First of all, thanks for letting me into the forum, even though I am female. I read this post and just had to ask for some advice.
First of all, my husband is a great father and husband. We have two sons, ages 3 years and 8 months. My husband is well educated, has a great job and is very confident. It is not unususal for him to have to stand up in front of hundreds of people and speak, and he enjoys doing it.
However, whenever his father visits he turns into a different person. He is incapable of action and often doesn't hear what I say, because, according to him, he is afraid of his father.
A couple of examples:
Last weekend DH father and his wife visited. They would occasionally pick up the baby (8month old). On one occasion, FIL weas holding the baby and the baby started crying. After waiting about 30 seconds and noting that he was still crying, I went to get the baby to comfort him. FIL sneered at me and said "well, then take him" and was clearly upset. By the way, we see them only about 5 times a year, so the kids are not used to them.
ANyhow, this has happened before. About a year ago, FIL's wife picked up my older son, and since he did not know her, he started crying hysterically (he is also shy by nature). I urged my husband to go and get our son three times, and finally pushed him towards FIL's wife but his feet did not move. He was frozen. I finally went and got my son
We discussed it afterwards, ad nauseum, and agreed that next time the kids were uncomfortable with FIL or his wife, DH would take the kids. We even discussed it the morning of their visit last weekend.
When I asked my husband why he did not just pick up the baby when he started crying, he said his father would have seen that as confrontational and would be mad at him for years. DH said that he asked his father three times if he could hold his son, so he would stop crying, but FIL said no.
It has to be said, that I always take the baby if somebody is holding him, and he starts crying. I did that with several other guests last weekend (it was a birthday party for my oldest son). So, I do not treat FIL different than any other person. Usually people are more than happy to relinquish a crying baby.
Anyhow, these are just a couple of examples. Sorry about the long rant. DH really is a great husband and dad, and at any other time, he would not hesitate to attend to any of his sons if they were crying.
DH did not grow up with his father, his parents divorced when he was 2 or 3 year old. He said he would visit his father 2 weeks out of the year, and his father would put him in front of people and ask him "who do you love more, me or your mom"? My husband would squirm, his father would laugh, and DH would eventually say that he loved his father more. There are other examples like that, but I am sure you get the picture.
So, is it possible to get DH to "be himself" when FIL is around. DH says he wants his Father to die and just wants to maintain a superficial relationship with him. He says it would take years of counseling for him to ever resolve this issue.
I am hurt, DH is hurt, any suggestions?
PS I'll get the books