Mothering Forum banner

1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
673 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
<p>Long drama-full story short, DH has been estranged from his parents for the last 18 or so months. They live in the same city as us, and have met DD twice in her life. </p>
<p> </p>
<p>For just a bit of background (bc, really, what good is a TAO post about ILs w/o drama? ) Pretty much, his parents hate me, or, rather, me in theory. DH chose to marry me and have children instead of going to an ivy league phd program and, to his parents, this was a massive failure. His mother told me, on our wedding day, that I ruined her life and her son's life. His parents came to our wedding to keep up appearances w/ their friends (and I was told). DH claims they have told him every SO he ever had wasn't good enough for him, so I tried to not take any of it personally, yk? His parents told him they would pay off all of his debt (a significant amount) if he would divorce me. AFAIK, this offer still stands.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>We all tensely coexisted until DD's birth. At that point, MIL started writing nasty emails about me to DH. She accused me of refusing them access to <em>their grandchild</em> bc I didn't want to leave DD alone w/ them at a few weeks old (as in, at their house to sit- I was more than happy to have them visit her at our house or even at there house, she was just too small for me to want to leave). They insulted my education, my family, my family's religion, my parenting and on and on... I did take that stuff personally. To not completely vilify them, DH didn't ever lay boundaries down about any of this. The three of them started spending time w/ each other and not inviting me or DC. </p>
<p> </p>
<p>Then they start in on DH about how they are unhappy w/ him. Things get more and more heated btwn the three of them (at this point, I'm not communicating directly w/ them anymore) and he decides to stop talking to them to cool off. IDK if it has any bearing, but DH says now that he decided that bc he thought it was what I wanted... (it wasn't) </p>
<p> </p>
<p>At some point ~ 6 months ago, DH tried to strike up an email conversation w/ them, but it ended up a horrible fight and they send me an email asking me to acknowledge the hurt I've caused. I didn't reply to the email and DH stopped talking to them again to "cool off". </p>
<p> </p>
<p>FFW to last month; DH decides he wants to start communicating w/ them again. This is fine w/ me, bc I just want him to be happy, yk? and I'd like our kids to not have this tense elephant in the room about their grandparents. The estrangement was eating at DH and there wasn't any cooling off going on. I told him it would be my desire to create some sort of situation where they recognized me as his partner, but that I didn't want to force my desires on him bc of what happened when I encouraged a course of action last time (ie, I don't want to get blamed for how this turns out). That hasn't happened, but he has mended his relationship w/ them- they are in daily phone contact and have been to lunch a few times. I have still had no contact w/ them, nor they w/ me or the kids. Honestly, I'm glad he's more peaceful and they have healed. However, I am uncomfortable w/ them seeing my DC w/o me present bc I'm afraid of what they might say about me to the kids</p>
<p> </p>
<p>So, DH tells me tonight that they are going to lunch tomorrow and they would like DD to come, so would I please come. </p>
<p> </p>
<p>ugh. The problem list is a mile long, I know. </p>
<p>I just want advice on:</p>
<p>a) whether or not I should go (I have to if I'm going to be supportive of DH, right?)</p>
<p>b) how to go and be peaceful and nice, as in, any advice for how I can frame this in my mind to not get all hurt and sad and mad about it?</p>
<p>c) How can I peacefully deflect rude comments or politely refuse to engage in any discussion about the "harm" they believe I have caused?</p>
<p> </p>
<p>ETA: oh! to make it more fun? They don't know I'm 21 weeks pregnant with twins. DH hasn't told them. </p>
<p> </p>
<p>sigh. thanks. </p>
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
937 Posts
<p><br>
 </p>
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>babygrey</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1284011/need-advice-on-how-to-handle-lunch-date-w-estranged-ils#post_16098688"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>a) whether or not I should go (I have to, right?)</p>
<p>b) how to go and be peaceful and nice, as in, any advice for how I can frame this in my mind to not get all hurt and sad and mad about it?</p>
<p>c) How can I peacefully deflect rude comments or politely refuse to engage in any discussion about the "harm" they believe I have caused?</p>
<p> </p>
<p>ETA: oh! to make it more fun? They don't know I'm 21 weeks pregnant with twins. DH hasn't told them. </p>
</div>
</div>
<p><br>
 </p>
<p>a) You don't have to go if you don't want to. You don't have to let them see your DD if you don't want to. And honestly I can't see any reason why you - or your DH - should want to! I think it is strange that your DH wants to see them, the way they are treating his wife. He is married to you and has a family of his own now, and his loyalty should be with you and your kids, not with his parents. It sounds like his parents are very controlling and are refusing to acknowledge that their son has grown up. It is none of their business whether he does a Ph.D. or not, and to sabotage your relationship is just nasty. They sound like an extremely dysfunctional family.</p>
<p>I understand that it is difficult to tell your DH what to do, but one can only hope that he grows up as soon as posssible and takes responsibilty for his family's well-being, and stops prioritising his parents above you .</p>
<p>Why did he think it was so awful not to talk to them for 18 months? Because he was feeling guilty? Parents like that are experts at instilling guilt in their kids to make them do their bidding. Neither you nor your DH have any obligations to do anything that your parents-in-law want.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>b) It sounds like it is impossible to create a good atmosphere, because they don't share this goal. I don't know how you can frame your mind to make this situation ok. It isn't.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>c) You can't, they obviously don't care. Not engaging would probably mean not talking at all.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>Honestly, I don't see the point of this visit. Your DH needs to understand that what they are doing to you, is vicious. If they can't accept their grandchild's mother, they shouldn't be seeing their grandchild. I don't believe that their attitude towards you can go completely unnoticed by the child. And in this situation it sounds like there is even a risk that they will actively speak out against you with your child present, which is completely unacceptable. I would really try to get your DH on board here, and keep your daughter at home.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>Since they don't accept that their son is married to you, your pregnancy is none of their business. Congratulations, by the way! :) And good luck with those awful in-laws!</p>
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,414 Posts
<p><em>a) whether or not I should go (I have to, right?)</em></p>
<p> </p>
<p>That your partner would allow people who have treated you this way to be around you or your DD boggles my mind.  That said, I have terrible troubles with my inlaws too (which also boggle my mind).  And I understand trying to balance standing up for yourself with trying to please your partner, as boggling as it is!  It is frustrating, and it keeps me up a lot of nights (tonight, in fact).</p>
<p> </p>
<p>If you decide to let your DD go in order to bring some peace to your husband, then yes, you have to go.  I would never, ever, at any point let your child be alone with your inlaws.  I have a hard enough time letting my son be alone with my inlaws, and their transgressions are less than what you are describing as having happened to you.</p>
<p> </p>
<p><em>b) how to go and be peaceful and nice, as in, any advice for how I can frame this in my mind to not get all hurt and sad and mad about it?</em></p>
<p> </p>
<p>There isn't a way.  You'll still be hurt, and sad.  BUT, you can know that the hurt isn't your fault.  The sad isn't your fault.  And people like that are not worth getting angry about.  Your inlaws have some serious issues.  YOU are still a good person, a good mom, a good spouse (a freakin' awesome spouse, actually, if you would actually sit across a table from people like that).  Come up with a signal with your DH, some squeezes, or an eye rub, or something, that means "I love you.  These people are my family, but you are my wife."  You can squeeze his leg 5 times to mean you're angry and hurt, and he can cough shoulder scratch to let you know that he still loves you.  I would also remind yourself that you're doing it for the love of your spouse, yk?  You shouldn't get walked all over, but on the other hand, sometimes we need to be there for our partners in situations that are not comfortable.</p>
<p> </p>
<p><em>c) How can I peacefully deflect rude comments or politely refuse to engage in any discussion about the "harm" they believe I have caused?</em></p>
<p> </p>
<p>The way that I've done this is to arrange ahead of time with my DH that if comments are inappropriate, that we get up and leave, together.  That I will happily sit and be cordial and polite.  But that if I get up, and politely say "I'm sorry, but this lunch needs to be over now.  Have a nice afternoon," that he will get up with me, and leave, and that he can clean up the mess that his parents have made with them later.  And believe me, if this happens, that they'll say all manner of nasty things.  You can deflect by sticking to the script, and ONLY saying those things.  It will make them mad as h**l, but it works.  And they can't say anything bad of you later in that situation either.  You came, you were polite, and when you ended the lunch all you said was a single, polite phrase.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>------------------</p>
<p> </p>
<p>All that said, I wouldn't engage with these people.  They sound toxic.  Maybe a better idea would be that you would be happy to go with your DH, and leave your DD with a sitter until animosity between all of you has been resolved?  Is that even an option?  If they complain about it you can just simply say that you look forward to a few years from now when things have been mended and DD can come?  Regardless, I would under no circumstances let your inlaws have the privilege of being alone with your DH and DD...</p>
<p> </p>
<p>Tough spot mama, I'm so sorry.  I know how it feels to try and balance the treatment you know you deserve, with a partner who loves you but also has a pull toward his blood family.  It's hard.</p>
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,109 Posts
<p>Phew, that is a lot of stress.  I say let her father take her out with him.  Make it clear to him though that if they start badmouthing you then he needs to get up and walk out the door. That as your husband and your child's father he owes it to her to make sure that she does not hear someone running down either parent.  Beyond that, steer clear of them at least until you have your babies.  I have had twins twice.  I feel bad you have this going on!</p>
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,210 Posts
<p>BTDT.  It sucks.  (((Hugs)))</p>
<p><br>
The difference for me is that DH finally realized what his parents were really like and stood with me.  Still does.  But it is very hard to realize your parents are not nice people and to give up on the <em>idea</em> of parents.  Does that make sense?  Took DH a couple of years and lots of therapy to give up the idea of family even after he had long ago given up on the individuals as people.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>Honestly, I would go.  It has been about 18 months and they are reaching out (be it in their own, toxic manner) and if you don't go then YOU are the jerk.  Sucks, doesn't it?  Go and, well, give them enough rope to hang themselves with it.  Because they will.  They won't be able to help themselves.  Then you are the patient, loving, supportive wife and they are, well, not very nice parents.  I know, that sounds awful but that's what I've done and every time (3 times now in 4 years) they have risen to the occassion.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>I would be civil.  Polite.  Do not engage in any possible way - it will make you look bad.  I learned very quickly to give them NOTHING to twist around.  Nothing.  No looks, no comments.  But you don't have to be friendly, just polite.  Think dinner with a boss you hate.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>Find a phrase you are comfortable with if they act up.  It can be "excuse me, I need to step away for a moment" (then, obviously, take DD with you) it can be, "I don't appreciate being spoken to that way" or "pass the bean dip" - really, whatever is going to work for you AND let them know it is not acceptable behavior.  Better if DH joins in but I'm not sure I'd count on that yet.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>The main thing I would work on before with DH is the treatment and expectations of DD.  Remember, your DH is looking for the idea of family - which means DD loving her grandparents - who she doesn't even know.  Agree in advance to not force DD into contact, hugs, etc.  If your DD is anything like my son, it will be harmful to DD to be forced upon strangers.  Yet, my DH took a while to come around to that because he was so desperate for their acceptance?  love?  attention?  I don't know, but the first couple of times he tried forcing DS into a hug and, believe me, we discussed that.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>You can get through it.</p>
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,192 Posts
<p>Unacceptable.  Would your DH expect you to put up with this kind of treatment from anyone else?  No?  Then why is it okay because it is his parents?  It sounds like it is way overdue for you two to go to counseling.  DH needs to hear from a 3rd party that his parents and his relationship is not healthy.  They are toxic.  You do not have to put up with bing treated poorly.  And they do not get the reward of seeing your DD. </p>
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,290 Posts
Wow. Um... that is really a hard one. I have to say that I am a quite shocked that your husband is actually allowing them to badmouth his wife in such a way in his presence. it sounds to me like he was willing to put up with it until they started going after HIM. And in my mind (and my husband's) that is so incredibly far from okay.<br><br>
If you decide to go then you really should sit down with your husband and have a very serious talk. If you are willing to rick reopening the line of communication it is only fair that you have protections in place. Make a plan for what to do should things start to go wrong. He needs to be on the same page as you are if you are willing to give this a go.<br><br>
I would advise that you have an understanding and agreement with your husband:<br>
1. That he talk to his parents ahead of time, telling them that the <i>two of you</i> are willing to reopen the line of communication and give them contact with their granddaughter, but that there will be NO insulting of you, bribes for divorce, or anything of the sort. If they can't behave and act with love then they can certainly simulate respect.<br><br>
Then... should the insulting begin again...<br>
2. Should the insults start in your presence then the two of you will immediately leave, together.<br>
3. Should they EVER insult you in front of your children then contact with the grandkids will be immediately cut off.<br>
4. Should they begin to insult you in front of your husband alone you and he will need to have a plan that he feels good about that you can trust he will keep. (For example, if ANY of my husbands relatives or friends started speaking unkindly of me he would get the heck out of there, probably cut off contact, and would require some serious and heartfelt remorse before speaking with them again! This would be by his choice alone, not mine.)<br><br>
You really should have a solid plan in place because I very much doubt that your inlaws are going to play nice. They sound really controlling and quite unreasonable, and they just want it all their way. it sounds like your husband is used to towing the line with them, but he is going to need to learn to shape up and defend his wife and life partner.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
15,952 Posts
<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>ChristyMarie</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1284011/need-advice-on-how-to-handle-lunch-date-w-estranged-ils#post_16098800"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>BTDT.  It sucks.  (((Hugs)))</p>
<p><br>
The difference for me is that DH finally realized what his parents were really like and stood with me.  Still does.  But it is very hard to realize your parents are not nice people and to give up on the <em>idea</em> of parents.  Does that make sense?  Took DH a couple of years and lots of therapy to give up the idea of family even after he had long ago given up on the individuals as people.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>Honestly, I would go.  It has been about 18 months and they are reaching out (be it in their own, toxic manner) and if you don't go then YOU are the jerk.  Sucks, doesn't it?  Go and, well, give them enough rope to hang themselves with it.  Because they will.  They won't be able to help themselves.  Then you are the patient, loving, supportive wife and they are, well, not very nice parents.  I know, that sounds awful but that's what I've done and every time (3 times now in 4 years) they have risen to the occassion.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>I would be civil.  Polite.  Do not engage in any possible way - it will make you look bad.  I learned very quickly to give them NOTHING to twist around.  Nothing.  No looks, no comments.  But you don't have to be friendly, just polite.  Think dinner with a boss you hate.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>Find a phrase you are comfortable with if they act up.  It can be "excuse me, I need to step away for a moment" (then, obviously, take DD with you) it can be, "I don't appreciate being spoken to that way" or "pass the bean dip" - really, whatever is going to work for you AND let them know it is not acceptable behavior.  Better if DH joins in but I'm not sure I'd count on that yet.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>The main thing I would work on before with DH is the treatment and expectations of DD.  Remember, your DH is looking for the idea of family - which means DD loving her grandparents - who she doesn't even know.  Agree in advance to not force DD into contact, hugs, etc.  If your DD is anything like my son, it will be harmful to DD to be forced upon strangers.  Yet, my DH took a while to come around to that because he was so desperate for their acceptance?  love?  attention?  I don't know, but the first couple of times he tried forcing DS into a hug and, believe me, we discussed that.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>You can get through it.</p>
</div>
</div>
<br><br><p>Exactly. I have been through this WAY too many times to count. I really feel for you, I do know how it feels. DH and I have been married almost 10 years and the IL's have been in and out of our lives the entire time. Dh is done, completely done with them now, it has been over 2 years since they last had contact. Just like what Christy Marie said, he had to realize his parents were not good people, and work on that part of himself that was ok with realizing that and basically deciding never to speak to them again.The pattern has been to talk for a year and nothing for a year, repeat over and over again. They truly hate me, what was key for me to realize that it was never about me, it was about controlling their child. Just like your IL's are trying to control your DH by offering to pay all that debt if he leaves you. Dh had been given similar offers. The final straw came when they started threatening suicide, he has not had any contact with them since. </p>
<p> </p>
<p>My advice would be very similar to Christy Marie's. Do not send your child alone with DH, I feel this is very important. If you do so you are saying that they can have a relationship with DH and the children without you, ideally this would be great for them, the perks without you being directly involved. It sounds like your DD is still young so what they say isn't so important now but as she gets older, you always need to be there to intervene if possible. Your IL's are very toxic, always keep them at arms length. Be polite but not over friendly, watch what you say, they are the type of people to file any info to use against you at a later time. You make small chit chat and never get very personal. If they start pressing you to apologize (my IL's always would as well ) or try to get into something, you simply say you are not discussing that now, be firm and change the subject. Do not engage, that is key. </p>
<p> </p>
<p>What is not clear from your post is if your Dh has stuck up for you, told them that he is married to you, that is not going to change and they had better deal with it. If he has not ever made it clear to them if I don't know if I would go personally. I can't tell from the post if he does stick up for you and you and him appear as a united front or not. If he does realize there is huge issue in how they treat you and he defends you, but if always drawn back by the fact they are his parents, then I would suck it up and go. It will not be easy, you do not have to get over your feelings for them, I do not like my IL's never have, I could dislike them all I want to in my mind, I could and will never forgive them for all they have done over the years, but I would support DH in any decision he made regarding them over the years because he did support me with them, it was my turn to support him when he would decide to resume contact. I held them at arm's length and never got too personal, because the peace would never last. You DH needs to be encouraged to work through his issues with his parents in some manner, if that is going to therapy then wonderful. And I don't mean work through the issues so that you guys are all one big happy family forever, but he needs to figure out IF his relationship with them is healthy for him. Counseling for him would be a great. </p>
<p> </p>
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,115 Posts
<p>You need the book Toxic In-Laws by Susan Forward. Buy, borrow, beg, steal, whatever it takes to read it.</p>
 
  • Like
Reactions: lotusdebi

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,177 Posts
<p>Seriously, we need a sticky note for Toxic In-Laws around here <img alt="lol.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/lol.gif"></p>
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,115 Posts
<p>I've said it before and I'll say it again: Toxic Parents and Toxic In-Laws are THE best self-help books EVER.</p>
 
  • Like
Reactions: lotusdebi

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,431 Posts
<p>I wouldn't go unless your DH can assure you (in a way in which you believe him) that he'll present a united front with you to his parents. If they insult you or try to blame you for past troubles, the two of you need to agree that you'll leave together. If he's unwilling to defend you, it would be crazy of you to subject yourself to their abuse. </p>
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
673 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
<p>NAK, but wanted to check in and tell you all how much it makes me feel less completely alone and crazy that their are other partners who have been in similar IL situations- I would NEVER tolerate anyone else in the world treating me as they do, but it is a very, very delicate balance btwn my desire to not be treated like crap and my desire to be supportive of DH as he works thru (and hopefully out of) their relationship.... IDK, that sounds like a cop-out, but, really, they're trying to drive a wedge btwn DH and I and I just don't want to play along. I'm hoping DH can work thru this and begin to grieve that his parents aren't good people, rather than continue to give them chances hoping they will turn out to be.</p>
<p>While it would be an easy solution to send DD alone, I'm very, very opposed to that idea. In part, bc she is very rarely away from me and, in part bc that's exactly what they want- to not have to treat me respectfully and get their son and grand-daughter to themselves, and I don't want to give in to their nastiness (plus, I have no doubt MIL would speak nasty about me to the kids)</p>
<p>You're all correct, DH does need to learn where to put boundaries, how to stick up for me and how to act like I'm his partner. Its a process. I'm trying. Again, a weird quick-sand thing that I don't want to push too hard on, bc he's very, very, very attached to his parents and I don't want to play into their games of us vs. them...</p>
<p>anyway.</p>
<p>The lunch got postponed until tomorrow. I'm going to go bc DH wants me to and bc, truly, I haven't seen these people in almost 2 years; perhaps they will have grown some manners. My plan is to go and smile pretty and watch my back <span><img alt="wink1.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/wink1.gif"></span></p>
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,199 Posts
<p>I would never allow my child to be with them unattended, or in the situation you described, just with my husband and ILs.</p>
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,315 Posts
<p>I would definitely have a long discussion with DH before going.    I can put up with alot as long as my DH is 100% on my side and supportive of me... you need to meet them as a unified team..    I would smile lots and not engage.  .. but you need an action plan that you and DH agree on ahead of time should your IL be rude... and I wouldnt let DH go with your DD and not you.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>Hope they have changed and it goes better than you are expecting :)</p>
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,220 Posts
<p>Just speaking to a piece of this from a quarter-century with my toxic in-laws:  It was easier for us because they didn't ask to see the kids on their own, but at times it was them, DH, and the boys while I was doing something else.  Sons are now 21 and almost 18 and are, frankly, onto them (well, MIL; FIL died ten years ago).  It's their choice not to have contact with their grandmother, and she thinks I'm preventing them from having anything to do with her.  Umm, no, unless I'm terrible for showing them people deserve to be treated with love and respect.  My family has suffered at their hands, but fortunately we dealt with them in a way that's preventing our suffering over them at our own hands, if that makes sense.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>ETA:  Did you get Toxic Parents and/or Toxic In-Laws yet????</p>
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
673 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
<p><br>
So, lunch was today. It was tense but civil. Not encouraging, but not intolerable, either. MIL was super snide about the pg, but really passive aggressive about it, so I just smiled and said thanks. </p>
<p>Guess I just wait for the next blow up, which considering the ILs and DH haven't gotten thru a holiday season in five years w/o a massive fight, should be, oh, just a few weeks away <img alt="eyesroll.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/eyesroll.gif"></p>
<p>Quote:</p>
<div class="quote-container"><br><div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>MariaMadly</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1284011/need-advice-on-how-to-handle-lunch-date-w-estranged-ils#post_16107134"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><p> </p>
<p>ETA:  Did you get Toxic Parents and/or Toxic In-Laws yet????</p>
</div>
</div>
<p><br>
My library card is really fined up... <img alt="redface.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/redface.gif"> it is for sure on my next to read list. </p>
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,210 Posts
<p>Glad you go through it.  What were DH's thoughts on how it went?  It can be interesting and helpful to share your perspective on it.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>Good luck getting through the holidays. I'm wondering if a gift will show up for DS or not.  Either way, it won't be good, but at least I know we won't be seeing them.</p>
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top