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The Dragons Keep

Started by 2tired2fight, March 02, 2011, 04:03:48 pm

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I'm new here but have been lurking for a while now.  I am a DIL and I think my current problem could use a MIL's and DIL's point of view, which is what makes this site so wonderful. 

I could write a novel here, but I will try to keep it short and the short of it is, there is no love loss between me and my inlaws and I am tired of being my DHs and my inlaw's social secretary.  What I mean by this is, after almost 14 years of being with DH, I am tired of being placed in the middle of the their relationship.  I no longer want to play.  My DH puts no effort in the relationship with his parents and they put even less and I am expected to make up for their lack of effort.   >:(

I have been with my DH for almost 15 years, living together for almost 14 and married for almost 13.  In this time, my DH has never bought a single card, gift or even called the inlaws without my insistence.  On t he other hand, my inlaws never call unless they want something, demand our presence at every single holiday (MIL and FIL are divorced) with only 48 hours notice, never remember DH's birthday and only remember our kid's birthday's because I make DH call and invite them over for a party.

Throughout at all this, I have them say I keep DH and our kids away from them, I never give them their messages and basically that I am the evil dragon keeping DH locked up in his lonely tower.  If they only knew (or cared about) the truth.  Example:  Last year on MIL's B-day, I had to remind DH 7 times to call her.  I told him, repeatedly, that his GMIL had called and he never called back.  This last Christmas, I told DH he needed to buy presents for his parents, because I was done.  I figured that if I was going to be seen as the bag guy, I might as well not stress over doing anything for them.  Against my better judgement, I did remind him several times of this.  But then Dec 23 rolls around and guess what, he still had not bought a thing.   >:( I should have just let hm face the music on that one but I went ahead and helped him out.  That will be the last time that happens. 

I, myself, have a huge family, DH has a small one.  I never expect DH to do all this for me or my family.  I would never expect him to remind to buy a present or to call my dad or sisters.  Especially if they treat him they way his parents treat me.  My DH definitely has more free time than I do.  He travels for work and can call, text, email them anytime he wants.  He just doesn't, yet somehow, this is my fault. 

I'm done.  I don't want to play this game anymore.  But the minute I tell DH I am done, he goes nuts.  He panics because I am the  only reason his parents are involved in our kid's lives and I just don't want to do it anymore. 

In fact, I really don't want anything to do with my inlaws.  I know that makes me sound bad, I just don't have the energy anymore.  I will no longer buy gifts, cards, make phones, remind my DH of party invites, sporting events, or anything else.  This will need to be on him.  And I know my inlaws will say I am controlling him, but they already don't like me, so whats the difference. 

My question is, how do I get my inlaws and my DH to take responsibility for their own relationship and to leave me out of it?


First of all glad you are here and decided to post! I am a MIL, and of course have been a DIL as well! I agree that it is NOT your job to be the social secretary for your husband or the inlaws. He is a grown man and could make the calls to invite his family to kids school programs or sports things. He could also pick up a card and send it for occaisions that require that, same for gifts for his family. I'm sorry you get the blame for things not your fault, doesn't seem fair does it? We cannot control other folks, but we can control our reaction to them. I can't remember who said that on this website, so I do not know who I quoted! I apologize to who ever did say that for not remembering! I think it was a great statement though. The inlaws ought to feel lucky that you are a DIL that has not cut them out of their sons or grandkids lives...some of us have that to deal with. Blessings to you, and I'm sure you will get good support here.


Deas 2 Tired,

no wonder you are tired. 

Its an uncomfortable position to be in to have to be bugging your DH to do what he needs to do.

Seems like it is as much between dh and you as it is your iIL's and yourself  With this big of a change, it might
be useful to sit down with dh (you may have already done this) and talk over the change in a calm way
and not an angry way (if possible)

He may just fall flat on his face initially when learning to take over some of the responsibilities you usually handle.   It will be a learning curve and he may test you to see if you mean what you say.     Your IL's might blame you as in some circles its seen as the "woman's job" to buy the presents, cards, etc.  so you might want to be prepared with a response

Re:  problems with your IL's you will get alot of good advice from the wonderful wise women here.

Welcome!!   Tara


If you keep doing something and neither side seems to be appreciating it, then stop.  I agree with the PP.  You're DH will stumble.  He will try to get you to take it over again.  And your ILs will likely blame you for the lack of contact.  There's nothing you can do about that.  But if you're alreay putting up with complaints and false allegations, what's a few more?  And at least this way you've at least gotten rid of the stress of being social secretary. 


Yes, and maybe DH will appreciate what you do a little more when you stop for awhile.


Quote from: 2tired2fight on March 02, 2011, 04:03:48 pm
I'm done.  I don't want to play this game anymore.  But the minute I tell DH I am done, he goes nuts.  He panics because I am the  only reason his parents are involved in our kid's lives and I just don't want to do it anymore. 

In fact, I really don't want anything to do with my inlaws.  I know that makes me sound bad, I just don't have the energy anymore.  I will no longer buy gifts, cards, make phones, remind my DH of party invites, sporting events, or anything else.  This will need to be on him.  And I know my inlaws will say I am controlling him, but they already don't like me, so whats the difference. 

My question is, how do I get my inlaws and my DH to take responsibility for their own relationship and to leave me out of it?

I'm not sure what you are trying to accomplish at this point.... I feel that you made your statement quite clearly that you do not want/need to communicate or interact with your in-laws.  You've decided that you will no longer purchase gifts, cards, etc nor will you play middleman for any of the social activities.. so why does it matter if DH and his parents pick up the slack.. You've stepped back..

The way I see it is, if you declare that you do not and will not having any more to do with the situation, then you need to do just that.. you can't take a giant step back and still feel that you can orchestrate their relationship from afar.



Hubby panics because he'll have to pick up the slack.  Either he does it or he doesn't.  Take yourself out of the equation altogether.  Don't mention them at all.  Birthday's roll around, if they're not there, he didn't call.  Same with holidays.  By the way, that works both ways.  You might not hear from them at all.  Or....you may be surprised...and they will call each other on their own.  Start picking up their own slack.  But quit, for a year, and DO NOT mention them.  You've done all you can, the ball is in his court. 

Also, I wouldn't tell him I was stepping back, gives him a reason to respond and get mad, just do it :)



Welcome aboard

I am a mil and a daughter in law as well (my mil is almost 90).  I am always bugging my husband to call his mom.  I know that my hubby works all day in three different jobs.  I just tell him to simply call to see how she is doing.  She has been a great mother and deserves at least that.  He things that as long as I call or visit his mother...it is fine.  He feels I am the ambassador or representative of himself.   I dont mind visiting or calling my mil because I do love her and appreciate all she has done for us-- but I am no substitute of my husband.   

Of couse you are tired of trying to keep husband close to his family.  If he doesnt care nor does his family why should you?   As you said, all you have done has made no difference.  Let him deal with it and not worry anymore.  You have already done your homework...if husband didnt learn....let him deal with the consequences. 

You have a big heart indeed. 
Good luck

Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove:


Greetings 2Tired and Welcome~~~~~There is no if's and's or but's about this, just as all the others have said---"Just Say No" and mean it....As mentioned just tell Hubby--you are done with that.   Yes, he will test the waters and once he see's you are not backing down on your word~~he will then have to change and pick up the slack......And if he does not--then so be it...Do not feel guilty no matter what.....

Hang in there--you are a very special person.....Faith


I think you can leave yourself out  of it, and you just have to get used to the fact that they prefer to blame his behavior on you. (I think that's common; it's awfully hard to admit your kid is doing something wrong, so blaming a spouse makes it an easier pill to swallow).

If you leave yourself out, the responsibility will still be his, but it might not be taken. That's not your problem, and that's between him and his parents. What is to come is also between them, and doesn't have anything to do with you.

It's not easy I know, especially when you're depicted as the person behind all of it. But, if you're not involved at all, you really can't be behind anything. It doesn't matter what they think is actually going on.


Because you are getting the blame you will tend to go on reminding your husband
Dont!! Dont make ant move towards anything where they are concerned and when someone blames you answer really!!
Just Stop!!!!!


My feelings on this are that you're already "doing the time", so why not "do the crime"?  Step back completely, no more calls (unless you actually WANT to), no more gifts, no more cards.

However, in the interests of fairness, I would calmly tell DH that this is what you're doing.  He may try and call your bluff, he may not.  He will likely try and take it out on you when it explodes in his face.  You can warn him in advance that you will NOT be accepting that baloney from him.

Also, you can expect the IL's (and DH) to ramp things up.  When you make a change, the people around you who are uncomfortable with it, will try and make you change back.  You have to be STRONG.  There is also something called and "extinction burst".  Where just before giving up, people (and dogs) will try one last big push to try and have their way.  If you give in, you will have a LONGER road to travel next time.  So DON'T GIVE IN.

I think the trick is to NOT do it out of bitterness.  Tell DH that your resources are limited, and thus you're cutting back on your emotional outlay to people who don't appreciate it.  But really stress that this is "self preservation" not punishment for him or anyone else.  So that when he complains that it's hard to pick out a present for his M, you can say "See?  It was hard for me too!  And she's not even my Mother!"

Good luck - STAY STRONG.


Welcome 2tired2fight.  I have been where you are now.  I was married for 21 years to a DH just like yours, with in-laws that were very difficult and unappreciative.  I would be willing to bet (correct me if I am wrong) that DH is like this with everything?  Not just the in-laws.  I would be willing to bet he lets you do everything for everyone?  And then smiles when everyone talks about how wonderful HE is?  I am saying this because I do know how it feels and I use to get so angry and upset because I had to do all of the things you mentioned for his parents.  In the first 10 years, I didn't balk because I just assumed that was how most wives had it.  I figured it was pretty much normal for wives to have to do all that for DH's parents too.  In the next 5 years, I started growing up a little and finally realized it wasn't just his parents.  It was everything.  Any event, charity, sports thing he got involved with, I ended up with the work, he ended up looking really good.  Everything he forgot, I fixed.  Everything he joined, I did the work.  Every mistake he made, I took the flack.  He never sat down with the boys and did homework, spelling words, projects, etc. but you can be darn tooting he would show up for the parent-teacher conference to smile at them and look like an involved parent.  Sound familiar or am I way off base with your situation?

If it sounds similar to my situation, then you may have difficult in-laws, but the true problem is with DH.  It took me 15 years to come to that conclusion and say what you are saying.  "No more".  I stopped doing everything for him.  I let him fall flat on his face with everyone.  I stopped making excuses for his irresponsibility.  I took care of my sons, my job and myself.  Everything he signed up for....he was on his own.  I took a stand for myself.  I figured if I did this, he would learn.  But, if you are going to do this, you have to be prepared for it to go the other way, like mine did.  Instead of him learning and wanting to change over the next 5 years, he went looking for sympathy.  And he found it in another woman that was 15 years younger.  He now had a new audience to say, "Whoa is me.  My wife is horrible and doesn't help me with anything."  And he was right...except he failed to mention the 15 years that I did everything.  Imagine that.  And he never changed his habits, just made himself out to be the victim, to his friends, parents, and her.  So we ended up divorced, and he now has another female that will cater to him.  He didn't learn...he just moved on to someone else that would do everything for him.

It is easy for me to sit here and tell you my advice is that you need to stop doing all this for DH and let him fail, and he will learn.  But that is not always the case.  He will only learn if he wants to.  And only you can decide if your marriage can withstand your decision.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


Happiness for my in-laws and other family memebers has always meant a lot to me.  I may be the odd one here, but I do keep up with cards and important dates.  I do remind my dh to call his parents, and I also arrange for our social events.  I also remind my husband when one of his kids has a upcoming birthday and always on their actual birthday I remind him again.. and why?  I love my family very much, and I  know that my dh does as well.. dh is a busy busy man and this is one area where I can and do pick up the slack.  DH would be devastated if he were to forget one of his kids birthdays, these are important dates to him even if he has a hard time remembering them.  And yes I even remind him of my birthday, anniversary, etc...not so I may receive a gift but because I know it would hurt him if he were to accidentally miss the event. 

I call my in-laws to check in or just to gab... I know that dh doesn't always have time, and since the conversation almost always is small talk about the weather and upcoming doctor appointments (making note to self.. do not bore children with dr appts)  I might as well use up a portion of my day hearing it, and that will always make more time for me and hubby uninterrupted.

As the woman of the house, the wife, the mother... I have always been in charge of social events.. we discuss it, but to be perfectly honest.. If I took a step back and refused to lend a helping hand, I could have events planned without my knowledge that would require my participation. 

Gifts... In the world of the internet I do not understand what is so hard about purchasing a gift... I see something that I feel mil or fil would like I one click shop.  If I'm out shopping and I see the perfect little something, I purchase it.  Does it really matter if the gift if for your parents or his?  Maybe I'm just one of the lucky ones because I do not see a lot of difference between my parents and my husband's parents when it comes to love and respect.  I took the "in-law" out of our lives from the beginning...we have no his brother, her sister, my kids etc.. about the only true separation I maintain is.. it's MY car and HIS truck :)


Laurie, I agree with you.  I remind my current DH about important things too and it doesn't bother me.  But, that's because he is an all-around responsible person with memory gaps!  But if you have difficult in-laws that take it out on you if he doesn't call or misses something, it makes it hard.  I don't have that now, but I did the first time and it is very hard.  It doesn't bother me at all to do things for my current DH, because he shows me appreciation and is a very loving person and I like my MIL now, and she shows love and appreciation.  So it's not a chore now, it's a "I want too."

But I can sympathize with women that don't have it that way and it turns out to be another chore for them.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell