up dates that you see each other to limit the amount you have to be around your FIL. Something like having Sunday dinner once a month for four hours, alternating between households. 

 

Unfortunately for you and everyone around it sounds like your FIL has just been too negative for too long and doesn't know/remember how to be anything else. Good luck, I hope you can work something out! 


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Old 01-12-2012, 05:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your response.

 

Yeah, I think MIL is kind of resigned to her "lot in life".  I think she definitely plays into the dynamic too.  But, she also sometimes bitches about him which is refreshing, lol.

 

I like your idea of trying to set up more dates with just her.  It's tough though because they do all their errands together (shopping, banking, etc), and she doesn't really go out other than to do errands.  I'm going to see about inviting her on a shopping trip to IKEA.  I know FIL wouldn't be up for that so it would mean her coming by herself. 

 


Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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Old 01-13-2012, 12:07 AM
 
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he's an archie bunker. 

better for you to just accept him for who he is.

he is grandpa "grumpy". or just plain "grumps".

he will NEVER change.

and, sadly, neither will MIL. she comes off as the "good" one, but with time i suspect you will get annoyed at her codependence on the situation, too.

however, don't let that get in the way of your kids having a good relationship with her.

but, yeah, how to deal with a negative person in your life, my best and only advice would be for YOU to work on accepting him just the way he is.

in other words, EXPECT him to be grumpy, EXPECT him to complain. about EVERYTHING.

do not expect to please him. EVER. don't set it up for your kids to need something from him emotionally. sounds like their grandma will dote on them, let that be enough. grandpa/grumpa needs his space.

the kids will figure that out for themselves as well.

good luck. 

but yeah, this will be your challenge to work on YOURSELF.

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Old 01-15-2012, 07:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by tropicana View Post

he's an archie bunker.

 

Lol!  Love it!  You are so right...

 

 

but yeah, this will be your challenge to work on YOURSELF.

 

Yes, I absolutely think you're right.  Thanks for the advice!


Beyond just accepting that he is who he is and not trying to change him or expect anything from him, I'd love advice on how to... hmmm... protect myself (?) from the negativity.  Like not let it get to me.  I find myself really (really!) irritated after spending time with him.  And just kind of down, or sometimes angry.  Any advice on how to let his words/energy just roll off my back? 

 

A friend of mine suggested that every time, before going over there, I "stock up on positivity".  But I'm not really sure how to do that...

 


Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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Old 01-15-2012, 08:36 PM
 
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Limit your children's time with him. Find a caregiver to spell your mil sometimes. A paid companion won't put up with the crap. Don't be a hostage to this man's nastiness.
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Old 01-15-2012, 09:29 PM
 
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Are there any senior center's nearby?  I work at one and I have to admit not only do I see one of these guys every day (a pool of about 4) but I love them.  Even if it's because I get to give them one more thing to bitch about (me ;-) ).  It also sounds like he needs a routine of getting together with other "menfolk". This may be hard though as there will be no one to wipe up after him....

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Old 01-15-2012, 09:46 PM
 
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Originally Posted by pianojazzgirl View Post


Beyond just accepting that he is who he is and not trying to change him or expect anything from him, I'd love advice on how to... hmmm... protect myself (?) from the negativity.  Like not let it get to me.  I find myself really (really!) irritated after spending time with him.  And just kind of down, or sometimes angry.  Any advice on how to let his words/energy just roll off my back? 

 

A friend of mine suggested that every time, before going over there, I "stock up on positivity".  But I'm not really sure how to do that...

 


one strategy would be to pretend to yourself that you are impersonal to the situation (ie, a paid helper or something)... someone who can easily let the negativity roll off your back. 

1. be grateful that this is not your life. you have wonderful positive things going on in your life. appreciate them.

2. be grateful that this is your INLAW and not your direct parent. believe me. it is worse for your husband who has had this to deal with his whole life.

 

you can do this! in order to truly let the negativity roll right off your back, simply *pretend* that it is rolling off your back. what does that feel like? how would someone experience that? as the old adage goes, "fake it until you make it." pretend that you are somebody who easily lets this thing go, who is able to see it all but it somehow doesn't affect you or your mood. HARD. i know. 

 

i have various situations in my life where i can really meditate on my own advice. some days i do real real well with it. and i can see the results -- it's miraculous, the "problem people" basically are forced to change (i guess b/c they don't have you to be codependent upon them) and the other days i slip real bad and the problem people's behavior is so much worse, the more i "personalize" it and let it affect me.

 

not saying you are codependent. but letting someone else's bad mood influence yours is in fact a hallmark of codependency. so there's some food for thought in your situation. i hope it helps... good luck!

 

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Old 01-16-2012, 09:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for all of your advice!
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tropicana View Postnot saying you are codependent. but letting someone else's bad mood influence yours is in fact a hallmark of codependency. so there's some food for thought in your situation. i hope it helps... good luck!

 



Wow, this especially gives me a LOT to think about.  I really am sensitive to other people's moods.  Huh.  Off to meditate on that one.


Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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Old 01-18-2012, 07:53 AM
 
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It sounds like he's been a jerk forever, but, losing his eyesight has got to be exasperating the situation. A family member lost her vision, &, it took years for her to adjust. Part of the adjustment period was definitely anger. Some empathy regarding that might help you to overlook some of it. Other than that, I'm not sure. What a crummy situation!
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Old 01-18-2012, 08:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Some empathy regarding that might help you to overlook some of it.


Yes, I try!  I'm surprised how hard it is with him though.  I think with anyone else I'd automatically feel very sympathetic.  It's something I'll keep working on....


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Old 01-26-2012, 06:28 AM
 
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It sounds like he's been a jerk forever, but, losing his eyesight has got to be exasperating the situation. A family member lost her vision, &, it took years for her to adjust. Part of the adjustment period was definitely anger. Some empathy regarding that might help you to overlook some of it. Other than that, I'm not sure. What a crummy situation!



 

My Nani was blind off and on (off, mostly) her entire life.  I think from 48 on she could only see shadows, and she never really got over it.  She was a big sourpuss about it, she got angry and grouchy a lot.  What helped me was having empathy for her, because I know my reaction would be the same if not worse if I couldn't see.  That helped.  Also, thinking she was just a crazy old lady made it easier to let the bizarre comments and behaviour roll off my back.  She'd say something like, "You can't go out now, the sun is down! only loose women leave the house now!" and my response was always something like, "ohh, you..."eyesroll.gif


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