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In Law help

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Okay, some of you will
at this, and to be honest, I do too. DH's family comes from a VERY traditional Dutch Orthodox background. ALL of them and their children went/go to private Christian schools, church twice on Sundays, etc. I however come from a pretty mainstream background, went to church off and on, public schools, etc. When I met DH (at 17 years old, he was 23), I knew this, and we had several lengthy discussions about it.

Then we fell in love, and got engaged when I was 21. His family expected me to join their church and become the perfect "Dutch housewife". Somehow I lost myself (working full time, finishing my bachelor's degree and planning a wedding) and agreed. After several arguments with the minister in our marriage classes, I did vow to submit to him on the grounds that we had an understanding between us (Dh and I) that it wasn't a big deal because he'd never make me submit (and he wouldn't). My problem is that I can't believe I vowed something before God and our families that I didn't actually mean, and his family reminds me of this whenever they think I'm deciding something that they wouldn't agree with. This is a problem because DH, although he agrees with me says NOTHING to them. When I call him on it he gets defensive for them. We have sinced switched churches to one we are both comfortable in.

All this with his family was not a huge deal because there were no kids involved, and we did talk about how when we had children, it would be this way, either homeschooling or public school but NOT private etc. He still agrees with this, but I'm concerned for how this will affect Owen later when he hears Grandma and Grandpa and Aunties say things about it and Daddy doesn't say anything. I already feel like a freak when I'm there because I'm not Dutch, I go to work, I am educated and a strong woman with a voice. With Owen, it's started already. They teach their babies to say Amen at grace before they can say anything else, and I want him to know what he's saying before he says it. It feels like it's being forced on him otherwise, and I disagree with that. Grandpa was already dismayed that he can't say Amen at the dinner table at 10 MONTH OLD. He can't say Mama or Daddy in the right context yet, let alone Amen. Dh sees this as harmless because we know what we want and Owen is too little to understand anyways. I see it as the beginning of them pressuring us to conform to their standards, and although I'm big enough to defend myself, Owen isn't.

Let me say that we have a very solid marriage and love each other deeply . I am however concerned with his lack of ability to stand up to his family and dispell the "assumed" way our marriage should work and parenting should go to his family. I want to renew our wedding vows, just the two of us when Owen's bigger to leave for a few days with my parents and we can get away, which he is not gung ho about, but willing to do. Basically, he doesn't see this as a big deal and I think it will affect Owen. DH admitted that he does think when Owen is older that he will be told that going to public schools is wrong by G & G if left alone with them, and that they will try to teach him themselves if given the opportunity. And he agrees that if heaven forbid something should happen to both of us that his family would contest our decision for my sister and her DH to raise him because it wouldn't be in THEIR churches and schools. I am just making sure that we have a good will that states our wishes clearly and have talked to my sister about it.

So, how would you handle this? I'm at a loss to say anything constructive about it, and verbally attacking his family (which is all I seem to have left) is not helpful or constructive... Can you help me wade through all of this?
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Just a quick bit about your will: If you haven't done so already, you might also want to state exactly who you do NOT want to have your child (and precisely why - conflicting religious beliefs are probably a very good start; maybe advanced age or health, too?) should something happen to you. The final decision is the court's so even with your will there is a chance Owen could end up with MIL and FIL. Specifically stating that you don't want him there might help make it less of a possibility....

It seems that what is important to accept here is that you are not going to change their minds, so verbally attacking or challenging them is just fruitless stress for you and on the relationship. Perhaps take a deep breath, have a calming moment, and respond with, "Thanks for your concern. We are doing what works for our family." Repeat ad nauseum.

Out of time, so can't offer more, but
to you.
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well, i can't relate to the religious part, but I too have a very overbearing MIL, who thinks that we should do things *her* way, and let me know it all the time. I also have a hubby, who, while he agrees with me, will not stand up to his mother on our behalf. So I totally understand how frustrating that is! It seems like if I try to say anything (even nicely), MIL gets upset and *literally* cries to hubby about it, who in turn doesn't want me to upset his mother. HELLO.. what about her upsetting ME?

anyways, sorry no real advice, but i know where you're coming from. i just try to say over and over, as nicely as possible, that we do things the way that works for us.

I can relate to your frustration about dh not advocating for your (you, your son, and dh) family's needs. This has been the biggest issue in my marriage. We have been together for almost 9 years (married for 6) and until this year, the issue of setting appropriate limits/boundaries with my inlaws has been a source of contention.

After a difficult visit with my inlaws in June, we finally realized we have to do something in terms of meaningfully addressing this issue if we want our marriage/family to survive.

The Harville Hendrix book , "Getting the Love you Want" has been very helpful to both of us as we start to make changes toward a more conscious marriage. As a result, my dh is trying to set better limits with his parents and I am trying to work harder to make our interactions with his parents easier so he doesn't feel caught in the middle.

Also, a more maintream resource is Dr. Phil. He has mentioned many times that married partners who continue to "choose" their families of origin over the families they created with their partners is a recipe for divorce.
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Hey! I'm Dutch! Not orthodox though. Still, I know how hard we can be to deal with.
Funny, I recently spent time in the Netherlands and it seems like a very free and accepting society - my dear Grandma says all the stubborn, uptight Dutch people immigrated to where I grew up!

I support you in wanting to renew your vows. Whether or not it something your ILs ever find out about. The two of you could do it privately at home, or in church with your pastor, or with the congregation. Your DH could release you from your vow, before God, and you could both reaffirm the true commitment and foundation of your covenant together. Then, when the ILs "remind" you of your vow, you can either tell them you've been released from it, or be able to explain to your son later, or even just have the satisfaction of knowing yourself that it's been made right.

I'm annoyed with his family reminding you of this submission thing when they think you're making a decision THEY don't agree with. Good grief, you don't have to submit to THEM, anyway. Hope you can work something out!
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just want to say...I echo that you need to firm up the will saying that children definitely go to your sister. Maybe include a note in dutch to his parents stating why you made this decision that your sister gets the children.

re: inlaws and husband

my suggestion is no longer bitch about them to dh. When they do something poor, just blow past it. this will kill you, I know it. But right now you and your husband are on a horrible teeter-totter... and basically, you are the one doing all the 'emoting' for the family. And it is husband's job to get on track with his family but if you are busy doing the emoting... he doesn't have to do it...thus the teeter-totter....
You need to get off this.... so make their foibles off topic by you. Watch and see what happens... you will see your dh bring them up and wait for a big reaction by you. It will be something like, "Listen to what I heard my father did...can you believe it?" And your answer should be, "Well, I can't say, I'm surprised...anyway, isn't the weather gorgeous today." or something equally banal.
the point is that the goal here is to get your husband on board..emoting.

get this book, it explains it better than me and she is just phenonmenal... it can totally heal relationships.

good luck
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I agree with wise woman trabot here--the important thing is that your relationship with dh stays strong, right? Even if he is too understanding towards his parents opinions & won't vocalize what he believes in, if your relationship is strong, and your thinking is the same, his actions will speak louder than words. It sounds like it would NOT be a good idea to make him pick sides or to set it up like there is a right and wrong answer.
"I respect your spirituality and hope you'll respect mine."
How's that for a mantra?
Hey, BabyOsmommy

I married into a family of former Dutch Christian Reformers. They had a falling out with the church when dh was a teenager and are no longer religious at all but still have some of the controlling tendencies I think are left over from this very tight knit religious community. SO I feel like I know your in laws but I'm surprised that they give you flack. I would have thought they would go to your husband since he's "head of the household". Anyway you could say "This is what we have decided to do (re. Amen or private school or whatever) if you have a problem with it take it up with my husband/your son." And ask your husband to represent your family's interests in all dealings with his family. This way his family will put him on the defensive rather than you. Does that make sense?
Thank you for you replies. I know that I should just avoid getting on the defensive when they start and ask them to respect my spiritual beliefs. It's just so hard when they are pushing it on me and my son and I don't feel like they respect anything to do with my upbringing. It's like they think I must have realized that what they do is better/right, so why wouldn't I do it their way? Anyhow, thanks for reinforcing that I need to chill a bit when they start and being nice but firm is better. I just feel like I have to do something now because when Owen is old enough to understand I don't want him hearing things that make him feel bad for whatever decisions we make that aren't what they would want. Which they will do (Dh has admitted it), so I want to try to stop some of it now.

Liz - They don't give him flack at all, cause I think they assume that it's me making all of the decisions that conflict with what they think is right. They remind me that I'm supposed to submit to DH, but he doesn't say anything. I would love to push this back on DH to force him to say something, because then they would know that he supports me. And seeing as they would agree that I'm not supposed to have a voice in the important stuff in our marriage
: they would take it better coming from him. Not sure if it will work, seeing as I am way more agressive than him (it took him 4 months to tell them not to smoke around our baby, so we didn't go to their house for that long, they know not to smoke here, so he had me invite them here
: ). And the BIG issue right now is me going back to work. HE is the one who wants me to go back and I want to stay home (it was a HUGE argument). So when we told his family that I am going back they just kept talking about how hard it will be on DH to come home and not have supper on the table and was it worth it for me to go really, seeing as daycare costs so much (my Dad will be watching ds)? DH wasn't there at the time, and I don't think they believed that this was him convincing me to go back. Anyhow, thank you for your thoughts, I have a feeling that this will not resolve itself anytime soon, but I have to remember to stay constructive about it.
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<<And the BIG issue right now is me going back to work. HE is the one who wants me to go back and I want to stay home (it was a HUGE argument). So when we told his family that I am going back they just kept talking about how hard it will be on DH to come home and not have supper on the table and was it worth it for me to go really, seeing as daycare costs so much (my Dad will be watching ds)? DH wasn't there at the time, and I don't think they believed that this was him convincing me to go back. >>

YIKES! I would stay way out of the loop. My MIL is very interfering, and I just stay out of it! I do, however, avoid being alone with her at all costs, since DP will intercede as needed.
When she 'suggests' something (like telling me what we're going to do) I innocently respond, "Oh! Prem hasn't told me that we need to do that yet! I'll have him call you about it." Then I leave it to him to handle it. When she offers the kids cookies and cake for breakfast, I say, "Prem? Can you help your mother with this?" knowing that he will over-rule and get more appropriate foods. She probably thinks I'm the model of a docile subservient wife! Nah.

One thing I try never to do is complain to him about her! I figure he's got enough to deal with without me griping about his tedious mother--let's leave her out-of-sight and out-of-mind. Besides that what girlfriends are for! And, when he wants to vent about her I try to be very sympathetic to her!

For example, if he's angry because she's trying to push his buttons, saying stuff like, "A good son would take care of his parents--most people my age don't have to work, etc." I defend her when he goes on about it (they're early 60s, live 2 people in a half-a-million dollar, 4K sq.ft. home, they buy new cars--Mercedes or Lexus every year, and are self-employed in a way that they could determine their own schedule etc.) But I just say, "Oh, she's probably just worried about your father's health and doesn't really mean what she's saying." or "She's probably talking about your brother and wishing he were more responsible." and so on.

I know she's a cunning, manipulative, woman--I don't have to remind him!

I'd just play the submisssive wife on this one. "Yes, Mother Van Gogh, I know it will be very hard, but really, you should be sharing your concerns with Vincent."

Trabot, that sounds like the kind of thing I'm doing already, only I try to be more sympathetic, instead of saying "That doesn't surprise me. . ." I say something like "She's probably just unhappy," and then move on. Sounds like a good book, but it is about your relationship with DP or with the obnoxious relative?

That's what I need, cause I tell ya', I live in constant worry about my FIL's health! Just let me get the children raised before I have to deal with the MIL's need to be taken care of! She's very manipulative and very cunning. She's gotten me more than once!

But enough about me. Do be clear about your will and guardianship issues. You can write a plan with your attorney, that addresses specifics like child-rearing/education concerns for your guardian--can't remember what it's called exactly, though. You should probably make copies of your will, plans, etc. for all concerned parties--we gave them to my parents, our guardian, our Medical POA person, and one brother. Not to the ILs, though, because it would start a whole big issue with them, though we probably really should do so, I'm confident that if they tried to cause trouble, what we have is quite clear--specifies not only legal guardian but that children are to reside with him until they attain a certain age, etc. DP made sure that there can be no mistaking our intentions and had our attorney re-write it several times. She said it was wise because of a recent case in which someone was appointed legal guardian but that ended up meaning that they had to sign any papers, forms, etc. but the child was ordered to live elsewhere (situation was more complicated that ours with Exes, and Steps- and so forth)

Ramble over, family's home now and I gotta get them fed!
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Sounds like a good book, but it is about your relationship with DP or with the obnoxious relative?

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