I was hoping that here I would be able to get some perspective that was outside of my normal peer group regarding my and my DH's relationship with the in-laws.
To make a long story shortish. I met my DH, love at first sight, got married within 2 months. Coming up on the 1 year anniversary and we still get along great, no regrets, very happy. We just had twins, they are healthy and wonderful. The inlaws, from the start, are not the type of people I would associate with, but that was ok by me. We met them for dinner, movies, nothing too overwhelming. I made it a point to interact with them, be respectful, even when they said things I did not agree with (bigoted statements, etc). They never asked about me, in fact, it took MIL over 6 months to ask what I did for a living. Every conversation was about their friends (who were along for every, and I mean every, outing) what they were doing, politics, etc. My DH repeatedly asked for just family time, wishes were ignored. Now, my DH does not share their beliefs. Everyone is entitled to their own religion, but, they are very disdainful of other religions, atheists. He never said anything out of fear that they would disown him. As time went on, I learned more of his childhood and the religious fervor, whether meaning to or not, caused him to have much fear, anxiety and low self esteem. He told me that he doesn't like his mother, that she uses guilt trips to control him (his words), denied him serious medical care, and that if it weren't for his dad, he would never talk to her again.
Babies are born, they intrude in the hospital, make inappropriate comments about tattoos, muslims, breastfeeding. It was just awful. They brought their friends, people we don't know into my hospital room without so much as a knock. Many other bad behaviors. My own mother had died 6 years ago and there was a snowstorm that held my father up (lives 5 hours away). I cried the whole week I was in the hospital.
Still, I wanted them to see their grandchildren so I said nothing. His parents, his responsibility. We asked them not to wear perfume, the babies were preemies and very sensitive. They ignored that request and the kids were so irritated they were up all night crying. There is so much more, text messages about me not loving DH, etc etc.
He confronted his parents via email. It was well thought out and addressed his issues with them, the religious aspect, the intrusive friends. The responded basically saying it's me. They did nothing wrong and since he got married he has changed. They never acknowledged the hurtful things they said and did to him, not to mention me.
I get that they feel they are losing their son. But MIL never even bothered to try with me. In fact, the times we saw them was because I insisted. He would have happily ignored every invitation. I am sorry I pushed. Every time I saw her she would sit there and chat with her friend. The most I would get was them telling me something they thought about my husband, usually things that weren't true, like DH is bad at math (not something too flattering for her son). I get the sense that if I just let her take over, it would have been fine. If I was just into the same things, the religion, the shopping, the clothing/jewelry. I am not. I am just not that kind of girl. The hateful comments are unwarranted. FIL really does not have a life outside of his wife. He doesn't have his own friends, her best friend even goes on vacations with them. After she was so awful at the hospital, he yelled at DH to thank his mother for visiting.
Not to toot my own horn but I honestly am very nice. I make it a point to try and I am proud of that. I know life is short and I don't want to just live it for myself or for material things. I really try to be mindful of others feelings and understand the motivation behind unpleasant behaviors. I have never had anyone just dislike me off the bat for no reason. It's just insulting. I really really tried and it was just thrown in my face. I grew up watching my maternal grandparents treat my father horribly and I really didn't expect to be in the same situation. I do not want my children to see the same. I am really trying not to be angry because I know that for as irritated as I am, they feel worse than I do. I just don't get why they won't bend at all and listen to their son. Even if they disagree, not just discount his feelings.
Sorry that this was so long winded, of course there is always more. At this point, I don't want anything to do with them. I am not saying forever, just not now, it's too stressful. My DH is welcome to have whatever relationship with them he desires with no complaint from me. He does not want to see or speak with them. I just need to know how I can get past my anger at being their scapegoat. I know I can't change their minds, I just want to make sure it isn't me.
Let's see - you're a new mother with two babies and a relatively new husband and home. I would say you already have your hands full. Frankly, I would ignore the "relatives" - no visits, no telephone calls, no e-mails. If most of the interaction was initiated by you, then don't bother with anything. Let them make the "next" move. It may be that your husband's relatives may not be in your "close circle" of friends - whatever, their choice (with luck maybe very little contact). But, these are your children's grandparents and as such require respect and dignity that any human deserves; just not close friendship. Sounds to me as if you are already on the "right track". All the best ...
Welcome J. It isn't you. Go look into a mirror and repeat after me..."It is not me! It is not me" It is not me!"
We have another DIL whose circumstances were not the same but the dynamics were. Her member name is Clover. If you go to Members on the Home page and enter that name and click on it when it comes up, you can read way back on her posts and find an ally there. You will find more, I am sure.
You met and fell and love and have a family and all is well. That's wonderful stuff. I agree that you need to close the door for your own well being. I don't think you need to try anything more than you have tired...which to me is way above and beyond the call of duty.
You and DH have created a new family unit. You are in charge of it and you make the rules. Stand tall.
I have been a DIL a MIL and a SM and none of those titles deny you the right to be treated with respect. Sending love...
Jillinthesky, welcome to the site. I wish you didn't have such difficult ILs to deal with. Good on you for making the effort, but they sound like hard cases. I like what jdtm said about respect and dignity but not close friendship...hope you can work it out.
No, it's not you and you tried for as long as you could.
Don't lose sight of the fact that you and your husband are adult individuals who deserve respect- and respect of your feelings- just like anyone else. If that's not being given to you, the other person doesn't automatically deserve it for being older than you.
Thanks everyone. I guess I just wanted to know when it was ok to throw in the towel. Part of me wants to tell them that they are just making it worse for themselves (I know it's a bad idea). It's just so hard being the bigger person sometimes and taking all the blame. I know why they are doing it, it just doesn't stop the desire to point out what they have done and how offensive they are or to even defend myself. I know there is nothing I can say to make them see something they don't want to.
Another issue is the close proximity (they live 7 miles away). I have a fear of seeing her often. We live in a large city near national landmarks popular for visitors. It doesn't help that she and her friend painted crosses on our stoop one night. They actually put photos and references on facebook. It was ridiculous. They were out on a "prayer walk."
Anyone have and suggestions if I do see her? Do I pretend I didn't? Try to escape unnoticed? Ignore overtures?
What feels comfortable to you? Can you be calm, centered and firm in your resolve to not accept any disrespect or rudeness from her? If not, avoidance is probably best. If so, handle your meetings with dignity and grace. I know you're tired of being the bigger person, but you married into a difficult situation. Best wishes.
Welcome Jill. If you haven't had a chance, please read the "Modified Forum Agreement" under "Open Me First" on the home page. Nothing at all wrong with your post, we just all members to read the forum rules.
You have tried so hard to be compromising and they are not holding up their end. I don't like to think of it as giving up...I call it a long time out. It doesn't mean that you are refusing to ever have a relationship, but are wanting one based on mutual respect. You have given it to them, it's time they give it to you and DH. I'm with jdtm, don't initiate anything. Let DH handle them if he chooses to. You have your hands full with the twins, you don't need to be dealing with their antics. I'm very glad you have a DH that took a stand for the both of you.
Jill, you've put in a good effort, but take cues now from how your husband handles them. I know he's been opting to not interact with them much, and that may simply be because he knows there's no way to reach them. My ex-husband was horrified at the idea that my parents weren't coming to our wedding and didn't understand my relief at being told by them that they would never speak to me again. He kept trying and trying to connect with them and include them, and all he got in return was a first hand glimpse at their crazy in all its glory, plus a few death threats on our answering machine. He finally gave up, and stopped pressuring me to deal with them once he saw what they were really like. He meant well, but I think things would have been a lot less traumatic if he'd just taken my word for it from the beginning.
Also, painting a cross on your stoop is not just nutty, it's illegal, and quite frankly rather scary.
I'm intrigued...what an interesting juxtoposition of fundamental religion and conspicuous consumption. At first I was picturing women in prairie dresses and sensible shoes, then remembered the part about perfume and jewelry. Also, cross painting is not familiar to me; is it an accepted practice in other parts the US/world?
Ah yes, the cross thing. Definitely not acceptable. They were rather small, about 6 inches, but they were there. No definitive proof it was her, but she was "prayer walking" in the neighborhood, posted late night photos of adjacent streets on Facebook and she and her best friend referenced the "great adventure" they had. I don't think graffiti writing teens would single out our stoop for such a thing but you never know. They were done in that t-shirt puffy paint.
I honestly just feel so bad for my husband. He is a really sweet guy and they are just, well, mean and manipulative. It started with weepy calls about how hurt they are since he asked for space after the hospital debacle. She actually walked into my room, again with no knock, and "apologized" to him without looking at me lying in the hospital bed. The apology was a non-apology as she claimed to "not know each others boundaries." I then interrupted and pointed out that no, it wasn't that, we clearly said multiple times family only and you blatantly ignored that. I didn't yell, I just stated a fact. She immediately squeezed out tears, started wringing her hands and sobbed "can't you just forgive me." It was bizarre and the first time I had seen such behavior. It was so disproportionate to the situation.
I am not really sure I am up on all their religion entails. My husband doesn't like to speak about it much. What I have seen is praying over areas, anointing people and things, and honestly, a great focus on material wealth. If you are faithful and give to the church, god wants you to be rewarded with things. They don't seem to do anything helpful for the community. Most conversations are about money and what she is going to buy (furniture, condos).
She has never worked. She actually said "why, it's boring." Her husband is retd military and has worked for years to support her lifestyle. She basically does church things, goes out to eat (she doesn't cook, ever) and shop. I thought she had been a stay at home mom but I guess she had nanny help for her 1 child. She seems so nice initially. Very southern and friendly. The more I learned from my husband, the more greatly I regret trying to have him reconcile with them. I know I shouldn't worry about it, but the more I learn and the more I witness, the more I realize that I cannot imagine what, short of family therapy and much time, would make me want to be in the same room with this woman. It's so hard to let someone drag my name through the mud to people I know and people I don't know, and say nothing. It's just so ridiculous I can't believe everything that happened. I keep looking for where I misinterpreted. I guess I am just working on letting go of the anger. It does no one any good.
I'm a great believer that to stay healthy we have to feel the anger and go through it before we can let it go. That will come (letting go) but you have been a target for loving your guy. That's obscene, IMO. Sending love...
Well, she is interesting to say the least! I too tried to get my DH more involved with his family and tried to reach out to get to know them. Really, it just never occurred to me that attempting to have a close relationship with my future in-laws was something I would ever regret. If I had only known then what I know now! I agree with the posters that have said you should allow your DH to take the lead on his relationship with his family. I must fore warn you though: from personal experience I have found that all of the effort you made to get to know them will be forgotten. And even though your DH sounds as though he wants limited contact with them, it may very well be that the blame for his absence will now be placed squarely on your shoulders. This was something I was not prepared for and I found it very hurtful. A slap in the face after the rejection they had shown me for so long. I do wish you the best of luck.
Quote from: cpr on June 22, 2011, 03:46:07 pmAnd even though your DH sounds as though he wants limited contact with them, it may very well be that the blame for his absence will now be placed squarely on your shoulders.
One of the hardest things I ever learned was that it doesn't matter at all what people who aren't important in my life say about me. I used to burn with outrage at the unfairness and untruth of the things my ex-husband used to say about me, and the idea that there were people in his family who, not knowing me at all, had a bad opinion of me. When I realized that nothing he says has any actual impact on my life, and that I was not actually interested in developing relationships with any of the people he badmouthed me to, my stress went away. He still says awful things and blames me for everything wrong in his life, but that's what my spam filter is for. :)
Need to get myself a Spam Filter !!
A friend of mine was a bit of a white witch , also used to cloak herself up , so ugly comments wouldn't
touch her .She always said it was her comfort blanket .
I imagined something form Lord of the rings , little elves with magic cloaks .
If it works for you , don't knock it I say .
I never did have a thick skin , so maybe I'll order a Spam filter .... :)
Get me one too LL and I'll give you your money back ;D
I love this saying..."What you think of me is none of my business." ;)
LL, I don't have a thick skin either. I've had to get kind of ruthless about only surrounding myself with people who don't tear me down. In two months and 28 days, DS turns 18 and then I can block the ex from my email and phone. I'm looking forward to the blissful silence. (Putting him in a spam filter is "practice" for that moment, since I can periodically check my spam filter to make sure nothing went in there that I really have to know about.)
Luise, I love that saying too. I really like thinking about the mean stuff people sometimes say as "gossip" rather than feeling like I need to know everything that's said about me so that I can protect myself from it somehow. It's really freeing to realize that I don't have to do that.
Jillinthesky, I learned the hard way too. It's harder trying to start over once we've done this. Right now I'm being blamed as well, somehow I magically turned DH away from them. It does feel like all the "good" I did was for nothing, I'm going to be blamed no matter what. The hard part is trying not to care about it.
I use to care a lot of what people said about me...more if it was untruth. It would make me sleepless. I dont care anymore.....waters take its level....the truth will always comes out. I now care of what the people I love think about me..... We will never pleased everyone...no matter what we do....
i will never be good at it...(taking criticism.) Something deep within me always thinks there must be a logical base for it. However, I am getting a lot better. If all else fails, I ask someone close to me if they find any truth in it and get the validation I need to move past it. If I get an affirmative answer, I can take it and work through it when it's with someone I love.
Constructive, supportive critique vs. negative, snarky criticism - I find the former helpful and the latter devastating.
And, unfortunately, I have know those who thought the later was the former.
Me too... :'(
Another thing I think comes into play is the concept of "right fighting." I have a bad habit of trying to get the offending party to see that they have done something wrong and I am "right" to be hurt/offended. Usually it's a wasted effort. I cannot tell you how much better outside party validation feels. Thank you everyone!
Jill...You look a lot like me. I always feel the need to let the person who wrong me to know they were wrong and I was right....indeed....useless effort. Now there is a saying...do you want to be right or happy? Some need confrontation of facts....some just run away from confrontations...even if it means losing a relationship or friendship....it is that we are all so different..... But at the end of the day....those of us who need to change people are those who suffer more.
God Bless You
She will NEVER like you. It's her fault not yours. It sounds like there are a myriad of things about you that she does not approve of. This should come as no suprise as she seems very small and closed minded. That is unlikely to change. As for your children....it matters much less that they see the way the in laws treat the two of you and much more about how they see you handle it and treat each other. Focus on the relationship with your husband and your family unit. Seeing your father's treatment has given you a wonderful and loving sensitivity that is demonstrated by your large efforts to be a good DIL. Sometimes the best lessons we learn are from seeing others bad behavior. My half brother's and I had terrible, drunk, selfish, neglectful and abusive mothers. They are all amazing parents and I have spent my life working with children. We agree that we learned a lot about parenting by reflecting on how terrible the things our mothers did were and then doing the complete opposite of their example. As for all the talking about you and DH by her and friends....see if you can arrange get to-gethers that consist of activities and constant movement like playing ping pong, yard sales, chasing the kids around the park, or canoeing; or loud ones like a trip to the circus, sporting event, swimming pool, ChuckECheese, theme park,or bowling alley. It's hard to talk about others when you are busy breathing heavy, too focused on something else, or simply to loud. It's hard for kids to hear what is being said when they are busing running around and playing as well. ;)
That is Great advice!